A recent article in Marketing Sherpa really clarifies a point that I always stress with my B2B clients: sales conversions take patience, perseverance and pragmatism.
A strategic Social Media strategy can greatly assist by taking care of much of the ‘slog work’ of nurturing leads through the process of qualification through to conversion – and beyond.
Average statistics about B2B sales conversions and sales cycles are not terribly encouraging. Take a look at this chart prepared by Marketing Sherpa:
As you can see clearly from this chart, the biggest payoff comes between the 3rd and 6th months of the process. While this article doesn’t go into detail regarding frequency of communication between the sales person and the prospect, or the method of contact, from experience I know that nurturing a lead requires at least a monthly contact – often more depending on specific circumstances.
Social Media is perfect as a tool to maintain consistency, especially when overt or aggressive frequent contact is not appropriate. This is the situation for many B2B organizations from consultants to manufacturers.
Social Media allows an organization to maintain a frequent, but low key level of contact over a sustained period of time – and in my opinion – could help to increase sales conversions, especially long term.
Traditionally, communication between a sales person and a prospect comprises:
- face to face sales calls
- telephone calls
- direct mail
I’m not including general advertising as this is not usually direct, monitorable contact.
Once a sales person has visited a prospect, and made some follow up calls, it’s difficult to get in front of that prospect again for a period of time without a really good reason. Strategically scheduled direct mail is useful, but it’s time consuming and can be relatively costly.
Social Media, however, is virtually free, low key and contacts can be made on an accelerated rate of frequency. Unlike direct mail which has to have a full and logical message and reason for its existence, Social Media allows for short, quick comments which may or may not be set up to link back to fuller information. These ‘sound bytes’ are useful in building awareness, assisting in establishing credibility and in nurturing an ongoing relationship open for two way communication. All of which can be extremely helpful in not only speeding up the sales cycle, but ensuring that qualified leads are not lost- either through loss of interest, or through being poached by the competition while in the sales funnel.