Clients of professional services firms are consumers like any other – which is to say they now expect highly personalised consumer experiences.
In the age of social media, many consumers have grown sceptical of generic marketing. Instead, they tend to respond to offers that are specifically relevant and well-timed. Professional services clients are much the same. Though a bit late to the table in some cases, professional services firms are increasingly implementing new strategies for delivering personalised experiences at scale. Social selling, which combines data from social platforms with sales technology, is helping them establish stronger connections with clients at the outset, stay engaged, and maintain valuable relationships.
The robust information available on social media platforms can be used to move the sales process forward. “Intent signals” provide indications of when a client will be most receptive. An executive who has recently changed jobs, for example, may be more inclined to make big decisions to assert authority. Hiring patterns indicate that a company is making investments. Advanced social media filters can be used to pick up such signals, and seize the opportunities they present.
A social media-dense environment also provides opportunities to better understand client needs. According to Harvard Business Review, a recent survey found that 80% of buyers “don’t believe that the salespeople they deal with understand their business.” This situation can be turned around by mining social media threads, including blogs, for issues that are top-of-mind for decision makers.
Social selling can be powerful at the individual level. Deployed across an organisation, it can make a significant impact. A global report from LinkedIn, “State of Sales in 2016”, found that 83% of top social sellers work at companies that have structured social selling programs. Investing in tools, as well as the change management they may require, is essential. To get the most bang for their buck, firms should also measure leading indicators, such as meetings secured through social engagement.
For a firm to effectively leverage social media and technology in B2B marketing, executive buy-in is crucial. In fact, social selling should be led from the top down, with active participation from the executive team. If this is unfamiliar territory for an executive, she or he is well advised to enlist the help of in-house marketing talent.
As Justin Shriber, a Vice President of Marketing at LinkedIn writes, “Embracing new sales tech and social selling strategies is the key to creating one-to-one interactions at scale – but thoughtful, strategic execution is critical to making it all work. Only then will B2B sales professionals be able to capitalize on personalization at scale and fully realize how disruptive it can really be.” Buyers, whether consumers or businesses, have become more demanding. Since this trend is unlikely to reverse, companies in all sectors must evolve their selling strategies to meet greater expectations.