As a B2B seller, one of the most important things you should remember is that you don’t win companies. You win people.
Winning people involves building relationships with them. Relationship-building requires showing the other person that you genuinely care about them and the things that are important to them.
The good thing is that there are several tools at your disposal that make it easier to build long-lasting business relationships. You can use social selling techniques not only to improve your online presence and reputation, but also to find more information about your customers that can help you position yourself accordingly. And when you know how their world looks like and what their pain points are, you’ll have a better idea of how you can add value to their lives.
Now, the average sales professional has relationships with 3 contacts from an account. That doesn’t seem like a bad number. But buying decisions are made by committees, and in a typical organization, there are around 8 people who influence and contribute to the decision-making process. Even in smaller companies, most salespeople just have 1 relationship, when there are at least 3 people involved in a sales decision.
This isn’t ideal.
Why You Should Nurture Several Relationships Within An Account
The average employee changes their job every 2.5 years. This may seem like a long time, but in B2B, that’s just a couple of sales cycles—which means that your contact only has a few chances to persuade the buying committee. And if your contact leaves, who will be left to champion your cause?
“The amount of flux that’s happening—the talent going in and out of businesses—means that a company’s priorities are shifting, ebbing and flowing all the time,” says Sales for Life CEO Jamie Shanks.
Think about it: If you have a relationship with a company’s chief information security officer, that person probably has a good understanding of what you’re talking about and what you can bring to the table. However, the other people in the IT department might not know who you are, or might not have any experience with your solution. And you’ll probably be more of a stranger to people from cross-functional departments such as legal, procurement, finance, or human resources.
So how can you build relationships with them?
This is where social surrounding comes in.
Using Social Surrounding for Your Target Accounts
The entire purpose of social surrounding is to get information fast, while automating much of its collection. The easiest and fastest way to go about this is to make this a part of your account planning process.
You can include your social surrounding research when selecting which accounts to prioritize—this process is tied to your customer accounts after all, and it will be easier to have all your account information centralized in one place.
Advanced search strategies for social surrounding
1. Browse a stakeholder’s LinkedIn profile and start collecting insights about them. Any useful information you can find should be captured.
2. In LinkedIn Sales Navigator, press the save button on someone’s profile to:
- Follow the person. This way, any like, comment, or share will appear neatly in the Leads section of your Sales Navigator homepage.
- Follow their company. This lets you easily access any content shared by their company page. You can view this in the Account section of your Sales Navigator homepage.
3. Use Boolean Search on the Bing browser to do research. Do these two searches:
- person and company search
- company and topic search
After using Advanced Search strategies to find out who the stakeholders are in your target accounts, it’s now time to do your research on them. Believe it or not, 92% of salespeople and CSMs don’t do any research because they think it takes too much time—and this is a mistake you shouldn’t commit.
Remember that the purpose of social surrounding is to speed up research so it takes less than 2 minutes per contact, instead of trawling the internet for the crucial data you need. These advanced search steps will allow you to automatically capture insights on the people that you want to have a relationship with, using both LinkedIn and Bing.
It’s difficult for sales professionals to build relationships within their customer accounts. You can’t exactly do site visits with every department, especially cross-functionally, because these departments might be located in different cities, states, or even countries—more so now, when there’s a global pandemic going on.
But it’s necessary.
You see, in all your accounts, there are two things that could happen. One, the buying committee will come together and reach a consensus, requiring you to have more advocates inside the organization. Two, if somebody in the buying committee leaves or is replaced, you’ll need to find out who the person is, what happened to them, and who will replace them.
Using LinkedIn and other social platforms to connect with the stakeholders within your customer accounts will allow you to monitor their activities and engage them, keeping you in a stronger position to influence and ensuring you’re ready to act should something happen.