Often B2B companies find it hard to enter the social media space, because they see it as a direct-to-consumer method of communication, which doesn’t help their corporate client audience. But social media has something for everyone, and this panel underlined the value of social media for B2B companies.
Most of all, social media is valuable for B2B companies because it is all about creating and strengthening relationships. As most salespeople in the B2B world will attest to, making a sale involves much more than just having a product that people want to buy. When B2B client relationships can involve multi-million dollar deals, and long-term relationships, the purchases/agreements are not made on a whim. Rather, they inv0lve creating a relationship, not just between companies, but between people.
So how can social media help? Teach your salesforce to leverage social networking tools (LinkedIn, Twitter to name a few) to create and maintain relationships with clients, prospects, and anyone in-between. This also lets all the salespeople within a company know what each person is up to, so efforts aren’t duplicated and networks are maximized. Make sure to track these efforts through your CRM tool so that you can assess return on invesment (ROI), cost-per-lead (CPL), and other key metrics.
So how do you get the ball rolling? Bring together interdepartmental team to hash out differences, get everyone on the same level, talk about situation, etc. Talk about best policies, talk about what is recommended, allowed, and how social media can help achieve your business objectives. You don’t want employees neglecting these powerful tools, but they need to have specific goals and training on how to use them so they aren’t spinning their wheels trying to figure everything out.
And please, PLEASE don’t just use these tools for blatant promotion. These tools can be harmful if you abuse them and see them as just another place for your corporate message. Someone on the panel had a great analogy: “[you] don’t walk into a cocktail party and say ‘hey! buy my book!” Instead, give your prospects value. Share your resources with customers. Use these tools to keep in touch with customers and give them support.
The question is no longer IF B2B companies should be using social media, but rather HOW, WHEN, and WHERE. Any questions? You know where to find us.
Speakers on this panel: Kipp Bodnar, David B. Thomas, Kyle Flaherty, Mica Viehamn