Social Selling: How the Web Made Traditional Selling Obsolete

By Kathi Kruse

The traditional act of selling solutions is no longer viable.

In a recent post by John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing, he makes a strong point that the Internet has dramatically changed the way we sell. He asks, “Has the Internet made the salesperson an unnecessary cost?”

It used to be a salesperson’s job to find out what the customer needed or wanted and provide solutions for those desires. Today’s consumer is savvy and has access to every kind of data needed to make their own decisions–they arrive at their own solutions. What’s more is they’re socially-empowered to collect and share their experiences on Social networks.

Selling “the cheapest”, “the best”, or “the latest” of anything now is an endeavor seen as interchangeable and unremarkable. These claims mean nothing with your customer has friends who’re telling them otherwise. Selling solutions leads you down the dead-end road of selling on price. The customer perceives one salesperson is as good as another. The transaction is a commodity. There’s no real connection, which makes the experience forgettable.

Despite all these changes, studies show people still want to work with salespeople they know, like and trust. Gratefully, salespeople today have a new set of tools available to build, nurture and convert leads. They’re no longer tethered to selling from price.

Welcome to Social Selling.

By developing a clear brand persona, your salespeople can scale their message through technology that’s designed to engage in collaborative sales conversations which establish trust with the buyer. They can create mutual value in this new form of selling without wrestling control of the process from the customer.

Salespeople who understand how to market themselves effectively using Social networks control their destiny and increase sales for your store. There will be no more adversarial showroom antics, only comfortable sales to buyers who have established relationships with you and your staff through Social Media and trust they’re getting a good deal.

To do this effectively, salespeople must become familiar with who they are and how they want to be perceived in the marketplace. A “marketing-minded” salesperson:

  • Creates their own ideal selling opportunities.
  • Thinks like a publisher and builds their own expertise and influence on the web.
  • Works in partnership with the store’s marketing team to communicate a consistent message.

How will you facilitate this shift for your salespeople? Seth Godin says, “The best way to learn marketing is to do the marketing. When you put your ideas in the world, then, and only then, do you know if they’re real. Not expensive, merely frightening.”

Unless you’ve been under a rock lately, you’ve recognized we’re in the middle of a culture change. A change not only in the car business but in most every other culture you choose to name. Change does take time and with this histrionic shift in the role of salespeople, many dealers won’t adopt it for years (to their own detriment).

The solution now is to foster trust and provide your buyer with every piece of information it takes to help them buy. Choosing the right marketing messages and engaging them ensures they’ll buy from you.

Social selling is the future. Now is the time for you and your salespeople to embrace this new way of thinking and get out of the commodity business. No one wins in the race to the bottom.

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