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B2B Social Selling: Using the Golden Triangle to Reach Customers

By Sander Biehn | Oct 23, 2013

Social selling is has a lot of potential  for B2B sales teams as buyers turn more to digital channels to get information. Marketers read about the success stories leveraging LinkedIn and Twitter and wonder whether they are maximizing their firm’s potential.  To fill the gap many companies are making sure they have a blog that is prominent on their B2B webpage, and are using social media to blast notification of new posts. Often this work goes unnoticed by customers and sometimes even the sales teams are unaware. What gives? Where are the big results everyone is talking about?

In order to get customer readership and engagement in the very crowded social media space, companies need to put the customer in the center of what I call the Golden Triangle.  This triangle is comprised of:

1. Sales Expertise

2. Content Creation

3. Social Savvy


Sales Expertise is needed from the beginning to clarify what is being sold and to whom. Before any content is created, sales teams need to give input on what business problems are solved by your firm’s products or services. This may mean creating multiple sales messages that speak to different potential buyers in different vertical markets. For example, a mobile tracking application for smart phones may be of interest to a COO to track the whereabouts of a fleet of trucks. But the application may also be of interest to the CMO to track customers whereabouts, to offer  them reasons to stop into the firm’s retail stores. These are two very different ways of using the same product.  Furthermore, the buyer’s reasons for purchasing your product are on either end of their balance sheet (conserving bottom line revenue versus adding to the company’s top line!).

Using Sales Expertise as your guide to create content will make the content interesting. Never mind if you are creating a high quality YouTube with a humorous tagline, or a dry written blog, good content will prove function over form in a crowded social world. That said, the content needs to draw in customers by solving their problems. This starts at the title and the introduction. Both must pull the reader in, keeping in mind who that reader is and what problems they face every day. A good way to make sure your content is interesting, is to ask a customer who recently purchased your product why they bought it. Start with their story and needs, and then explain your product’s advantages without mentioning it by name.

Finally, moving your content with concise Social Savvy will complete the triangle.  Asking a  sales team to engage in “1-2-3 Tweet” campaign each time a new blog post is created can annoy potential customers, even if the content is good. Also, posting your own work on groups and newsfeeds without ever complementing others, or engaging in dialog in that group, will only make you an outsider. My approach has always been to make my blog postings a minority of my activity wherever I post, favoring comments, curating other interesting news or asking questions of the group first.

The reason I call this a golden triangle is that none of these strategies will work unless they are in lock step with the others. All three: sales, content and social savvy, must have the same goals and customers in mind to be effective. This is one of the main reasons a “agency-like” campaign in social often fails. It often lacks focus and patience needed to unlock the vast rewards that are available in the new world of social sales.

What do you think? Has your firm found the right mix? What valuable lessons have you learned along the way? Help me to improve this formula to help sellers (and buyers) everywhere!

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