Technology should be giving you more hours in the day, not frustrating you and eating into your most precious, non-renewable resource: time.
Having the right tools is not the same as knowing the best way to use them. Here are five incredibly valuable SMB technologies along with the social selling techniques that activate their power for business growth.
5 Essential SMB Technologies for the Modern World
In the quest for growth, modern SMB owners have come to rely on five essential tech tools for prospecting, conversion, and customer development:
- Mobile phones for sales and collaboration
- Email marketing automation software
- CRM with integrated sales enablement for mapping the customer journey
- Social networking management
- Event-based lead generation
What do those all have in common? First of all, there are free or low cost versions of all of these so that SMBs can compete with large enterprises. Second, none work well without social selling.
Social selling is not simply a new sales technique, like a 4-Square Worksheet or neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). Those come and go. Social selling is an adaptation to contemporary culture that acknowledges the changing role of a salesperson.
Forrester projected that one million B2B salespeople will lose their jobs by 2020, replaced by automation. The sales people that survive will be those who learn how to apply social selling to make the above five SMB technologies more valuable, making their businesses more profitable.
Here is a practical guide on how social selling acts as a catalyst for essential tech:
1. Your mobile phone
"Building a bridge between social media and your phone should be a strategy all sales leaders focus on this year.” -- LinkedIn's The New Era of the Cold Call
Social selling puts you in touch with the right people and gives you the background you need to solve their problems. You will still need to get them on the phone in most cases. Even in web-based businesses on the recurring revenue model, where the majority of customers sign up touchlessly, a mobile phone network will be indispensable for first class customer retention and partner collaboration.
Cold calling is not dead, but it looks nothing like its pre-social-media ancestor. In the 21st century, the only way someone is going to pick up the phone is with the promise of a value-driven conversation based on contextual data from social selling.
2. Email marketing automation software
A cold-email is worse than a cold call. There are still valid business reasons for calling someone even if you have limited information on them, but emailing someone you know little about is nothing but spam. It’s lazy spam at that because all major email marketing automation systems allow for plenty of personalization beyond sender name.
In the process of gathering information about a prospect, social sellers often come across not only email addresses but also ways to make a connection in the first line of the body, which effectively acts as your second subject line.
3. CRM with integrated sales enablement for mapping the customer journey
86% of senior-level marketers chose “create a cohesive customer journey” as something that is either very important or absolutely critical to the modern business. You will need the data from social selling research to map prospects onto their stage along that journey. That’s how you will populate your CRM with the customer’s primary pain points, their internal dependencies, their influencers, and what they care about most about at any given moment.
4. Social networking management
Social selling is about listening more than you talk. Social selling evangelist Jill Rowley identified this as one of the pillars of the practice. She said, "I can network the crap out of an online event. I can get on the hashtag and I can see who’s tweeting and reply, favorite, or add context.I can be more interesting and relevant even though I’m not there.”
Just barging into a social space and announcing your latest blog is not going to win you any network connections. Listen first, then engage.
5. Event-based lead generation
Long before the internet was just a thought by Vannevar Bush, business people gathered at conferences and events to strike up new deals. The modern equivalent of the medieval guild meet-up is the “summit,” like the Startup Grind, CES in Las Vegas, or the Small Business Expo.
At your next conference, don't just collect business cards and stress balls. Tweet live. Seek out contacts you've only met on social media, and start following up immediately. Ask for digital copies of presentations and spin them into many layers of content.
Social selling will not only give you better data for stronger connections, it helps you develop your confidence so your next phone call will flow more naturally. From there, your prospects won't need convincing to become customers.