Editor’s Note: The following article is the first in a two-part series highlighting how B2B companies are using social media from cold to close. Part two will highlight social selling tools and successes.
With consumer browsing and sharing behaviors from the B2C world migrating to the B2B world, innovative companies are now re-engineering their internal processes and tools for new ways to develop and establish relationships by leveraging data and trends.
Social media remains a largely untapped goldmine for marketing and sales teams, particularly. Only 30% of B2B organizations have an enterprise-wide coordinated social media strategy in place, according to SiriusDecisions. While many companies use social often to engage at the top of the funnel, it also can be used throughout the journey from cold to close — and beyond, according to the research firm.
Companies are rethinking social media to extend the value of community beyond the top of the funnel. By understanding directionally, what the buyer is interested in so they can more efficiently facilitate the discussion.
“We see the social media monitoring market evolving beyond an unbalanced focus on brand monitoring to more of a social intelligence role to help understand and provide insights on the role of social within an integrated sales and marketing process,” noted Jonathan Block, Vice President and Practice Director, Technology at SiriusDecisions.
While most marketing sales organizations have recognized the seismic shift, many have not implemented the processes to adjust. Progressive firms are clearly defining social media strategies to move prospects through the funnel more efficiently.
For example, Marketo uses social media to generate leads, both with paid promotions, such as sponsored stories and promoted tweets, that link to registration pages, and organic methods like infographics and memes. The company focuses on awareness, but uses social to encourage people to share and include links to registration pages.
“Mid-funnel we practice social nurturing, the process of developing relationships with qualified potential buyers with a steady stream of relevant, educational or entertaining content that gets put into their streams and feeds (on all major networks, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc),” noted Jon Miller, VP Marketing, Marketo. “For bottom of the funnel (i.e. sales initiatives), we encourage our sales reps to have robust social profiles, and to interact with prospects over social media as appropriate.”
Molly Hoffmeister, Marketing Content Specialist at Pardot, said the company is tracking the prospects that have interacted with a particular posting, and then monitoring their activity through the sales cycle to see if they turn into closed deals.
Hoffmeister maintains the company’s official accounts, while many employees also use their personal accounts to distribute content, engage and share helpful information.
“Each social media platform seems to play a different role in social marketing efforts, and comes with its own set of best practices,” Hoffmeister noted. “LinkedIn, when used properly, is powerful tool for client retention. Creating a users group on LinkedIn is a great way to initiative client conversation and distribute valuable best practices information. Facebook is effective for engaging with your most dedicated fans – these are going to be the people who enjoy looking at pictures from company events, etc. Finally, Twitter is the fastest way to distribute valuable content to a large group of followers (who, in turn, may retweet your content to an even larger group of their followers), exposing your brand to people who may have never even heard of your product and attracting countless new prospects to your site.”
Eloqua developed a process for training its sales team to adopt social selling, into their overall sales processes. The company communicates corporate Social Media policy, then encourages reps to be representatives of the company by establishing their own personal brands in the social arenas.
“What is interesting about social is that it has become the mechanism in which to learn about products and services, from peers as well as companies,” Melissa Madian, Senior Director of Field Enablement at Eloqua. “ That means social media strategies can no longer sit in just the marketing organization. Sales teams need to be active where buyers are learning; salespeople have to become marketers and share knowledge and insight in social arenas to set themselves up as the experts.”
Eloqua leverages the Challenger Sale methodology from Corporate Executive Board, in addition to its own defined sales process. This has enabled team members to identify personal branding activities that can assist in moving the sales process along. Madian said the company’s next phase is to begin tracking social behavior and activity as it relates to sales rep performance.
Act-On Software uses a two- pronged “push/pull” approach to social marketing and social selling. “Once a conversation is ‘discovered’ we have a team member that can engage and then deploy the lead to the current rep for sales engagement or if it’s not sales related social conversations will be directed to the correct person in the Act-On system for follow up,” said Jeff Linton, Product Marketing Manager.
The same is true for the company’s push efforts, where the Director of demand generation deploys social campaigns with specific tracking codes tied to each lead so the company can promote thought leadership webinars, customer advocacy programs and challenges, Facebook promotions, surveys and blog posts. The end goal of the program is ultimately to generate more leads for sales.
SAVO Group built a social strategy that incorporates several people across departments for a “divide and conquer” approach. The company creates and distributes a social media calendar to the team, and social posting responsibilities are split among the group. SAVO monitors social conversations and responds to hot topics and questions from leading experts. The company’s subject matter expert team, called the “All-Stars,” delivers blog content on a consistent basis. The company tracks, measures and reports on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to continuously increase market reach and engagement.
“Our sales team is utilizing Twitter and LinkedIn to nurture warm leads,” said Dan Schleifer, Senior Director, Marketing, SAVO. “Our inside sales team divides up leads from our thought leadership campaigns and distributes them – based on territory assignments. Each team members utilizes a corporate twitter account to follow up with key prospects to inform them about information and initiatives that are happening in our organization.