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By : Judi Virgulak - 27.07.2017

Why All the Buzz About Social Selling?
 (It's what Trade Shows Have Done Forever!)

Social selling is a hot buzzword in the business world, especially when it comes to B2B sales. With so much of the B2B sales process now taking place online, social selling is the tool that salespeople use to attract new customers.

Believe it or not, there is nothing new about social selling.  The idea of getting buyers and sellers together to build relationships, exchange ideas and expertise and do business has been around for 850 years. The first tradeshow was established in late medieval Europe during the age of merchant capitalism. Today, the modern tradeshow is much like those of the past, with its primary focus on helping to bring industry people together in a physical space. The only aspect of social selling that’s new is it’s now happening online as well.

Although tradeshows create buzz, it’s not easy to keep up that level of excitement and engagement after the event with just phone calls or emails. Your attendees now have more say in their buying experiences, a trend that will only grow as their access to digital information increases.

So how do you maximize engagement between your attendees and exhibitors in this new digital age?

 

The New Networking

Social selling simply refers to using social networks to find, connect, and nurture sales prospects. Although you might have not called it social selling, it's what exhibitors and buyers likely do at your event and when they visit the LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook accounts of potential sales prospects in order to contact them later.

Given the complexity of the B2B sales cycle, your exhibitors need to use additional channels, such as social media, to nurture prospects that they meet at events. In fact, this is already happening. The question is why are you letting your customers use other social selling platforms?  What aren’t you extending the community you’ve built in the industry your show serves, the strength of your show brand and the years of experience you have with social selling to create your own online social selling platform?

Why It Works

According to Bluewolf, engaged organizations are 33% more likely to close a sale than non-engaged organizations. Social selling allows your attendees to engage and interact with your exhibitors in a meaningful way, creating better relationships and more dynamic marketplaces 24/7/365.

Creating an effective social selling platform for your tradeshow will facilitate daily interaction with and between your customers by responding to feedback, questions, and sharing information that is both helpful and relevant for building trusted relationships and driving business.

Social selling isn't a set it and forget it strategy and it doesn’t last just 3 or 4 days a year. It requires on-going engagement and participation from your customers.  It requires the same interaction with people that they currently have at your tradeshow; having something of value to contribute, and demonstrating that they actually want to be helpful to their sales prospects‒in order to be effective.

Social selling also requires organizations to do the proper homework on their targets in order to understand their unique situations. As a result, this creates a scenario where your attendees and exhibitrs are likely to be more engaged because you are providing a platform (just like the physical venue) for two-way conversations, ultimately leading to increased sales and profits.

What's The Value 

The buyer journey has changed.  Gone are the days when your tradeshow was the only place to launch new products, discover new suppliers, stay current on industry news and trends, etc.  According to Lenati, 67% of the B2B buyer journey is now done digitally. Additionally, 84% of CEOs and VPs use social media to make purchase decisions. Now that B2B buyers are primarily online, more companies are creating high-quality content that caters to the needs and wants of their customers. This is where your tradeshow has a unique opportunity to deliver additional value, creating and launching a social selling platform that simply mirrors everything you are already doing in the physical world!

As the B2B organization becomes more challenged in dealing with social media savvy B2B buyers, it is important that they understand the risks they face in not adopting a social selling strategy. Numerous studies and surveys have indicated the value that social selling can deliver. Here are some of the most significant takeaways from this research.

Increased Engagement

Combining event marketing with social media leads to success. In fact, Cisco found that its year-round efforts of combining social media and event marketing boosted click-through rates across social media platforms by 236% over one year and growth across the targeted social media platforms. The case study uncovered that social selling is essential to maintaining an increased level of excitement and communication after an event.

Reframing the Conversation

As tradeshow operators, you and your exhibitors need to consider the impact that third-party content has on B2B buyers. In fact, 9 out of 10 B2B buyers say that online content has a moderate to major effect on their purchasing decisions. Referrals from peers and colleagues rank as the second most important factor influencing B2B purchasing decisions.

This means that there is a lot of content out there on the web that your organization or your customers don’t have direct control over. Your organization can reframe these conversations and remain relevant with your attendees by engaging in social selling to endorse your organization and your exhibitors own content.

More Referrals

One of the most effective dynamics that happens on a tradeshow floor is how buyers influence one another, recommend successful suppliers, discuss trends and inventory decisions. Referrals are also a big part of the online buying process.  According to the New York Times, decision makers are 4 times more likely to buy from a friend. An astounding 84% of B2B decision makers begin their buying process with a referral. As a result, suppliers who use social selling to reach out to potential buyers can build relationships that deliver much better results than salespeople who don’t.

While most of your exhibitors still rely on cold calls to initiate relationships with new customers, when they are not at your event, they are becoming less and less effective given that 92% of buyers say they delete emails or voicemail messages when comes from someone who they do not know. The average cold calling appointment rate stands at just 2.5%.

While social selling should never be considered as a core direct sales channel, it is an indispensable tool that your organization can provide for your customers assisting them 24/7/365 with developing the relationships that lead to referrals and sales.

Increased Revenue

At the end of the day, your exhibitors want to increase profits and social selling has been proven to do just that. Nearly 73% of salespeople who use social selling as part of their sales process outperformed their sales peers and exceeded quota 23% more often. Social selling results in a 12% increase in brand advocacy and doubles revenue growth.

Although some face-to-face sales activities have moved online, the underlying dynamics of these interactions have not been lost. Like the tradeshow, social selling facilitates the growth of relationships, builds trust, and ultimately allows people to do business. Through social selling, organizations can nurture their relationships with existing customers while developing relationships with new prospects.

Get Started

Balluun makes it easier for organizations to engage in social selling in order to discover and connect with new buyers, suppliers and products, while promoting their brands to a qualified and engaged audience.

Contact us today to learn how you can launch your own industry specific social marketplace where B2B buyers and sellers can connect.

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