The B2B sales cycle has always been complex and multifaceted—and it’s grown even more complicated in recent years. Thanks to modern technology, more decision-makers are involved in the average B2B purchase and, as a result, the way buyers find and consider products has changed dramatically.
Given the complex nature of the modern buyer’s journey, it should come as no surprise that the typical B2B sales cycle is longer than the typical B2C sales cycle. Fortunately, there are several modern ways for B2B organizations to shorten their sales cycle. And today, we’re focusing on one in particular—social media.
We’ve often discussed social media and its many benefits, from customer engagement to brand awareness. In the following post, we’ll look at another key advantage of social media and that’s how to use platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to shorten the sales cycle and close deals faster. Let’s get into it!
5 Tips to Shorten the Sales Cycle with Social Media
While social media doesn’t replace traditional sales tactics, online networking sites have proven to be a valuable tool for modern sales professionals. In fact, sales reps who embrace social see 18% more pipeline 28% faster than those who don’t (source).
But, social media is unlike other touchpoints in the sales cycle and, therefore, requires a unique approach. If you have yet to dabble in social selling, the next section of this post is for you. Here are five ways to leverage social media to accelerate your sales prospects through the buyer’s journey.
1. Leverage social listening to understand your prospects and buyers.
The modern customer has more control over their buying journey than ever before. And, many come to the table with a set of non-negotiables— things that ultimately can make or break a purchase decision. Sales organizations must understand these wants and needs in order to be successful.
Though prospect research was once a tedious task, social media is slowly but surely changing the game for sales reps. Not only does social media provide sales professionals with a treasure trove of insight, but the latest social media tools make the process of compiling and analyzing social data relatively painless.
This process— often referred to as social listening— involves monitoring online conversations surrounding your industry, company, or products. Although social listening can drastically improve your branding efforts, it can also streamline the early stages of the sales cycle.
By tuning in to important conversations you can discover new prospects and develop a comprehensive understanding of how your customers talk, what they’re looking for, and what topics they care about most. The more you understand your prospects and buyers, the more effective your social selling efforts will be.
For more social listening tips, check out our blog post: Social Listening Best Practices for B2B Marketers.
2. Offer value by sharing relevant content.
When they first enter the proverbial sales funnel, prospects aren’t necessarily ready to make a purchase. So, if you only use social media to pitch products, you won’t speed up the sales cycle. In fact, you may even scare prospects away from your business altogether.
If you really want to nurture prospects faster through the sales funnel, your social media content must offer value beyond promoting your brand. In fact, 74% of the time buyers choose to move forward with the sales professional who was the first to offer something of value (source).
Because of this, we recommend you engage prospects on social media by sharing content that speaks to their needs and interests. That includes blog posts, videos, infographics, and any other content that your audience may find useful.
3. Segment your followers for improved targeting.
We’ve talked at length about the importance of segmentation for email marketing—but marketers aren’t the only ones who can benefit from audience segmentation. In fact, sales professionals can leverage both social media and audience segmentation to speed up the sales cycle.
Think about it—the prospects you engage with on social media are all in various stages of the buying journey. Prospects at the top of the funnel have different needs than prospects who are on the verge of making a purchase. Segmenting your social media followers allows you to organize prospects based on where they are in the sales funnel, as well as specific characteristics like location, age, job function and more. Fortunately, platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn make it easy to segment your audience into custom lists and groups.
Once you determine the best way to segment your audience, you can then serve more targeted content to each segment. For example, you might promote a blog post to top-of-the-funnel prospects looking for more general, less salesy content. Whereas, it might make more sense to promote a case study to an audience who is further along in the decision-making process.
4. Personalize your outreach to build strong connections.
Sales professionals who use social media have one key advantage over those who don’t: They can build authentic relationships with prospects and customers more efficiently. And, personal connections play more of a role in B2B purchases than you might think. In fact, 71% of B2B buyers who form an emotional connection to a B2B product or service end up buying that product or service (source).
Yet, despite the many statistics that back this claim, many sales professionals continue to pitch their product before establishing any kind of personal connection.
For this reason, if you want to shorten the sales cycle, you must focus on quality over quantity. Take the time to personalize each and every message you send. Reall consider the wants and the needs of the prospect you’re trying to connect with. The faster you establish trust with a prospect, the faster you’ll be able to nurture them along in the sales cycle.
5. Optimize your social profiles to facilitate conversions.
Take a look at your personal social media profiles and ask yourself: Do I offer an easy path to conversion? If the answer is no, you might be slowing down the sales process more than you think.
Modern customers expect an efficient buying experience. So, as a sales professional, you can’t expect your prospects to do the work for you. In order to speed up the sales cycle, you must optimize your social media profiles. Allow prospects and customers to take action or connect with you in just one or two steps.
This last recommendation might seem too simple to make an impact on your sales cycle, but these details add up. Think about the impact you would see if just half of your sales organization optimizes their social profiles.
Key Takeaways about Social Media and Your Sales Cycle
Social media may be just one of many touchpoints in a prospect’s journey to becoming a loyal customer. But, your social media activity can have a big impact on your sales cycle if you take the right approach.
Remember, speeding up the sales cycle doesn’t mean rushing prospects to make a purchase. Always leverage social media to engage prospects and create meaningful connections. Consider every stage of the prospect’s journey. Then, use social media to remain by their side every step of the way.
For more information about closing more deals, contact ZoomInfo today. Our business database solutions can help you connect with more decision-makers faster.