B2B And The Social Web – So What’s Your Excuse?

[UPDATE: This post was picked up by Social Media Today]

So I had yet another conversation with a gentleman about how the social web (blogging, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) just isn’t appropriate for B2B sales.

To which I replied with my standard professional, classy response to such a statement:

“Hooey.”

Let’s begin with one key assumption. I am not necessarily talking about companies like Dell that have sold seven figures worth of computers through Twitter.

I am talking about selling services, high-end consultative services, and high-price ticket orders such as manufacturing equipment and installation.

If I had a dollar for every sales guy who said “I will make no sales on Twitter,” I could retire and spend 24 hours a day blasting such characters…on Twitter.

Funny thing is, they are sort of right. And that’s WHERE they stop. And that’s WHY they stop. And that’s exactly why they WON’T ever sell anything on Twitter. Or anywhere on the social web for that matter…

Mail me one penny for every time you’ve heard this line: “The kind of people I sell to aren’t on social media.”

I hear this all the time. And while I want to get angry at these souls for feeling this way, I don’t. Because I know that they just don’t see it, just don’t believe it. Or, in many instances, aren’t willing to do the work necessary.

Many are looking for the easy way to make sales and generate revenue for the business. I hear people all the time who say they only get business from face-to-face networking or from word of mouth. But I ask, if you are legitimately getting business via these tactics, you’ve invested lots of love and care into building that referral network, yes?

It is no different on the social web. In fact, you do it to accomplish the same goals:

1. Establish trust.
2. Build relationships.
3. Demonstrate competence.
4. Educate.
5. Teach.
6. Learn.
7. Make friends.
8. Find alliance partners.
9. Find support partners.

So how do you start? How do you begin the process of building relationships?

1. Engage people on Twitter, start conversations. Here are some ways to start.
2. Use geolocation platforms such as Foursquare and Gowalla to start conversations.
3. Comment on relevant industry blog posts.
4. Listen and comment to relevant industry podcasts.
5. Monitor prospects and what they are doing/saying on Facebook. And engage.
6. Monitor prospects and see what groups they are participating in on LinkedIn. And engage.
7. Find meaningful conversations, and identify people you want to know, through strategic queries on Twitter Search.
8. Share other’s work. On whatever tool you want. By whatever means works for you.
9. Blog about your passion, your hobby (here’s mine). You will meet new people. These people could be prospects. Or know people who should be prospects.

These are just a few ideas. There are more. In fact, if you have other ideas, please share in the comments. And here’s the important piece of advice: don’t sell them.

Get to know them. Talk about music with them. Talk about sports. Where they had dinner. What books are they reading.

Talk about anything that matters to them – that isn’t BUSINESS related.

What’s going to happen?

They will learn to trust you. They will inquire about you. They will look you up online to find out more about you. You will meet up at an event somewhere and it will feel like you’ve known them for a long time. You will agree to have coffee. You will then learn ways to help them in some way perhaps. They will become, at the end of the day, your friend.

And don’t people like to do business with their friends? I’ve read that somewhere…

Before you go, remember these 7 keys to success:

1. Be consistent.
2. Be patient.
3. Be disciplined.
4. Remember that this process takes time.
5. Understand it won’t happen overnight. Or in a week. Or in a month. Probably longer.
6. Finally, recognize your competitors aren’t willing to put in that time. They spend their time making up excuses as to why this won’t work.
7. And when you win? Don’t gloat. Instead, teach others how it worked.

That’s when the book deal and speaking gigs come! ;-)

What do you think?

P.S. Important thing to remember (for those who read this far): Notice how this wasn’t a blog post about how to sell your high-end consulting services? This was a post about how to use the social web to make new friends and strengthen relationships. Once you do that, the selling is the easy part…

[photo from marfis75 on flickr]

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  • http://ypsgroup.com/blog Todd Youngblood

    Todd,

    I see you used one of my (former) lines for this post, “The kind of people I sell to aren’t on social media.”

    Ouch!

    As one who’s seen the light, I can only state that I can’t believe how wrong-headed that attitude was. Notice I said, “wrong-headed,” and not “wrong.” Virtually none of the execs in my target market were (notice I say, “were,” not “are.”) on social media. By becoming a bit of an evangelist among industrial distributors and control system integrators, I’ve converted maybe 50 or so. Now that original 50 is preaching to another 50 each and pointing the entire hoard back to me as the “expert.” (YIKES!!!)

    The whole exercise has been great for my reputation, great for strengthening existing and establishing new relationships, and great for generating leads. Oh yeah… and year-to-date has led to 3 nicely profitable engagements.

    Don’t tell my competitors!

    TY

  • Todd

    Dude, if you think you are the ONLY one who has ever said that to me…

    But, the key point you make? Folks in your target market ARE STARTING to get active in this space…