Social selling for B2B companies doing large deals


The c-suite has had a slight delay in most B2B companies but can now be found on Twitter, LinkedIn and many other social channels. The c-levels who don't use social media have a significant disadvantage both for external and internal communication and can easily be seen as laggards. A laggard image reflects badly upon the company.

It should come as no surprise, however, that sales people got there first, which means that there are plenty of old hat - or "new social savvy" sales people as we like to think of them - taking advantage of the communication and networking opportunities provided by the social networks.

"Social selling" is one of the hottest topics today and is mostly done via LinkedIn, Twitter and via blogs. Twitter is much more effective in the US than in the rest of the world. If the US is an important market Twitter needs to be included plus Twitter is growing the rest of the world.

The sales process has always been social. Salespeople need to find prospects, make connections, and build relationships. Because of how social the sales process is, it just makes sense for salespeople to turn to social media as a new prospecting and influence channel. In this post I have tried to list the social selling behaviors mostly found in the bigger B2B deal world. Transactional B2B selling and very complex B2B selling differ in many ways but from a sales and influence perspective it is in particular two things making them different.

1. Consensus buying vs individual buying.

In the very complex B2B deals a consensus among MANY stakeholders need to be reached prior to making a decision. The quote 'It is no longer B2B or B2C but H2H' is in my view a Google and Marketing Automation provider hype. If you don't understand consensus you will not succeed doing really large deals. Anyone in this space who disagrees?

2. Change.

In the very complex B2B deals the actual purchase leads to the customer having to change how they work. This makes selling in the very complex B2B landscape very similar to the change management industry. It is absolutely vital to create a 'burning platform' so that the stakeholders really prioritise YOUR change. See Kotter's first step in the 8 step process for leading change.

What are the top behaviors in Social selling for B2B companies doing large deals?

Update your social networks frequently: Look at Bill Gates Twitter account or Richard Branson's for example. They tweet frequently and because they have a high number of Twitter followers, their Twitter feeds are effective broadcasting mechanisms. The same in LinkedIn using both short posts and LinkedIn blog posts like this one.

  1. Visit, add and follow many stakeholders per Key Account on Twitter and LinkedIn: On LinkedIn, spend a few times per week visiting relevant profiles on LinkedIn in your named accounts. Many people will look back when they see you in 'who has visited my profile'. Then either add them or write a comment on a post they have. Then add. Don't ever ever ever write a sales InMail straight after the contact accepted your invite. You want to engage with them long term, build trust and share knowledge. Don't ask for a meeting straight away. Ever! Period! On Twitter, the same rule does not apply. You don???t have to 'court' people to follow them on Twitter, and a follow is not a commitment. Social savvy salespeople are using Twitter to follow new prospects as a first means of contact, and monitoring people on Twitter is a great way to spot trends and to identify the type of content that interests them. Since consensus buying dominates the complex B2B deals it is vital to consequently grow your network, information sources and influence with MANY people in the named account. We have more and more clients who monitor the network growth as a new KPI for sales (and marketing as well)
  2. Create Twitter lists: Twitter lists are a great tool. Sales people are using them to group lists of relevant contacts so they can get a view of exactly what those contacts are saying all at once. Create public lists of key influencors. You should also have a 'top prospects' private list.
  3. Participate in LinkedIn groups: LinkedIn is a great place to do virtual networking and to identify what topics prospects are discussing. As an added bonus, many people post questions to LinkedIn groups, giving salespeople the opportunity to showcase their knowledge and help other companies free of charge.
  4. Use the search power of Twitter and LinkedIn: People often forget that Twitter and LinkedIn are completely searchable (See example here But social savvy salespeople are using the site as a way to find people looking for products and services. If, for example, you type in 'help with Account Based Marketing' your results may feature people who are looking for advice on ABM.
  5. Use social media to keep people up to date on company news: New and existing clients are unlikely to check your website daily, but they are likely to be on at least one social media channel each week. So use social media to broadcast your news and insights. This also includes using LinkedIn???s 'Publish a post' blogging feature. LinkedIn posts may well get more traffic than blogs posted to your website. Start debates is also a good tactic to use to engage bigger groups of people.

I have both generated significant business working like this but also made friends for life. In the social media you get to know people that you might haven't met. If people in your key accounts start to like WHY you do things and WHAT you believe they are more likely to want to work with you.

Always remember the importance of influencing the consensus when doing large B2B deals. Social selling, Account Based Marketing and great content are important in this domain.

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