By Adrian Fisher, founder and CEO of PropertySimple, a real estate technology company that helps real estate agents build a brand worth talking about.
In-person events have long been canceled due to concerns over the spread of Covid-19. Surveys found that 87% of business event professionals have canceled events because of the pandemic, and 66% postponed events. While many events have moved to a virtual format (seven out of 10 respondents noted this change), it’s still a challenge to create networking opportunities with a large virtual event. As the spread of Covid-19 continues, many events in 2021 have been turned into virtual events or canceled altogether.
For traditional B2B industries, attending events can lead to crucial networking and sales opportunities. A Demand Gen Report found that in-person events are essential for lead generation and sales, with 47% of respondents noting this tactic’s effectiveness. Taking away all the trade shows, speaking engagements and award ceremonies mean salespeople must change tactics in a Covid-19 world. Now is the time to turn to social selling to get back those leads and find new prospects.
Meeting Customers Where They Are
Social selling is excellent for B2B sales because it relies on building long-term, lasting relationships. This sales tactic searches for and engages with prospects online, where customers already spend considerable time. Since 97% of customers research products online and 47% of buyers view at least three to five pieces of content before contacting a sales representative, social selling makes sense.
Social selling differs from traditional selling because it engages prospects for longer and offers a more gentle approach than the hard sell. Best practices include providing value to potential customers through content and posting. It’s about building a relationship with prospects online, not using pushy sales speak.
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The Effectiveness Of Social Selling
Even before salespeople needed to use more online methods to sell, social selling was advantageous. LinkedIn surveys found that 89% of top-performing salespeople noted that social sites such as LinkedIn are important in closing deals, and 70% of sales professionals are active on LinkedIn for business purposes. Of the sales representatives that invest in social media, 64% hit their team quota, compared to 49% of salespeople who did not use social media to meet the team quota. Leaders in social selling create 45% more sales opportunities than their peers.
The B2B buyer journey is long, and cold calls are becoming a very outdated tactic. In fact, 90% of decision-makers reported that they “never” respond to cold calls. It’s clear that social selling works and will become a highly used tactic in the new year. However, as events will still take place, sales professionals can turn them into social selling opportunities.
Turn Virtual Events Into Social Selling Opportunities
While we have yet to perfect virtual events, they are here to stay as the pandemic continues. Even though virtual seminars and e-learning opportunities are different, salespeople can turn them into social selling and networking opportunities.
Industry executives should continue to find speaking opportunities for branding and sales purposes. Those attending the event may not be able to network one-on-one, but they can take the conversation from the event to LinkedIn. Some events provide an attendee list or use a social media hashtag to collate their digital content. Sales representatives can connect with individuals on Linkedin after the event to continue the discussion and find potential prospects.
Sales representatives can also use event content for social media. Most virtual events will post content such as PDFs, presentations and one-pagers for attendees to review and even post on their own networks. This content can be repurposed and posted on social networking for further discussion.
Social Selling And Virtual Sales Meetings
Social selling will likely lead to more sales opportunities and meetings. Remote meetings are another big change sales professionals have had to deal with due to Covid-19. This is a challenge, especially for traditional industries that are accustomed to in-person meetings. Salespeople must recognize this and allow meeting attendees enough time to ask questions and review any materials. Try to schedule shorter appointments to hold attendees’ attention and always schedule during the most convenient times for customers.
Social selling is a trend that would have gained popularity with or without the pandemic. But now sales professionals who utilize social selling best practices can continue success into the new year.