Sales POP - Purveyors of Propserity
Chapter 9 of Managing a Social Selling Team: Always Focus on the Buyer

Chapter 9 of Managing a Social Selling Team: Always Focus on the Buyer

In the previous chapter, we covered the vital necessity of patience in social selling. We pointed out that social selling steps may appear passive, when in fact they’re anything but that. Salespeople need to learn this patience well if they are to succeed at social selling—and sales managers must allow them the time and space to do so.

Now we should cover something that has always been necessary, but today it merits a different kind of attention: focusing on the buyer.

What do we know about the buyer today? Due to the evolution of the internet, we’ve seen a radical change in buyer behavior; social networks have become an integral part of the buyer’s journey. Long before they ever contact a sales rep from your organization, they’re (virtually) out there reading independent product reviews, interacting with your customers, finding out for themselves what your product or service might do for their company.

Changes Continue

If there’s one thing you can say about change, it is constant. Hence as the buyer’s journey evolves further, we can expect to see further changes. For example, every buyer in the B2B sphere is also a consumer, and the online consumer shopping experience has given rise to expectations that all purchasing interactions should be frictionless. “Easy to do business with,” “highly responsive,” “great service and great price”—these used to be competitive differentiators. Now, they are nothing more than table stakes, and buyers expect and require them in order for us to be in the game

In another example, buyers only purchase from those, in the end, that they trust. In a 2014 study, United Sales Resources found that 50.1% of buyers said that “trust” was the number one driver for their purchasing decision amongst like providers. We’ve seen many examples of how this trust is earned through social media interaction and through demonstration of salesperson expertise, great products, and great service. This trend will continue to spread and solidify all across B2B business.

These are obvious examples of changes that have come about that will, more likely than not, remain with us and become even more apparent in the buyer journey. But where else might this journey be headed?

Continuing Buyer Research

We could speculate endlessly—and sales pundits around the world no doubt will, just as they always have. But speculation won’t help your sales force move further ahead and become increasingly efficient. That takes understanding. And it now comes back to you, the sales manager, to help provide your team with that understanding.

First, you can talk directly to your customers about their buying habits, and lead the way for your salespeople to do the same. As a sales manager you can simply do one of those famous, “I’m just checking up on our service” type calls, and while you’re at it, ask them about some of their buying habits today. Are there new social media channels they’re checking out? Where are they turning for data? To whom are they listening? What do they expect from a company like yours, in terms of provision of help and information prior to a purchase? What are they doing now that they weren’t doing a year ago?

You can even host events for your customers, at which you can garner this kind of data. You can, of course, host online events as well.

Then, make sure to get your salespeople up and running on these same kinds of questions. You obviously wouldn’t want them doing this while they’re trying to close a deal—but afterwards, why not? They will likely want to check in on their customers anyway, from time to time. It’s how future sales are made. And it can be as simple as a quick email.

At the same time, you as a sales manager should be watching general buying trends. There will be articles about them, and additionally you can peek in at forums and online groups, listening and asking questions, as well. Of course, there is always the personal interaction at conferences, trade shows and the like—and dinners or after-hours gatherings at such events are great places for data collection.

A Pivotal Role

Remember, you as a sales manager are a leader. This doesn’t mean that you are just leading the team in helping and pushing them to make their numbers—it also means you are leading the way in forging new trails, discovering new trends and even creating some. Helping the team stay on top of buying patterns certainly fits in with this role, and will ensure your team is always forging ahead and remaining successful.

Why People Buy from You

Why People Buy from You

People buy for all sorts of reasons. They either need something or want something. When you’re the buyer, you typically have some idea based on your needs, wants, past experiences, budget, etc. But do you really know why people buy from you? And do you truly understand the buyer and their specific journey throughout the decision making process?

Because so much information is available at our fingertips, we know that most people are well into their buying cycle before interacting with a sales person. They do their own research and take their time deciding what’s most important to them early on. They’re approaching the buying process with an open mind, hoping for greater discovery and perspective as they move toward a decision.

What salespeople must realize is that this is a huge opportunity for them to align themselves with the buyer’s journey. Salespeople can make the most of this process by focusing on the buyer and assisting them with their discovery process.

It’s still kind of funny that many salespeople still believe that people buy from them because they like them. Well, ok, sometimes maybe they do. But maybe – just maybe — the reason why people buy from you is because:

  • You have shown the buyer that you have done your research, assuring them that you are not there to waste their time
  • You have proposed other alternatives or asked questions the buyer had not thought of, allowing them to broaden their perspective
  • You have listened to their needs and timeline and worked to make it easy for them to buy, reducing or eliminating their key objections and minimizing any risk of buying from you

To build a relationship, any relationship, you need to focus on the buyer – not yourself – because:

  • You cannot sell what you think is important
  • You cannot sell the products or services that put more money in your pocket
  • You cannot sell what the buyer does not need

However, you can do your research about the client, understand their past experiences, and get to know why they would want to invest the time, money and resources to disrupt their lives and that of their staff to make a change.

Every interaction with the buyer should be about them. Look for those who can truly benefit from your products and services. Help the buyer truly learn by understanding their goals, priorities and concerns. Ask insightful questions so the buyer can expand their perspective. And prepare to discuss objections in a way that gets the buyer really thinking. That’s how you build relationships. They trust that you understand them and have their best interests at heart – not your own.

Align Your Selling to These 3 Customer Buying Stages to Land More Referrals

Align Your Selling to These 3 Customer Buying Stages to Land More Referrals

Isn’t it great when you’re contacted by someone new and the conversation opens like this, “Your customer told me you can help me like you helped them.” There isn’t a sweeter lead than a referral. Everyone likes referrals, but only the best salespeople work at receiving more. One way to improve the number of referrals you receive is by aligning how you sell with how people buy.

There are two processes happening concurrently during a sale. The sellers selling process and the buyers buying process. When we can tune our selling process into our prospects buying process, we can move the needle toward more referrals as well as win more business.

We’ve all been in those situations when a salesperson is trying to build your interest after you’ve already decided to buy. If the salesperson would just stop talking you could place the order. Then there’s the times when you’re not ready to consider buying and you’re being asked when you would like delivery. In either case, the salesperson is not recognizing which stage of the buying process you’re in and is actually working against the sale. Staying in tune with your customer is key to having an enjoyable, and more often than not, successful selling conversation.

Marketing or Selling?

One key to staying in tune is knowing when you should market and when it’s time to move on to selling. Marketing should be focused on generating interest in your product or service, and selling is helping someone who’s already interested make a purchasing decision. A buyer doesn’t think in terms of marketing and selling, they just want to buy. It’s our job to be in tune with the following three buying stages to know what we should and shouldn’t be doing in each. Let’s take a look at these three stages and lists of do’s and don’ts within each stage.

Three Stages of a Buying Process

There could be sub stages to those listed below for more complex sales, but in general most of us work through a buying process this way:

  1. Interest – Our curiosity is peaked and we want to learn more. Usually some feature or statement has connected with possibly solving a problem or attaining a goal. Other times something just sounds cool or attractive, but we will dismiss the notion and never move to Consideration.
  2. Consideration – We begin contemplating or qualifying if we should invest the time to make a decision. Today this usually happens with some light online searches and reading. We might even test our notion with some people we know that might be using the solution we’re considering.
  3. Decision Making – We begin the decision-making process to purchase or not. We get serious and ask for trials, schedule meetings and invest in deeper research or sales conversations.

When you tailor your conversations around these three stages appropriately, your buyers will enjoy your selling process and won’t feel like they’re being sold. Why is this important? When people enjoy your selling process you will more likely than not be referred to others. It’s a joy to work with someone who is focused on us and what we need just when we need it. It doesn’t feel like they are selling a thing. It feels more like they are supporting our decision. Of course you don’t have to be in tune to make sales. I’ve bought from sales people out of tune, but I didn’t refer them to anyone.

Dos and Don’ts in each stage

The first step in staying in tune with your customer is realizing which stage they’re in. The second is knowing what to do and what not do in each of these stages. Below are lists of dos and don’ts for each buying stage. Use the list as a self-assessment or to help you strategize upcoming conversations.


  • Do share information and insights that help a buyer easily identify if your product or service is something they should learn more about.
  • Don’t talk about features, benefits or “how” you solve their problems.
  • Do simply imply or state that you can solve their problems.
  • Do lead them to how they can learn more (web site, report, webinar, seminar, meeting with you, customers)
  • Do ask the question, “Would you like to learn more?” if they are not being obvious.


  • Do qualify them ($$, decision power, agreed on need) to make sure they are a good fit to consider buying your offering.
  • Don’t talk them into considering.
  • Do explain your selling process or how you help them make a decision.
  • Do have them clarify their concerns or issues they identified in the interest stage.
  • Do ask and confirm if they would want to invest the time to make a purchasing decision and work through your selling process. Allow them to say yes or no.
  • Don’t answer for them by pushing a next appointment.
  • Do allow them to get back to you with their choice to move forward if they need time to consider or discuss with others.
  • Do allow them to experience your work, product or service if possible.


  • Do work through your selling process.
  • Don’t take shortcuts.
  • Do get all appropriate people involved in the process (users, influencers, financial powers).
  • Do have your solution clearly connected to their issues, concerns or goals.
  • Don’t rush a decision.
  • Do confront the buyer with clarifying questions if they are procrastinating or hesitant.
  • Do let them ask to buy.

I enjoy allowing people to buy. One way this is crystal clear to me is when they ask to buy rather than me asking for a decision. When this is happening, it’s a good indicator that you have stayed in tune with the buying stages and communicated (both listening and conveying) very well. This will lead to more referrals and very happy buyers.

How To Find Buying Signals on Social Media

How To Find Buying Signals on Social Media

Social media has changed the way buyers buy and sales reps sell. Traditionally, consistent and real-time communication amongst seller and buyer did not exist. With unprecedented use of Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and so many more social networks, there is an opportunity to understand buyers like never before. Each and every day, your prospects are giving hints away on if and when they are ready to buy your product or service. Still not quite sure how you or your sales team can increase and accelerate sales through buying signals? Read on.

What’s a buying signal?

A buying signal is an indication of purchase intent and buyers are giving them away, for free, on social media. These can come in hard or soft forms. An example of a hard signal is somebody asking about the price or feedback around your product, or that of a competitor. An example of a soft signal might be: let’s say we sell baby cribs and we monitor people who are researching baby names. This intel tells us that in several months time this same person will be needing/shopping for a baby crib. By monitoring your prospects and the right topics on LinkedIn, Twitter, and more, you can pick up on these. For more info on buying signals or triggers follow Craig Elias.

They’re everywhere if you listen.

Notice each of these signals are discrete since they reside only in the buyer’s world and can only be picked up through careful listening. Catching these separates good salespeople from the flock of vendors through taking advantage of these key small windows of opportunity. Just now as I read a tweet addressed to my city “In #Vancouver and need a place to stay for the night. Any suggestions?” It’s been 5 minutes and not a single hotel has responded. I’m thinking of reaching out and offering my guest room for $40 per night. Twitter and LinkedIn Groups are my two favorite social spots to find and listen for buying signals. Social Relationship Platforms like HootSuite help monitor all of these in one spot and have app integrations with tools like NeedTagger to help identify purchase intent on social media.

OK I found one. Now what?

Buying signal or not, it’s never that easy to close a sale even if the triggers are identified, the work still needs to be done. The great part is that these signals give you the ammo you need to increase the likelihood and velocity of a closed deal. Use these signals to write your emails, subject lines, conversations and watch how quickly you navigate the sales funnel changing prospects to paying customers. Don’t forget, social is not a place for a hard sell – it’s a place to build trust and credibility. Work the intelligence in to your formal sales process and messaging while staying top of mind by continuing to interact on a personal level over social media.

Editor’s Postscript: Julio’s advice about social media listening skills is a keystone of good social selling skills. The new way to sell incorporates relationship building throughout and across social channels. You can only benefit from understanding, monitoring, engaging, and following up on these signals — they’re a secret weapon in many ways, as many brands have been slow to embrace social selling techniques. Social is where your prospects are doing their research in advance of meeting you. As you know, all the stats indicate that they are aware and exploring long before they reach out to the brand. You might want to check out Anton Rius’ article on how relationships turn into revenue.

This post was originally published on Social Media Today. Many thanks for letting us share it with our readers.


This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this website you are giving consent to cookies being used. For information on cookies and how you can disable them, visit our privacy and cookie policy.