How Social Media Changes Sales Habits of B2B Companies
What You Need to Do Right Now
The lifeblood of business flows through the energy of sales. You hold something I want. You determine its value (or likely that I do). If I agree with the value, am motivated and have the means, we transact. Thousands of years from now, humans will still exchange goods in some form, even if by a name other than buying and selling or with some yet unimaginable form of currency.
What has changed dramatically is the present marketplace. Buyers now enjoy (or disdain) unlimited choices in products and services with untold ways by which to acquire them. This upending change has caused uncertainty and outright confusion.
That’s why, as a business-to-business seller, your firm must work harder to make it easier for buyers to find your solution quickly. To narrow down choices. To clearly differentiate. To make acquisition simple and satisfying.
Do you fully grasp how radically your sales environment has changed in the last five years? Or are you operating business as usual?
Business as Unusual
With few exceptions, today’s decision makers are digitally driven. Most are socially connected 24/7, as they fly through space and time with multiple mobile devices, gobbling up gigabytes of data and information on the way. Even the most hardened buyer who despises salesmanship still sifts through the Internet for background education in preparation for his purchase.
Today’s Internet is as commonplace to us as bicycles were to our turn-of-the-20th century great grandparents. Prospects now eliminate most surprises at meetings by checking us out on the web long before booking an appointment. I’m still somewhat surprised by the number of salespeople who fail take full advantage of such remarkable social media resources as LinkedIn and Google Profiles.
After all, if the prospect doesn’t find you, your firm, and lots of content on both, how big of an expert can you be?
In the January edition of Forbes, an instructive article appeared entitled “How to Use Social Media to Make Sales,” in which sales expert Colleen Francis, social media expert Jennifer Fong, and social media coach Janet Fouts collectively offer five steps to lead generation and sales through social media.
Determine the best way to connect with prospects. Learn where they converse on the Web.
Join a community and create a persona. Spend time in the space you want to be visible. “Build up a personal account, have conversations, and become acquainted with the norms and expectations of the community,” says Fong. In my case, fifty percent of my website traffic comes from LinkedIn discussion groups.
Connect. “Conduct a search on each social networking website or use a resource like socialmention.com to find people who are talking about your industry or using related keywords,” confirms Fouts.
Build relationships. “The most important thing salespeople need to know is that they need to develop relationships more than they need to develop leads, because good relationships will turn into leads. People share a lot of information, and if you monitor and listen to what they are saying, you will eventually be able to engage in a meaningful conversation with them,” Fouts reminds us.
Engage in a conversation. “If you just write them a message with a pitch and a link to your website, they will be uninterested. If you say, ‘Here are some solutions to your problem, maybe my product or service can help,’ they will know you care about them. If you really listen to what they are saying on social media, you can open doors and start a conversation without having to make a cold call,” Fouts continues.
Francis also suggests: “Create a Facebook group related to your product or service and invite prospects to join. Then, send targeted messages to members who are active within the group. Join the groups that your clients are members of on LinkedIn. Engage in conversation thereby answering questions that are asked and showcasing your expertise at problem solving in a specific area.”
B2B firms take heed. Produce and share useful, informative and original content with your social networks. It’s one of the fastest distribution channels imaginable to increase your visibility, generate new leads, and create a welcoming sales climate.
In my opinion, social media acts as a heavy duty filter against shams, scams and flim-flams. If you aren’t genuine and authentic in your content and communication, people know it PDQ and shut you down and out. And that’s a great thing for buyers.
What’s more, with social media, a salesperson can pay closer attention to customer conversations online to anticipate issues in advance of problems. When you do that in the digital world, it boosts customer loyalty as effectively as if the prospect was sitting beside you in your office.
What do you need to do right now? Get social. Get linked in. Get profiled. And get busy. There’s money to be made in social media.
See you on the upside, Bill
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