B-to-B marketers, especially those in the manufacturing sector who are targeting the professional tradesmen, are slow to adapt to new things and social media is one of them. I’ve seen it in our business that clients (manufacturers) are aware of social media, but don’t know how to use it to get business. Yes, social isn’t about getting business (short-term), it’s about branding and thought leadership roles, but in the real world and especially in this economic climate, companies are also identifying new potential customers and taking them through the selling cycle to see if they can be converted to a sale. If B2B folks would have a better understanding of how to use social, then it would be easier for them to incorporate it into their other marketing efforts.
I recently read a post by Kipp Bodnar from Social Media B2B, 7 steps to building a B2B social media lead generation pipeline. Kipp outlines ways to identify and take leads through a system just like any other lead. Here are some highlights from his post:
- Understanding online analytics - You need to understand what the data is so you know what to do with it. There are several tools available, both free and paid. Google Analytics is probably the most popular free one. But it’s important to have analytics across social platforms and a simple data collection tool like Bit.ly would work just fine for Twitter and the built-in Facebook Fan pages.
- Develop a strategy - I’ve said over and over that content is king. So you need to develop a strategy to communicate the type of information your target audience wants and then overlap its content distribution platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Blogs and Forums.
- Build a mechanism to gather leads - What good is it to generate leads if there is no place to identify next steps? What do they want—literature, demo, a salesman to follow-up?
- Integrate leads into a CRM system - Leads don’t matter if you don’t get the right info to the right person. There are several out there and the one we use is called Ultimate Lead Systems. It can track leads by source, type of product or service they are interested in, and track any kind of correspondence you have. It also helps you monitor your sales forces activities as it relates to new business.
- Set up a social sales follow-up program - You need to find where a potential lead is in the selling cycle and then nurture them down the sales funnel. I wrote a post, Where do your prospects fall in the sales cycle, that will shed more light on the different stages.
A social media lead generation program isn’t really different from a traditional one other than the issue of speed. Responses can be immediate and you need to be able to support them appropriately.
These, by no means, are all the steps. What are ways you’re dealing with this issue?