I recently started a conversation on a LinkedIn group about social media channels and their usage in B2B sales. It seems a lot of folks know LinkedIn is a valuable outlet for B2B, but not many know how to use it transition leads beyond, “thanks for connecting, here’s what we do, if you ever need it call me.”
Someone commented on the post and thoughtfully posed this question:
There seems to be a ‘don’t try to sell’ mentality, although in B2B there has to be a sales process. Much of the B2B services and products do not sell themselves which seems to be the belief of many SEO and social media folks. With all the talk of content and relationship, when is it OK to get to the sales process?
Here’s my response:
As a general rule, B2B transactions tend to have a longer sales process than B2C. The key is to stay relevant and top of mind. The difficulty is doing so without appearing overzealous.
I have found that offering value – and asking for nothing in return, is still a win for B2B.
Here’s a tactic that we utilize for my clients. First, we export all of their current LinkedIn connections and sort the list by grouping. For example, we have a client that’s an EMR billing specialist. We exported her connections and sorted them by specialty (chiropractor, physical therapist, etc.).
From those lists, we reach out to a handful of ideal clients by offering something of value such as an article or blog that’s relevant to their industry. We subscribe to blogs such as Kevin MD and take note of things that could valuable to our target audience and share information as we find it relevant. This is a simple example, of course. It’s also worthwhile to consider a possible referral or lead to send to a contact.
Either way, the key is to give them something and ask for nothing in return.
It’s a way to remind people that you’re still around without being pushy.
This tactic, alone, has resulted in direct leads for my client.
For those who want to move the sales process a step further, that’s where exporting the connections and tracking the outreach comes into play. About two weeks after sending the initial correspondence, you could select the top prospects and propose a call or coffee to talk further. It’s human nature to want to reciprocate a good deed in some way, so some folks will accept the call.
Another effective way to engage on LinkedIn is to participate in groups. I recommend joining at least 10 groups that include your target audience and participating with thoughtful conversation.
Do these tactics take longer than others? Yes. But, B2B transactions are a different animal and I’ve found tactics like these to be well worth the time. Relationships and value are winners in any race.