16 Oct 2013 6:00 AM Selling in the B2B space is only becoming more difficult. But I’m not telling you anything that you don’t already know. The web and social networks have changed everything. As a result, buyer behavior has changed. In days gone by, a primary role played by a sales person was education. Thinking back, I feel a lot of empathy for the process that buyers had to go through to evaluate products and services when a business problem was encountered. Their only option was to sit through endless sales meetings, pitches and demos. There wasn’t an easy way to evaluate the sales promises being made, which meant taking a pretty big leap of faith when they did make the final decision to buy. Those days are gone but many sales organizations are doggedly refusing to accept this new reality. Not everyone believes that 70%-80% of the decision making process is taking place without sales being engaged, however, I’ve seen enough evidence to believe that Sirius Decisions and Gartner have it right. Compounding the problem for sellers is that more than 90% of prospects hit the delete button when receiving a cold call or email from someone they do now know. If you are willing to accept for a moment the gravity of these truths, then you have a conundrum on your hands. It means that you need to rethink how your sales people network, prospect, demonstrate credibility and thought leadership, research before engaging in a conversation and nurture the relationship once the deal is done. Enter Social Selling Two years ago, you probably had not heard the term because only a handful of folks like me were using it to describe a different way to approach selling given the changes in buyer behavior. You will hear a lot of folks using the term today, but ask 10 people to tell you want it means, and you will no doubt hear a variety of explanations. Adding to the confusion are technology platform vendors who would have you believe that social selling is nothing more than using their software. Technology doesn’t sell for you. I think of social selling in this way. It is the intersection of sales and social media. It requires a strategic way of thinking and a process that leverages social technology as part of the process. Much like when we began integrating email communication into our selling activities, today’s sellers must combine targeted offline and online strategies for reaching prospects and fueling the pipeline. Success requires three things: Strategy, Skills and Execution Strategy – It is tempting to want to skip right over this important first step. You may be thinking that there isn’t time to create a strategy; you need more sales now. Make time. If you want different sales results, you need to do things differently. Skills – Sellers today need a combination of great sales skills and the ability to use technology effectively to support their goals. Unfortunately, the over reliance on technology is replacing the basic principles of great selling and the gap is only getting wider. Does it really matter if sales people can use technology to reach prospects more quickly if what is said in the phone call or email lands with a thud? Execution – This isn’t the first step toward successful social selling, it is the step that brings everything else together. Execution is about disciplined behavior – sales people engaging in the right activities consistently and using technology in the right way. If you would like to learn more social selling success, information will be available for download on the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Global Premiere Event portal. This event will take you from Barcelona, around the world, to hear from companies who are creating amazing customer experiences. Join us November 4th. Please register today!