Shipwire in the News

How B2B companies can create long-term sales engagement with social media

SmartBlog, November 14, 2011

How B2B companies can create long-term sales engagement with social media

This post is by TJ McCue of TechBizTalk.

One of the challenges of business-to-business sales is that it has such a long funnel — compared with consumer goods one might buy on a whim. You’re looking at several connections, possibly with multiple people before you get to “yes.” How do you keep that connection alive long enough to make the sale?

Most B2B customers and prospects don’t want a call from you. They might want a relationship, but they probably want it on their terms, not yours. At the core of any deep B2B relationship is one essential skill or trait: The ability to listen and empathize (with a customer’s experience, in this case). The top brands are able to use that skill to establish authentic communication — authentic in that it creates trust and a willingness to keep the relationship alive.

I asked a few of the top minds in the B2B marketing field for their best advice on how to create and maintain lead relationships — and how to convert those leads into customers over time. Here’s what they had to say.

Nate Gilmore, vice president at Shipwire

If you are trying to get a brand new customer from the Web and get them to immediately buy a product/service, then [pay per click] is a conversion engine because the buyer search string often clearly articulates a buy signal that you can respond to with an offer through PPC. There is usually a high drop off between click through to offer and the higher barrier of getting the credit card; but that is where conversion optimization and cost per acquisition tools/ecosystem has had 10+ years of practice helping sellers.

When it comes to products with a longer sales cycle, driving repeat conversions and softer benefits like each fan now being a viral channel into that fan’s friends, then acquiring fans merits consideration. Perhaps you have a product in development or a marketing campaign that is more evangelical/idea-based, the softer/easier/less friction conversion to a fan page will be easier and have a much lower cost of acquisition. Because you acquired a fan, not a buyer. I consider fans or followers to be more like a newsletter signup. It’s the intermediate step to acquire a “name” that then needs to be marketed to for conversions.

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