Digital Sales Skills Needed to Engage the Modern Buyer
The modern seller needs digital selling skills to engage the modern buyer. It’s well known the B2B buyer advances 70% or more through their buying journey on their own, often seeking content and advice from peers.
So, how does the modern B2B sales professional engage the buyer when she sees little or no value in engaging vendors’ sales staff? The answer to this question is not one answer. It’s a four-part answer.
The modern seller must be a resource to the buyer so that the buyer actually wants to engage with a seller. These digital sales skills usually don’t come naturally, even for tech-savvy sales professionals.
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The 4 Pillars of Digital Selling
The idea of branding yourself is not new. It was first introduced in 1937 in the book Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. Personal branding was popularized by Tom Peters in 1997 in an article in Fast Company entitled “The Brand Called You.” Peters said “It’s a brand new world…We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be the head marketer for the brand called You.” Peters wrote this 21 years ago!!!
In 1997 the public internet was in its infancy. LinkedIn didn’t exist. None of the social media channels existed at the time. Clearly, Peters was ahead of his time.
Fast forward to 2018 and the buyer is in control. She has the full power of Google and social media to research any topic, ask anyone any question and take the buying journey as far as she chooses in complete control. She doesn’t need a salesperson.
In order to be needed by the buyer, the seller has to have a brand that exudes value. I like to say that a salesperson should be “desirable” to a buyer. A desirable individual brand to a B2B buyer is one who has information the buyer needs in their evaluation.
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The modern seller has the opportunity to network through digital channels seven days a week, 24 hours a day. I’m not suggesting all work and no play. The modern networker understands how to build and maintain a presence in digital channels, so the buyer can discover the seller through relevant networking at any time. When the seller is actively connecting with people at target companies and getting warm introductions, the ROI of networking becomes very evident. Networking skills in digital channels are very different than in-person networking. It’s not rocket science, but it does require skills development no matter what stage of career for the salesperson.
The modern salesperson uses digital selling skills to prospect efficiently. Digital sales prospecting involves identifying target companies, target individuals and putting a plan in place to reach them.
Too often, salespeople attempt to “cold call” through digital channels and the results are horrible, even worse than ineffective cold calling the traditional way. The potential damage to an individual’s reputation and their company is significant when a salesperson unskillfully attempts to reach a prospect through an unwanted digital outreach.
The secret to prospecting in digital selling is in the warm introduction. More on that in another blog post.
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As we progress through the digital selling continuum the final pillar is engaging. This is the step that requires the most skill. Just like in-person engaging, we only get one chance to make a first impression. The key to first engagements in digital and social selling is relevance.
Salespeople can engage effectively with their prospects by utilizing relevant content. The key to effective use of content is to know how to source it, how to share it, with whom and when, as well as how to make it discoverable by the target prospect. Likewise, more on this topic in another blog post.
Digital selling skills in 2018 are not an option unless you’re fortunate enough to sell a product or service that is in high demand with low competition. I don’t know anyone in that situation. So, I submit that 100% of B2B salespeople need digital selling proficiency to survive. That’s a strong statement, I know. I’ve worked with sales professionals across the spectrum from low tech to high tech. Digital selling applies across the board in B2B sales.
Now that we’re on the same page, why not learn how proficient your sales team is at digital selling through our Digital Selling Benchmark Report. You may be surprised by what you learn about your sales team’s digital selling skills.