During the last five years, the average sales cycle has become 22% longer, typically with three or more decision makers participating in the buying process. (Sirius Decisions) Thanks to increased controls at the corporate level, the decision pipeline is also becoming narrower. While B2B marketers are under increased pressure to deliver high quality leads, less than half say that their online marketing is currently meeting the needs of their sales pipeline.
Scoring a lead conversion touchdown takes more than just capturing leads. These leads must be qualified, nurtured and primed to convert. While social media marketing has become standard for B2C companies, many B2Bs have been reluctant to integrate social media into their lead nurturing. Nearly half of all B2Bs struggle to utilize social media marketing for cultivation and conversion.
Increasingly, B2Bs are realizing that consultative selling via LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter is a critical component for successful lead generation:
- 94% of B2Bs are activeon LinkedIn, making it the top social media site, followed by Twitter (87%),Facebook (84%) and YouTube (74%)
B2B companies of all sizes – from global conglomerates to startups – can benefit from the strategic use of social media. Here’s how to get started:
#1: Target the right platform.
Social media marketing ROI is notoriously difficult to measure. Simply starting a Facebook page and accumulating “likes” is not going to help your business generate qualified leads. Before you invest money in social mediamarketing, create a plan with clear objectives, a strategy for reaching these objectives, and metrics for measuring them. Be active on the right sites: Pinterest and Instagram may be red-hot right now, but that doesn’t mean that either of these networks is a good fit for your business. Targeting the right platform is the first step for lead generation success.
#2: Identify upselling opportunities.
Social media marketing builds relationships, generates web traffic, and improves search engine optimization. Social media is also a prime platform for identifying potential upselling opportunities. As businesses grow, expand, hire and move, you can quickly track these developments on LinkedIn. These changes all represent potential upselling opportunities for your business. By connecting with leads and clients on social media, your business will be better positioned to take advantage of these opportunities.
#3: Provide decision makers with key information.
Thanks to a longer sales cycle, most B2B decision makers read at least three pieces of content information before engaging with a solution provider. (Source: Act-On) In a world of information overload, social media sharing acts as an information management filter, connecting your business to potential clients and providing decision makers with access to critical information. Once a business is in your sales pipeline, connect with them on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to share white papers, blog posts and other “free” content that establishes your business as an industry leader – and keeps your company front and center for potential clients.