For a business to grow, a healthy sales pipeline is essential. We examine the role social media plays in the sales process.
For most businesses, the goal is to generate sales and profit. A healthy sales pipeline that converts is the difference between a successful business and one that struggles. No matter the industry, the product, or whether you target consumers or businesses; generating, nurturing, and then converting leads is the aim.
Very rarely does anyone purchase a new product simply by visiting a store and picking it off the shelf. The internet has changed how we buy products – the way we research, the sources, methods and devices used, is now much more complex.
Google coined the phrase ‘Zero Moment of Truth’ (ZMOT) to describe this phenomenon. No matter whether you are representing a business or buying a box of Cornflakes, the process is the same – every purchase is influenced by several factors over time.
Social media can play an integral role in the sales process. Whether it is raising awareness of a product or service through Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, driving registrations via landing pages, or nurturing warm leads to purchasing, social media offers many alternatives that the traditional methods, such as cold calling, do not.
Read on to discover how you can use social media in the sales process to generate, nurture and convert leads.
1. How the buying process has changed:
If you were going to buy a product, be it a new car, a DVD or a holiday, what would you do? You would ask your friends, consult reviews from opinion leaders and users via social media, maybe even consult some forums or blog posts for additional information. Once you had narrowed your options, you would consider what to do and once you had completed some more research, then decide to purchase.
The way we purchase as a consumer mirrors that of purchasing as a business. The average consumer consults 10.4 sources when making a purchase decision and companies will also go through a similar process before settling over a new supplier.
In fact, the average customer has been through almost 60% of the sales process before engaging with a sales representative - regardless of price point. This highlights just how much the decision making process has changed – the reliance on social media to research and make decisions has increased. Prospects no longer just register for information, have a meeting and then decide whether to purchase. Often they have decided what requirements they have, what product they need and researched you and your competitors before making contact.
This is why it is essential to reach prospects while they are looking for information or are in the early stages of considering whether a particular product or service is right for them – and social media allows you to discover these people.
2. Where social media fits in:
Social media has proven to be effective in the lead generation process, particularly for raising awareness and when identifying, targeting and nurturing prospects. 72% of B2B buyers use social media during the buying process, and, according to Hubspot, social media produces almost double the marketing leads of trade shows, telemarketing, direct mail or pay-per click (PPC).
Social media is often known as an ‘assist interaction’. This varies by industry and location of course, but social media is usually the first point of interaction or the ‘first click’, compared to ‘Direct’ traffic, which is usually the last interaction, where the prospect has usually decided they want to purchase and is simply finishing their journey.
The key to generating leads through social media is to get your team to be active. An IBM study found that 78% of salespeople using social media for lead generation outsell their peers, so get all aspects of the business, from your sales to your marketing teams, bought in and involved.
3. Ways that social media works for lead generation:
- Raising awareness: If you want to generate leads, you need to capture your prospects’ attention. Whether you are using Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, you have to be active and engaging – prospects do not want to interact with a brand that purely sells through social media. Focus on sharing new information and offers that will resonate with your audience and offer insight into the brand that they would not be able to see anywhere else. Get the whole team involved to increase the reach of your content and contribute ideas as to how you can showcase the personality of your brand via social media.
- Painting a picture of prospects: You may have a new lead that is your target customer and pass it on to your sales team. Social media offers sales teams a platform to easily research prospects before making contact. Discover your prospects’ work and education history, hobbies and interests and if you have any common connections or interest, and build up the picture of who they are by looking at their LinkedIn and Twitter profiles.
- Nurturing leads: Following up with your prospects does not have to involve constantly hounding them via phone or email. A simple retweet on Twitter or a like or comment on LinkedIn will suffice, allowing your sales team to remain front of mind without being overbearing.
What impact have you found social media plays in generating leads? Comment below or join in the discussion and tweet @BlackBerry4Biz