An effective and accurate sales pipeline is a vital component of any successful business, and social media now plays a crucial role in the sales pipelines of truly outstanding companies.
The constant flood of posts being published by consumers on all social media platforms can provide an invaluable data source for salespeople, but it also comes with responsibility. Customers are more engaged than ever, and they demand regular contact and highly personalized relationships with the businesses they patronize. Consumers have extremely high expectations of businesses, as Millennial CEO Daniel Newman notes:
“…67% of consumers expect a same day response to a service response that they post on social media channels… a staggering 47% expect the response in 2 hours and 35% expect it in just 30 minutes.”
That’s a tough standard to meet, but for companies that keep in touch with customers on social media, the payoff comes back in the form of intense customer loyalty, social proof, testimonials, and referrals.
Newman also mentions that while advertising sources show less than a 50% rate of trust among consumers, a personal referral from within a customer’s social circles has a whopping 90% trust rate. By wowing customers with great treatment on social media, you build relationships within their communities. If even one of those people becomes an ambassador for your brand, and starts recommending you to their friends and colleagues, your business will reap the rewards.
So how does the sales pipeline factor into all of this?
Tracking customer interactions and knowing what each one means is the only way to build a strong sales pipeline. Using social media to engage with customers allows you to have many more interactions with them, and it allows you to track those connections. From prospecting to engaging brand ambassadors and even closing deals, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social platforms can give you the data you need to make a super-efficient and accurate sales pipeline.
Before you can start cashing in on the value of your social media contacts though, you need to have the foundation of a strong sales pipeline in place.
Building a robust sales pipeline
Your sales pipeline needs to be a well-oiled machine for recording data and making predictions based on that information. The more info you can gather about any potential customer, the better the service you can provide them at each stage of the sales process. Your sales pipeline will help you determine which customers to go after, what kinds of offers to make them, and when it is time to either close a deal or let the customer go.
A well constructed sales pipeline is vital because it can tell you how best to allocate time and effort to maximize your sales and build the best relationships with your clients. The first step is to build your pipeline, and for that you need the first piece of information, the seed from which all sales grow: a lead.
Once you have the framework for capturing leads, you need to be able to track each potential customer throughout their entire relationship with your business. While a pipeline is customizable by business, it breaks down to the following general stages:
1. Prospecting: Finding new customers using social media and other channels
2. Qualified: A customer shows real potential. They want what you’re selling!
3. Quote: If they’re asking for a price quote, they probably mean business.
4. Closure: This is where the rubber hits the road. You’ll need to be highly responsive and promptly answer any remaining questions the customer has. Go out of your way to provide industry data and other supporting info that shows them why it is a great choice for them to go with your product!
5. Won (or lost): Make the sale. Sign the paperwork. This is the start of a great business relationship with your new customer.
Your business has limited resources, and your time is valuable. The ultimate purpose of a sales pipeline is to help you leverage that time most efficiently so that every moment that you invest in sales yields the best possible returns.
There was a time when successful salespeople spent most of their time on the phone or visiting clients in person. While those are great ways to make sales, they are time intensive, and today’s hypercompetitive business environment makes it hard to invest that kind of effort in anyone other than top-dollar customers.
Fortunately, new social media platforms provide an incredible resource for salespeople to make connections and build relationships with individuals and communities while simultaneously gathering info to enhance the sales pipeline. Chief Revenue Officer and SVP of Inbound Sales at Hubspot, Mark Roberge said, “I challenge sales people to take 2 hours per week for the next 2 months that you would have been prospecting, and blog. Or go to Twitter and Retweet some stuff, or go in a LinkedIn group and participate in conversation, or go find a blog where your prospects are hanging out and put a smart comment in there. You know a lot. You are a thought leader in your space because you’re answering the objections and helping prospects every day with your value proposition. After those couple months, reflect back and ask yourself, “Were those 2 hours you spent blogging and interacting on social media – would they have been better spent prospecting or did you get enough value from that effort?”
Download the complete ebook > How To Build Your Sales Pipeline Faster Using Social Media
To learn more about how to build your sales pipeline faster using social media, download the entire ebook.
In this 20-page ebook we’ll discuss:
- How to build a robust sales pipeline using Base
- How to use LinkedIn as a prospecting tool
- How to use Twitter as a prospecting tool
- The importance of building recommendations through social media
- How to make social media and your sales pipeline work together
Social media plays a crucial role in building an effective and sustainable sales pipeline – learn why social selling is important – download your free copy now.
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