Buying process has changed and drives a different approach to lead generation

SalesSteps latest Research Study (October 2019) analysed the data on sales competencies of 255 quota bearing account managers that responded to the online questionnaire. The survey was held in the period April - September 2019.

SalesStep measures and analyzes 23 different sales competencies that can be subdivided into Sales Drives, Sales Attitudes and Sales Skills. During this research, we examined the results of the talent of participants for the following specific sales skills:

  1. Acquisition skills
  2. Social selling and networking skills
  3. Qualification skills
  4. Added value & solution selling skills
  5. Consultative selling skills
  6. Sales Process & CRM
  7. Negotiation and closing skills
  8. Service & account management skills

The participants' talent for each of these skills is plotted on a scale of 0-100%. Whereby 0% means a lack of talent and 100% great talent for further development on this skill. (please note that the % present populations and therefor 50% is in the middle of the score of a population of that competence).

Results of this study

The participants have on overall some work to do. In other words: the majority had enough potential to grow on certain skills.

On the positive side, skills such as CRM & sales process and negotiating and deal closing have been developed above average for this group. What is striking, however, is that the competency Social Selling & Networking is the least developed.

Social Selling & Networking is a crucial acquisition competence for sales. "The definition of Social Selling is to cultivate contact with the use of networks, insights, and conversations to create long-term relationships." (Source)

Social Selling is cultivating contact with the use of networks, insights and conversations to create long-term relationships

The objective of Social Selling is to generate leads and not to sell via social media or online platforms. Social selling is the chance to be present online, to make sure your contacts know who you are and what you can deliver, so they can contact you when they need your expertise. Old-fashioned cold calling and walk-ins are no longer effective (or have never been effective) and are rarely appreciated.

As we learned from the data in this study, the competence of Social Selling is the least developed. That's why, in my opinion, sales should prioritise to develop their social and networking skills. Research has shown that buying skills have changed. Of salespeople who have invested in the use of social and online media, 73% of salespeople use technology to close more deals and 89% of sales professionals say networking platforms are very important to their daily operations.

The problem with Social Selling is not about how to use technology or be active on social networking platforms. It is what you contribute to your network and how you deal with these insights.

Buying process has changed and drives a different approach to lead generation

Without trust, no deal will close. Around 51% of decision-makers rank ‘trust’ as the top attribute which they desire in a salesperson. With 90% of B2B decision-makers search on Google for new services and products, and 75% using LinkedIn to find trusted partners, it is crucial for sales organisations to invest in Social Selling.

Buyers and decision-makers appreciate the brand's products and services more when sales professionals invest in human contacts and sincere attention. This is where the use of technology and 'cultivating contacts and using social networks' comes into the picture.

Most likely you share interesting company information on your social media, such as a brochure or white paper. However it is more important to invest time in discovering what kind of information your network is looking for. What is it they are searching for? What kind of information are they looking for? What can you do to help? In addition to sharing relevant information, you can become more valuable for your contacts by connecting people in your network with others who are looking for each other and may need each other. You unlock the power of your social network by introducing people and connecting your network. With every connection you show that you care about your network and that you act on a personal level. You're becoming more valuable to your relationships.

By sharing the right content and networking, you can become the industry expert in your field or region. As a result, potential partners and customers will find you sooner, without cold acquisition. It will take some time to develop such a personal approach. Therefore, invest time to be more relevant and authentic on a personal level. This way you get more attention for the right focus in sales.

Conclusion: With these findings of SalesStep's research, it is good to conclude that competency development of Social Selling & Networking should have the highest priority for commercial management and sales managers.

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