ARLINGTON, Va., Nov. 7, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- According to CEB (NYSE: CEB), the leading member-based advisory company, high-performing sales reps are embracing a set of demand-shaping approaches traditionally reserved for marketing. Through social media, the best reps are directly engaging customers where and when they are defining their needs. In fact, CEB research of more than 1,000 sales reps shows that the proper use of social media channels for selling can drive upwards of a 13 percent performance gain.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, which holds that sellers must engage customers once needs are defined, top performers recognize this is far too late in the customer buying process. Today's customer can readily identify needs and assess options without supplier support, resulting in tremendous price leverage. CEB finds the best sales reps are opting to engage customers as they passively learn, well before a need is identified.
Social Media in the New Sales Environment
Chief among CEB's findings is the use of social media to engage prospects and customers alike. Social media presents a channel of unrivaled breadth, scope, and access enabling top sellers to build their own personal brand by sharing provocative insights and positioning themselves as part of the ongoing learning of customers. CEB research demonstrates this trend is pervasive even in markets that are less technology-oriented.
In addition to leveraging social media, CEB research shows high performing reps engage prospects with disruptive insight, ultimately generating their own leads and not relying on traditional marketing channels to deliver them.
"Given that 57 percent of a typical purchase decision is made by the time a supplier is engaged, high-performing reps are positioning their solutions well ahead of customer need. They are shaping demand though new channels, like social media, to avoid being called in by customers late in the game for what amounts to no more than a price war," said Matthew Dixon, executive director, CEB. "While average performers largely wait for business to present itself, often responding to RFPs, high-performing sales reps are turning into micro-marketers, engaging customers before a purchase process has even started."
This body of research expands on the foundations of CEB research highlighted in The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation. Published as a book last November, The Challenger Sale has been on The Wall Street Journal's Best-Selling Books List, consistently ranked #1 on Amazon's Sales & Selling bestseller list and has been featured in Harvard Business Review, Forbes, CNBC and The Washington Post.
CEB is the leading member-based advisory company. By combining the best practices of thousands of member companies with our advanced research methodologies and human capital analytics, we equip senior leaders and their teams with insight and actionable solutions to transform operations. This distinctive approach, pioneered by CEB, enables executives to harness peer perspectives and tap into breakthrough innovation and improvement without costly consulting or reinvention. The CEB member network includes more than 16,000 executives and the majority of top companies globally. For more information, visit www.executiveboard.com.