According to recent LinkedIn reports, B2B buyers seek insights and conversations with vendors on social media. In fact, 2 in 3 are open to connecting with a new vendor and 3 in 4 are ready to have a conversation with a new vendor on social media. So B2B buyers are willing to reveal themselves and engage with B2B sales and marketing leaders on LinkedIn.
But, the #1 reason that B2B buyers do not connect with a vendor on LinkedIn and in social media in general is because they don’t want to be bombarded with sales and marketing materials. They want a relationship based on real, up-front value. They want sales leaders to work harder to earn their trust and interest before they give you an opt-in, a phone call and a right to market or sell to them further.
As Mike Weir of LinkedIn mentioned in one of our podcasts, "You want buyers to feel: I like you, I like your opinions, I want to know more. This means you need to prove to your prospects that you are worth them opening themselves up to your sales messages."
B2B buyers don't want to waste time with sales materials, networking calls or demos…
Yes, you read that right. B2B buyers don’t want to waste time with marketing materials, sales messages, networking calls or demos, if they haven't see any up-front value. As soon as a connection is made, most sales professionals thank the prospect for making or accepting the connections, provide some details about what they do and then go right into asking for a sales conversation.
With our invites to connect, we discuss the content that we can provide them and how it's relevant to their business. Once they connect, we provide them with the article, podcast, white paper that we mention in the invite to connect (everything ungated!) and invite them to join our LinkedIn group for even more content. We then nurture those that take the additional action to join our LinkedIn community with more 1-to-1 messages that lead with content.
The changes B2B buyers want require a targeted account management approach to prospecting, nurturing and social selling on LinkedIn.
For one of our clients, a Software as a Service (SaaS) provider, we’re using a sales intelligence platform that provides us with data and insights into the companies that our client should be connecting with. The platform tells us what companies will be taking on a major IT project within the next 6 to 12 months and more importantly the specific type of project they will be performing.
This allows us to reach out to specific IT leaders who would be responsible for these specific projects – and show our client’s relevance to their specific needs. We are now able to target these IT leaders with content that is specific to the challenges and issues that they will be facing when tackling this new IT project. From there we provide case studies, webinars and other content that is all related to the prospect’s specific IT project – and move them forward to having a sales conversation and demo.
Notice the key word here – 'specific'.
- 'Specific' companies
- 'Specific' IT leaders
- 'Specific' projects
- 'Specific' needs
- 'Specific' issues and challenges
- 'Specific' content
You see we’re taking the time to get to know our client’s prospects’ needs, interests and challenges. We are building a relationship focused on value. We’re finding out what their vision is and providing prospects with upfront content that maps out how to take their vision and turn it into value. As a result our client is having more sales conversations with companies like CSC, Expedia, PayPal, AstraZeneca, Intel and many others.
Studies show that 74% of B2B buyers choose the company that was first to earn their trust by adding real value as they are defining their buying vision
Social selling is not a numbers game. It’s a relationships game. It’s how you build and leverage key relationships. This means that sales professionals need to stop focusing on their own agenda – on the hard sell, on gathering contact information. They need to place that focus on the needs or interests of the companies they want to work with. They have to stop throwing out newsfeeds – and spewing out general sales messages hoping that something sticks and actually provide content that shows how they truly understand the prospects needs.
Above all, they need to shift the conversation from themselves to their prospects. Make the conversation about them. Be the first solution provider to earn the prospects trust by adding real value as they are defining their buying vision. You can watch my webinar with LinkedIn’s tech industry expert for even more information on how to earn sales leads that actually convert to revenue.
About the Author:
By Kristina Jaramillo, LinkedIn marketing expert who helps sales executives within technology companies; professional service firms and SMBs go beyond brand awareness and actually generate demand, sales opportunities and more revenue using LinkedIn. Learn how you can influence more B2B buying decisions with her free LinkedIn training.