As evidenced by Black Friday this past weekend, social selling is a huge part the B2C world. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn were all flooded with special sales and promotions from various retailers, some even requiring a Facebook “like” to access a discount code. Although many B2B companies have a strong presence on various social sites, sales teams are not using social media as a central component of their sales strategy like their B2C counterparts are. Gerry Moran, Senior Director of Social Media Marketing at SAP, explores the best practices that can actually work to turn social into a powerful B2B sales tool for any business and proves that the payoff can be worth the effort.
Social Selling Can Be a Piece of Cake
Although market research is providing a growing body of evidence demonstrating the value social is delivering for B2B sales, many companies are slow to warm up to the idea of social selling due to uncertainty about the right approach. But, adding the following strategies to a company’s sales playbook can make social selling a piece of cake.
Play 1: Integrate social into prospecting and preparation.
In today’s world of information abundance, people are saturated with sales and marketing overload. InsideView reports that 90 percent of CEOs don’t answer cold emails and cold calls anymore, and the same is true with sales decision influencers. Social media is filling that gap. IBM reports that 75 percent of B2B decision makers use social media to inform their decisions, and blogs play an increasing role as well. Adding social media into the sales process allows a company to connect with individuals that would otherwise be unreachable.
Tip: Before you talk, it’s important to listen. See what your prospects are posting, tweeting, or blogging about, what they like and dislike, what they share, and so on. This is key information and will help to know how to enter conversations later on.
Play 2: Use social to make the first contact.
Information abundance makes it more important than ever to engage customers in dialogue. Social media is a comfortable and convenient way to conduct a two-way conversation.
Tip: Again, make sure you know what your prospects are interested in and which platforms they are using to communicate. Comment on a blog post, retweet a prospect’s tweet, or like a prospect’s post. Just remember to follow up on initial connections to keep conversations going.
Play 3: Nurture warm prospects through social.
Social media provides opportunities to make non-intrusive contact and allows companies to differentiate themselves while their prospects are still in early stages of information-gathering. Casual conversations build relationships that can pay off over time.
Tip: The key to effective nurturing is to add value. Enter conversations with your hands full. Contribute relevant insights to blogs, groups, and sites that customers frequent. Offering knowledge or subject matter expertise is more likely to cement connections than pitching products or services.
Play 4: Make your brand easy to find through social.
Having an established and visible social presence increases a company’s chances of being in the right place at the right time – when a prospect is ready to buy. That visibility also keeps a company top of mind when prospects decision times arrive. It’s also a great way to extend reach and build a brand.
Tip: Include links to social accounts in email signatures, use SEO keywords and links in blog posts, and update your social platforms regularly.