Leadership Perspectives | Social selling in the B2B landscape

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How does your business use social media? Does it generate key messages? Connecting your customers with the people you employ to give it a human face? Does the tool even have a place in the B2B sector or industries where it might not seem intuitive to use at first glance.

Most importantly, what is the value of social media as a sales tool?

This was recently addressed in a research report by an Aberdeen-based business consultancy Doqaru. Their Sales performance report details the importance of social selling through an extensive survey of B2B sales.

Much of the content in the report further reinforces Gartner’s prediction in its Future of Sales study that by 2025, 80% of B2B sales interactions will take place through digital channels.

In an interview with FIGUREwe chat with Yekemi Otaru, co-founder and director of Doqaru, to discuss the social media zeitgeist and how it applies to business, as well as unpack many of the telling claims found in the report on the company’s sales performance.

The fear of misusing it

One of the key takeaways from the report is the widespread reluctance of senior management at many large companies to engage with social media – this is a clear indicator of the failure on the part of business leaders to follow the cultural zeitgeists that have huge impacts on a modern world. Business.

While this isn’t the case for all companies, of course, even those that have done it well before haven’t really pushed. “In 2012, I was conducting research, talking to companies like IBM and Dell who were at the forefront of using social media in the business space.

“They were training their employees to use this technology to drive the brand and to sell.”

10 years later, however, there’s an argument to be made that social media often strikes an anxious chord with big business. It could be argued that the rise of cancel culture and social media mobs has contributed to a kind of unease when it comes to engaging with social media.

On this, Yekemi says, “Big companies have always been aware of the risks of using social media, but they had frameworks in place to mitigate that, so there was always somewhere to go if someone one wasn’t sure what he was posting.

“These companies are always very concerned about their staff using social media to interact – they are worried that the wrong things will be said. Some are – in my opinion – in denial about the impact of not having social media as a tool.

Again, this is a problem that seems to be most prevalent in large companies – the bigger and more successful they are, the harder it is.

This is exactly what Otaru’s research ended up indicating, “as companies get bigger and bigger, we start to see bigger gaps because they see themselves as having more to lose, have ways more traditional ways of doing things, as well as structures that are inherently difficult to change enterprise-wide”.

According to Yekemi, using social media correctly is a great way to highlight key experts within your organization, as well as helping to reach people around the world – providing your sales team with avenues that would have been otherwise impossible.

In a broader sense, large companies need to embrace greater malleability to accommodate the agility and cultural shifts needed to truly use social media more effectively.

Social Selling to boost lead generation

Social media is most effective when it functions as a peer-to-peer communication framework that organically reinforces the best aspects of your business. You are much more likely to believe in a company when you read congratulations on your LinkedIn news feed that come directly from someone in your ecosystem rather than reading it from a press release.

Regarding Doqaru’s ways of engendering this when consulting with customers, Otaru says, “We tell sales teams that it’s all about building those peer-to-peer relationships. If you’re not using social selling – like starting conversations and not selling to people in terms of sending out a pitch deck – but getting to know people in a human-to-human sense, then your sales cycles will be much longer. ”

Beyond that, Otaru touts the virtues of your staff as key players in building brand trust using social media – engaging with people and discussing the topics you are experts.

Otaru expands on the benefits of this approach, commenting, “Sales that develop relationships with prospects, potential partners and collaborators is no longer a linear journey. People want to get to know you and make sure your values ​​align.

A quick way to make this happen within your own company, as Otaru details, is to seek out those within your staff who are willing to take a more active role in running your organization in the social media space.

In fact, training in general has become a huge issue which Doqaru’s sales performance report highlights, indicating that 42% of respondents said they had received no training on social media.

This becomes more problematic when talking about achievements, as there are some commonalities that show this stat to be very problematic. Companies that find success through social media tend, as Otaru puts it, to “choose people within the organization who have certain profiles – people they find credible in terms of technical knowledge and understanding, who have an existing audience and who may already be creating content online. From there, they train and support these people.

In Otaru’s Book The Skeptic’s Clever Guide to Social Media in Organizations, she details a case study through the SAS data consultant who follows this particular model. “After proactively training their staff in the proper use of social media, they saw a 40% increase in lead generation through social channels due to their staff going online and – not selling. — but was talking about projects they were working on and actively sharing things that were important to their business interest — or just generally interesting.”

It’s a lesson that Otaru and Doqaru as a whole pass on to their customers, if any, and the almost universal feedback is that they get faster responses, more leads, more engagement with their content, and shorter sales cycles.

Mistakes and symbolics of social media

In addition to illuminating the challenges of lead generation, one of the big thematic topics addressed by Doqaru’s sales performance report is the reluctance of companies to abandon a sales methodology that has proven to be ineffective.

Beyond that, many think they’re cutting edge in how they embrace things like social media, but in reality, they’re just moving archaic practices into a new medium.

Beyond that, there are simply still plenty of bad practices out there that are mostly born out of good intentions.

Otaru expands on this by saying, “A mistake I often see with small businesses or SMEs is that they try to be everywhere when in fact they should just pick and choose where their customer hangs out. Even though it’s just one platform, do it really well.

According to Otaru, there is a real opportunity for small and medium enterprises to use social growth strategies.

All of the best practices that Otaru has discussed all inform an end game of sales – that’s why we’re here. And while social media is undoubtedly an incredible tool for sales, it is absolutely not a way to simply channel old practices. An example of this would be the social media equivalent of cold calling, or trying to close a sale too early in a relationship and that’s something Otaru unfortunately sees a lot.


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“If you connect with someone on LinkedIn, don’t just say hello, attach a brochure and go straight to the sale.

“It’s really the antithesis of what we’re saying. It takes time to build relationships. »

This really feeds into the central message behind not only the sales performance report, but also Otaru and Doqaru’s vision of social media as a B2B sales tool.

“One of the pitfalls is that people think social media is a quick fix. It’s something you have to do over time, consistency pays off.


MarTech Summit 2022 | Join the conversation

Scottish Marketing Technology Conference

Yekemi Otaru will join us at the 2nd edition MarTech Summit, held on May 10 at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh and streamed live on our virtual conference platform.

She will be joined by an impressive list of speakers, including representatives from Boots, Wood Mackenzie, Zoopla and many more.

The program will discuss the advancement of digital marketing amid an explosion of new tools and technologies – from web analytics, social selling, AI and SEO to CRM, BI and personalization. .

For more information visit: www.martech-summit.com.


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