by Jeff Molander
Time to read: 3 minutes. Successful B2B social sellers like Avaya are converting individual Twitter tweets into $250,000 contracts. The company realizes: the answer to generating leads and sales with Twitter is rooted in a practical, familiar process. Avaya is aligning Web marketing with traditional sales processes. Read on for quick tips on applying Avaya’s success formula so you can start making Twitter sell — tomorrow.
Enterprise communications giant, Avaya views Twitter as a better way to generate customer inquiries –- not a better way to become known or get customers’ attention. Smart businesses like Avaya are using Twitter to discover demand and “plug it into” existing lead nurturing processes. To sell.
The secret sauce revealed
Avaya is following a practical yet rigid process. And this process is rooted in a fundamental belief. That is: The key to making social media tools actually cause sales is seeing the opportunity itself in a new way. Twitter is a new tool. But it’s not a revolution. Twitter is here to help us do what we’ve always been challenged to do: Translate evolving customer needs by finding, nurturing and capturing demand.
Hence, Avaya is using Twitter to:
Discover conversations that are worth having
Converse in ways that generate questions that its products/services can answer
Align conversations with traditional lead management processes
In other words, they’re questioning if Twitter is a chance to grab at prospects’ attention (advertise). Or as a new channel to push discounts through. They’re thinking and differently about the opportunity social media presents. And so far it’s working. Let’s quickly look at how this is true. And how you can immediately apply the idea.
The $250,000 tweet
Paul Dunay shared his remarkable Twitter experience with me just before leaving the helm of Avaya’s social media effort. I ran into Paul while researching folks to interview for Off the Hook Marketing. In a nutshell, Paul’s social team is using advanced Twitter search functionality. They’re monitoring for demand across the vast, babbling Twittersphere. Sometimes this demand is explicit. Other times it’s latent.
For instance, Paul’s team recently discovered a 57-character tweet. This started the relationship with his potential customer:
“[...] or avaya? Time for a new phone system very soon,” the tweet read.
Moments after the tweet was posted, an Avaya team member spotted it and notified Dunay, who responded by tweet:
“@[customer] – let me know if we can help you – we have some Strategic Consultants that can help you assess your needs.”
The potential customer did, and 13 days later, Avaya closed a $250,000 sale.
Make sales, not “branding”
For Avaya, Twitter is a tool to discover demand in various stages. In this case the customer’s need was immediate. In other cases it needs to be nurtured along. And that’s where digital “content marketing” comes into play. But that’s just another digital spin on a familiar concept. Remember “contract publishing” or “custom media?”
Bottom line: Twitter is being used by Avaya to translate need as it evolves in real time. Paul’s team is reaching beyond merely listening to customers. Assessing sentiment? Ok, that’s interesting but it’s not very practical when it comes to making a sale. Hence, Avaya takes action on what they hear beyond “branding.” They’re selling.
Avaya is integrating – aligning Web marketing with traditional sales processes.
Put it to work: Make Twitter sell
Here’s a practical success formula you can use, starting tomorrow.
STEP 1: Expect more, align
What makes you buy more? Personally. Awareness or the actual experiences you have with service providers? Think about it in your own life. In this light, how important is attention, buzz, conversation, listening, word-of-mouth? Are they desirable outcomes? Update your expectation of social media. Expect it to do more for your business.
Part of expecting more of social media is expecting more of marketing staff or your agency. As Sales Lead Management Association chief, Jim Obermayer recently pointed out, Marketing Managers Must Know the Sales Quotas. And most don’t. Greg Alexander was quick to comment, suggesting Chief Revenue Officers hold the answer to aligning sales and marketing.
Alexander says, “My friend Alex Shootman (@shootman) is the CRO over at Eloqua. Everyone in that organization, marketing and sales, has a clear line of sight on what the goals are.”
Indeed, Eloqua is a leader – producing leads using its blog and other social media. Because it, first, expects more of social media marketing. And then builds processes around it that force marketing and sales alignment, accountability. It’s what some like Debbie Qaqish and Jeff Pedowitz are calling revenue marketing (aka marketing automation).
STEP 2: Listen but ACT to capture demand
Successful social marketers like Eloqua and Avaya are translators –- businesses using new, social media to solve an old problem. That is, discover customers’ evolving need and capturing demand. They create behavior-focused processes around this goal. I like to think of them as “process-driven customer shepherds” that plug into the sales function.
This is different than many brands that use social media more like broadcasters of messages or “engagers.” (advertisers)
Again, what I’m calling translation involves discovery of “warm” leads. These are simply placed into a lead nurturing process –- like an interactive content marketing program. That is, a system of prompts or “value exchanges” conducted with leads that helps push prospects down the sales funnel. Typically this involves publishing needs-focused (relevant) video tips, helpful blogs, podcasts, guide books, etc.
STEP 3: Take action
In the end making Twitter produce sales is all about prompting behavior, less about broadcasting discounts. As a next step, ask yourself:
1) Are we using Twitter to listen? And when we hear something what happens next that connects to a sales process?
2) How can we create processes that discover need, capture it and prompt actions that gently — but diligently — move sales prospects toward the sale?
3) Consider two kinds of prospects and two practical follow-up processes — one for hot leads and the other for warm leads needing nurturing.
Or maybe you’re already ahead of the game? I hope others who are progressing similarly to Avaya may offer comments below.
Photo credit: rosauraochoa
About the Author
Jeff Molander+ is the authority on making social media sell. He's a sought-after corporate trainer to small businesses and global corporations like Brazil's Petrobras. He's an accomplished entrepreneur, having co-founded the Google Affiliate Network. Jeff also serves as adjunct digital marketing faculty at Loyola University’s school of business. His new book, Off The Hook Marketing: How to Make Social Media Sell for You, is first to offer businesses a clear, practical way to create leads and sales with technology platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and blogs.