When most professionals think about social media, brands like Starbucks, Coca-Cola, Old Spice, Best Buy among others come up in their minds. It makes them believe that this is a B2C world. The fundamental difference between B2B and B2C sales is that the former has more decision makers in the middle. What both have in common is that “people interact with people” in a direct or indirect way.
Social media in the B2B world is easier because you can benefit from the journey of building deeper business relationships, you can get to know and discover people better. The B2C world is extremely fast-paced: Pushy decisions and transactions must happen right now as opposed to the B2B mechanism.
B2B sales professionals can embrace loads of different tactics. The reason why most of them do not apply them is because they see social media as something separate, like homework. Here is a valuable selection of four tactics that you can blend with your current activities and put into practice straight away:
1) Generate warm calls
When you make calls to prospects, ensure that you first visit their company’s website to learn a bit more. Then go to LinkedIn’s advanced search and enter the name of the company (select “current” otherwise you will get results with people that previously worked for that company), ensure that “Country” and “Location” are correct and finally hit “Search”.
All you need to do after that is look for professionals with a title description that matches the person you want to talk to or at least, a title close enough. When making contact, use that name or more to get closer: “…I would need to talk to someone that handles partnerships. Would that still be Mary Higgs or maybe John Right?“. In my experience, when you put your foot in the door with a name, the rest becomes easier. Even if you make contact with those folks you found on LinkedIn and they can’t help you, they will put you in touch with the right person 8 out of 10 times.
2) Discover new leads
You may listen to relevant conversations in different sites but try to build your own listening station, where you can track everything that is only relevant to you in just one spot!
This tactic consists in creating Twitter columns (I suggest Hootsuite.com since you can create sets of columns under labeled “tabs”). Here’s an example of the columns you can build:
- Community: Create a Twitter list with that name and track everybody that’s mentioning your company and retweeting your company news.
- Colleagues: Build a list with everyone in your company that’s on Twitter.
- Competitors: Create another list to track all the players in the competition to check what they’re up to and unfold opportunities.
- Keywords: Track key-phases (up to three per column) in relation to your products, services or a problem.
- Check-ins: Think about all relevant business spots. For example: business venues, coffee shops (that you go to), partners’ offices, competitors’ offices, etc. Track who is checking in at those places. Simply click on people’s profiles to learn more about them and decide if it’s worth following or inviting them for a coffee straight away.
- Prospects: Include those professionals that you’re getting closer to in a separate list/column. Replying to their tweets or retweeting them will make you stay in touch and keep the relationship fresher.
3) Make yourself visible
In the previous step you built a spot to listen to all relevant conversations. LinkedIn should be the record of all your business connections. Yes, do use a diary and CRM system if you want but LinkedIn will give you something unique: exposure and visibility of your business network.
Before or after a meeting, people will Google you and/or look you up on LinkedIn (assume that).
If prospects find an incomplete profile or nothing, I’m not saying that you won’t be able to close the deal but, you will be missing a great opportunity to stay closer to your potential customer and maybe closing that sale even sooner.
4) Emails and business cards
You use them already everyday! If you simply replace your fixed email signature with a “social signature” and share the URLs of your Twitter and LinkedIn accounts on your business cards, you will be providing not just more points of contact but also dialogue channels. Your prospects may decide to ask you questions and stay in touch through any of these platforms.
Over to you:
What other tactics that have worked for you can you share?