social selling

Digital selling otherwise known as consultative selling or social selling is the art of selling products and services to a broad range of consumers and clients alike using professional networks or social platforms. It’s a new-fangled phenomenon which has pivoted traditional marketing and sales strategies.

Empowered customers are demanding real-time digital interactions from companies. This shift has meant companies have had to create a 24/7 multi channel digital shop window that is responsive and constantly open.

There has been a revolutionary decline in customer loyalty, but for every challenge that this presents…a number of opportunities open up.

Customers have a wealth of information at their fingertips and are able to research, evaluate, share experiences (good & bad!), all from the comfort of their sofa at home or on the go!

This means organisations are being more competitive in their approach to sales and marketing.

Small fish in a big pond

How can organisations stand out in an age where customers have a wealth of real-time information, and organisations having shorter product life cycles?

New entrants are causing disruption to traditional B2C models, and customers are getting more demanding on how they purchase products and services.

Digital selling and the changing nature of companies communicating with their customers will change significantly over the next year or so.

Sales and marketing departments are now consolidating and working closely together in an adept approach to gain market share.

Organisations need to ensure that they are developing a targeted approach to selling, and should focus on a social strategy that encompasses:

  • Relevant content: Imagine you are your own customer. How relevant is the content you are putting out on social platforms?
  • An approach to storytelling: What is the typical customer journey from start to finish?
  • Deep integration of data in social listening: How is your product or service reacting in the marketplace? Data is king.  

This social strategy will enable organisations, via platforms and professional networks, generate and utilise rich data sets that help them understand customer purchasing patterns.

This data can be used to make informed decisions to drive better results and ultimately enable them to build relationships with their customer base.

From a B2B perspective digital selling has paved the way for new ground. B2B purchasing behaviour is quickly evolving towards methods of generating new leads and creating strong pipelines. The large platforms and professional networks are enabling people to utilise not only their own networks, but also leverage the strength of the professional networks of their employees.

Building upon our recent EY report on Digital Selling effectiveness, B2B activities in organisations must create a centre of excellence that can enable a company to excel in six key areas:

  • Identifying leads and the right decision makers
  • Leveraging data to build relationships
  • Producing marketing content that aligns with the customer’s agenda and buying process
  • Delivering a consistent, seamless omnichannel experience
  • Boosting the sales force’s “digital sales confidence”
  • Gaining a clear picture of the company’s digital selling performance.

What next? The sky’s the limit

Organisations that are looking to focus on developing a digital selling strategy must create a culture of openness and trust. Harness your employee’s networks, try do things differently. Experiment.

At our last Digital Selling Forum, we discussed how personal and professional networks are merging, companies now need to provide freedom, but within a framework.

However, a word of caution – when things are going well – thumbs up. However, if there are issues with your product or service, customers and clients can share their experiences quickly on a number of platforms which could result in a wildfire of negative publicity towards your company. Therefore, have procedures in place on how to deal quickly and respectfully with this negative publicity in order to protect your organisation’s reputation.  

The EY approach to social selling is based on a multidisciplinary offering dedicated to providing fast results.

Finally, in my opinion, digital selling is in its infancy. We’re at the tip of the iceberg and it is an exciting time to explore. I believe that new disruptive technology will accelerate the digital selling agenda and there will be a number of digital capabilities integrated into the digital selling agenda over the coming year.

In order to stand out from the crowd, organisations need to think of new innovative ways to captivate their customers and most importantly – convert enquiries into sales.

We are starting to see organisations trialling and testing new tech in augmented reality, artificial intelligence, live streaming, chatbots, and the utilisation of data and analytics. This technology will add much needed fuel to the fire and will pave the future of digital selling capabilities.

Organisations are scrambling to think of new ways to entice consumers to buy, buy, buy and the sky is the limit when it comes to grabbing the opportunities that are there. Go digital selling.

Our teams bring together a diverse range of skills to provide an end-to-end social experience for the full sales cycle; if you would like to find out more please contact the following who would be delighted to help:

Des O’Connor – Twitter @dbldecker1 | LinkedIn: Des OConnor

Rahul Gautum – Twitter @RahulGautumEY | LinkedIn: Rahul Gautum

Ioannis Melas – imelas@uk.ey.com | LinkedIn: Ioannis Melas

For more information about digital selling, check out our recent Tech World video below.