Social media is crucial to successful business today, but it doesn't need to be stressful or overwhelming. Meredith already talked to you about the importance of using social media to promote B2B brand awareness. Now we're going to talk sales.
Cold calls or unsolicited emails go unanswered (or curtly replied) at Verge Pipe Media and an increasing number of businesses and households across the country. And it's not because cold contact doesn't work; it's because, very often, it isn't done right.
We're going to use good ol' Ross & Rachel dynamics to illustrate our point. Our cast:
Ross / Sales - awkward, clean-cut and utterly smitten
Rachel / Prospective Business: sexy, power-wielding and unwittingly needy
Scene: think of sales like dating; it wouldn't make sense to try to get serious with someone you haven't gotten to know. In the same sense, social media serves as a noncommittal way to get a relationship going. It's a soft introduction point that lets you form bonds that will lead to more business. The same tenants that spell success in the dating scene will help your company thrive online.
Poor Ross. A little confidence and a good haircut go a long way.
1. Beware of first impressions. Not every business that stops by your Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn is going to take the time to stop and talk. Make sure that your personal brand and social media presence show customers exactly what you want them to see. Even those who don't engage you personally should still get a strong sense of what sets your business apart.
2. Spark a genuine connection. For your social media strategy to work, you have to put some personalization in your approach. Businesses (and dates) want to see that you have an authentic understanding of what they're all about. Instead of canned responses or vague generalities, taking the time to know the person you're pursuing will inspire a lasting connection.
3. Be approachable. When reaching out to other businesses, you have to figure out how make your business approachable. Social media lets you be yourself while promoting your brand, which is a great way to draw people in. People want to connect with a real person. Use social media outlets to show that you are likeable, friendly, and enthusiastic about what your business can bring to the table.
Just play it cool.
4. Play it cool (at first). You can't go in guns blazing with your pitch. Imagine if your date started talking about potential baby names before the appetizers arrive. You don't want to scare them off with a cold hard sale right away. You've got to develop the relationship through friendly, thoughtful conversation. Developing a social media friendship first will make businesses more receptive when it finally comes time to make your pitch.
5. Contribute to the conversation. Once you've made the connection, give them information that meets a need. Pleasantries are great, but to really prove yourself you need to contribute something meaningful. Link them to a related article. Provide relevant information and content. Share a white paper (or one of our information packed Enterprise Round-Ups)!
6. Timing is everything. Somebody could be giving you all the right signals. The two of you are having really good conversations and they seem really interested in what you’re doing. Despite all of that, it just doesn’t seem like it’s working out. It could be that it’s not in their budget or they have to focus on other projects right now. Keep in mind that just because it’s not ‘right now’ doesn’t mean it won’t be right later. Good business development means keeping the conversation going even when there’s not a direct sales opportunity. Maintain those relationships so that, when the timing is right, you’re the first one they turn to. [See the ends of Friends seasons: 2, 5 and 10].
7. Take the plunge. Social media gave you a chance to strike up a casual romance, but now you’re ready for commitment. After you’ve built up an online rapport, it’s time to take the relationship offline. Whether that means setting up a phone call or face-to-face meeting, forming social media connections provide a springboard for developing B2B connections.
Go get 'em tiger.
Lane Jones is our Fall Editor & Word-Smith here at Verge Pipe Media. Verge Pipe Media assists public institutions, enterprises and the non-profit sector with Imaginative Inbound Marketing strategies + campaigns. We also have a development team chock full of Marvelous Mobile Migrators, poised to help transition our clients into a mobile + social world.