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How to Get Left Behind-B2B Sales and Social Media Predictions


To be successful in B2B sales today AND tomorrow, you need to actively build your social media presence. I assume since you are reading this blog that you already know that, or at least you are interested in knowing more. But it frightens me how many small to midsize companies behave like ostriches when it comes to a serious evaluation of their social media strategy.

Here are five serious ways that you will be left behind:

  1. Thought Leadership. You are not actively engaged in developing a point of view about your industry on behalf of your company. You and/or your employees are not publishing articles and white papers, or participating in online discussions, or asking and answering questions in the leading social media sites for your industry and/or your state and locale. Therefore you will not become known as an industry leader and will increasingly be perceived as irrelevant.
  2. Website. It’s a marketing piece all about you. It is not interactive, inviting visitors to participate in any way. It doesn’t offer any links to unbiased information or free white papers or eBooks or any little way to promote extra value. It just sits there, doing nothing for you. Therefore, you are by definition losing ground to competitors who are upgrading their interactivity.
  3. LinkedIn. You have a minimal presence or none at all. Only one or two of your employees are engaged here. There is a lack of personal photos, complete profiles, and connections to other professionals. You are not members of relevant industry groups. If groups don’t exist, you haven’t taken leadership to create them and invite others. Therefore, interested prospects will not find you, nor will you find them.
  4. Google Alerts. You have not set “Google alerts” (they are free) to help you monitor what is being said about you personally, your company, your industry, and your key executives on the Internet. You do not have any system to monitor the flow of industry information and where you may, or may not, fit into it. Therefore you have no basis for an improved marketing strategy.
  5. Opt-In e-mail List. You are not actively building your list of friends, current customers, and prospects, so you have no reliable and inexpensive way to reach them with news, special offers, or simply thanks for their business. Therefore you run the risk that your competitors have a much better list and the capacity to reach your customers and prospects regularly.

You may not need a Facebook page. You may not need a Twitter account. Those channels depend highly on the nature of your business and where your audience is engaging online. But even if you think today that your market is offline, I challenge you to think again and to investigate or ask your youngest, newest employee to investigate on your behalf.

Today’s communication channels will change, as did the mail, telegraph, telephone, cell phone, etc. They will continue to evolve. But the basic premise that you need to be connected will not change. If you’re not sufficiently connected, the steps you take today will pay you back many times over!

Do you have a connectivity story or comment to share? We would love to hear from you.

5 Reasons to Promote a Teleconference for B2B Sales


One of the easiest ways to connect with your current and prospective customers in real-time is to host a teleconference. This is simply a conference call in which you provide the content and a number of people listen in, and, at your discretion, participate live in the call.There are three requirements for hosting a teleconference. One, you need to have a telephone conferencing service. We use freeconferencing.com, which allows you to have up to 1000 attendees (each pays their own long distance charge). Two, you need to have a topic of real interest to your customers and prospects. And three, you need to have a simple, inexpensive way to promote attendance. That’s the social media connection!

Let’s start by looking at five reasons why you would want to launch a teleconference program.

  1. Provide timely information and advice to your current customers.

    In a teleconference, you can provide up-to-date information of interest to your customers. This information may come from you, your employees, or invited experts that you interview during the call. It might be new sales ideas, new regulatory issues, new opportunities, new threats – anything timely that will attract your customers’ attention. Keep in mind that all of the employees of your customer companies are part of your potential audience.

  2. Attract potential new customers.

    When you promote a teleconference, people from companies that are not currently your customers will sign up. The information you gather from their sign-up will let you know a little bit about them and their company (don’t ask for too much – only what you really want to know) and give you a reason to reach out to them.

  3. Build your ‘thought leader’ reputation online.

    Becoming known as a ‘producer’ is a big step towards thought leadership. You are taking the lead in defining a topic, setting a date and time, and promising a worthwhile presentation. This step alone sets you apart from many of your competitors. Do this on a predictable schedule, and you will become known for it.

  4. Build an online archive of interviews.

    I’ve found that sometimes only half of the people who registered actually attend the call live. But that doesn’t mean they’re not interested – only that the day-to-day realities prevent them from meeting this kind of obligation. Record your calls and make them available on your website. In no time you will have an impressive archive; people who registered but couldn’t attend will download the file, and new people will find the recordings.

  5. Publish transcripts as white papers.

    It’s not hard or expensive to have your audio call turned into a written transcript. I use the service castingwords.com to transcribe audio calls. Their budget service (which means no rush on their side) is only 75 cents per minute, so you can get a 60-minute call transcribed for $45. With minimal editing and formatting required on your part, you can begin to publish written transcripts of your teleconferences on your website and also have them available to attach to emails or other correspondence with current or prospective customers.

So, there are five reasons why I advocate this practice. Now, here’s the social media connection. How will you promote your teleconferences? How will you get people to come? Well, that’s why you need to cultivate a social media presence for your B2B company. You can invite participants through the primary sites: Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. The more you do, the more connections you will have and the stronger your reach will become.

This strategy will not work without your efforts to build a social media presence. So, one more reason to get started or to keep it going! What do you think? Have you tried this strategy? How is it working for you? Or what would hold you back?

Eight Great Sources of Social Media Content to Boost B2B Sales


Here’s a challenge: suppose you are a manufacturer of machine tools. You’re not a consultant, you don’t sell to consumers, you’re not a marketer, so what does social media have to offer to improve YOUR sales?

I have argued that your customers and prospective customers are hungry for relevant, easily located information. Therefore every company should have a content strategy-a method for providing extra value to customers, especially when customers are shopping online. That doesn’t mean they are buying online, but they would much rather get information about your products (and those of your competitors) online than from your salespeople. Your customer is not “the company,” but rather the engineer or the factory manager or the purchasing agent or the tool-and-die maker who uses your products.

But if you don’t have a big marketing staff and if you don’t want to create new content, how could you provide them with relevant information to make their lives easier? How could your website become known as a “place to go to” when they are investigating?

One way is to offer a industry-relevant links and embedded content. Here’s what I found on my tour of social media sites looking for content about “machine tools.”

  • First, I Googled machine tools blog and found CR4, “the engineer’s place for news and discussion.” The blog is up-to-date and the associated forums are very active. At the moment I landed there, 243 visitors were online! Link to this space and introduce your customers to some useful conversations.
  • I went to Alltop and searched for “manufacturing.” Alltop is a site that aggregates the most popular blogs on a wide range of subjects. Link to that site and show your customers where to find relevant blogs.
  • How about YouTube, the online site for sharing videos? What does that have to do with your company? Well, I found a series of five videos about machine tools and their history, Modern Marvels. YouTube videos can be embedded into your own website or blog (as illustrated below!)
  • I tried SlideShare, the online site for sharing slide presentations, and found an analysis of the global machine tools market. Like YouTube, SlideShare permits you to embed content into your own blog or website.
  • Searching Twitter @MachineTools, a stream of tweets about buying and selling used machine tools.
  • On LinkedIn, I found a Machine Tools Group featuring discussions with 348 members.
  • Turning to Facebook, I located Machine Tools Mart, whose CEO lives in India and offers global information about buying and selling machine tools.
  • At amazon.com I searched for books on the machine tools topic. On the amazon.com site you can create your own list of favorites that you recommend (search for Listmania) and feature it in your profile. You can also create a bookstore on your website or feature books in your blog with direct links to amazon.com where your customers can buy them. Incidentally, you can earn a commission on those sales.

Please note, this post is not about machine tools. no matter what your B2B business, you can improve your sales position through social media, even by using social media very passively. Make your website, your blog, or your Facebook page a source of timely, relevant information. It will be relevant because YOU selected it, because YOU know what your customers are looking for.

Remember Danny DeVito in OPM (Other People’s Money)? Well, you can boost your sales strategy with OPC (Other People’s Content)!

Thought Leader: Tired or True?


Isn’t thought leader just old biz jargon? After all, the term’s been knocking around for years, like ‘headhunter’ and ‘game changer’ and ‘team player.’

But no, for a B2B company today, being known as a thought leader demands your attention. And fortunately, through social media, becoming a thought leader gets easier for small and midsize companies than ever before.

Here’s how elise.com defined the phrase in 2003: “What differentiates a thought leader from any other knowledgeable company, is the recognition from the outside world that the company deeply understands its business, the needs of its customers, and the broader marketplace in which it operates.

Why does that matter?

We’re in an economy where customers try to know everything before they buy. Customers want to know who you are, what you stand for, whether they like you, whether you are telling the truth, will you deliver, are you trustworthy. And customers want to know what other customers think about working with you and the quality of your products and services. And customers want to know if you really know your industry, and whether you can help them make a wise buying decision (even if it’s not to buy from you). And whether you will help them make the transaction transparent or whether you will want to leave them in the dark.

And you know what? Customers will buy from those companies that are the easiest to know.

How do you become that kind of company?

I presented a webinar to a prospective customer last week, a webinar on what frightens buyers about doing business with small companies. I used abundant examples from their industry. The CEO said at the end, “You took the time to learn about my company. Your competitor didn’t do that.” That’s one way to do it-when you have the opportunity to interact with customers, take the time to understand their business. Train everyone on your team to do that, all of the time.

But aside from when you’re talking to your customers and prospects directly, how can you earn their attention to you by behaving like a thought leader?

One simple way is to offer industry information on your website-make your site a place to which customers and prospects return for up-to-date knowledge. Here’s one B2B company that does it well: Walker Information, offering their online ‘Knowledge Center’ about customer loyalty. They have five blogs, each written by a company expert. Their library of eBooks, videos discussions, case studies, and white papers is constantly growing. The Walker site illustrates the high value of producing content. Walker expects and empowers employees to be thought leaders, and the company continually produces new content of its own based on deep industry expertise.

Another small company doing a good job of thought leadership on their website is Driving Ambition, in the trucking industry. They offer a newsletter subscription and an ‘industry resources’ page. Here’s what they say: “Driving Ambition is committed to helping our customers stay up-to-date on the latest industry trends. Bookmark this page, and you’ll have easy access to the latest transportation news and information,” followed by a list of associations, websites, industry standards, and other information made more valuable because they have posted it in one place. Their blog features timely, relevant posts about events, industry news, speakers, reports, issues, and so forth. Driving Ambition differs from Walker in that most of their informative web material consists of link, announcements and references rather than new content production.

The distinction between these two approaches is important; it illustrates that you can demonstrate thought leadership by creating new industry knowledge but also by aggregating and filtering industry information for your customers and prospects.

How you do it depends on choosing a strategy that you can manage, that you can afford, and that will be meaningful to your audience. Developing a ‘thought leader’ website and embedding a blog that invites interaction with visitors is a sensible place to start.

Ten Tactics to Drive B2B Sales with Social Media


Hello BlogWorld readers, and welcome to my new blog post series on how social media can drive your B2B sales. I’m pleased to be invited to contribute and look forward to interacting with all of you here.

I work with small and midsize B2B companies learning how to grow their business by making bigger sales to bigger customers. Most of my customers are new to the social media world and especially confused about how it can possibly relate to the B2B sales environment.

So thought I’d start by introducing the topic and giving you my list of the Top Ten tactics that will help you use social media to drive B2B sales. My Top Ten list also forms the topic list that I’ll be blogging about/hope you will add to it!

  1. Position your company as a thought leader/team of experts in your field. Invite several of your subject matter experts to create newsletters, blog posts, white papers, discussion board posts, slide decks and/or videos about their knowledge and expertise in your industry. Provide them with policy guidelines and training for creation and have a system for distribution.
  2. Develop a content strategy to add value to the customer experience. Learn how to leverage your website, blog, and social media sites to present content that your company produces and to share content from others that will be of interest to your customers.
  3. Learn how to use social media to generate high quality leads. For example, use social media tools to invite members of your target audience to attend a teleconference or webinar and give them high quality, relevant information. When they sign up and attend, you have a warm introduction and a reason to call them.
  4. Engage your prospects and customers in conversation about their needs and their desires. Social media platforms make it easy to conduct surveys, to ask simple questions, and to comment on your customers’ observations in real time.
  5. Request and publicize referrals and recommendations through social media. Ask your key employees to request Linked In recommendations from current and past customers, for example, and suddenly you’ll have 10 or 20 or 50 points of view about the quality and capabilities of your team.
  6. Conduct sales research about prospective companies and their key employees. The networking sites give you unprecedented access to information about people at work. Just keep in mind that your company will ‘get’ only as much as you ‘give,’ so encourage your team to be contributors.
  7. Build customer loyalty through multiple social media touch points. Wherever you find your customers on the Internet-and wherever they find you-be prepared to engage in a multi-channel conversation.
  8. Keep up with trends in social media and sales/understand sales 2.0. Lots of small business owners are still hoping it will all go away. But I believe we have hardly begun to tap the potential of the Internet and social media activity for B2B business engagement. The most successful companies will be those that intend to learn and grow with the phenomenon.
  9. Use your social media resource sites to find industry reports, data, and predictions that will interest your customers. Make great resources easy for them to find through you, and you’ll add great value to their experience.
  10. Connect with ravens and mavens. Ravens are guides and protectors of the whale hunters; they want you to win big sales. Mavens are passionate knowledge brokers who know what’s what and can advise you on the trends. Subscribe to their blogs, follow them, ‘friend’ them, ‘like’ them. Most of all, allow them to help guide you through the social media territory.

How are you using social media to support B2B sales? I look forward to your comments!

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