In Business to Business (B2B) selling, relationship building is particularly important. However, you’ll already know that you need to choose who you invest time in to build those relationships, and be clear that it’s a two way commitment. In addition, you want to avoid offending those you don’t want to talk to, since they can let others know, either in person or online.
An analogy in the offline world of exhibitions or networking groups would be – you go where your buyers are likely to be, you invest time and show commitment. You also have some structured conversations around needs and capabilities, so both you and the person you’re taking to knows if it’s good use of time to go to the next stage.
If you went to visit an irrelevant event, started handing out leaflets to everyone in sight, broadcast a message over the tannoy, and went barging into every conversation you wouldn’t make much progress or find any good leads, and you’d upset a few people in the process.
Even if you were at the right event, if you spoke in depth about non-work topics to just one or two people, or spent the day visiting other vendors stands, or decided to pack up and leave part way through the day, your lead generation results would be limited.
Social Media can be a very useful tool at each stage in the lead generation and sales process, in both inbound and outbound ways. Here are some examples of ways it can be used, and the potential benefits.
Social Selling tips for the Top of the Sales Funnel
- Social Media status updates and mentions are searchable, so your short messages can be found
- Social Media mentions of your website and blog content improves find-ability
- You can be found if you participate in relevant forums and discussions
- When people ‘Like’ your content in various ways it is highlighted to their contacts
- You can find and follow people and companies you’d like to target, based on their social profiles, and their connections, and then listen out for news, initiatives, challenges etc. that could be triggers to approach them.
Social Selling tips for the Middle of the Sales Funnel
- Published content gives you and your sales team material to share with specific contacts
- Shareable content helps your prime contact update others in the Decision Making Team
- Structured hints and tips help to educate and qualify the prospect alongside direct contact
- You could allocate leads to the sales person with the best connections to the prospect online
- You may be able to find leads and opportunities by searching status updates, forum posts, discussion groups and so on.
Social Selling tips for the Bottom of the Sales Funnel
- Your company and staff profiles, content and contributions in Social Media can build credibility, create differentiation and show added value, influencing supplier short-listing and selection
- Content and Company Endorsements on Social Media, and a strong public profile and following can reduce perceived risk, as you have a public reputation to lose if you don’t deliver
- Monitoring prospects and competitors could identify is there is competitive activity around the opportunity, and whether there are other ‘stakeholders’ that might need to be approached
- Monitoring key decision-maker status updates can flag up opportunities to put in a contact call, based on a topic they may have referred to in their personal or business lives.
Key steps for Social Selling Success
- Decide on your goals, strategy and tactics to an appropriate level of detail
- Link your Social Selling strategy with your sales process and the buying process of your prospects
- Create and publish useful, shareable content that supports your strategy on a regular basis
- Send out a mix of status updates which can include: ones referring to your key content resources, to your offers and landing pages, to other people’s material and to trade news and events. Also include ones that reveal your personality, replies to incoming messages, thanks for favours done, messages to reach out and try to open a dialogue and more.
- Include your network of contacts; partners, suppliers, customers, thought-leaders and more in your Social Media mix, because if you share their messages they are more likely to share yours, and increase your reach and profile.
And finally, don’t forget to keep an eye on progress made, for example monitoring traffic from Social Media sources onto your website (ie. Google Analytics), stats about sharing of your content (ie. via Hootsuite Analytics) and your online reputation (ie. via Klout).
To help companies, business owners and sales people to make the most of Social Media we offer a Social Selling Review and Action Plan service.
If you are looking for a system to help you manage social sales relationships, and to organise your contacts, calendar, communications, to-dos, collaboration and sales pipeline take a look at the Social CRM system from Nimble.
If you would like guidance or assistance please send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org