As the online award ceremonies and end of year achievements littered the festive period it was very noticeable to detect a craze of celebrating B2C success stories in regards to social media. Praise was heaped on companies like Coca Cola, Kodak and Pottery Barn for creatively using social media to engage their customers and make them feel like part of the family.
If you scour these lists of success stories however you’ll struggle to note many examples of B2B companies doing the same thing. My response to this would be, why?
Social media is absolutely set up for a B2B advantage. If anything, it should be far easier for B2B companies to gain that advantage using the web than it is for B2C. For one, the need to deal with vast amounts of content is largely eradicated because B2B orientated people can focus on key decision makers as opposed to the mass audiences that B2C look to reach and influence.
Secondly business customers tend to be much more focused than their B2C counterparts. A regular punter might use Twitter to say that a ‘company sucks’ once and then never mention them again. Tracking a business focused Twitter account online is completely different. They often have motives and the ability to identify their targets and ideologies can be absolutely invaluable.
Most importantly though, through all the many, many decades of selling, when has anyone ever had the opportunity to get this close to their prospect without looking like a complete stalker?! You couldn’t follow a prospect into a pub and listen to their conversation. You couldn’t delve into the prospect’s personal diary to establish their hobbies. If you did, I commend your dedication to the cause but you should know the police are probably monitoring you as we speak.
With social media, you can find out all of these things from a computer desk! Imagine you’ve got a big meeting with a prospect next week and you discover you’ve got a hobby in common. Imagine how much you’ll stand out from the crowd by using that hobby to your advantage. There’s nothing fake about it. You have that hobby, as do they. The only difference is you know about it before you enter the dragons den.
It’s been said by many industry experts that this is the year B2B catches up with B2C in the social media arena but it still seems that many are underestimating the true power of what monitoring a prospect, customer or competitor can do to help. Another concept that’s yet to truly be exploited is the idea of a trigger event. I’d put money on nearly any sales professional being confident enough to use their charm to win over a prospect or customer, and I’d put even more money on very few of those sales professionals regularly keeping tabs on the people that matter.
But no matter how good you are at selling, surely the benefits of calling just at the right time can not be overlooked. Management changes, mergers and expansions are just some of the regular themes that people regard as ‘triggers’, or urgent reasons to call. Just think how much sales conversion will increase if you’re hitting these triggers at the right time, every single time. It seems like a no brainer.
Yet you’ll still hear people shying away from online strategies. For me, that’s like turning down free tickets to the Caribbean because you’re not quite sure of the route to the airport. The chance is there, why wouldn’t you take it?
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