Social media sells, there’s no doubt about that; but when you’re selling B2B, how do you make it work for you?
If lead generation is the blood of your business, then a lead generation pipeline is its artery. But despite the increasing success of B2C selling in social media, as evidenced by the arrival of new ‘social shopping’ platforms like Gloople, many businesses remain uncertain of how to harness the power of social media in B2B selling.
But social media doesn’t have to remain an untapped resource for your B2B business; asking seven key questions can help you unleash its potential, whatever your industry or trade.
What’s your data?
Quietly sitting behind the fancy downloads and flashy graphics of the internet is your key resource – online data. Savvy companies can get ahead of their competitors by ensuring they effectively monitor and mine their data in order to effectively develop their company, as well as set the foundations for their pipeline.
There are plenty of web analytic tools, including Google Analytics, which is free and gets good feedback. If you don’t know your analytics from your elbow, you can also view Google’s explanatory video that accompanies their platform.
With analytics, don’t stay too close to home. While the data you get from your own website can be invaluable, with social media you need to go further afield to get the full benefit of analytics – make sure you explore tools that cover your social platforms such as Bit.ly for Twitter.
Where’s your content?
Without a strategy, even the brightest, sharpest content is a lame duck when it comes to lead generation, and the best strategies are the result of trial and error. Take the content you think your customers want – and if you don’t know it, research it – and make sure it’s available on all your content distribution platforms. Then it’s test time. What platforms work best? What times result in the greatest leads? What content worked especially well? Use the analytics produced as a result of this activity to adjust your strategy and voila! You’re leading the pack.
What leads do you actually want?
So you’ve engaged your customers, but where do they go from here? Make sure you know, and have the infrastructure to get them there, or else you’ve just put in a lot of effort for little return.
Your lead can be a sales call, a brochure request or a subscription – as long as you know, you make sure this call to action and the process that follows is integrated across all your social media platforms, as well as offline distribution. And remember an effective business is a responsive business – ask yourself, if your call to action changes, can you change your infrastructure easily and efficiently?
Where are your leads going?
We’ve all known the frustration of being put through to the new loans department when what we really wanted was to query a bank charge. Don’t lose customers unnecessarily – make sure your leads go to the right person, every time, and close the deal.
Not only that, but you’ll waste acres of valuable data if you let your social media leads disappear into the leads from all your other online and offline lead generation pipelines, and most importantly be unable to track ROI on your social media ventures. Segmentation, with or without a CRM system, is crucial.
Are you getting left behind?
Think B2B social media lead generation stays the same? Think again. Social data is real time – constantly changing and evolving – and your strategy and tactics need to keep up in order to be effective and improve your conversion rates. Monitor your workflow and make sure that you take the steps you need to take, especially with regard to collating and analysing data, in order to maintain maximum ROI.
Are you following up?
What’s the nature of the follow-up to your social media lead? A phone call? A tweet? A knock on the door? Whatever it is, make sure it happens – understand your customer expectations, and make sure you have a team with the skills and resources to nurture your new social leads and respond in a timely manner. By resources, we’re talking about social CRM and social monitoring systems – if you don’t have them implemented already, consider doing so.
Are you evaluating effectively?
You might meet your targets and goals, but nothing’s ever perfect the first time round. Make room and time for a thorough evaluation after each target is hit as you develop your lead generation pipeline. What went wrong? What went right? Why?
By constantly evaluating your performance, you apply the findings to every step listed above, fine-tuning your process and streamlining your service to the benefit of both your customers and your business.
Finally, if it all seems like daunting new territory, remember that it’s not much different from traditional B2B sales pipelines. The main difference is speed – like social media itself, the process is moving fast and ever changing. But by asking yourself the seven key questions above, you’ll not only stay with the pack, but lead it.