How to Build a Pipeline with Social Media

Image Credit Marybootrixie, Flickr

Thanks to Barbra Gago with Cloud9 Analytics for this shoutout: a great look at how NetProspex fits into a set of tools designed to help B2B companies generate opportunities from social media.


Image Credit Marybootrixie, FlickrBuilding a sales pipeline with social
media is not something that can happen with one person or without any
tools. While the process and tools will be different for every company,
if the goal is to create a pipe through social, there are some key
things everyone must do, and this process involves both sales
management, marketing and sales reps. Everyone within these groups has
a common goal, building the pipe, and while their responsibilities may
be different, it takes all of them to be successful.

Understand User Personas
This is a task typically handed to marketing, and while that is
appropriate, it’s important that everyone is on the same page here.
Defining personas is important for a number of reasons, but primarily,
so you have empathy for their pain, understand what they would need to
do their jobs better, what language they use to describe said pain, and
how they interact with social media (since we are talking about
building a pipe through social). Knowing the language is key for
getting found by them when they search for solutions to their pains,
and since sales is constantly conversing with these people, it’s
critical to get their feedback on how these personas are defined.

Create a Content Strategy
The content strategy is extremely important, and since marketing is
mostly responsible for content this too would fall within their
jurisdiction, however, this cannot be created successfully without
feedback from sales; what kind of content (topic and format) they see
as being successful, and how would they like the content transferred to
them, or how does it fit into their selling cycles. The content
strategy is also designed to specifically craft content that answers
the questions your prospects have at various stages of the buying
cycle. In the context of social media, where it’s more “pre-funnel” the
content needs to be extremely educational, best practices and provided
with no strings attached, and sales people need to be informed and have
access to new content.

Align Sales & Marketing
If Sales and Marketing has agreed on who their persons are, how they
consume content, and what content is most needed in the buying cycle,
then they need to agree on what a “qualified lead” is. Since that’s
what you’re trying to fill your pipeline with, it needs to be
determined, and Sales and Marketing have to be aligned. Not only to
Sales and Marketing need to be aligned on what a qualified lead is,
they also need to be aware of the parallels between the selling cycle
and the nurturing cycle–consistency and relevance is always better for
the prospect.

Train & Educate Staff
Social media is all over the place, and their are plenty of sales and
marketing tools popping up to help you optimize it, or do better
prospecting, but in reality, for the average sales or marketing person,
this is a very scary space and they are mostly afraid they will do
something wrong. If you want your sales force to fully benefit from the
use of social media (and you should) you need to give them the right
tools, training, and awareness. Show them how they can optimize their
time, what tools are best to use (or approved) and what are the best
practices (in general) for the space.

Here is the Social Media Handbook and Governance Policy I just put together for our team.

Promote the Building of Personal Brands
Personal brands are becoming more and more important, and while it’s
obvious to some, most people haven’t even thought about it, but why
shouldn’t they? Providing guidelines for company use of social media is
great, so there are no lines crossed, but encouraging your team
promotes their personal brands, is even better, and will only benefit
the business in the end (providing a more human, and rounded persona to
the world). If Sales people can create their own blogs, or thoughtfully
contribute to groups on LinkedIn and other places, their personal
expertise will start to emerge and shine. Prospects will then start to
appreciate their contributions, and have trust in their expertise, just
like the strategy for the brand, the sales people become the experts,
so the selling get’s a little easier for them–prospects might even know
who they are before they make the first call.

Maximize Conversion
You want to be sure that your capturing leads through social media, but
you need to make sure there is a little friction as possible. For
example, if you only capture a leads name and email for the first
round, and then add additional information to their profile as they
download or participate in additional content or events, it will be
easier for them to say okay, and give their information. Also, it’s
important to make sure that the content you are developing for lead
generation is enticing enough to give their information, but more
importantly, share that content with others, so that their downloading
is actually a compounded lead generation technique. You use the content
as bait, they download, then they themselves share the content which
drives even more conversion.

Use the Right Tools
Building and maintaining a pipeline can only really be done efficiently
and effectively with the right tools. For B2B, CRM plays a critical
role, as the foundation for all contact management, but there are other
applications that will integrate with that system to provide deeper
insight into your prospects, opportunities, and customers. Tools, or
applications are very important for efficiency as well as tracking–if
you’re driving opportunities into the pipe, you need to be aware of
that and know which ones. It’s important to have as much information
(from many sources) about your prospects so you can continue to have
meaningful conversations throughout the buying cycle, and not just at
the beginning.

Social Sales & Marketing tools that integrate with your CRM:
InsideView’s Smart Cloud brings together the best business information
sources and social media for sales, helping you identify quality B2B
sales leads and the insights needed to sell to Customer 2.0. Engage
with the right prospects at the right time using social selling.

A B2B business directory providing full business contact details,
including links to Twitter, Facebook and LinkeIn profiles. B2B’s can
append customer and prospect databases with social network contact
information, allowing you to engage across multiple channels.

Marketo Lead Management gives Marketers the power and flexibility to
automate demand generation campaigns and deliver high quality leads
with less effort. Marketo Sales Insight helps Sales understand,
prioritize and interact with the hottest leads and opportunities to
close more business faster.

Cloud9 Analytics:
Cloud9 Pipeline Accelerator Suite enables sales management and
operations to more effectively manage their sales pipeline and
forecast. The result is a dramatic increase in forecast accuracy,
increased win rates and higher CRM adoption.