If you run a business with long sales cycles — whether you’re selling cars, houses, high-end financial services, or complex business equipment and services — you should be looking closely at the role that social media can play in generating strong, qualified leads for your salespeople.
Uncovering the right leads through social media channels and then nurturing them into sales can help generate a wealth of revenue for your business.
Here are a few ideas about harnessing social media to generate good leads with the potential to be converted into new sales and customers.
Genuine relationships matter
If you sell big ticket items that involve complex purchasing decisions and long sales cycles, relationships are the lifeblood of your business. That’s why you should be using social media to forge person to person connections with the buyers and purchase influencers you are trying to reach.
Use social media to get to understand your customers, to forge a bond with them, and to share useful information with them, creating a relationship that stretches beyond trying to make a quick sale. This level of interaction will, over time, grow into affection for your brand from the customer you are targeting.
Get the content strategy right
Content is the best tool you have to increase lead generation through your social media channels. Remember, however, that the content you share shouldn’t be about you, but about the needs of your customers.
The content you create to drive people to landing pages and generate leads has to be helpful. Share information that is about solutions to customers’ problems, and they’ll see you as a business that understands their needs.
A helpful tip is to follow a 10:4:1 rule. Content shared on your social accounts should roughly follow this ratio:
• 10 links to third-party articles
• Four links to your blog posts
• One link to your landing page
The art of social conversion
Social conversion is all about using social activities to improve your conversion rate, in other words prompting customers to perform the actions you’d like them to.
There are two main ways to influence someone to take the action you want them to take. Social proof is about getting involved in the conversations of others and offering answers and solutions to their questions and problems.
The other way to embark on social conversion is to build and then leverage your social media connections, as detailed above. For example, you could leverage positive Tweets and Facebook posts as endorsements.
Social media monitoring is key to success
One of the best ways to find and act on social media leads is clever use of social media monitoring and listening tools. Don’t pitch and advertise to people who don’t want it – it annoys them and damages your brand – but keep your social ears open for qualified leads.
When someone is looking for information in your era of expertise, initiate the conversation by offering advice without sales pressure. Collect a list of keyword terms and phrases that are used in discussions in the industry you serve to guide the social media terms for which you will listen.
Social ads are great for lead generation
Don’t neglect paid ads in channels such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook – they can be highly affordable and carefully targeted to your audience. You can use them to drive traffic to your website and landing pages so that you can gather qualified leads for follow-up by your sales people.
Social media can be an invaluable aid in lead generation, bringing leads to your organisation that can be converted into sales through a process of relationship building and interaction. In some cases customers will be ready to buy; in others, you’ll be getting the opportunity to influence them and build a relationship early in the sales cycle. It’s an opportunity few businesses that depend on lead generation can afford to ignore.
Gordon Geldenhuys is head of online reputation management (ORM) at digital media consultancy, Acceleration Media