I’ve always wondered why B2B’s executives keep telling me they’re not interested in Social Media for their Business. In my opinion, if there is a business sector that should understand and value Social Media, is precisely B2B.
B2B’s professionals had always relied on business contacts and personal relationships with customers. B2C’s, otherwise, normally deal with anonymous buyers. The buying cycle is longer in a B2B environment, than it is in a B2C’s, and usually goes way beyond the actual sale. A successful sale requires a, somehow, intimate knowledge of the customer, beyond product’s characteristics or seller’s level of expertise. The roles of the influencer, the decision maker, the user… have always been present and well defined in B2B.
B2B has always been about developing Social Networks. Now that we live a time in which those are on steroids at a global scale, it seems to me, from a Social Media Strategy’s point of view, there is much a B2B company may benefit from.
So, for those of you who, like me, have to face the resistance of the B2B´s executive to integrate Social Media in his profesional arsenal, here go 5 tips to make them change their minds.
1. B2B’S DECISION MAKERS ARE NOT FROM MARS
B2B’s decision makers are people. They don’t live in a distant galaxy. They are regular Joes and Janes. In fact, they’re normally better educated and enjoy higher incomes than average. And, guess what, that fits perfectly in the description of the Social Media user. Do you know why? Because B2B’s decision makers are indeed heavy Social Media users themselves.
Ask the B2B executive about his social media habits. He probably visits independent blogs, gets info through Social Media Channels, has a LinkedIN profile and engages likely in social media activities. Don’t believe me: belive the $500 Forrester’s study that proves me right.
Now that we’ve established the obvious: B2B’s decision makers are humans and use social media, let me tell you another thing about them: they use social as a tool in their buying decision making process. If you want them to know about your business, don’t wait to see if your wonderful SEO strategies lead them to your site, put yourself where their eyes are. Join the conversation. Become part of their social media environment.
2. EMPHASIZE THE IMPORTANCE OF SOCIAL REPUTATION
I’ll never get tired of repeating this: Reputation is Social Media’s currency. Reputation is the door to influence. You may be an eminence in your field, but it won’t give you the influence you deserve unless you make it very public. Social Media can help you build your reputation as well as that of your business.
What are you waiting for? Show the world your company’s real value: the keen angle of expertise no other has. As redundant as it may sound, you need to strengthen your strengths, the things that differenciate your business from your competitors. If you don’t do it, others will. Or worse… your competitors will percive your social media absence as a weakness and make it work against you… which leads me to the third of my tips
3. DOMINATE THE PARTY ROOM… OR ELSE
There is an analogy commonly used when refering to Social Media: it’s like a big party. It’s almost true. And you know party’s dynamics, don’t you? If you’re not present, bad gossip about you is more likely to spread around than when you’re there, dominating the room, being the soul of the event. So, if not for anything else, be sure you make your own invitation to the party to protect yourself/company from insidious gossip. Besides, parties are fun. Blend in and enjoy.
4. INDULGE YOUR CLIENT’S GODSON
Your clients not only are present in social networks, they are sharing their lives, the interests and people they care about.
Imagine you’ve been trying to convince the purchasing manager of a company to buy your product. Wouldn’t it be helpful to know his godson is a enthusiastic fan of the Miami Heat NBA’s franchise, buy a t-shirt signed by king James Lebron himself, and give it to this manager you want to lean the purchasing decision towards your side? You won’t be buying something nice for the decision maker, you’ll make him look great in front of a boy he cares deeply about. Guess what, now all that info is available for you, for free. Chances are that person is already sharing about the things he cherishes, and the intimate connection he has with them. If you don’t use social to research about your clients, be certain your competitors do.
5. USE HUMOUR
Face it, you’re not Brad Pitt. How did you make your better half fall in love with you? You made her laugh, didn’t you? Nothing works better than humour to enhance your natural charm. Humour catches attention. You maybe wondering what does it have to do with B2B? We’re serious people doing serious business here! Well… think it better. I’m not telling you to be a clown, I’m telling you not to understimate the power of a smile.
Take for example what CISCO did. They have a router, the ASR9000. Price tag: $250,000! Buying Decision Cycle: 2 years! Not your B2C’S cherry pie. What did they do to improve the chances of selling such a product? They made a Valentine’s video. “Nothing says I love you like 64 Terabites per second”. Using the words of Eric Crangel from Business Insider:
There’s really only a tiny handful of people with the budgetary authority to buy stuff like this. If even only a few them smile and think of Cisco more as a funny cool friend than a stodgy IT firm, it was worth it.