Millenials and Social selling

If you’re reading this article on the train, in the office or even at home… stop! Now look up, and see if you can spot a Millennial? They are everywhere. There might be one in your family, one on your team, two might have even written this article!

There is a generational shift happening not just in society, but also in the workplace.  Older millennials are now in their thirties, securing leadership positions at work and bringing with them the values and expectations that define their generation.  It’s not just at your company. The prospects and customers you engage with are aggregating on social platforms and challenging established processes and structures at their end.

Golden goose or just the future at work?

The rise of ‘social selling’ and social influencing is in some ways a challenge to the status quo by younger colleagues, keen to tap into the potential of social media. However, if you strip it back, the success of social selling depends on tried and trusted methods of timing, persuasion and patience -well-honed skills that come naturally to seasoned sales executives.

But, social selling is much more than sales dressed up as something else.  It is driving a cultural shift across even the most conservative organizations and forcing the adoption of technology - be that a large CRM deployment, or more incremental changes such as setting up a LinkedIn company page or launching a presence on Twitter.

More Flexibility & Fewer Rules

“It’s always how we’ve done things around here.” If you read Shaun’s article on vanilla-ization, he talks about the need for companies to loosen up in order to encourage employees and internal subject matter experts to express their opinions, points of view and drive authentic thought leadership. 

Companies are used to controlling messages and governing how their employees engage.  Long social media guidelines written in legalese put off sales and business development teams from engaging with prospects online – in fear of saying or doing the wrong thing.

Even in the most traditional B2B and industrial sectors, we are now starting to see a groundswell of activity on social media, particularly LinkedIn, with more and more employees creating personal profiles.  They want to engage and be engaged with.  

Convergence of Personal & Private

Thankfully the number of companies blocking internal usage of Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms seems to be decreasing.  All workers, irrespective of age, tenure and seniority are seeing their personal and private lives converge. 

Rather than policing their employees, companies need to be less risk-averse and trust their sales teams not to do anything stupid. Incorporating prospecting and sales acquisition via social channels should be the new normal.

From Transmit to Receive

Traditional companies who are stuck in transmit mode - be that at trade shows, through display advertising or traditional media relationships - need to start broadening their engagement strategies.

What hasn’t changed is that people still buy people. However, encouraging sales and business development teams to have authentic conversations online is easier said than done, especially when they have been trained to sell in more traditional ways.

The easiest way to encourage a smooth transition to social selling is to create a safe environment for people to explore and experiment.  The LinkedIn Sales Navigator and LinkedIn Elevate are just two tools that give both experienced and new social media users the peace of mind to identify and engage with prospects.

Whatever social media means to you, it’s here to stay. So, it’s time to engage and more importantly to sell.  Get in touch with us to see how to incorporate it into your marketing and sales programmes.


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