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The Effective Way to Generate Leads Using Social Selling

By Sander Biehn | Jul 5, 2017

There’s more to marketing (and sales) than just a ‘cost per lead.’ We all intuitively know this, but it is hard to argue otherwise when evaluating where to spend marketing dollars. The question always comes down to how many leads can you generate per month with your current engagement model versus other available models?

I hear this question all the time.  Sales and Marketing VP’s have been trained to evaluate in terms of ‘cost per lead’ metrics when testing out Social Selling also. I have to admit, it is a tidy way to measure one marketing automation product against another, but let’s take a step back.

I thought the goal of sales was to sell? Since when has a lead generation machine trumped an actual sale?  In order to capture the true benefit of any Social Selling program, the campaign needs to focus on generating relationships, not just leads. This is the new territory that social media has helped us discover.

A CEO recently told me that he believes trade show leads are anywhere from 75-95% junk.

Why not hope for something better than another lead generation program? Why not expect real results?

Here’s how we need to change our perspective when deploying a social selling program (and why):

1) Historically, marketing campaigns have revolved around lead generation.  It is safe and makes sense to the CMO. But true Social Selling will require input from the sales leadership.  If it looks like the same old marketing programs dressed up in social clothing, it probably is. Sales and Marketing must merge expertise and expectations to get the most out of a new way of reaching clients. Your customers have changed their buying habits by heavily using social media to research solutions instead of going to your sales people.  Why wouldn’t a Social Selling program seek to capture the attention of customer eyeballs on those channels?  Collecting email addresses and then using them in a drip campaign in return for a peek at a white paper won’t work if you wish to create a true relationship.  Giving away thought leadership that inspires customers will.

2) No one wants to step out on a limb and make new sales revenue a marketing campaign metric, but someone really should.  This is where I (and my fellow social selling experts) can do better. We are half the problem. We want to position social selling as if it is a marketing campaign and leave the selling role to the sales team. But with a majority of a sale complete by the time a salesperson is called, why shouldn’t the line blur?

The real promise of social selling is that a relationship is formed using thought leadership on social channels.  This is how I sold $47M in new business back when I worked for AT&T.  Once a relationship is developed, the role of a sales team is still vital.   But the time it takes to close the deal is vastly compressed. Using social will attract new prospects that will look just like warm referrals.

I believe social selling needs to be as much a function of Sales as it is of Marketing. Therefore, the only fair measurement of success should be new sales revenues.

To be clear, there is no need to entirely stop lead generation activities.  However, Social Selling is an entirely different beast that should measure sales success the same way a sales manager would expect of her sales team: by building relationships and then selling.

Who will join me in making a new kind of pitch to clients looking to activate sales via social media?

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