The number of industrial companies that have not embraced social media as a channel for sales and marketing continues to surprise me.
Here are three reasons why they should.
Reason #1: Social networks are incredibly popular.
Most of us agree that the job of sales and marketing teams is to be where your buyer is. Literally billions of people are active on social networks on at least a monthly basis. Although the growth of social networks is slowing in some countries, certain areas (like India) are still catching up; eMarketer estimates that 2.33 billion people around the world will be active on social media by 2017.
Reason #2: The buying process frequently begins online, via search engines and social media.
Despite the perception that social media is successful mostly for B2C companies, it’s undeniable that many B2B customers turn to search engines to shop. Social selling evangelist Jill Rowley has estimated that 37 percent of buyers look for suggestions or feedback on social sites. And ADP Vice President of Inside Sales Strategy and Innovation Liz Gelb O’Conner has reported that 88 percent of B2B buyers use the Internet to do initial research on purchases. If you and your company lack a social media presence, you’re automatically invisible. Meanwhile, if your competitor has a YouTube channel and their best salespeople have active and engaging LinkedIn and Twitter accounts, those are likely the pages your prospect is going to find during an online search related to your product or solution.
Reason #3: Many enterprise companies use social media to build brand awareness, create relationships with prospects and customers, and generate revenue.
Aberdeen Group has reported that sales professionals who use social selling help best-in-class companies achieve a 16 percent gain in year-over-year revenue, four times better than typical companies. Last year, at least one survey found that three quarters of reps using social media exceeded quota 23 percent more often than their peers. In 2009, Dell was one of the first companies to hop on the social bandwagon; the company used promotions via Twitter to generate $6.5 million in sales of PCs, accessories, and software. More recently, ADP has closed deals ranging from $2,500 to more than $1 million via social selling tactics and tools like Google Alerts, LinkedIn Groups, and LinkedIn’s Advanced People Search.
Despite all the evidence pointing to the value of leveraging social media for selling and marketing, many executives at industrial companies still aren’t convinced. The employees at many industrial companies aren't even allowed to log onto to Twitter, YouTube, or Facebook while they’re at work. I've heard the leaders of these companies say things like, “Our buyers want to meet face-to-face. That’s the only way to build relationships in our industry,” or “We don’t need to be on social media to create awareness. Our brand has been around for 50 years. Everyone already knows who we are.”
In my view, this is a huge mistake. Social media is now part of the buying process for everyone. Social a great way to get insight, gain access, and build trust. Any company not investing in social media initiatives is missing out on revenue opportunities, and I believe that gap will only continue to increase over time.