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Many sales leaders want their reps to be focused on one thing: closing business. And they fear that change – no matter how small or beneficial – will be a distraction for their sellers.

But there's a downside to that line of thinking. Sometimes, the longer you wait to implement a new sales technology or strategy, the more energy, time, and resources you waste on the wrong activities.

Social selling is no exception. In today's customer-driven sales landscape, there is an opportunity cost when you wait to implement social selling. Here are four of the biggest opportunity costs.

Cost #1: Missed Sales Opportunities and Revenue

At one point, sellers were in control. Buyers had limited information about vendors. To find out more, they had to interact with the company through sales and service staff.

With the advent of search engines and social media, things changed. Nowadays, buyers are in control, and they are using social media to make purchasing decisions. 75% of B2B buyers now use social media to research vendors (IDC).

What's more, buyers who use social media have larger budgets – typically 84% larger than the budgets of people who do not use social media (IDC).

If your sales reps aren't using social media, your competitors will. And your competitors will be the ones who are winning those large deals – sourced from social networks like LinkedIn and Twitter.

Cost #2: Strained Relationship with Marketing

How heavily does your sales team rely on marketing for lead generation? Tension builds when your sales team's default attitude is, "Yo, marketing, where are my leads?"

While marketing is invaluable to your business, the fact remains: sales teams need to generate their own leads. SiriusDecisions has found that marketing departments typically source between 10% and 45% of your deals, depending on the deal size.

In other words, sales reps need to generate between 55% and 90% of their own deals. That number sounds daunting, especially if your team is dependent on marketing. But sales teams that embrace social selling can generate their own leads. That's how social sellers outperform those who use traditional methods like cold outreach.

In fact, social sellers realize 66% greater quota attainment than those using traditional prospecting techniques like cold calling.

Cost #3: Upset Buyers

To generate leads, many sales teams buy lists, make cold calls, and write cold emails.

Without a doubt, this is an inefficient and ineffective way to spend your time and money. HubSpot estimates that it would take 6,264 cold calls to close four deals. Ugh.

But that's not all. Cold outreach leaves a bad taste in buyers' mouths. LinkedIn's research has shown that cold selling leaves buyers with a bad impression of both the seller and the seller's company.

Bad impressions are never good for business. To avoid that misstep, sellers can leverage their social networks, which allow them to build business relationships that are personalized, welcoming, and relevant.

Cost #4: Losing on Price

Because of the new, well-informed buyer, sales teams face an interesting set of choices.

Option 1 

Sales teams can keep the status quo and wait for buyers to come to them. These educated buyers bring their research to the negotiating table. They know how much your competitors are charging. And as a result, most deals are won or lost based on price – and price alone. Sales teams are not able to get into the deals early enough to influence the customer’s evaluation criteria.

Option 2

Instead of being complacent, sellers can proactively seek out buyers before their buyers raise their hands. Sales Benchmark Index’s research shows that proactive sales teams rarely compete on price and often win deals with zero competition because “they got in early.” Plus, sales leaders who encourage proactive selling are 56% more likely to make their number.

Most companies, as you can imagine, wait. Less than half (43%) of all companies proactively seek out buyers. If you can find and help your buyers earlier on, chances are good that you will have less competition and win more deals – without making drastic pricing concessions. Social networks are a great way to do that.

Stop Putting Social Selling Off

By delaying social selling, you're costing your company time, energy, and revenue. You're missing sales opportunities. You're competing on price. You're losing.

It's time to update your sales playbook and meet your modern buyers where they are. And chances are good they're on social.

Want to Learn More about Social Selling?

Check out the Executive Guide to Social Selling. It discusses how leaders can shape the social transformation within your organization.

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Posted by Mark Bajus

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