B2B SME Social Media Tips: How should you use social media marketing in your B2B sales cycle?
Social media has transformed B2B sales. What was once seen as solely a B2C marketing channel has become a critical tool for B2B companies. Through social media, B2B companies can now effectively connect with, engage, and secure business from other companies.
This evolution has significantly impacted the sales cycle.
83% of executives that choose a vendor on behalf of their company use social media in their decision-making, and 92% of that segment says that social media influenced a purchasing decision within the last year. 1Forbes
Social media enables B2B companies to generate leads, build relationships, and ultimately drive revenue growth like never before. As the B2B landscape continues to change, social media marketing has emerged as an invaluable strategy to find new opportunities, nurture prospects, and accelerate deal closure.
In this article, we explore how social media is reshaping B2B sales. We look at key ways social media generates leads, strengthens connections, and shortens sales cycles. We can also provide real-world examples and expert insights on how B2B companies can leverage social media at each stage of the sales funnel to support your sales team’s efforts.
B2B Sales Cycle: An Overview
Turning a lead into a customer is a journey in the B2B sales process. It is not just a single step. This journey, known as the sales cycle, typically comprises multiple sales process stages that aren’t linear:
The sales cycle varies by deal complexity, industry, and buyer readiness. But systematically guiding prospects through these stages is key to turning leads into satisfied, lasting customers.
The role of social media in B2B sales is an increasingly important factor in the sales cycle. Social media channels provide a unique opportunity to engage potential customers and build relationships with them.
Social media has also changed the way salespeople interact with prospects and close deals. It has been proven to shorten the sales cycle, as buyers are better informed and more engaged with brands online. Social selling is becoming a key factor in closing B2B sales, and companies need to understand how to leverage this powerful tool to succeed.
75% of B2B buyers and 84% of C-level/vice president (VP) executives surveyed use social media to make purchasing decisions.2IDC
Social media channels offer a wealth of opportunities for B2B lead generation. By utilizing these platforms, businesses can effectively identify, connect with, and nurture potential leads. Moreover, they can gather valuable information about potential clients by analyzing their online behavior, preferences, and challenges.
This enables businesses to target their marketing efforts more accurately and increase their chances of converting leads into customers. With the vast amount of data available on social media, businesses can tap into a gold mine of potential leads.
For instance, a niche software company specializing in project management tools can use social media to identify and connect with professionals in the construction industry who are seeking solutions to streamline their workflow. This targeted approach increases the chances of converting leads into paying customers.
Consistently sharing valuable social posts and engaging in meaningful conversations on social media profiles is crucial for B2B companies looking to establish themselves as trusted authorities in their respective industries.
For example, a B2B company specializing in sustainable packaging can share informative content about the environmental benefits of their products and engage in conversations with industry professionals to showcase their expertise and build trust among potential clients.
This positions the company as an expert in the field and increases the likelihood of potential clients choosing them for their packaging needs. Building trust and credibility through social media is an effective strategy for B2B companies to differentiate themselves and attract clients.
Targeted Content Sharing
Social media platforms provide B2B companies with the opportunity to share customized content that caters to the unique needs and interests of their audience throughout the different stages of the sales cycle. By creating informative blog posts, case studies, or product demos, businesses can effectively engage their leads and guide them toward making a purchasing decision.
For instance, a niche B2B company that specializes in manufacturing industrial machinery can use targeted content to showcase the benefits and features of their products, addressing the specific pain points of their audience and ultimately increasing their chances of conversion.
Engagement and Relationship Building
Did you know that a whopping 84% of VP-level customers have made their purchasing decisions based on the quality of their social media interactions with the selling organization?3
Engaging in social media marketing allows B2B businesses to establish personal interactions with potential clients. Through direct interaction with leads, businesses can effectively address their inquiries and provide immediate assistance, fostering trust, loyalty, and a deeper connection.
This level of engagement is particularly beneficial in sectors where B2B firms can better understand the unique pain points and needs of their target audience, leading to more effective sales strategies, more personalized communication, and improved customer satisfaction.
Visibility and Brand Recognition
Maintaining an active presence on social media is essential for B2B businesses to ensure visibility and brand recognition. By regularly posting updates and engaging with their business audience, these companies can keep their brand fresh in the minds of potential buyers.
This increased visibility makes it more likely that potential leads will consider the company when making purchasing decisions. For example, in the manufacturing industry, a B2B company that consistently shares updates on new technologies and industry trends will establish itself as a thought leader and gain recognition among potential customers.
Collaborate with Influencers
Collaborating with industry influencers or thought leaders on social media platforms can benefit B2B companies.
One of the key advantages of collaborating with influencers is the ability to tap into their vast network of followers. These influencers have built a loyal and engaged audience that trusts their opinions and recommendations.
By partnering with them, B2B companies can gain exposure to followers who may have otherwise been unaware of their products or services. This exposure can lead to increased brand awareness and, ultimately, more leads and customers.
Data-Driven Decision Making
Social media marketing platforms provide comprehensive analytics, empowering B2B enterprises to monitor the efficacy of their strategies. These platforms enable businesses to gain valuable insights into the success and shortcomings of their campaigns, facilitating data-driven modifications at every stage of the sales cycle.
This level of analysis is particularly beneficial for B2B companies, as it allows them to optimize their marketing efforts and tailor their approach to the specific needs and preferences of their target audience. With the ability to track and measure key metrics, such as engagement rates and conversion rates, B2B organizations can make informed decisions and drive better results in their marketing endeavors.
Challenges and Considerations
While it is true that social media marketing offers many advantages in the B2B sales cycle, it is essential to navigate the challenges effectively
Content Quality and Consistency
To leverage social media effectively throughout the B2B sales cycle, maintaining a consistent presence with high-quality content is crucial. B2B companies must regularly create and share content that provides real value to their target audiences.
For example, an enterprise SaaS company can share weekly blog posts or videos that provide tips and best practices for current challenges faced by CTOs and IT managers – their core buyer personas. These valuable, industry-specific social media posts establish the company as a trusted thought leader.
Consistency is key; sporadic or low-quality content will not cut through the noise on social platforms or engage potential B2B customers. Establishing a content strategy and calendar focused on relevant, consistent value ensures social media strengthens brand awareness and lead generation over time.
Lead nurturing is not just about acquiring leads – it’s about building relationships over time through social media. A thoughtful, nurturing strategy and sustained effort are crucial for moving prospects through the sales funnel.
Effective nurturing starts with relevant, valuable content that addresses the target buyer’s pain points. For example, an IT services firm can nurture CIOs and tech leaders by sharing content on Twitter about navigating digital transformation and cloud migration.
Nurturing also entails interactive engagement, such as sales reps commenting on LinkedIn posts, answering prospective customers’ questions, and providing helpful resources. The goal is to establish the company as a trusted partner versus a faceless corporation.
With a strategic mix of informative content and personalized outreach, social media allows B2B companies to nurture prospects long-term until they are sales-ready. Ongoing relationship-building is the key ingredient for converting leads into lifelong customers.
Integration with Broader Sales Strategy
While social media can be highly valuable across the sales cycle, it must be tightly integrated with the broader sales and marketing strategies. Lack of alignment between social media efforts and overall lead generation, nurturing, and closing processes can undermine effectiveness.
Sales and marketing teams should collaborate closely to ensure social media activities complement other activities at each stage of the funnel. They should also agree on shared processes for handoffs between social engagement and individual selling.
Without disciplined integration, social media risks becoming just another siloed digital channel. The key is strategic coordination to leverage social platforms as a core element of a holistic B2B sales approach.
How Social Success Marketing Works to Optimize B2B Sales Cycle
My team at Social Success Marketing comprehends the intricacy and obstacles of the B2B sales cycle. Consequently, partnering with an external social media marketing agency, such as Social Success Marketing, can offer substantial benefits throughout the B2B sales cycle.
This partnership can add value by:
Our expertise in B2B social media uniquely positions Social Success Marketing to amplify your sales team’s efforts at every stage of the funnel. Rather than spreading internal resources thin, partnering with us provides the focused capabilities and perspective to tightly integrate social media from initial outreach to closed deals.
As an extension of your sales and marketing teams, we become deeply familiar with your sales cycle, funnel, and broader strategies. This understanding allows us to deliver strategic social media campaigns, compelling content, and analytics to turn prospects into loyal customers. With Social Success Marketing as a fully aligned partner, social media becomes an integral driver – not an afterthought – in accelerating revenue and ROI.
- Schimel, Elliot. Strategic Social Media Is Essential For Driving B2B Sales [Council Post]. March 22, 2028. Accessed November 10, 2023. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2018/03/22/strategic-social-media-is-essential-for-driving-b2b-sales/?sh=152c6f8a1db0
- Schaub, Kathleen. Social Buying Meets Social Selling: How Trusted Networks Improve the Purchase Experience [White Paper]. April 2014. Accessed November 10, 2023. https://business.linkedin.com/content/dam/business/sales-solutions/global/en_US/c/pdfs/idc-wp-247829.pdf