Social media has long been the darling of B2C marketers, as it lends itself to quick, on-the-spot interactions with potential buyers. While the B2B sales cycle is longer and more complex, there are many opportunities to use social media to generate and nurture leads and close more deals.
During a recent webinar, titled: Adding Social Fuel To Demand Generation Programs, Koka Sexton, Sr., Social Marketing Manager at LinkedIn, explained how sales teams can leverage social media platforms to expand their connections and bolster their demand generation efforts.
Sexton advocated for a team selling approach, which he said most companies do not use. He noted that a sales rep is 74% more likely to get a first meeting through a connection as opposed to a cold call.
“There’s really no need to go cold calling through an organization to figure out who you need to talk to,” Sexton said, adding that the social media platform can help identify the right contacts in an organization.
Sexton recommends four ways for salespeople to add “social fuel” to their demand generation efforts:
- Be discovered by interacting through groups and targeted messages;
- Let prospects explore your profile;
- Allow prospects to engage with your profile via lead generation and display ads; and
- Foster advocates by identifying followers and those who recommend your company.
Sexton also suggested four steps to become a social selling pro:
- Build your profile by treating it as a personal brand;
- Develop your network by providing valuable content and information to build trusted relationships;
- Gather intelligence by researching the interests of contacts; and
- Contribute insights by sharing ideas through status updates.
When emailing potential leads, Sexton advised attendees to link to their personal social media accounts in email signatures to accelerate the lead nurturing process.
“Marketing needs to let the sales reps know ‘this campaign is about to launch,’ start paying attention to who looks at your LinkedIn profile, and start connecting with them,” Sexton said.
After Sexton concluded his presentation, the attendees were asked: “How far along do you consider your organization with regards to social selling?” Almost half (49%) answered “We’ve done some social selling but have no strategy/tools.”
“I think that most companies are beginning to understand that social media and social selling have a place within the marketing they’re supposed to be doing,” Sexton said. “They know it’s effective, they just don’t know what that strategy is and what tools they should be putting in place.”
Updating Social Media Strategies
In the Q&A portion of the webinar, Sexton recommended companies hire full-time social media managers as part of their social selling initiative.
“We’re finding now that most companies are hiring somebody specifically for this, because there is a unique skillset that is needed,” Sexton said. “Someone with a general marketing background may be good with social media, but they won’t be great.”
Sexton also had advice for those who have a hard time motivating skeptical sales teams to use social media: “You have to start looking at training. You have to start ingraining the methodology and the best practices into your sales team so that they can make it a seamless part of their day-to-day work life… and that’s how you’ll be successful.”