Au Contraire eMarketer: Social Media Does Impact the B2B Sales Process

In today’s edition of eMarketer there is an article stating that most business to business referrals from social sites are uninterested in products and services. The article, however, goes on to state that visitors from Facebook were most likely to check out a company’s “about” page or blog posts.

As a B2B services marketer those are exactly the desired effects of social media that feed our sales process. While it would be great if potential clients saw something we posted on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook and rushed to buy a project from my firm, the reality is that our sales process is not short or direct. Our value proposition is made up of the smarts, personalities, and creativity of our people and our sales cycle can take months (and occasionally years.)

Barring the rare immediate project opportunity, our goal is to drive prospects to the elements of our site that let us different ourselves – the blog, the about us, the leadership team, etc. and encourage prospects to contact us or at a minimum provide us with their information. For B2B services providers like CMB, there are five main components to the sales process, 3 of which are supported by social media.

  1. Raise awareness of the fact that we exist and the types of work that we do (social media, conferences, new business development, etc.)
  2. Make the fact that we are real and worth talking to self evident through “thought leadership” and introductory conversations (articles, blog posts, in-depth conversations, case studies, presentations)

  3. Identify and propose on an opportunity to conduct a project (often a marketing exercise unto itself)
  4. If we win, execute beautifully on a given project
  5. Find reasons to thoughtfully stay in touch with clients and prospects other than “hey, you got any work for us?” (articles, case studies, presentations, self-funded research, blog posts, social media.)

So, while the report eMarketer is citing may not be great news for b2b marketers focused on quick transactions, it tells the story of why people in my position love using social media to drive our business.

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Anonymous said…
Very well put! It's nice to see that someone else out there has validated the use of social media in the marketing of services, for which the sales process is rarely quick. We are tweaking our very new social media strategy at Billian's HealthDATA/Porter Research, and this provides great insight to keep our efforts going.

Jennifer Dennard
E-Media Marketing Specialst
mendelj2 said…
Thanks for the comment Jennifer! Much of the writing about social media doesn't take into account the intermediary steps that so many businesses need to take to get opportunities and sales. Glad I could help lay it out!

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