News by Numbers: Using Online Influence to Increase Sales

[Updated 12.1.15]

Once upon a time, to be a salesperson meant picking up the phone and introducing your brand to someone on the other end of the line. You had control of both the information and the conversation. Today, that scenario couldn’t be further from the truth.

Consumers now begin their journey without you, through online recommendations and research. When potential leads come to us and it’s time to steer the conversation toward a close, we must consider the experience the customer has already had. What have they heard about our brand through social media? Have their friends recommended us? Will they do the same?

The customer journey and the sales process may seem convoluted with the abundance of available information, but the responsibility to make the sell and continue that positive relationship with the customer is still up to the brand.

Take a look at some numbers that illustrate the new landscape of selling to a customer that is social, informed, and influential in bolstering a successful sales cycle.

50

Percentage of the customer journey a B2B client has likely completed before you know they’re looking to purchase. It’s a frustrating truth of online selling these days. Clients have reviews, recommendations, and nearly all of the information they need at their fingertips. Which is why it’s so important to optimize the online experience across platforms. You can identify how they found you once it’s time to go for the close through tracking the traffic to your site. Being aware of the different origins of the customer journey when it is time to step in and close a sale for a brand helps us better connect with each unique experience and seal more deals.

2:1

Ratio of sales made through word-of-mouth marketing compared to paid advertising. According to a McKinsey study, influencers are actually responsible for more than twice the amount of sales as paid ads. Marketers must take advantage of the power of influence by targeting the people who wield the online megaphones—the ones with huge social followings, popular blogs, and devoted audiences. Give them what they need to spread the word—shareable content and a quality customer experience. But we also must acknowledge the collective power of the everyday customer. They may not be speaking to huge audiences, but they are passing along their recommendations to friends and family who trust them. Influencers, both big and small, pave the path to the close, and the customers they refer have a 37% higher retention rate than customers brought to you by traditional marketing avenues. Are you seeking out online influencers to help drive sales for your online business?

1 in 4

Car buyers who use social media to communicate a recent purchase experience. This reflects a consumer trend across industries—not just auto. Customers are discussing their experience with other potential customers. Giving them the tools to sing our praises can turn one closed sale into two, or more. Social media is now a huge part of the sales process and as marketers, we must remain connected to the process beyond the close, to ensure that the cycle continues in our favor.

100

Percentage of clients in high-trust relationships who will reorder a product or service without researching other options. After successfully closing a sale once, the follow-up is paramount. You’ve invested in this customer, and it paid off. Capitalize on that success with a customer experience that they’ll come back for. Make their purchase experience a painless, even enjoyable one. Use feedback and conversation to discover how their journey to purchase could be improved upon . Closing sales is tough, but by taking care of the clients we do convert, it becomes increasingly easier to keep them coming back for more. Optimize the post-sale experience by encouraging happy customers to share their experiences online.

3

The number of things customers look for in their interaction with a brand, before they buy: Expertise, authority, and trust. With the increase in information channels and potential customer journeys, the process to closing a deal has become less about the marketer’s goals and more about the customer’s experience. This is why their experience with your brand must provide those three things. Customers will look to your online presence for expertise in your industry, authority on the topics you discuss, and the ability to trust you through quality, honest information. If you can establish these things throughout the customer journey, the close will be easier to make.

We’ll never be able to control every step of the customer journey prior to a sale, but by acknowledging the power of social media and online influencers, and by harnessing that influence in our favor, we can close sales and inspire customers to become brand ambassadors who will help us continue to sell more.

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