Are you worried that your content marketing and social media plan aren’t delivering the leads your sales team needs to meet their objectives?
With 65% of marketers like yourself focused on lead generation as their top priority, unraveling how social media creates sales is critical. Today, we’ll discuss how social media drives lead generation and what you need to deliver qualified leads to your sales team.
We’ll start with explaining the role social media plays in the B2B sale.
What is the role of social media in a B2B Sale?
At a high level, social media is a tool for sharing our lives and what’s important to us with others. Social channels like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn gives us different ways to share what’s going on with different audiences.
For B2B companies, social media is a way to inspire digital referrals. The first step a business takes is finding who influences their target customer. From there they hope to persuade these influencers to recommend their product, actively with a review or passively with a Retweet or share. The influencer’s approval either creates leads or makes it easier for the sales team to make initial contact.
Generally, this social influencer strategy works. The problem is it takes too long and isn’t predictable.
We suggest a better approach that uses social media to deliver the right content to a buyer at the right time. Specifically, we recommend that you outline your B2B buyer’s decision journey and customize your communications to position yourself as a contender for their short list.
How do you use social media to get on the short list?
Step #1: Start with understanding your B2B buyer’s decision journey.
There are several buyer decision process models to start with. We’ve reviewed many of them and have summarized the major decision points. These are:
Your buyer’s process may be slightly different, but in our experience most B2B buyers adopt the same process. They may move through the process at different speeds or define their problems differently but largely follow the same roadmap.
Pro Tip: Sit down with your sales leader and/or top salesperson and ask them to sketch out the decision-making process from past deals. Pay close attention to how they describe each step and use similar language to refine your process.
Step #2: Develop the right content.
Decide what type of content will help your buyer the most at each stage of the buyer’s decision journey. Be aware that you may not have this content and will need to produce it. Don’t get hung up there, finding holes in your content toolbox is the first step to building a robust lead generation plan.
From our experience, we’ve seen B2B content support the buyer’s decision journey this way:
Pro Tip: We’ve created a worksheet that defines each of the content types. You can download it for free in the Content Toolbox. Membership is free. Sign-up here.
Notice that we haven’t talked about social media platforms or customer intelligence apps up to this point. It’s important that you first identify the content your buyer needs before deciding on how to deliver it to them. Many marketing leaders get fixated on a platform and create content for the platform – a mistake that leads to consistently lackluster performance.
Step #3: Select the best social platform.
It’s helpful to select your social platforms with the following guidelines:
- Every platform can generate B2B leads. For example, recent surveys report that 73% of people use Facebook for professional purposes. Time to ditch prior assumptions.
- Focus. It’s better to allocate scarce resources on a few platforms rather than checking the box on every available platform.
- Reframe blogging. For B2B marketers, blogging should be shorthand for easily publishing helpful articles. Your blog is the hub of your content marketing efforts. It can hold any content asset you create. Avoid getting hung up on the “dear diary” templates advocated by well-meaning amateurs.
As you can see, we’ve put emphasis on LinkedIn as a social platform. LinkedIn will continue to evolve as a professional matchmaking tool. Microsoft’s recent acquisition of the platform means that it will gain credibility in the enterprise sales space. Facebook is a close second. Facebook’s ad platform is unparalleled and will keep the platform at the forefront of B2B sales.
Toward the completion of the Buyer’s process, we advocate creating a “Buyer’s Portal.” A Buyer’s Portal is a private mini-site that contains customized content for targeted prospects. Your sales team can direct their top sales-qualified leads there for additional information about your product. Technically this isn’t a social platform, but it’s a powerful tool for closing sales.
We’ll talk more about this in the future. Contact us if you have an immediate need for a customized Buyer’s Portal for your team.
From the start to the end, your business buyer needs different content on different platforms. You’ll get the deal if you are there with the right content to meet their needs.
The question now is, what needs to be done first?
What can you do today?
If you haven’t already, take the time to confirm your buyer’s decision journey. This approach hinges upon you getting this part right.
Next, for each stage in the process, assess your current content inventory and identify where you have holes. Focus your resources on filling those holes.
Last, review each of your social platforms to determine how to best feature and promote your content. Look for opportunities to creatively show your content in interesting ways that grab your potential prospect’s attention. Don’t forget to promote your content using the appropriate social advertising tools for each social channel.
To be fair, this isn’t a quick process. It normally takes us 90 days to walk through this entire process. The praise and appreciation from your sales team will make the process worth the effort.