If you want to shorten the sales cycle for considered-purchase brands, you’ll need to better understand the paradigm shift taking place as more consumers use social media to shape their buying cycle.
With technology enabling B2B and B2C prospects to quickly find and research everything they want or need online, companies are beginning to dump their archaic selling cycles in favor of joining today’s savvy, technically empowered customers, in a much faster social media buying cycle.
According to “The CMO Survey” from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, social marketing budgets are constantly going up, with almost one-fifth of marketing dollars allocated to social media in the next 5 years.
The good news is that today’s customers are well-informed prospects who are already predisposed to buy – but they are in charge. So abandon any antiquated ways of courting them and use these 9 important steps to get to Yes faster.
- Content Is King. You’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating. Appealing content (text, graphics, images, sounds or videos) as part of the users experience is the web’s reason for being. Nowhere else does content reign with greater authority and influence than it does in social media.
- Use Content as your new Currency. Customers want information and they are willing to “pay” for it by giving you their information, their time, their attention, their wallet and their heart.
- Know Your Customer. Seriously. Understanding the customer you are developing content for is essential. If you are not using customer personas, you are going to have a real challenge developing valuable content to drive a successful social media based buying cycle.
- Be Supremely Relevant. Content is no longer one-size-fits-all. Today’s customers expect your content to address their particular needs, and if you don’t, your competition will. Make customer relevance the single most important criteria for your content and your customers will reward you.
- Engage on a First-name Basis. Okay – a first-name salutation is only the start of personalizing your messaging, but with today’s technologies, why wouldn’t you? Once your new customers have shared their names, you have implied permission to talk with them on a first-name basis. Politely make the most of it. No one ever gets tired of seeing his or her name in the soft glow of backlighting.
- Develop Conversations. Today’s customer expects engaging and entertaining information that invites a conversation among peers. The day of industry jargon and sales talk is history. Use content that reflects your customer’s conversational style, tone and personality.
- Timing Is Everything. Savvy suitors deliver the right content at the right time. Look for trigger events that indicate your customer has moved to the next phase of their buying cycle. Then map your content accordingly. The wrong content at the wrong time could create confusion and kill sales.
- Engage with The 3 E’s. Staying top-of-mind throughout the buying cycle is still the main job for a complex sale. However, if you provide your customers with Education, then Expertise and finally Evidence to support your claims, they will mover more efficiently to their buying decision. Also, by employing the 3 Es, you’ll improve engagement and build trust: “Hey, this company gets me.” How valuable is that?
- K.I.S.S. Works. When it comes to romancing the customer’s buying cycle, the best rule is Keep It Simple, Seller. They trust the opinions and advice of their friends and networks over your marketing and your sales people. They want their courtship based on clarity. Answer what they want to know, not what you want to tell. It’s that simple.
Are you seeing this shift in your customers? How do you think your business could benefit from this social media buying cycle?