With traditional sales methods “fatigued,” more B2B executives are launching social selling programs, Forrester Research says. It compares 18 tools of the trade.

Social selling—finding, engaging and selling to customers through social media like Twitter and LinkedIn—is making inroads in business-to-business marketing circles, Forrester Research Inc. says in a new study.

B2B companies recognize social is a vital channel that allows sellers to create an authentic brand, gain a deeper understanding of their prospects and customers, and engage in contextual ways.

“With traditional sales channels fatigued, B2B marketing and sales leaders are getting serious about rolling out social selling programs,” Forrester says in the report, “New Tech: B2B Social Selling Tools, Q1 2018,” by Forrester analysts Mary Shea, Jacob Milender and Carlton Doty.

B2B companies, Forrester adds, “recognize social is a vital channel that allows sellers to create an authentic brand, gain a deeper understanding of their prospects and customers, and engage in contextual ways.”

Among their reasons, it adds, is that many prospective customers are avoiding traditional sales channels like phone calls and personal visits with sales reps. And “as email inboxes become more cluttered, direct messaging through Twitter, WhatsApp” and other social media channels can be “more effective in cutting through the noise.”

But there are many social selling tools designed to help marketing and selling through social media, with variations of types and level of viability. To help marketing and sales executives sort through them, Forrester comments on how each of 18 tools—including Dynamic Signal, Hootsuite Amplify, Linkedin Sales Navigator, Salesforce Social Studio and Thought Horizon—performs to reach new customers, engage with them and develop leads that result in sales. Forrester also considered such criteria as the experience of senior management and financial backing behind each tool in placing each of them into one of three groups classified as “more viable,” “viable” or “less viable.”

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In considering each tool’s capabilities, for example, Forrester considered such things as how the tools integrate with other marketing tools and programs. “Because it’s now crucial for B2B sellers and marketers to have complete visibility into buyers’ engagement across the entire [customer] lifecyle, we also considered integration capabilities with other channels, programs and tools,” Forrester says.

Forrester also interviewed businesses that have used the tools, and considered in its evaluations the tendency of companies’ sales teams to see the value of using them.

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