84% of B2B Sales Start with a Referral — Not a Salesperson

With social selling, salespeople use social media platforms to research, prospect, and network by sharing educational content and answering questions. In addition, more than three-quarters (82%) of the B2B buyers said the winning vendor’s social content had a significant impact on their buying decision. A LinkedIn survey found that B2B buyers are five times more likely to engage with a sales rep who provides new insights about their business or industry. Another survey showed that 72% of the B2B salespeople who use social media report that they outperformed their sales peers, and more than half of them indicated they closed deals as a direct result of social media. It doesn’t take a significant amount of time to get started in social selling. Salespeople should also collaborate with their social marketing counterparts to make the most of their social efforts. Marketing can train salespeople in social media systems, processes, and best practices. According to a survey, 75% of B2B salespeople indicated they were trained in the effective use of social media. Salesforce, for example, emphasizes the importance of improved communication between sales and marketing citing an App Data Room and Marketo study that found sales and marketing alignment can improve sales efforts at closing deals by 67% and help marketing generate 209% more value from their efforts. One way to improve communication between sales and marketing is by creating a portal.

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Outbound B2B sales are becoming less and less effective. In
fact, a recent
survey
found that connecting with a prospect now takes 18 or
more phone calls, callback rates are below 1%, and only 24% of
outbound sales emails are ever opened. Meanwhile, 84% of B2B buyers are now
starting the purchasing process with a referral, and
peer recommendations
are influencing more than 90% of all B2B
buying decisions.

Why are more and more buyers avoiding salespeople during the
buying process? Sales reps, according to
Forrester
, tend to prioritize a sales agenda over solving a
customer’s problem. If organizations don’t change their outdated
thinking and create effective sales models for today’s digital era,
Forrester warns that 1 million B2B salespeople will lose their jobs
to self-service e-commerce by 2020.

The answer to the shift away from reliance on outbound sales
could reside in
social selling
, the strategy of adding social media to the
sales professional’s toolbox. With social selling, salespeople use
social media platforms to research, prospect, and network by
sharing educational content and answering questions. As a result,
they’re able to build relationships until prospects are ready to
buy.

This is different than
social media marketing
, where a brand engages many, aiming to
increase overall brand awareness or promote a specific product or
service by producing content that users will share with their
network. Social selling concentrates on producing focused content
and providing one-to-one communication between the salesperson and
the buyer. Both strategies create valuable content from the
consumer’s perspective and use similar social networks and social
software tools. But with social selling, the goal is for the rep to
form a relationship with each prospect, providing suggestions and
answering questions rather than building an affinity for the
organization’s brand.

Social selling makes sense for achieving quota and revenue
objectives for multiple reasons. First,
three out of four B2B buyers
rely on social media to engage
with peers about buying decisions. In a recent B2B buyers
survey
, 53% of the respondents reported that social media plays
a role in assessing tools and technologies, and when making a final
selection.

In addition, more than three-quarters (82%) of the B2B buyers
said the winning vendor’s social content had a significant impact
on their buying decision. A
LinkedIn
survey found that B2B buyers are five times more
likely to engage with a sales rep who provides new insights about
their business or industry. Another
survey
showed that 72% of the B2B salespeople who use social
media report that they outperformed their sales peers, and
more…

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