Serving the B2B sector is not easy.
Today, competition is ripe and ready to take your customers. To have a competitive edge, you need to find creative ways to insert your brand into a client’s research phase.
One person that knows the importance of B2B marketing is Bernie Borges. Bernie, the CEO of Find and Convert, and a content marketing guru sits down to share his insights regarding social media.
Bernie produces the weekly podcast for Social Business Engine and is the author of Marketing 2.0. Bernie’s book was one of the first 50 books ever written on developing a social media strategy, and he is a pioneer in B2B social media operations.
During his interview, he discusses the presence of B2B salespeople and social media engagement.
Why Insert B2B Sales Teams into Social Media Plans?
Social media initially was made for the online marketers and hashtag pros. However, Bernie highly recommends that sales team members also be inserted into the social media phase.
There are three main reasons he suggests using salespeople as part of the social media strategy.
1. Preventing a Late Entry to the Sales Funnel
The buyer’s journey is critical. The customer starts by doing his or her research on a prospective company. Then, they may reach out to that company later. However, the timing between the research and when a buyer talks with a sales professional is significantly longer than it should be.
Bernie highlights how sales professionals talk to customers at the 70 to 90 percent mark through the buyer’s journey. Therefore, the buyer is already decided on working with that company. However, how many customers did not make it that far in the trip?
Bernie says that if you introduce a sales professional earlier in the buyer’s journey phase, such as ten to 20 percent progress, it is not only easier for them to convert a prospect into a customer, but then they can turn a “maybe” into an interested party.
2. Preconceived Notions are Established Early
During the research phase is when a customer determines their predispositions. Therefore, it is imperative that a sales team member is in the buyer’s journey soon enough to help build trust, authority, and credibility. If they come in later, they are combating preconceived notions, and it can be hard to convert a customer at that point.
3. Gives Active Engagement to Potential and Current Customers
Sales professionals who actively engage on social media with clients, such as being proactive with articles, posting, marketing, and even commenting, build a relationship with the buyer. Bernie points out that employees are the driving force of trust. People establish trust by using the best resource they have about a company: employees.
The more engaged sales teams are in social media groups with current and potential customers, the more trust that company can establish.
Overcoming the Challenges
There are a few challenges to getting sales professionals involved in social media. First, Bernie points out that sales staffers need to understand why they are engaging on social media and the impact it will have on their target market.
Bernie compares this to a charity. A person will not donate to a charity they do not believe in, so obviously, a professional sales staff member needs to believe in motivation through social media if they are going to engage on social media successfully.
Invest in Social Media Technology
To successfully engage on social media, Bernie highlights that companies must be willing to invest in social media training and technology. Their employees need training on how to properly use social media and market on social media. However, too many brands are unwilling to invest in it.
Identify a Starting Point and Get Moving
Bernie highly recommends that all companies identify which social media channel they want to start with, and develop a strategy for that channel. They can create goals, identify sales staff who will work on that channel, and then regroup a few weeks later to see how they are doing. Furthermore, they can dive deeper, add extra social media channels, and build a stronger plan.
Finding the Time for Sales Staff to Sell and Engage
Many companies find it is too hard to get sales team members on social media. However, he feels that is the wrong aspect to worry about. The goal and the strategy are to meet with the customer earlier in the buyer’s journey. While it takes the time to engage on social media, it saves time in the end. The sales team is not influencing a consumer who is uninterested, and they will have an easier time of selling the brand to that customer when they engage sooner.
Bernie recommends setting a specific amount of time per day and ensuring the person spends 100 percent of that time on social media. If that is just ten minutes, then ten minutes is what they start with.
Following on Social Media
To start seeing what customers are looking for, sales professionals should follow people on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Even if they do not accept the invitation on LinkedIn, Bernie highlights how their posts will still show up in the company’s feed. That allows them to see what competitors are using, but also what potential customers are posting and following on social media as well.
Bottom Line: Get Involved and Get Social
Companies need to put more emphasis on getting their sales professionals into the buyer’s journey much faster than they have in the past. By involving them at the ten to 20 percent mark, they are saving time, money, and boosting revenue.
Bernie has given several great starting points, including tips for overcoming the biggest challenges for sales team members. Now, it is up to the business to deploy a social media strategy that includes a handful or all of their team members from sales into the strategy.
Learn more insights from guru Bernie by following the blog posted at Find and Convert or reviewing their solutions.
About Bernie Borges
Bernie is founder and CEO of Find and Convert and leads the agency’s strategy. Bernie is an IBM Futurist, a Dell Social Influencer, a speaker, trainer and social business evangelist. He is the producer of the Social Business Engine media property and hosts the Social Business Engine podcast where he showcases brands succeeding in social business.