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Integrating Social Business into the Sales Funnel Part 1: Lead Development

Integrating Social Business into the Sales Funnel is a 3 part series focused on strategies that utilize social media to refine the sale process to better meet the growing needs of a highly connected customer base.

Ask any entry level marketing or economics student and they’ll tell you without question that every business has some type of a sales funnel.  Leads are acquired by the company and sales come out the other end. The objective of any good sales and management team (especially the highly dedicated ones) is to fine tune the sales process down to a science in order to best close more sales more often. Although social media is rarely attributed to direct sales, there is tremendous opportunity when it comes to integrating a top to bottom adoption of social media best practices. From the moment a lead is acquired, until the moment a sale is made, and even long after the prospect becomes a customer, social media can help make the sales process easier and more comfortable for both sides.

Focusing on communication

It’s unfortunate, but there’s an accepted notion by many that adapting to social business is difficult. One should think of social media as simply another means of communication. Just like we use the telephone to call on a prospect to follow up, help with a customer service question, or provide more information in order to make a buying decision, social media should be looked at as another tool to help accomplish an end goal (in this case, a sale). Integrating social into the sales process isn’t about replacing in person meetings, telephone calls, or email. It’s about making communication more fluid and encouraging conversation.

Nurturing a lead

After a lead is first acquired the natural inclination is to begin to evaluate the customer’s needs and jump into demonstrating the value of the company’s product or service offering. When a prospect is first engaged the relationship is brand new and expectations are either intentionally or unknowingly set. This part of the sales process, no matter the type of business, is crucial because the prospect will subconsciously start to decide if they can see themselves doing business with the company. It should be obvious to the prospect from the outset if the organization had adopted social media. The extra effort to be a social business should be prevalent to the customer.

How does this look in the real world?

  • Connecting with a prospect via LinkedIn when appropriate
  • Introducing a prospect to relevant media (user generated or created in house).
  • Having the option to video conference when needed
  • Offering Twitter as an options for communication
  • Using customer service tools such as UserVoice or Get Satisfaction
  • Holding webinars
  • Interacting with a prospects Facebook page or blog
  • Seizing new leads through branded social channels as the opportunity presents itself

Part 2: Delivering Value
Part 3: Customer Follow Up

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