The hard sell has been over for some time now, but many organizations haven’t received the message. The name of the game today is influence. And it is an underrated tool in the B2B sales world. The rise of the social media influencer is not a coincidence, and neither is their power.
While social media is seen as a tool for B2C, B2B companies cannot ignore it as a sales channel. After all, companies are made up of people, and people use social media, regardless of what they seek. Many buy directly from social media networks and expect all buying experiences to match because social media meets the buyer where they are.
Social media reviews heavily influence users of all kinds (there’s that word again). Just because your B2B solution is complex doesn’t mean you are immune to online reviews. Most users believe online reviews to be more powerful and truthful than testimonials.
Consumers and B2B buyers expect two-way engagement. For which social media is a prime channel. Also, many increasingly turn to social media for customer service, which makes finding you there a critical part of the experience.
Through social media and other B2B sales contact, influence is how successful organizations grow and maintain their business.
The Requirements for Influence-Based Selling
Do you have what it takes to influence rather than sell? Ask yourself if your organization has the following:
- The ability to internally influence buyers’ thinking and actions
- Willingness and ability to drive change
- The ability to take the lead in the process and guide a buyer along the buyer’s journey, arriving at a decision in your favor and theirs
- The ability to be subtle
Today’s organization requires the flexibility and agility to change with the needs of its customers. Customers need your assistance to make the best decision while retaining the power in the relationship.
What Is Sales Influence?
Sales influence is a way to help people move from where they are to a new place that better suits their needs. As an influencer, you make a case for change and inspire them to action. Your value proposition makes your case. It must:
- Resonate with the buyer
- Substantiate all your claims
- Differentiate your solution as the best choice from all available solutions
In turn, the buyer should be able to say that after the sale:
- We need this
- I believe in this seller, company, outcome, or offering
- This solution is the best choice
When done correctly, influence selling raises the buyers’ level of confidence in their decision to a higher level. And the buyer is inspired to act on that confidence and purchase the solution. It also makes the buyer more likely to act as a champion to internal stakeholders on your behalf.
How to Build Sales Influence
Your message must resonate, differentiate, substantiate, and activate to build influence.
A message that resonates establishes the gap between the buyer’s current state and the desired reality. You and your message must be likable and promote customer ownership of the sales agenda.
To differentiate, your message must highlight the distinctions of your product and promote the scarcity of available solutions that perform as highly. Substantiation builds trust.
Activating Sales Influence
Activate your sales influence by appearing indifferent about getting the sale. Encourage commitment, don’t demand it. Promote urgency but use smaller steppingstones to move along the sales journey.
Meet customers where they are — the channel where the interaction began, whether it’s social media, the phone, or on a mobile app. Be prepared to handle large parts of the sales journey in that mode.
Regardless of the product or solution they need, most customers now reach for their mobile phone, tablet, or laptop to initiate and satisfy information needs and for recreation and entertainment. Create an experience that matches the way the customer lives online.
Don’t sell in. Influence.