Social media is a fantastic B2B sales tool, but only AFTER you train them

By November 26, 2009Social Media

by Todd Youngblood

Had one of those flashes of insight today. This time with regard to the effectiveness of social media for B2B sales and marketing. My conclusion is: Social media is fabulous, but only after your prospects and customers are trained on how to use social media. Grunt through the background info here, the B2B point will emerge…

I’m on the board of my community’s symphony orchestra and have seen with my own eyes an astonishing burst of growth in our youth programs. Our Executive Director and Creative Director are both really smart, workaholic, 20-somethings who whacked the daylights out of FaceBook to attract the cream of young metro Atlanta musicians. The results? Three years ago, our youth orchestra did not exist. Today it’s the largest in the southeastern US with 400+ members. Whoa!

We big-shot-board-member-doubter-converts concluded we should promote our flagship symphony with social media too. We have hard data! We have proof that social media can attract hundreds of followers (aka, paying customers) quickly!

Here’s the insight-providing, humbling lesson part. My personal task was to invite all my “FaceBook Friends” to become “Fans” of the Cobb Symphony Orchestra (external link). Problem is, I have no friends! No, I’m not a psychopath, but my peer group, my neighbors and friends, don’t do FaceBook. Does that mean I’m useless? Does that mean social media is useless? No!!! It simply means my target market is not yet up to speed …yet.

Shift gears now… Get back into business mode. Think LinkedIn + Twitter + Blog + E-Newsletter + Web Site vs. FaceBook. I (and you too!) need to use the combo mentioned first to reach out to our prospects and connect them. Only then can our content provide value.

The fact is social media WILL BE the front-line B2B marketing vehicle. We all need to get out in front of the wave so we can ride – as opposed to getting washed away by – it. We need to show our customers how they can attract more customers by teaching them how to attract more customers with social media.

Eeeeeessssshhhhhh… My “insight flash” was really good (I think) and useful, but it gave me (and us) a whole ‘nother load of challenging To-Dos. I need to teach them how to sell more via social media so they’ll buy more of my stuff via social media. It’s like trying to run a business…

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