As Morpheus said in The Matrix, "I imagine that right now, you're feeling a bit like Alice. Hmm? Tumbling down the rabbit hole?" Sales 2.0 is nearing end-of-life as Web 3.0 redefines the way B2B buyers and B2B sellers engage before physical world conversations take place. 'Social Selling' is progressing in ways we can scarcely keep pace with nor truly understand. The allure is compelling and the necessity undeniable for using social platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+. Yet the laws and algorithms that drive the dynamics of loosely connected social platforms are a mystery to almost all of us; and our ignorance makes the productive use of social platforms in strategic B2B selling a difficult proposition - it's not easy to create cut-through and strategic connection amidst all the noise.
Social Selling is powerful for B2C and advancements in beacon technology and myriad other developments are accelerating momentum. Social Selling is also relevant for B2B in low margin commoditized environments to drive down costs and also for projecting communication via digital channels. But 'Social Selling' is a misnomer in complex solution selling, and we should instead think 'Social Engagement'. LinkedIn is not a Social Selling platform, it's a social community engagement platform, human resourcing database, and research and publishing platform. The power of LinkedIn is unprecedented and treating it as an online CV is professional negligence. We must instead create strong personal brands online and we must position as experts delivering exceptional value and insight to attract interest and earn conversations.
Our value in social platforms is therefore defined by our insights, relevance and connectedness. Make no mistake; the fundamental laws of relationship and strategic selling are timeless. For example; people buy from those they like and trust. What is changing however is the ways in which we can create trusted personal brands, extend our market reach, leverage networks, research buyers and engineer introductions. The smartest recognize that the power is not in the platform but in their ability to engage the right network in the right way with high value content. Retweeting and rehashing isn't enough.
I can't help but think David Meerman Scott telegraphed it all. There is a new era upon us and 2015 will see it explode. It is the 4th dimension of B2B sales engagement and those who can execute the timeless laws of selling to create value, not only in Sales 2.0 but transcend into the vast contextually aware ocean of Web 3.0 neural networks, will reign supreme. What are these 4th dimension algorithms? As an example, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+ are separate and they categorize and rank content in different ways. Yet, I believe it's possible to make 1 + 1 = 7 if the synergies can be unlocked via networked intelligence.
The brave new world upon us can be summed up in one ephemeral word: context. Engaging with the right stakeholders, at the exact place, in the precise moment in time to help them buy... you. If you like this post, please click the thumbs-up icon under the heading to let me know.
Tony Hughes is ranked as the #1 influencer on professional selling in Asia-Pacific and is a keynote speaker and best selling author. This article was originally published in LinkedIn where you can also follow Tony's award winning blog. Also visit Tony's keynote speaker website at www.TonyHughes.com.au or his sales methodology website at http://www.rsvpselling.com/.
Main image photo by Flickr: epSos.de
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