Three Steps to Turn Your B2B Social Presence into an Effective Sales & Marketing Tool
By Brian Odell
With 90% of B2B brands on social media, how do you break through the clutter and turn your social effort into a productive marketing and sales program? Below we have outlined three areas we believe are central to focusing your social efforts and improving ROI:
1. Go Beyond Product to Purpose
Social media is about your audience, not your business. The most effective content inspires your prospects by showcasing ideas and information to help solve their real-world problems - positioning your brand as a valued expert resource vs. a commodity.
Many sales and marketing teams are distracted by their desire to sell products and services. Research shows, however, that value-driven content reflecting your brand purpose is the most effective device for engaging B2B audiences.
But don’t take our word for it. There are various social monitoring tools that allow you to listen and better understand what your specific target audiences value. Leverage them to monitor your audiences’ social behavior and response so you can evolve with them and continue to make your content (and brand purpose) relevant to their needs.
2. Align, Strategize and Measure
As we mentioned above, 90% of B2B companies utilize social media. However, The Sales Management Association reports that two-thirds of businesses have no social media strategy for their sales organization and 43% of sales teams create content themselves (without the involvement of marketing or leadership).
This is a missed opportunity. Companies who utilize “social selling” tactics are seeing sales gains and exceptional payback on the time investment. To start, align sales and marketing social efforts by setting definitive social objectives (e.g. brand awareness, lead generation, customer acquisition, thought leadership and engagement) and formulate them using specific metrics for measurement purposes. Then clearly define which social metrics you will monitor and measure so sales and marketing can connect efforts and spending to specific results.
Taking the time to define a joint sales and marketing strategy and measurement criteria will improve your social ROI and motivate individuals to invest their limited time.
A study by Accenture shows that 93% of businesses have no formal social selling training program in place despite the benefits. As with any relatively new tool, training is often needed. While there are several online resources and LinkedIn Groups that can provide good information and support, without a formal program most sales people will focus on the tools in which they are already familiar. Those that do use social selling will be far less efficient and successful, causing them to potentially abandon the effort.
To reap the benefits of social selling, leadership must invest in a defined and structured training program that engages sales teams throughout the learning process. For example, we have used experts like Kurt Shaver to develop and facilitate custom social selling training programs.
Once your team has the basic training, continue to monitor new timesaving technology tools that will enable them to work more efficiently and better understand the results of their efforts. Continue to assess each social platform and where the next opportunity for improved engagement may lie.
There is no arguing that social media is becoming increasingly important in the B2B sales and marketing landscape. Organizations that make it an essential part of their strategic plan (and apply formal processes and training) will reap the reward, and those who continue to treat it casually risk falling behind.