Launching marketing messages onto social media? Stop. Telling your unique, compelling story and humanizing yourself online? Stop. Listening with social media… all in hopes of selling B2B professional services?

While most experts advise us to do these things on social media we’re actually doing more harm than good. Here’s why and what to do instead to create leads and sales and 3 things that can do more harm to your B2B company than good.

Marketing with social media

WHAT?! You read it correctly. Using social media to “get the word out” about your company is a sure-fire losing strategy. Sending out messages is old school, and mass communications based. Yes, you need to have a message, this part is obvious. Yet broadcasting on social platforms in hopes of netting attention that converts to leads is a losing strategy.

Instead, focus on solving customers’ problems in ways that you can easily connect to what it is you are selling.

Let’s get clear with an example. Consider how professional services firm, ADP is using Twitter and Linkedin for sales leads in business process outsourcing. ADP’s sales force is solving prospects’ problems and promptly moving them off of social media–DIS-engaging. The professional services firm is successfully using LinkedIn for business leads using a relatively new social platform (LinkedIn) to research key decision-makers; however, how ADP is netting leads and accounts is not new at all.

ADP is using a new tool: Twitter. Yet its success at generating new business leads is not technical nor new. ADP’s sales force is using innovative social tools in combination with a very old, effective idea: Solving problems for customers. Twitter helps ADP’s sales team open doors with prospects in real time. Worth noting: The problem being solved does NOT always need to be related to what you sell to be effective at getting “the conversation” (about your product) going.

Their sale force is getting past gate-keepers by becoming relevant to the everyday lives of decision-makers who are expressing un-met needs. That’s how social media is selling for them and can sell for your professional services business too.

Telling your ‘unique story’ (nobody cares!)

Avoid broadcasting on social media and resist telling customers all about your business, your “unique story.” Instead, promise them a cure for an expressed pain and take them on a journey toward the remedy. Offer them micro-transactions that lead them toward (or away from) your service offering.

Be honest with yourself. What do your potential and existing customers care about more: Your culture, origins, how funny or “human” you are OR your ability to solve problems innovative ways that help them create distinctive market position and grow?

Prospects and customers rarely care enough about your culture, attitude, style or personality to decide on initiating or increasing their business with you on this criteria.

They care FIRST about their own problems or goals.

At best your corporate culture might help you create a point of distinction that influences their decision. It won’t get you in the door or under serious consideration.

So if you want to sell more professional services, or generate more leads, start focusing social marketing on the problems, goals, fears, aspirations or skills your customers need to develop–help them do something that is important to them. Yes, for free but in ways that benefit YOU too. Stop placing so much emphasis on telling stories!

Use stories to make a point or bring an idea to life–or prove something to clients. Make stories serve a process that gets you what you want!

So make everything you do with social media answer questions (provide solutions) in ways that provoke a specific response from customers. This engages customers AND creates business leads—focused conversations that you can connect to your products and services.

Listening with social media

Yes, listening and monitoring what customers are saying/thinking/experiencing about you is important. Yet what do most of us do with what we hear? Too often we present metrics like “customer sentiment” to executive officers and walk away. It’s no wonder why CMO’s are being all but supplanted lately when we broadcast on social media platforms and listen–all without a focus on the process that ties the messages and resulting behaviors together in ways that help us sell better.

The key to selling more professional services services with social media is process. So we must 1) listen and 2) know what to listen for that can be useful to helping us sell, that we can optimize our social selling process with.

Here’s the rub: If you’re listening (and know what to listen for) customers are always telling you what to blog about, post on Facebook about or what kind of YouTube video they want or need to create success or avoid a risk. They’re literally telling you what to do and where to do it with social media!

They’re saying to us, “I need guidance here, right now.” Today’s B2B marketing leaders are jumping in to respond using social media but in ways that involve a social selling process–a new way to generate business leads with content marketing.

In fact, by listening for fears, ambitions, goals and skills customers need to develop we can discover what to be doing with social media–always and in real time. We can know (with certainty) the problems we need to help customers solve, or the experiences they’re craving samples of.

We can always tap into new ways to create confidence in buyers who want to be confident and often want to buy our services.

By listening for specific insights on customers’ worries, concerns, pains and objectives and feeding this understanding (keywords used, for instance) back into the “social design” of your blog posts, ebooks, Facebook updates, LinkedIn Group discussions, etc. we can create leads and sales–the easy way!

Take action now

Ask yourself: Are you inviting your customers on a journey to get a problem solved or experience something in a powerful, new way… a journey that creates demand for what it is you’re selling? If you’re not, it’s likely you’re just broadcasting on social media like everyone else. You’re telling stories without connecting them to a sales or lead nurturing process.

You’re creating mediocrity. 

So:

  1. Focus on solving customers’ problems with social marketing in ways that easily connect to what it is you are selling.
  2. Give customers a cure for an expressed pain and then take them on a journey toward the remedy rather than telling stories that don’t serve them.
  3. Listen in ways that help you always know what problems to solve, how to solve them and how to attract the most appropriate bees (best prospects) to your hive (your blog’s Answer Center) more often.

Good luck and let me know how you’re doing!