Referrals top when it comes to B2B purchasing decisions

Puzzle-01According to advocate marketing technology firm Influitive, 84% of B2B buyers now start the purchasing journey with a referral.

Here we look at what that means for the traditional sales funnel. 

Outbound selling is getting harder

There’s no doubt that the outbound business development role is getting more challenging.

A survey carried out in 2015 by research company TOPO showed that it now takes more than 18 phone calls to reach a potential contact, with just 1% of sales calls returned.

Add to this the shift towards advocacy as a key influencer – and you have a business development role that is harder than ever.

What’s the answer?

If you work in sales and want to react to this shift – what can you do?

Key to this new world is the need to keep your prospects warm. Building genuine relationships with your contacts until they are at the point of purchase.

This means a move away from ‘sales’ in the sense that it’s traditionally been used. You may need to build up relationships with prospects over months and years before they are at the right point in the buying cycle to fully engage with you.

Have you tried social selling?

Increasingly, business developers are turning to social selling to start ongoing dialogues with prospects.

This blog looks in more detail at what the term means, and why you should be doing it.

In a nutshell, it’s using social media – like Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram or Google+ – to build relationships and have conversations with contacts.

It differs from social media marketing in that you aren’t – or shouldn’t be – pushing specific propositions or solutions. While social media marketing can have the sole aim of raising brand awareness, social selling goes deeper.

  • It’s about having relevant, personal dialogues with your prospects
  • It’s about the one-to-one, rather than generic broadcast messages
  • It’s about valuable information, rather than marketing or selling

Keys to success

Like all business tools, there are some essential dos and don’ts here.

1. Be relevant

First, you need to make sure the content you share is relevant and engaging. Tailor it to suit the individuals you’re communicating with – this isn’t the place for mass-mailed messages.

Read more about why content is important to sales teams and learn how to create great sales content here.

2. Be regular

Little and often is the key with social selling. Think of it as an online friendship – you want to keep in touch regularly with snippets that your contact might find interesting. If you dedicate just a couple of hours a week, you should be able to maintain regular contact with your core prospects and clients.

Make sure whatever you do, it’s achievable long-term. Don’t start off by bombarding contacts (not a good idea anyway!) only to find you can’t keep up the pace and it dwindles away to nothing, like the best intentions of the January gym-bunnies.

3. Be timely

Any content you produce needs to be shared quickly. Social media is a very immediate channel. People expect news and views to be available in real time. In regulated industries, this can be harder as compliance approvals add a layer of complexity. Read our blog on How to write content your Compliance team will approve for some valuable hints.

4. Be compliant

And on that note… in a regulated business, you need to make sure you adhere to the regulator’s guidelines. The FCA has published digital marketing requirements that all regulated financial services firms need to meet. You can read more about these requirements – and how to make sure you fulfil them – here.

5. Follow best practice 

Best practice for regulated firms means creating content that’s both compelling and compliant.

Our free guide, 10 Best Practices for Compliant Social Media, identifies the 10 crucial steps you need to take to ensure you meet best practice standards.

It includes tips on:

  1. Creating a social media policy
  2. Training your employees on best practices
  3. Managing compliance approval
  4. Understanding the FCA’s new stance on risk warnings
  5. Archiving messages

…And much more.

You can download your free copy here.

Nothing in this document should be treated as an authoritative statement of the law. Action should not be taken as a result of this document alone. We make no warranty and accept no responsibility for consequences arising from relying on this document.

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