Social Media for B2B Sales – The 16 Rules of Engagement

social media b2b sales rules of engagement Are you ready to become active in social media as part of your B2B sales effort? You need to be aware that, just like any sport, there are rules. If you are preparing to go into battle, and selling is a highly competitive contact sport (maybe even a blood sport), there are always specific rules of engagement. These rules, and you learned most of them in kindergarten, are designed to maximize your chances for success. Here we go!

  • Be real. You don’t need eyes and ears to spot a phony. Be yourself!
  • Be honest. This includes the avoidance of “puffing”.
  • Demonstrate a little humility. There is only one person in the world who thinks you are all that and the center of the universe. You see him or her every morning in your mirror. O.K., maybe two others … your mother and your dog.
  • Show respect. This includes being respectful of others’ needs, their opinions, and their time.
  • Be polite. Please and thank you are still in the dictionary although they are no longer widely in use. I looked them up just to be sure.
  • Give credit where credit is due. Plagiarists need not apply.
  • Attract others, don’t interrupt. Are you the person who walks into a cocktail party, finds a group of folks who are involved in a discussion and then, without thought, you immediately insert yourself into that discussion? You may or may not get away with this in real life but, in social media, everyone has a convenient reject button which is generally referred to as a mouse.
  • Don’t be a jerk. This includes being mean spirited, arrogant, and self-absorbed.
  • It’s o.k. to promote, and levels for this will vary by network, just don’t do it constantly. That is called spam and it is not the same as the luncheon meat with a recognized popularity in Hawaii.
  • You are more than your business. Show others that side of you.
  • Be interesting. Interesting people have a tendency to attract other interesting people.
  • Provide value. One way or another, providing some sort of value is a key to attracting others, and encouraging others, to connect with you.
  • Listen and learn. Listen then engage.
  • Promote others. It will come back to you!
  • Seek to engage where, when, and how it is appropriate and then take your conversation to the next level. Find, initiate, and then develop relationships with others.
  • Be responsive. Folks are going to be reaching out to you. Imagine their disappointment if you don’t even have the courtesy to acknowledge that.

Here’s the really big one … people will assume that your behavior on the web is indicative of how you behave in real life. Some studies would indicate that what folks see on the web may even be more reflective of the real you. Why would they think otherwise and who are these people? They are your potential employers, connections, influencers, customers, prospects, and referrers. If finding new customers and receiving valuable referrals are important to you as a salesperson, and you wish to be active in social networking, pay heed. Pay heed to not only how you act on the web but also how you act in all of your day-to-day activities.

Referrals can be a risky business and the person who may be willing to refer you will only do so if those risks have been minimized. If I refer you to one of my good customers and this results in a quality new relationship for both of you, I have gained favor with that same customer. I have raised my role in that relationship to that of valued connector. If, on the other hand, it’s a miserable failure … I’m flat dead in the eyes of what is now my former customer. So, when I see you act like a idiot on the social networks, or you are not even responsive to my efforts to contact or engage with you, or you are constantly late to our meetings … I will have no reason to assume anything other than that this is exactly how you will also treat anyone who I refer you to. Not only will I not refer you, those who lie with dogs are often likely to get fleas and I’m no fan of flea baths!

Your potential customer, even your existing customers, will be watching for these same behaviors and there is a very good chance that they may adjust their relationships, or their potential relationships, with you accordingly. Always remember that what goes on social media stays on social media and what stays on social media has the potential to be magnified by geometric proportions. Make it the right things by following these rules of engagement!

This all comes down to a simple choice. You can either attract or you can repel. What examples of each can you add to this rules of engagement list?

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About the Author:

Craig Jamieson

This monthly Social Sales column is contributed by Craig M. Jamieson. Craig has been in B2B sales since 1977 and during that time has served in a variety of positions including; sales manager, division sales manager, national sales manager, district manager, and as a business owner. He is the managing partner of Adaptive Business Services in Boise, Idaho which owns and operates NetWorks! Boise Valley B2B Networking Groups, is a Nimble Social CRM & HootSuite Solution Partner, a TTI Performance Systems VAA, and Craig also conducts workshops and seminars relating to sales and social business applications. +Craig Jamieson

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