Social Marketing and B2B Sales, a Lead Generation Match
According to 91% of B2B buyers, “word-of-mouth” is the most important influencing factor in the buying process. The growing importance of social marketing is a direct response to changing perceptions about traditional advertising. Traditional interruption techniques have trained consumers to increasingly tune out and to distrust corporate messaging. As a result, buyers are turning to trusted social communities, experts and other influential voices to seek expertise and potential solution providers. B2B companies have responded. 86% of all B2B firms now utilize social media (source) alongside traditional marketing strategies. The investment in social media and interactive marketing for B2B firms is predicted to double between 2009 and 2012 to $4.8 billion. (Forrester Research).
“Word-of-mouth” is just code for Social Marketing. The only difference between networking and social prospecting is increased convenience, reach and relevance.
Prospecting through social networks
- Social networks provide opportunities to identify prospects by location, segment, company and title. Individual prospects and conversations can be monitored for key terms related to your business and offer insights about customer values, needs and timing.
- Gatekeepers and other communication barriers are minimized. A cold sales call might never be returned; however an invitation to connect or a link to a whitepaper or case study offers value without the intrusion of the traditional sales process.
- Every online conversation and interaction can be monitored and measured so that your firm can improve the relevancy of content and the ability to respond with appropriate interactions when the client needs you most.
Reputation and credibility building
Providing relevant knowledge about your industry signals to your customers that your firm is innovative and prepared to solve any problem. Resident knowledge-leaders in your firm can demonstrate expertise by educating customers about your offerings, participating in social communities by authoring articles, blogging, responding to questions and offering insight about your industry. Knowledge-leaders in every industry are sought after advisers that pull inbound interest to your firm. In industries where products are increasingly easy-to-copy, know-how is your most important differentiator.
What people are saying about you can be measured. “Sentiment” is a measure of the overall opinion of your brand consisting of frequency and number of positive, neutral or negative comments. Sentiment can be a useful measure of your brand’s perception compared to that of your competitors and a useful evaluation of your firm’s credibility.
Enhancing customer relations
People buy from people they trust and companies that can effectively respond to their needs. Firms can demonstrate accessibility with public social profiles of support staff – available for immediate response to customer queries and convenience that exceeds that of a phone call. Social media can help firms demonstrate responsiveness to individual customer questions or those of their entire customer community. Furthermore, firms can improve the value of their offerings by inviting feedback from customers, thus accelerating the speed of product improvements and creating barriers to competitors that are less innovative or responsive.
The ability to interact with your customers through social channels can deepen relationships, demonstrate expertise and improve the awareness of your firm to shorten the sales cycle.