March 5

Social Selling In a B2B World

If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me, “How do I sell on Twitter?” or “Can you really use Facebook for B2B sales prospecting?” or the big question lately, “How can my sales people prospect better with LinkedIn?” I’d spend a whole lot more time with my kids and my handicap would be well below freezing.

The simple truth is social selling in a B2B world works and frankly works quite well. In fact, I’ve built my entire company using nothing other than social selling techniques and it is something I explore in depth in my new book, The Invisible Sale. In the meantime, let’s start today with three simple tactics you can implement immediately.

Create A Warm Lead

The biggest mistake most B2B sales teams make is thinking of social media as a closing tool. It’s not — well it can be — but social media is best used as an opening tool. Social networks are the ultimate sales networking tool because you can meet so many people so quickly. One of the best ways to do that is Twitter Chats. There are literally thousands of these on Twitter and you can jump into any one you want.

Here is a list of Twitter Chats by day of the week. Go over and see if you see one that might prove a target rich environment for you.

Another wonderful way to use social networks to open a sale is by just talking to people. But what should I talk about Tom? Glad you asked. How about starting with the weather. That’s right, even something as innocuous as a tweet or post about the weather can give you a chance to start a conversation with a stranger… You can even turn that stranger into a customer as the Drake Hotel found out when they started talking about the weather with noted Twitterati David Armano.

Join A Few Clubs

LinkedIn Groups are a lot like Hashtag Chats. Just head over to LinkedIn and search their Groups directory for keywords associated with your industry — starting with the name of your industry. What you’ll find is that likely someone somewhere has started a group that you’d likely find a prospect or two hanging out in.

But don’t just hang out — engage. Share content, comment on other members’ content and talk. While most folks find LinkedIn to be very transactional — sort of a resume online — the groups are the one place where you start to see that break down. If you haven’t yet, go give LinkedIn Groups a try. You might just find your next client or customer. And if you just want a place where you can try Groups on for size — feel free to join mine >> Insight & Information where we share interesting marketing information.

If you’re really lucky, you’ll get invited to the speakeasies of the Internet — Facebook Groups. Because these groups are private, no one knows they are there or that you’re in one. BUT that is what makes them so powerful. If you can get invited to join a private Facebook group full of your prospects, you’ll get a chance to see behind the curtain. The relationships and access to sales opportunities will be astounding. Believe me, I know of which I speak.

BUT — and this is a HUGE BUT — you have to behave. You can be kicked out just as easily as you can be invited in. These groups aren’t places to go trolling for business. They are a coveted opportunity for you to interact, be helpful, be kind and in general, be likable and respected by people that one day might just buy something from you or at least recommend you to a colleague. Respect the access accordingly or pay the price for your own stupidity and bad manners.

Get Known For Knowledge

If you want to be popular on the web and in the social networks, be the one with all the answers. Every second of every day millions of folks are “Googling It.” We are being trained to expect that all of the world’s knowledge is accessible via Google or some other online resource. So create answers to prospects questions.

Then share that information liberally and freely online. Invite others to do so too. Pay attention to SEO and Keywords and do your best to make great content that answers real questions easily findable by your prospects. You’ll be astonished by the folks you’ll meet and often times be asked to do business with later.

B2B Social Selling Isn’t Hard

You know what’s hard about social selling? Patience. Social selling done well is so much more elegant than offline selling. It requires patience and commitment to an underlying principle of helping vs selling. But if you can understand that in most cases social is about setting up the sale for tomorrow versus closing a sale today, you might just find that you’ll have enough sales for many tomorrows.

photo by Ben Zvan

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