by May 19, 2015Social Media

Getting the sales team to embrace social media for B2B

Social media has become a really powerful tool in the B2B space when it comes to building relationships and engaging with prospects. By making social networking part of your sales team’s strategy, it can help them meet their targets and convert interest into sales.

The role of social media in sales

Social media is a great source of data that can be used to convert leads into sales. Your sales team can obtain information and determine where potential customers are in the sales cycle, as well as identifying when they are engaging, so that contact is made at the crucial moment.

In the B2B environment, implementing a marketing automation system to track social activity for you, such as Hubspot, is a must. It enables your sales team to reach out to the right people at the right time without much thought. It also gives them context on the type of conversation to have, based on that prospect’s interactions.

How the sales team should utilise social media

Many B2B buying processes are lengthy and involve multiple decision makers. While decisions are being made, social media is a great way to keep in touch with prospects, build relationships with them and increase their confidence – if they haven’t bought into your team, they aren’t going to buy your products/services.

By defining a social media marketing strategy that takes the correct approach, your sales team can easily obtain that buy-in – which I cover later in this post.

The challenge of social media for B2B sales

As mentioned above, getting social media to produce leads and sales requires following a carefully planned sales strategy, as well as implementing a system to support this. While the majority of businesses now use social media, many still aren’t using it well and most don’t have documented strategies. To ensure responses are created and our targets are taking action, following a strategy is crucial.

Achieving this takes time, knowledge and needs to be financed. And this is the challenge with regards to getting sales teams to fully embrace social media. It’s likely that they’ll be using social media on a basic level already, and it is unlikely that they will understand the value that stepping up a gear with social media could bring.

Getting the team on-board

The good news is that there are plenty of people in the B2B space who do recognise and promote the benefits of a good social media sales strategy. You can easily find statistics, studies and reports demonstrating the benefits. Presenting information relevant to your business from reputable sources, combined with perhaps a short product demo of a social media management system is a great starting point. This information would start to address the time and knowledge issues and with the range of different social CRM products, you could overcome the finance issue by suggesting a lower-cost level of support initially.

The basics

Start by ensuring that all key members of the team have individual profiles on all of the relevant social networks. People are more open to engaging with individuals than business pages, so just having a business page isn’t enough. Individuals profile information needs to be accurate and upto date. Then, give each person a basic checklist of tasks to complete to get to where they need to be. This should include:

  • Complete profile, especially for LinkedIn
  • Balance between business, professional and personal
  • Relevant keywords being used in profiles and in posts
  • Good level of high quality imagery within profile and in posts
  • Regularly posting relevant (and interesting) content

Creating a social media sales strategy

Work with the sales team to devise a social media sales strategy for them to follow to ensure that they meet their goals and that you aren’t required to give constant ongoing support. This strategy should include:

  • Clear focus on achieving their goals. For example: “We are looking to help customers solve problems and to provoke responses, in order to demonstrate understanding, gain their confidence and engage with them. All activity should be focused on achieving this”.
  • Information on how to manage their social media channels, either through a marketing automation platform, CRM or other social media tools.
  • Information on which social networks to use. This needs to cover both how to use business pages (and who is responsible for those) and individual pages. Using all of the key social networks is advisable, so cover LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, and others such as Instagram, Pinterest etc. if relevant. A combination of posts, group discussions and all other suitable options should be used.
  • A posting strategy for what content, when, how regularly and how this responsibility can be shared with a view to driving traffic to lead converting pages.
  • Lead management strategy that defines the process of working with a lead and steps once a lead is identified, including how to tag and report on the success of social media activity (i.e. determining the pipeline value from activity).

By getting the sales team started with social media, you’ll be able to encourage them to embrace it and also make them confident in their usage. To execute this well, you’ll need to have regular follow-up sessions with the sales team. ‘Share and learn’ sessions are really useful as different sales people will have different approaches with differing levels of success.

B2B social media is a great opportunity as marketers to demonstrate to the business how a marketing and networking channel can be harnessed to deliver a positive impact on sales pipeline. And who knows, it may even bring marketing and sales closer together.

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