B2B Social Media Can Increase Both Quantity and Quality of Leads

B2B marketers are constantly striving to improve the quality of leads that they generate with their marketing programs. In the traditional split between sales and marketing, the quality of leads always comes up. This causes marketers to focus on lead quality over lead quantity, but I would say that it is the same thing. If you use social media lead generation in a targeted manner and focus on increasing the overall number of leads, through the magic of mathematics, the number of quality leads will also go up.

Quality vs. Quantity
A social media program centered around a blog that provides remarkable content to your prospects, customers and followers and includes calls to action on each blog post has been shown to generate leads for B2B companies. Sharing this content on your other social media profiles extends the reach of your content and drives traffic back to your blog. Whether you grow your online followings manually, organically or with the addition of advertising dollars (for example, promoted Twitter accounts), you are better off with a larger audience than a smaller audience.

Some might argue that increasing the size of your audience, and thereby your potential leads, does not bring in better leads, but consider how you go about this. You are creating content for your target audience. You are providing valuable information that can help your prospects and customers be successful in their businesses. If you are a logistics company and you are providing content about warehousing, shipping, software and best practices to improve efficiency in these areas, it is not a big leap to say this targeted content will appeal to your target audience.

Marketing vs. Sales
The sales department is always going to say they want better leads, not more leads. This is a process problem, not a leads problem. By using social media to generate leads, you can increase the number of overall leads for your B2B company. As the number of leads goes up, processes need to be put in place to score or qualify the leads. This could be a people solution, a systems solution or both. It is critical to address the volume of leads that come in from social media early on, because as your content generation gets better and your audience grows, the number of inbound leads will also grow.

How has social media changed how you think about lead generation at your B2B company?

Slip on the Shoes of Your B2B Sales Team

Many B2B companies have a wide chasm between sales and marketing. Sometimes this exists because of company focus and leadership. Other times it is a result of different goals and perception of success. People say you don’t know someone until you walk around in their shoes. Even though we are in the heat of summer (in the Northern Hemisphere) and are trying to shed our shoes for flip flops, let’s take a walk in the shoes of B2B salespeople by looking at some recent sales-oriented posts this week. While these are not new ideas, it is instructive to marketers to understand how salespeople think. Let us know in the comments below if you have found other sales-related blog posts that felt comfortable to walk around in.

The B2B Buyer Journey Is a Social One
from Sell or Else
The buyer journey begins earlier and earlier. Even before a buyer knows they will be a “buyer” they are researching a need via Google, reading what their peers are struggling with, and forming ideas for how to overcome problems or accelerate their business.
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What Would Your Customer Say?
from Partners in Excellence blog
A major part of what I do for a living is to help individuals and organizations improve their performance and sales effectiveness. I participate in a lot of meetings where I’m asked to review the sales effectiveness initiatives of organizations. My first question is usually: “What do your customers say?” or I might ask, “How many customers did you talk to about how you could be more effective in selling to them?”
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Gamification of the Sales Process
from Inside View blog
One of the trending topics in business is gamification. If you are not familiar with the term, in short, gamification is the application of game mechanics to non-game experiences that can drive an audience to a desired behavior.The size of the audience available through gaming is enormous and rivals television as a medium.
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B2B Sales: Are You Playing Buzzword Bingo With Your Prospects?
from Inflexion Point blog
If you’re in any business involving technology, there can be a terrible temptation for your sales people to fall back on technical language, acronyms and buzzwords. Whilst they may be comfortable with these terms, it’s likely that their prospects aren’t – but your sales people may be blissfully unaware.
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The Dog Days of Summer Prospecting
from ifridge kitchentalk blog
Ah Summer… Time for cookouts, family vacations, lazy days on the beach and sales prospecting… {insert needle scratching on record} Yes, summer is great for all those activities including prospecting. Everyone in sales knows things usually slow down in the summer, not get started. It doesn’t have to be that way.
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Managing B2B Social Selling Opportunities

Today, in the fourth part of the Social Selling Throughout the B2B Sales Cycle series, I will focus on the opportunity management process, where a B2B sales rep’s success is measured by how quickly and frequently they can convert an opportunity into a win. As with prospecting and lead qualification, effective use of social intelligence can significantly impact sales productivity and customer engagement success in this crucial phase. Social intelligence empowers sales professionals with deeper customer insights and a more complete view into the prospect by incorporating recent business events, social conversations and social relationships.

It shouldn’t be surprising that salespeople are much more effective at each stage of the sales cycle when armed with the right intelligence. After all, today’s crazy busy Customer 2.0 is unlikely to engage with a vendor unless they are given a compelling reason to do so. Relevance – based on deep understanding of a prospect’s current business challenges and based on common interests and/or connections – enables a sales rep to engage their prospect in a productive conversation in the first place. Relevance – based on a keen understanding of the relationship social map that may impact a prospect’s ultimate purchase decision – is also very much at the core of successful opportunity management.

Social Listening: The Key to Managing Opportunities
Sales professionals must continually listen to their prospects even after they convert their leads into opportunities. Fortunately, technology enables companies and individuals to listen to their customers and prospects in an automated, scalable way, streamlining the process of maintaining awareness of your prospects (otherwise, copious amounts of data from around the Web can overwhelm and distract a sales operation!).

Business events, such as mergers and acquisitions, cost cutting, litigation, leadership changes and new partnerships, can all play a major role in whether your opportunity runs into a stumbling block or not – as do any professional or personal events that directly impact your internal sponsor. Social media profiles provide valuable awareness about these key trigger events. They also arm sales professionals with the insights to better understand the needs and likes of key decision makers, allowing them to relate to the buyers in at much deeper and personal level. Timely awareness of these trigger events as well as any additional color that can be gained by listening to social conversations by and about your prospect deliver significant visibility into the progress of your deal. And ultimately, this social intelligence provides you with the leading indicators on the health of your opportunity and the likelihood of deal closure.

The strength of your relationship with your internal sponsors is another major contributor to success. By leveraging their expanded social networks through business colleagues, reference customers or friends, sales professionals can identify and engage with many additional connections within their prospect for additional communication threads and connect with higher-level decision makers. Stronger connections into your prospect help reps more effectively deal with any changes in the prospect’s business or leadership hierarchy and move the deal through the pipeline faster.

Social Selling = Winning
The recent CSO Insights 17th annual Sales Performance Optimization (SPO) study confirms social selling indeed delivers. Across the nearly 2,000 firms surveyed, sales professionals who leverage social intelligence outperform those who don’t by a significant margin. The nearly 51 percent win rate of those who embrace social selling compared to the under 46 percent win rate of the sales reps who only leverage traditional sales data (contact and basic company information) translates to a greater than 10 percent impact in revenue generation!

I will focus my next post on the final stage of the sales cycle, upsell and renewals, and discuss how social selling can deliver increased account revenue and improved renewal rates for your installed base.

In the meantime, I’m interested in listening to what you have to say about how social selling has impacted you’re your sales efforts, from prospecting and lead qualification through opportunity management. What are your success stories? Did you encounter any challenges in the process?