We are seeing customers discovering the power of social media and incorporating it into their buying process. Have you started seeing these changes yet?
From push to pull
B2B leverages the possibilities of pull marketing. The old world was based on push tactics like telemarketing and cold calls. You went after customers directly; you had a hit list.
The new world embraces the idea that if you have some information that the potential customer finds helps him or her in their professional lives, they will want to hear more, and opt in to do so. You then can build credibility with them, and establish yourself as a leading voice on the content you deliver to them. This increases the likelihood that they will turn to you when they have a requirement for products or services that you offer.
Technology has given the customer a voice
In 2007, a Nielsen survey (on behalf of Constant Contact) found that 14% of those polled trusted advertising, while 78% trusted recommendations from a friend. The explosion of social media has given every potential customer a place to be heard. Your customers have a forum to find out who their peers recommend and who they think should be avoided.
As social networks evolve, the ability of individual users to get their own message out about you, and the speed at which they will be able to do so will only increase. If someone is unhappy with your quality or price they can tweet it or put it on Facebook for everyone to see. They can make it a topic of discussion in a LinkedIn Group. Companies will have one opportunity to do it right - the first time.
Social media allows companies to reach customers earlier
Traditional sales dogma dictates that you cold call and search for five percent of customers who are “in the market” for your product and service. Once found, you pitch them on your features and benefits. A tremendous amount of a sales person’s time is required just to find the five percent.
Social media marketing turns this concept upside down by saying “let’s develop a relationship with the other ninety-five percent. We will build credibility with them based on sharing our knowledge on topics that will help them in their day-to-day work lives”. In this manner, when the ninety-five percent is ready to be “in the market”, the odds of that company getting the first call are very good.
This is the evolution of sales taking place before your eyes
Sales is evolving from figuring out how to get your foot in the door to having the potential customer open the door and welcome you. Instead of finding the customers they are finding you. In effect they are saying, “Maybe you can help me, you’re the experts on this sort of thing”.
There is a right way and a wrong way to do social media marketing
Twenty years ago I was a sales manager and I had a somewhat crotchety old COO named Dan. His watchwords were focus and clarity. He was always after me saying “be absolutely clear what the single thing is that’s most important and focus on that single thing. Focus and clarity”. And he was right. With social media marketing it is very easy to stray off your intended path and get into what have been called “random acts of marketing”. Always keep your goals and your purpose smack dab in front of you.
While the principles of social media marketing are fairly straightforward, this is a machine with a lot of moving parts. The right things need to be done in the right order or your SMM efforts can wind up being a wasted expense instead of a wise investment. The Internet is littered with abandoned blogs, vacuous Twitter campaigns and lame Facebook posts.
Your customers are changing their buying habits. Are you adapting your sales strategies to this new reality?