B2B social selling in a bad economy

In a bad economy, sales reps must work harder than ever before to generate new leads.

According to an article by HBR.org, a survey they found said that “that connecting with a prospect now takes 18 or more phone calls, callback rates are below 1%, and only 24% of outbound sales emails are ever opened.” 1

And while traditional lead generation marketing methods, such as cold calling, still play an important role, social media offers a unique advantage over traditional methods.

Did you know that according to Salesforce.com, 78 percent of social sellers outperform their non-social selling counterparts?

Social media marketing can help your B2B company generate new leads, nurture relationships, and establish a strong online presence, even when economic times are tough.

While social media marketing is a versatile tool that your company can utilize for many purposes, here we will focus on how it can assist your team in its sales efforts to reach business-to-business markets. 

Shifting purchasing motivations

During a bad economy, businesses tend to think their clients are less business-aware and less motivated to make buying decisions. This is a mistake.

Buyer motivations are an important factor in marketing your B2B company. And buyer motivations change with the economic climate, regardless of the market type.

In a tough economy, B2B buyers are even more motivated to make smart buying decisions, as they are clearly aware of their budgets and the impact of bad business decisions can have on their businesses ($$$).

While your B2B customer may have less budget to spend during a tough economy, they’re still buying something to help their business stay productive and become even more efficient.

To be successful, B2B companies need to ensure they are where their customers are. This means being present on the platforms that their target market is using. For many B2B brands, this means having a strong presence on social channels.

B2B social media specialist
Social media specialists for business-to-business companies

Why is social media marketing beneficial to your sales team?

Well, target audience members are much more likely to respond to social media messages than they are to cold calls.

And, in the current economic climate, cold calling is even more difficult than usual. While cold calling may get a few bites, it’s certainly a difficult and time-consuming method of generating new leads.

Your team can utilize social media to get seen by new markets and nurture business relationships.

Social media is cost-effective

During better economic times, many B2B companies had difficulty justifying the expense of social media programs. In bad economic times, the argument against social media is even stronger.

However, the truth is that social media is an extremely cost-effective way to reach your core customers. Compared to traditional media, social media is a steal. With social media, you can reach as many audiences as you want for a fraction of the cost of the traditional sales process.

Social media marketing can be a great way to reach leads and build business relationships, even during a challenging economy.

By creating a strong social media presence, B2B companies can connect with new audiences and create a lasting impression.

In bad economic times, it’s more important than ever for B2B companies to focus on consistent branding and social media is an effective marketing tool to help them do just that.

Social media is scalable

You need to remember that everything in social media is scalable.

While B2B companies must pull back on their marketing efforts, they can still be present on social media and scale back up when the economy improves.

It’s the cost of the people managing social media that’s usually the biggest expense.

So, if your company doesn’t have anyone on board, it may be a good time to think about outsourcing it to experienced social media specialists for around at $1,000.00 a month.

That’s a fraction of your cost compared to having someone in-house.

For sure, you cannot turn a dollar in a day or a week, but you can build social media momentum that will carry your company in the long run.

It’s about being patient and continuing to add days and weeks of revenue through the social channels instead of trying to make a big bang and all at once.

Of course, if you want to get results fast, you can pay for ads.

Social media keeps you stay connected with letting your current customers know your light’s on

In times of economic uncertainty, it’s more important than ever to keep your finger on the pulse of your customer base.

If you can learn about their needs and concerns in a time of crisis, you have a powerful opportunity to show your current customers and potential customer that your company really cares for their success.

This can create powerful loyalty, even if your current customers, and even potential customers, don’t make a purchase yet.

Your customers are not just logos, they are people. And they want to know that they’re not alone in their struggles, and social media is a great way to reach out and offer support to others.

Social media lets you create a community for free.

There is an incredible power in community building, and social media makes this capability available to anyone, whether the company is big or small. 

By using social media to build a community, you’re not only serving your audience. When you provide them with valuable content and support, you’re also creating a group of people that will support and advocate for you as a brand.

If you haven’t participated in any online communities yet, I highly recommend you join the #BldgREChat and #USAMfgHour Twitter chats.

You will find the group helpful and supportive.

I am recommending these not because I co-chair but because when you participate, you will find instant connections and engagements there.

Social media allows you to be flexible in your marketing tactics.

While other forms of media are set up in a way that makes change difficult, social media is evolving so quickly that you’re able to change your content, tactics, and strategy with minimal effort.

If the direction of your business changes because of the economic crisis, you can adjust your social media marketing plan easily.

In an economic downturn, your audience is your biggest wealth.

How social media marketing can assist your sales team

You must hit home runs in social media in bad economic times; you can’t fly high and come down slowly like you do in good economic times. Therefore, you must be focused and commit yourself to the social media marketing tactics that will deliver results.

Even in bad economic times, your social media marketing strategy should even more focus on helping your sales team by using it as a modern sales strategy tool.

A great salesperson knows how to close the deal; a great social media marketer knows how to generate the leads. You must give people a reason to take their hard-earned money and spend it with you.

So, while businesses of all sizes are feeling the impact of the economic crisis, B2B companies can shine in bad economic times.

If you specialize in providing solutions to businesses facing significant budget cuts, layoffs, and other challenges because of the economic crisis, you have a prime opportunity to grow your business.

Use social media to showcase to business-to-business markets how you can help them save money, increase efficiency, or improve their bottom line. You are in a great position to succeed.

Here are ways to use social media marketing to help your B2B customers and prospects in bad economic times.

Collaborate with your sales team

Your social media marketing strategy should be aligned with the goals of your company, particularly with the goals of your sales team.

Your marketing department – and social media – is not a silo. You shouldn’t go off creating your own goals and objectives for your social media efforts.

Salespeople are often the ones who are closest to the customer and have the best understanding of their needs.

Involving your sales team early in the social media marketing process can be extremely beneficial.


“78% of social sellers outsell peers who don’t use social media”


By getting their input, you can ensure that the content is more likely to be relevant and useful to potential customers, which in turn increases the chances of making a sale.

Involving salespeople in the content creation process can also help to improve communication between the sales and marketing teams and ensure that everyone is working towards the same goal.

Content creation is one of the many ways you can work with your sales team. Sometimes, the marketing team may need to train them on social selling to arm them with the best tools to reach your customers.

It can be a challenge to get everyone on the same page, but it’s worth it to ensure that your content is as effective as possible and helpful when doing social selling.

Assess your current social media strategy 

In today’s economic turmoil and an increasingly competitive landscape, you can no longer afford to just shoot messages out into the ether hoping something will stick.

You need to have a well-defined and carefully executed plan if you want your message to cut through the noise and reach your target audience.

Gone are the days when you could just rely on traditional marketing channels to get your message out there.

Your digital marketing strategy should consider all the different ways your audience consumes information. Then, create a plan that covers all the bases that are most effective – and makes sense to you. 

That means having a strong presence on social media, a website that is up-to-date and informative, and a focus on generating quality content.

In some cases, you may need to nix some pet marketing initiatives.

A great salesperson knows how to close the deal; a great social media marketer knows how to generate the leads. 

It’s time to dust off your social media strategy and stop flying by the seat of your pants. Check if any of these need some changing:

  • A clear definition of what you want to accomplish with your social media marketing. See below.
  • An understanding of who your ideal customer is (and isn’t).
  • A realistic timeline for achieving your goals.
  • A plan to measure success. 

Is your social media strategy still effective? Are you getting the return on investment you want? Is there anything you need to stop doing? Or start using? 

In an economic slowdown, it’s even more important to have an effective strategy for your social media, so that you can make the most of your marketing dollars.

Crystal-clear goal for your social media efforts

Working with limited resources can be a challenge, but it is important to measure your results and ROI effectively. This way, you can make the most of your limited resources and ensure that your marketing efforts are yielding the desired results.

But even before you measure your ROI, you must have to crystal-clear goal, so you know what you are measuring.


  • What are your goals?
  • What outcomes do you want to drive?
  • How will you measure them?

For instance, if your goal is to increase brand awareness, then you would measure metrics like website traffic or social media engagement. If your goal is to generate leads, then you would measure the number of leads generated.

Whatever your goal is for using social channels as your modern sales strategy to help your company’s sales efforts, it is important to have a coherent plan for how you will measure your ROI. This will help you track your progress and ensure that you’re getting the most out of your social media program.

Doing so will help you prioritize your efforts and focus on what’s going to drive the best results for your budget and give you the most ROI.

Get real with audience Targeting

To really help your sales team during tough times, one of the best things you can do is focus on your audience.

In an economic downturn, your ideal audience is your biggest wealth. It is important to get real about knowing them well. What they are looking for? What are their needs and wants? What are their pain points? 

When you know them well, you will speak their language; not jargon or terms that only make sense to your PR team, CEO, or product team.

It allows you to cut out the noise and focus on the people who are actually buying your product or service.

Why Knowing your Audience Matters


Reason 1:

By understanding the needs and wants of your target market, you can more effectively tailor the message about your products and services to meet their demands. This can help increase your overall profitability.

Reason 2:

More ROI from your social media marketing efforts because you can speak directly to your core customers who really care about the solutions you are offering them.

Measure only the relevant metrics 

In these tough economic times, it’s even more important to make sure your social media efforts are producing results. You want to make sure you’re spending your time and money in a way that’s benefiting your company’s sales process.

Set social media performance goals. Both your sales reps and your marketing team should work together to define a few goals and create a cohesive system to measure those goals. 

Having said that, make sure that you put your numbers into perspective. Look at the numbers from before the recession started and compare them to now. Doing this will help to ensure that you are making the most informed decision possible as you come alongside your sales team to make wins for your company during this time.

To measure your social media results:

  • Use a social media management tool to identify which posts received the most engagement. This will help you identify which social media strategies are working and should be continued or replicated.
  • Keep track of your leads. Keep track of any leads generated from social media. If you generate ten leads in three months, but five leads don’t buy, you still came out ahead. In the industries that I’ve worked in the past, I know the B2B sales process takes much longer than that.
  • Measure your social media ROI. To do this, subtract the money you spent on creating and promoting your social media content from the revenue that was generated from that content. Then, divide the resulting profit by the cost to obtain the ROI percentage.
  • Track visitor growth from social media websites. See where your new visitors are coming from and focus more time on social media platforms that are driving new visitors to your website.
  • Measure social media lead generation outcomes. Look at the impact your social media efforts are having on specific sales or marketing initiatives. This will help you see the direct impact that social media is having on your company’s bottom line. Work with your sales team to establish social media KPIs that align with your business goals.
Prune your social media channels. Concentrate on where your target audience is most active.
Ruby Rusine
B2B Social Seller

Prune your social media channels

There are a few social media platforms that your business could focus on reaching its target market.

While it may not be necessary or workable to be present on every social media platform, concentrating your efforts on those where your target market is most active can help you reach them more effectively.

This is especially important when considering how to allocate your tight marketing budget.

When resources aren’t in abundance, it may be more effective to focus your efforts on a smaller number of social media platforms rather than spreading yourself too thin.

By focusing your efforts, you can more effectively reach your target market and avoid wasting time and money on platforms that don’t generate results.

What is the best way to know what channel is best for your B2B company?

It all depends on one business to the next. However, there are some general principles that can guide your decision-making.

  • First, consider which channels are most popular with your target audience. If your audience is active on a particular channel, that’s a good sign that it’s worth investing in.
  • Second, think about which channels are most likely to generate leads and sales. In general, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are good channels for B2B companies, while Facebook and Instagram may be more suited to B2C companies.
  • Third, consider the current economic climate. While more innovative social media platforms may be ideal for your business in good economic times, perhaps a more traditional platform may be better suited to your business in bad economic times since many current and potential customers are on these sites already.

Do your due diligence.

Offer practical solutions on social media

When the economy declines, businesses typically begin looking for ways to cut costs – and improve efficiency.

However, to remain competitive, businesses must also find ways to do more with less. This can be a difficult task, but it is necessary to survive during tough economic times.

Most companies will pay for solutions that do just that.

According to an article by the Harvard Business Review said that more than three-quarters (82%) of B2B buying decisions were influenced by the winning vendor’s social content. 

How can you practice social selling in your industry during tough economic times?

If your industry is facing cuts in the budget, focus on educating your target audience about ways they can save money and get more for their money, and other solutions to economic challenges that your B2B company can offer.

As you continue to develop your relationship with your customers, you may have noticed that they frequently ask questions about your products or services. You know that some of these questions are on social media!

If you’re looking for ways to better engage with your customers and potential customers, why not try to turn those questions into blog posts or articles?

Also, here are additional ideas of how B2B companies can offer practical solutions to their audience:

Idea 1:

If you are an industrial manufacturer, you could create a series of posts showcasing ways your clients can refurbish and re-sell the used equipment they currently have in their facilities.

Showcasing services your clients can provide to their own customers also provides a great opportunity for cross-selling other products and services your company provides.

Idea 2:

If you sell software, you could create an educational series about how businesses can weather the economic storm and reduce the payroll expenses of their employees.

You could also showcase software tools that allow employees to be more productive and show how the software will enable them to get ahead with more tasks on their plate with the company freeze-hiring.

Idea 2:

Let’s consider the social media marketing campaign of a B2B provider of networking equipment. They had been selling high-end switches to small to medium-sized businesses. Their customers knew they needed the equipment, but didn’t know which switch was best for their business.

The company created a series of videos on YouTube, showing their customers how to choose the right switch. They provided in-depth information on networking and explained which switch would benefit each customer’s business the most. They made choosing the right switch easy and affordable for their customers, who were already feeling the effects of the economic crisis.

This social media marketing strategy enabled the company to create highly targeted leads, interested in the exact products and services they were offering. This is much better than simply advertising your company and hoping your potential clients will like what you offer.

By providing real value during hard economic times, you demonstrate you care about your customers’ success.

Not only will this drive awareness of your brand positively, but it will also help build trust and credibility with your audience.

This, in turn, could lead to them becoming loyal customers when the economy recovers.

Don’t give Up

An economic downturn is a great time to showcase your company’s solution-based approach to business using social media.

Many businesses that were previously unconquerable become more accessible when the economy slows down. Those who were first to market during better economic times are now looking to second-tier providers as the premier players in their industry pull back. If you position yourself right, you can pick up some significant business from those customers.

As the saying goes, “the tide rises with the storm” and the same is true for social media marketing. At times like this, social media can be a great tool to your business when used right and can greatly improve your business prospects.

So, if you’re thinking of abandoning ship and tying a bow on your social media efforts during bad economic times, then think again. You should plan to increase your social media activities during these challenging times.

Cost-effective way to use social media for your B2B in a bad economy

If you’re short on internal resources, consider outsourcing some or all the social media management tasks to a professional firm. This is a highly successful practice among large companies, and here’s a secret – even marketing agencies – that don’t have the time or expertise to manage their social media efforts effectively.

Be careful though because, as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. Just because a firm is offering their services at a low cost doesn’t mean they will perform the tasks adequately or know what they are doing.

The best social media marketing professionals in the field charge a fair price for their services.

Invest in long-term benefits rather than short-term gains to ensure that your company gets the best possible results from its social media campaigns.

When done right by experienced social media strategists, social media marketing can be one of the most cost effective and ROI positive marketing channels available.

Reference:

  1. Harvard Business Review. How B2B Sales Can Benefit from Social Selling. Accessed October 25, 2022. https://hbr.org/2016/11/84-of-b2b-sales-start-with-a-referral-not-a-salesperson

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B2B social selling: How social media marketing can help your sales team in a bad economy

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