Imagine a world where there is no need for the traditional sales funnel, whereby marketers seek to capture email addresses from website visitors for nurturing and closing. What if you could nurture leads without needing to drive opt-ins first? If it seems rather foreign and unattainable, you are in for a surprise.
LeadFeeder is a new type of B2B tech solution designed to let marketers take charge of their sales funnels in ways that make the most sense for each individual business. It works by providing intelligence about your website's anonymous visitors, including the companies they work for and the pages they visit. It even integrates with LinkedIn, so you can directly reach out to people who work for these companies on the B2B network and begin engaging.
When inbound marketing first began, email was the best digital communication channel available. Although email lead capture is still widely popular, it's too narrow to cover the gamut of relevant leads. Instead, we need to focus our efforts on other relevant channels to connect with and engage perspective customers.
The Rise of Social Selling
Today, nearly everyone is active on social media, and 75 percent of B2B buyers turn to social media to support their decision-making, with studies finding that 82 percent of prospects are active on social media. Rather than going through periods of non-communication like you would with email marketing, social selling allows you to stay top-of-mind with prospects, gradually building strong relationships of trust with them.
To do it well, social sellers need to build up their personal brands on social channels, so prospects will know that they are a respected authority. This calls for constant gathering of sales intelligence and cultivating a network of contacts and advocates, and engaging in social listening to stay on top of conversations.
We are living in a multi-channel world, and today's marketers need to capitalize on that. According to Gartner, failure to respond to customers on social media can increase churn among existing customers by up to 15 percent. Gartner also found that customers prefer to manage most of their business relationships without interacting face-to-face with a human.
How LeadFeeder Works
To illustrate how social selling works with LeadFeeder, let's run through a typical nurturing process with Candice, a saleswoman from a local retirement planning consultancy. Candice sees in her LeadFeeder dashboard that three people who work at a nearby shipping company have recently visited her website, reading blog posts and product descriptions about the 401k plans she offers.
Sure enough, she has three second-degree LinkedIn connections at the shipping company, so she sends connect requests to them. She also follows the company on Twitter, retweeting and favoriting some of the content they post and chiming in on the discussions they initiate that are relevant to her expertise.
Because LeadFeeder is integrated with her CRM, Candice is easily able to track her nurturing efforts there, and once she has established a sense of familiarity with some decision makers at the shipping company, she starts sending them links, via LinkedIn messages, to content that she thinks will be useful to them as they make decisions about retirement investments.
After answering some product-specific questions, Candice believes that the lead is sales-qualified. She sets up a phone meeting and closes the deal.
Social Proof, Familiarity and the Buyer's Journey
One factor that makes social selling so effective is social proof, the idea that people will act in ways that others already have, believing that they reflect “the right behavior”. A study from The Wall Street Journal found that social proof wields even more influence on our decision-making than saving money does.
Another key psychology principle is the familiarity bias, which says that people are more likely to buy what they already know. Marketers can use this to their advantage, by maintaining an active organic presence on social media networks where their customers are. By “seeing” them there, customers are becoming familiar with them, therefore being more likely to think of that brand when they need its products or services.
Another interesting statistic is that, according to Forrester, 74 percent of buyers say they conduct most of their research online before making an offline purchase. This means marketers need to make it easy for buyers to find what they want online and, if that does not happen, they are likely to turn to competitors.
De-funnelize Your Social Selling
Breaking free of the traditional sales funnel is critical if you want to rise above the competition and remain in the forefront of your target audience's consciousness. Do not get bogged down by disproportionate emphasis on email lead capture. Instead, focus your efforts on social selling and engagement, and you will be primed to see a dramatic shift in sales performance and brand advocacy.