Social Media for B2B Sales – 11 Tips for Building Better Client Relationships!

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Selling has always been about relationships. Particularly in B2B sales, people buy first from individuals and then from their companies. Social Media presents us with an outstanding opportunity to …

  • Discover potential new relationships
  • Create rapport
  • Establish relationships
  • Maintain, nurture, and expand those relationships

You now have, and quite literally at your fingertips, more arrows in your quiver than any of those B2B salespeople who have gone for generations before you! Don’t squander these opportunities. Make the most of these B2B sales tips!

Keep your eyes open – And also your ears while keeping your mouth firmly in the clamped position. Remember that the first rule of engagement is to LISTEN. Samson slew 10,000 Philistines with the jawbone of an ass and the same number of sales are lost each day using exactly that same weapon. In the old days (and I am both old and old-school), my eyeballs were darting from side to side from the time I hit the parking lot at a prospect’s office. What does the building look like? What kind of cars do I see? Are there reserved parking spaces with names on them? Their office interior … is it 1910 or the latest technologies on solid mahogany desks? Once inside the prospect’s office I was looking for plaques, diplomas, memorabilia … any clue that would help me to understand him or her better and to discover possible interests that we might have in common. Now we can do so much of this, and more, right from our desk via social media.

Be worthy – You will have to forgive me when I say that we seem to live in a world filled with people who are absorbed with their own concepts of self-entitlement. “Here I am and where is mine?” We used to call these salespeople “Jimmies”. “My name is Jimmie, what you got to gimme?” Here’s a news flash. If you want my business, you have to earn the right to ask for it and to keep it.  Demonstrate, consistently, that you are a professional and that you know how to follow-up and follow through. You will need to … are you ready … work for it. I have no desire to find a new vendor. In fact, that process is downright painful and, if you put me in a position where I have to go through that again, I will hunt you down and kill you :)

Be Responsive – What in the heck ever happened to urgency!? I am amazed by the quantity of emails that I send out that never get responded to and the same thing holds true will valid messages that I send via social media. Still, you want me to refer you to others, or connect with you, let alone get my business!? I only look stupid.

Make the touches – And make them regularly. Just because you two are now married does not mean that the need to romance your partner stops. Ever! Consider the “A, B,C” approach where you contact your “A” clients “x” times per month or quarter and that schedule decreases with your “B” and then your “C” clients. If you have any “D” clients (and don’t we all) … that stands for “Delete”.

Be honest – It’s quite acceptable to say “I don’t know (but, I will find out)” or to give me a flat-out “No”. I see those sentences as indications of your honesty and as evidence that you are a real person and not some sort of sales cyborg.  It’s cliché but, the goal of under-promising and then over-delivering still holds true. Exceeding client expectations is always the only acceptable result! 

Provide value – You can provide value in a number of ways and providing value is already a key element of social media engagement. Why not subscribe to sites which publish articles that would be of interest to your clients and then forward those articles to their attention? Consider using Google Alerts to go out and find those articles.  I have all articles and alerts come directly into my Google Reader and from there it is super simple to categorize those into folders that could literally be the names of your clients and prospects.  You can even email directly from Google Reader as well as share these articles right to your social networks.

Find opportunities for them – Since you are already monitoring the social media channels for your own opportunities, why not do that for your customers as well? These can be done with simple or advanced searches on any of the social networks or with free tools like Google Alerts or Social Mention. Of course, you can spend big dollars on other tools to do this but cost-effective alternatives include Sprout Social and Nimble Social CRM which is a powerful and complete relationship management tool. I can almost give you a 100% guarantee  that your competitors are sure not doing this and then, what chance does anybody have to now come in and take this account from you? See “snowball in hell”.

Educate them – Show them better ways to use your products and services and in ways that will make them money or make them more efficient.  Or, perhaps you have talents outside of your particular day job. For example, if you are reading this, you likely already have some level of proficiency with social media. Might your client benefit from you sharing with them some of your expertise?

Connect them – There is a huge difference between being just a vendor and being a member of the “team”. Connecting your client with others who can use their services or who can provide them with valuable services that they need, is a fast trip up to team member status. LinkedIn is awesome for this purpose but, don’t neglect the other networks as they are all valuable connection resources for both you and for your clients!

Promote them – Become one of their best brand ambassadors. Help them to sell their products and services even if those items are not being provided by you. Send out social updates directing folks to their website or announcing their new products or scheduled events. Givers get and when you help to increase your client’s revenues, you will undoubtedly increase your own. It’s called karma.

Involve themYour clients want to be involved in your business and it is important for them that you are successful. They have made an investment in you and your company and it is, therefore, in their vested interest that you are both around tomorrow to take care of their needs. Get their feedback on your products and services. Ask them what they would like to see in terms of new services. Continuous client involvement with both you and your company = long-term relationship!

O.K., that’s eleven tips for B2B sales and I know that you folks have got to have more! Now is your chance to create your own karma by sharing those with others by leaving a comment below. You might even find somebody to connect with. Wouldn’t that be a beautiful thing!

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

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
Craig Jamieson
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Comments

  1. says

    I reply to emails in a day, usually sooner. In fact I think I may spoil clients in that respect, how quickly I do get things done. And you’re right – it’s a pretty strong barometer of how someone does business, if they aren’t responsive – that’s one of my peeves for sure.

    I totally agree with providing value – though I think that sentiment is being overused. I gotta come up with a better way to say it, b/c that’s really where it counts. Things like being a resource, educating, making connections, sharing opportunities – those all bring value. Think being a member of their team is where the relationship starts to gel – when they realize you’re not in this just for you, but also genuinely interested in their success. FWIW.

    • says

      Thanks, Davina! You seem quite responsive to me and I don’t know if there is such a thing as being too responsive (as long as you are getting paid to do so and I think most people are willing to pay for that luxury):)

      Value? Call it “hamburger”. Like you say, it’s not what it is called but what it actually does:)

      Thanks for commenting!!

  2. Brent Howard says

    Awesome, awesome article. As a former manager of a restaurant I really wish that all vendors lived by these “rules of thumb.” I think the main thing any client wants is someone who is genuine and someone who makes our job easier. Now I am trying my hand at the other side of the business where I will be the one providing the service. I really enjoy getting to know people and look forward to building and MAINTAINING relationships. This article will help me out immensely in my new endeavor. Also, I will take on Davina’s advice and really try to “spoil” my client. Thank you!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Be worthy – You will have to forgive me when I say that we seem to live in a world filled with people who are absorbed with their own concepts of self-entitlement. “Here I am and where is mine?” We used to call these salespeople “Jimmies”. “My name is Jimmie, what you got to gimme?” Here’s a news flash. If you want my business, you have to earn the right to ask for it and to keep it.  Read on at Maximize Social Business [...]

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