taking the leap

When I talk to B2B sales teams, one of the biggest concerns I hear is: “but my customer isn’t on Twitter.”  Of course you need to use common sense and spend time on the selling activities that will bring you the most return, but here are five ways to build a personal selling advantage for your team, even if your customers are not social savvy!

 1) Be there first

Each year, the Base One Agency in London does a comprehensive survey of purchasing trends in Europe. One of the interesting things they see evolving is that B2B procurement professionals under the age of 30 rely heavily on social channels for collecting information and data. In fact, they rated blogs as the highest-rated source or reliable product information, even ahead of asking a friend!

If you believe your customers aren’t on social media today, they’re coming.  I do believe there is a first-movers advantage in this space. Why not get out there and build that advantage now?

2) Curation nation

Most procurement professionals are information-rich and time-starved. Why not help your customers by curating data from the best information from the social web as a way to help them save time and money?

For example, let’s say you sell safety equipment to manufacturing plants.  Every plant manager is vitally interested in safety but probably doesn’t have time to keep up with the latest equipment developments, case studies and regulations. Set up and save a Twitter search for your favorite experts and keywords, curate this data into a monthly “best of” limit, and email it to them regularly to win the hearts of your busy customers?

3) Branding your “beacons”

In most industries today, the purchasing process begins with a search. Here’s a simple idea to give your sales team a little edge: Unify your company and product descriptions so that every employee becomes a potential beacon for your brand.

Put some thought into how you can best describe your company in key search terms that would help a customer find you. For example your company might describe itself as “The Southeast’s leading provider of safety equipment, safety consulting, and hazard identification services.”

Now, look at how your sales people describe themselves in their LinkedIn profiles. Every person probably describes your company in a different way. Just unifying your company description and providing standard language about the things you do can transform all of these individual profiles into search engine brandstands for your business.

4) Business intelligence

Here are three ways to use social media for business intelligence.

  1. Build separate Twitter lists for competitors, industry thought leaders and industry suppliers. Follow these each day for news that can give you an edge in the field.
  2. Find competitors on Twitter and look at their public lists and also where they have been listed for potential new sales leads. Follow all these people!

    TWITTER LISTS

    How to find Twitter Lists

  3. Set up Google Alerts (Link to How to set up a Google Alert) to give you rapid notification of breaking news in your business.

5) Lead them there

I was helping a customer in Boston with her marketing strategy. She correctly surmised that her customers were not involved in social media and that it would probably be a waste of time for her to devote much time to this effort.

However, when we did research and asked customers about their biggest challenge in the upcoming year, “figuring out social media” was the number one item on the list! Why?  Because THEIR customers were piling on and they had to learn to adapt.

My customer was smart enough to see an opportunity. By immersing herself in the social web and creating a powerful blog, she positioned herself as a leader in the field and created a new value-added service for her business. Her customers needed to figure this out and she could lead them to success.

So if your customer isn’t on social media yet, there are at least five reasons why you should still be. What do you think? How are you involved in social selling?

Top illustration courtesy BigStock.com.

Twitter illustration courtesy Jeremy Floyd, my favorite Twitter model.

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