Social Selling 101: Using Social Media to Reach B2B Buyers
One of the most surprising changes in the B2B marketplace is how B2B buying decisions are happening and who’s responsible for making them. A study by Google and Millward Brown Digital found that a growing number of B2B decision makers are now aged between 18 and 34 years old. Considering that millennials are the largest social media user demographic, it stands to reason that social selling should be part of your B2B sales and marketing efforts. In fact, more than a third (36%) of B2B sales and marketing decision makers in a 2017 study by Forrester Consulting believe that social selling will become the default way to engage with buyers in the future.
Over the years, social media platforms have become a viable channel to include in B2B companies’ sales process. Looking at more recent statistics from various studies which continue today, there are compelling numbers that should convince sales teams and B2B marketing professionals that social sellers in their organization deserve an innovative lead generation and social selling strategy to help create high quality sales opportunities.
- 51% – When salespeople use LinkedIn as part of their sales strategy, social selling sales professionals are 51% more likely to achieve their sales quotas. (Source: LinkedIn)
- 60% – In the breakdown of B2B tech buyers, 60% are millennials, ages 25 – 39. (Source: TrustRadius)
- 73% – In B2B companies, those who are involved in research and decision making are millennials (age 25-39) and make up 73% of the B2B buyers, with over 1/3 identified as the sole decision maker. (Harvard Business Review)
- 75% – The majority of existing customers believe digital methods of sales and communication is as effective or more effective in reaching and serving them. (Source: McKinsey)
- 76% – The majority of new customers believe digital methods of sales and communication is as effective or more effective in reaching and serving them. (Source: McKinsey)
- 2X – Millennials are 2X more likely to do their due diligence, researching products and services online compared to older generations. (Source: TrustRadius)
- 60% – Nearly 60% of buying committees made up of millennials having 4 or more members. (Source: TrustRadius)
Some key takeaways:
- Older buyers are increasingly picking up the same habits of millennials, so the trends aren’t fully limited by age groups. (Harvard Business Review)
- B2B decision makers globally are satisfied with online and remote selling and feel it is as effective as in-person engagement, or even more effective. Sellers as well, believe digital prospecting is as effective as in-person meetings as they connect and communicate with existing customers.
- Millennials are the most collaborative generation of B2B buyers, often completing the purchase process via a buying committee.
Social media allows you to reach prospects early in the buying process, while they are still researching solutions and vendors, and while you still have a chance to make a favorable first impression before they choose one of your competitors. Social media also allows you to develop and nurture personal relationships with B2B buyers you might never have been able to connect with in real life. This method of selling also helps create brand awareness among potential customers. Additionally, it helps to build trust with your target audience.
What are the benefits of social selling? The Forrester Consulting survey of B2B sales and marketing decision makers provides an answer. When asked which benefits they anticipate (or have already realized) from implementing a formal social selling program, respondents said:
- Expanding reach – 48%.
- Staying connected with the buyer throughout the sales cycle – 45%
- Increased seller productivity – 41%
- Higher win rate – 41%
- Greater lead volume – 39%
- Access to higher level contact/decision makers – 39%
- Building personal network and thought leadership – 37%
If you’re new to the concept of social selling, this is a good place to start. Keep reading for tips on growing your network, engaging with prospects and utilizing the full power of B2B social selling.
Grow Your Network Through Social Selling
The power of social media lies in the ability to make connections and foster relationships with people outside of your normal “circle of influence.” The idea is to follow, interact and connect with people that are genuinely interested in your service or product—or who may be interested in the future. As you add buyers, influencers and decision-makers to your social circles, make sure you are actually connecting with them over time. If you establish yourself as a go-to person in the industry, the odds are good that they’ll reach out to you directly when they’re ready to make a purchase.
How do you build those contacts in the first place? Here are some quick tips for growing your B2B audience on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.
- LinkedIn – Join groups that are relevant to your industry to identify, connect and network with peers and prospects who may be interested in your expertise and thought leadership.
- Twitter – Keep tabs on your competitors to see who they’re tweeting at and who’s tweeting at them, and then look for opportunities to engage those newly discovered users most likely to be interested in your solutions.
- Facebook – Create a Facebook Business Page and engage with other businesses by liking, commenting and sharing (your outreach and enthusiasm is likely to be reciprocated, which can help put you in front of a whole new audience).
Monitor Social Chatter
Social media is also a powerful tool for connecting with and engaging prospects who you may never have reached otherwise. Every day, buyers and decision-makers in your space are asking questions, voicing concerns and expressing their needs on social media. Social listening tools give you the opportunity to engage with B2B targets as soon as they “raise their hand,” so to speak, and request more information. You can also monitor social media channels for mentions of your competitors to learn what B2B buyers in your space think about other vendors.
Here three social media monitoring tools to help you get started:
- Hootsuite – While most people use Hootsuite for its content scheduling and optimization tools, it also doubles as a sophisticated social monitoring platform. Users can find and filter social conversations by keyword, hashtag and location. Plans range from $49 per month for a single user up to $599 per months for 5+ users. Customizable features are also available for enterprise-level users.
- Sprout Social – Sprout Social is “built for social media management.” In addition to social monitoring capabilities, Sprout Social also features a single-stream inbox that makes it easy for users to manage social communications and engage with customers across multiple channels. Plans range from $89 per user per month up to $249 per user per month for enterprise.
- Talk Walker – In addition to monitoring social channels, Talk Walker also crawls blogs, forums, online news outlets, and even traditional channels such as broadcast, television and print. Talk Walker also features image recognition technology, so brands can track social posts containing images. Pricing ranges starting at $9,000 per year. Enterprise plans available on request.
If you don’t want to pay for a social monitoring tool just yet – perhaps your company and more importantly, your sales reps are not convinced. E-commerce solution provider, Avada published a list of 11 free social media and brand monitoring tools that can help you decide if a paid tool is worth the investment. Social listening is an important part of an effective social media marketing and sales strategy.
Publish and Share Valuable Content
Traditional sales never included such a digital marketing solution. Cold calls were king. Today, relevant content is king.
B2B buying decisions are often complex journeys that involve a lot of preliminary research. Buyers are looking for answers to their questions and solutions that will address their problems and pain points, but not necessarily your solution—at least, they may not know it yet. Social media allows you to publish and share content that demonstrates your thought-leadership and shows that your brand is tapped in to the latest industry trends.
The content you create and share on social media should talk about the issues your product or service can solve, not necessarily your product or service itself. Successful content marketing is customer-centric. It focuses on the needs of your target audience. In-depth, brand-agnostic content is also much more likely to be shared, which means even greater exposure for your brand. B2B buyers may also be likelier to consume content recommended by their peers, so the aim of your social media efforts should revolve around creating a culture of valuable content. How do we define value? It’s information, insights and actions you bring to prospects that they can’t find on their own.
When you provide the content that focuses on the needs of your desired customer, you will surely find the right prospects.
The next question, then, is what kind of content you should be creating and sharing on social media. According to the 2021 Content Preferences Survey Report, content types most commonly used to make B2B buying decisions include white papers, webinars, case studies, e-books and infographics.
Source: 2021 Content Preferences Survey
Source: 2021 Content Preferences Survey
Of course, creating high-quality content can take some time, so be sure to supplement your social media news feeds with articles and resources your audience may find interesting. Curating third-party content can also help prospects realize a problem they didn’t know they had, and think about a solution they didn’t know they needed.
Build Key Relationships with B2B Telemarketing
Social selling should be a key part of your sales and marketing strategy, but it’s not the only way to reach prospects. B2B telemarketing can help fill your pipeline with quality contacts who are ready and willing to learn more about your brand, your offer and your solution. At Intelemark, our clients see an average increase between 30-70% in top of sales pipeline activity.
Want to reach more B2B buyers and decision makers who matter? Contact us today to learn more about our services.