social meda salespersonSeveral years ago I wrote a blog post about the Evolution of the Salesperson. The fundamentals described in the article still hold true but there is no doubt the sales process has changed.  My clients often hear me say that much of the sales process happens online before the client even speaks to a representative.  But how much and how does it change the sales approach?

I read a good article this week that got me thinking about those questions.  The article was in Forbes and here is an excerpt:

Salespeople, in particular, seem to have a set of rules and values that they are adamant about sticking to, which seems a bit counter-intuitive to me, given that today’s buyers complete some 70% of their purchase before contacting a sales representative.  Those in the know recognize that social media offers talented salespeople the ability to get to know today’s buyers better than ever before. These unique skills are becoming critical for HR and Talent Management pros to be aware of.  Read the full article here.

More so than ever before, subject matter expertise is critical to the success of the sales person.  But if 70% of the sales process occurs online before the client contacts the sales person, how does one display their subject matter knowledge.  This is where social media kicks in.

In the Forbes article, the author suggests using social to get to know their potential buyer.  This will help the sales person build rapport and get to know their buyer on a bit of a personal level.  But I believe their is a piece missing to that concept.  As a potential client, I am much more likely to connect with someone on LinkedIn if they have done something to earn the connection.  That something could be the writing of a blog post, sending a well thought out email or sharing of an article which indicates they have taken the time to think about my business and make a relevant content recommendation.

Conceptually, the 80/20 rule still applies but I think the numbers are more like 95/5 when it comes to good sales people.  Very few are willing to take the time to actually sell during the 70% of the process that occurs without them.  So if you want to be successful in today’s sales environment, you are going to have to embrace the buying process changes and get in the game earlier in the cycle.  The good news is that today’s digital technologies and social media make it easier than ever if you are willing to embrace them.