Semantics for some some, evidential change in the 'buying' process for many. 

I'm talking about 'social selling' and how it's often being misinterpreted by sales and marketing people as a way to continue with the digital intrusive outbound stuff that's in constant decline.

If you're the biggest and best in your sector today you won't be for long. The internet has allowed millions of people around the world to take what today might be a small micro bite out of your very large macro cake, and if enough of them do this consistently and better than you then it's inevitable they will quickly dilute what you think is a dominant position. The reality is the digital Pandora box is open, and it isn't closing anytime soon.

"People today don't have to go to your website, in fact it's probably one of the last places to go to". 

Before we go any further let's clear up the myth that all sales in B2B are done via a social platform - this is utter nonsense peddled by folks with a legacy interest in outbound pushy sales techniques. The reality is business still gets done face to face by people. 

Let's have a look at the unabated rise of the micro influencer, some of which are being utilised by brands to showcase the next big thing exposing said brand to the influencers network in anticipation that some of that 'social cred' will turn into commercial opportunities. Today this is done with a picture and a post of said celeb showcasing your product. This has now moved onto 'live streaming' and is something TV shopping companies have been doing a variation of this for years. Brands take a product, get a slot, test the sales response and if the numbers look good - bingo happy days all around.

Thing is with TV shopping, whilst it has a huge following on/offline it's still perceived by many as a somewhat outdated concept - when was the last time you tuned into a TV shopping channel unless by accident in your hotel room?. There are literally hundreds of thousands of micro non paid influencers on all manner of social platforms today, many of those people are building out successful micro lifestyle businesses - is this an opportunity and a potential threat?. 

Organisations that take time to understand the strategic value for investing in a 'Social Selling' transformation initiative tend to achieve a 30% increase in revenues and an average of 25% improvement in employee productivity.

It's a combination of providing 'social proof' during the 'social buying' stages - in simple terms, if your competitor understands the social landscape better than you, and has adopted 'social selling' as key strategic initiative I guarantee the traffic will eventually go to your competitor, the digital till will cease clanging, the phone will stop ringing, and you'll continue to miss those targets.

But what's this got to do with B2C and my suppliers, why should I be concerned - I'm already successful with eCommerce?

China’s tech giants have been stealthily extending their interests in content platforms, highlighting the enormous potential for e-commerce retailers to leverage content marketing and global social media opportunities. link here

In a statement issued earlier this year, Alibaba hailed live streaming and content-to-commerce as the number one driver of e-commerce sales and announced its intent to double down on live streaming-to-commerce initiatives. Most companies I speak to think that 'live streaming' is either a gimmick, or a great way to continue to talk about themselves. 

Or worse still, 'just another version of old folks TV shopping'

It's about finding your niche, sharing expertise (not case studies or adverts) and producing entertaining stories that can help draw a potential prospect closer to you over your nearest competitor.

I am a passionate believer that in the next 2 years 'live streaming' is going to be huge for all kinds of brands and companies in multi-channel retail. The reality is it's still very much in infancy and being used in the same way that TV Shopping does - as a great big infomercial. 

The celebrity influencer sector is huge, and as celebrity has always been used to 'endorse' your brand in those intrusive and spammy ads companies are now jumping on the 'celebrity' influencer band wagon, but is the consumer growing more cynical of this approach as well?. The latest data shows that micro-influencers, influencers with 10,000 or fewer followers, are getting the best results for brands and businesses. More engagement, more clicks, and lower ROI.

There is one major sector that in my humble opinion are set up to really exploit this opportunity, this is the established TV shopping sector which includes the mighty QVC, HSN, and over in the UK Ideal Shopping TV, and many more. They already have the know how to leverage technical, resource, and back office logistics. 

The global opportunity for them to attract the non celebrity influencers to leverage the value of those assets, IP, and commercial opportunities on behalf of retailers as a service must be immense.

However, there is a fundamental difference between 'selling on social' and 'social selling' the former assumes everyone already knows your brand and offer, the other takes time to 'warm up' potential buyers with an objective to build a relationship.

Which one are you?