7 Useful Tips From Real B2B Brands On Using Social Media To Drive Sales
1. Create a library of resources and internal success stories.
Almost every B2B brand has dedicated sales people – but the challenge
most organizations face is how to properly engage these sales people
through social media. Christine Talcott, VP of ES Global Sales at ADP
shared a brilliant case study of some of the useful resources that they
offer to sales staff to enable them to more effectively do their jobs.
They use everything from videos and training to internal case studies of
“converted” sales people who talk about how much of an impact social
media has had on their selling. The result is a strong pipeline of
positive examples, as well as a ready toolkit for sales people to draw
2. Get smarter about content creation.
In one of the most powerful case studies of the day, Michelle Wickum,
Director of Marketing from Steelmaster shared a story of how her
pre-fabricated steel structure manufacturer was struggling with a 49%
decrease in lead volume and 39% sales decline. She worked to adopt a
more content-centric strategy and used that content to answer key
customer questions and grow engagement. In her industry and category,
this was a strategy no other competitor was using … which allowed
Steelmaster to dramatically grow its share of voice. Ultimately, the
combination of her content and focus on social media helped result in a
92% increase in lead volume and 79% increase in sales revenue. When
asked how much social media actually contributed to that figure, and
whether she was able to measure that impact, she shared that she was,
and between 30% and 40% of the turnaround could be attributed DIRECTLY
to social media.
3. Foster internal creators first.
Your people are your best spokespeople. For all the times that we
hear this wonderfully cliched piece of advice, how many companies
actually manage to find a great way to inspire those people to talk
about your business. In a session later in the day, marketing manager
Annie Cull from Calvert Investments shared how her internal program to
foster and develop what she termed “SMACs” (Social Media Approved
Contributors) led to a strong and engaged group of employee ambassadors.
In the same session, Matt Anchin from Nielsen spoke about how his
organization has build a speaker’s bureau of more than 350 experts who
can speak about Nielsen research … and now that group is increasingly
turning to social media as a way to share their insights in between
4. Let the doers try (and sometimes fail).
Control is a topic that nearly always comes up at any social media
event – and when you consider operating a brand on a global basis, the
issue is one that most large brand teams have struggled with at some
point. The usual response is to create some sort of centralized
guidelines for best practices, and perhaps even some kind of “center of
excellence.” Tanya Donnelly, Global Social Media Director of Schneider
Electric shared a somewhat different strategy. Instead of sucking
employee ambition and passion with crippling guidelines, she encourages
some amount of experimentation with highly visible metrics. In other
words, she lets people try new things, but makes their failure or
success highly visible. As a result, there is an incentive for smart
experimentation with a strong strategy, and a disincentive to take
5. Make collaboration the priority.
In a sneak preview of a presentation he will deliver next week at the
Pivot conference, 3M Social Media Leader Greg T. Gerik showcased some
very interesting innovations at 3M that are all focused on fostering
more collaboration for multiple business reasons. One reason, of course,
is to inspire better research and more innovation. There were plenty of
applications for social selling and insights gathering as well. Below
are several screens from this new tool, which includes online automated
sentiment analysis, and even real life installations of touch screens in
the main 3M office to encourage more virtual collaboration across
6. Listen to and act on customer suggestions.
The owner of Quickbooks and TurboTax was one of several brands that
has both a B2B AND a B2C operation. As a result, they have the unique
chance to take lessons from what works in one situation and apply
another. For Intuit, as Sherry Ramatian discussed, this means taking
reviews from customers and using them to shift opinions and inform
potential customers prior to a sale. In addition, when customers have
suggestions for improvements, Intuit works hard to not only listen, but
also share any results that may come from those suggestions.
7. Build relationships before you need them.
An often repeated stat from multiple presenters throughout the day
was that 60% of all B2B sales purchase decisions are made based on the
pre-sales cycle. In other words, more than half of the purchase decision
is already made before your prospect even lets you know they are
interested. To account for this fact, Gerry Moran, Social Media
Marketing Director from SAP shared several stories of how his
organization builds relationships with potential clients through
showcasing customer stories and creating and sharing content of value.
The goal, as Gerry shared, is to “shift from focusing on lead
generation” to “demand generation.” The end result is that when a
customer is finally ready to consider a new solution – SAP is at the top
of the short list.*