May 14

Lead Nurturing: How a social business strategy can help you move from selling to helping your prospects

Lead Nurturing

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At MarketingSherpa Lead Gen Summit, I had the privilege of sitting in on a session with Todd Wilms, Head of Social Strategy, and Adriel Sanchez, VP, Demand Generation, both of SAP, as they discussed how they use a business model called “social business” to help their teams across the globe engage local audiences.

So, what is social business exactly?

While it would seem intuitive that social business is a social media best practice, that assumption could not be further from the truth.

Or, as Todd declared, “The difference between social media and social business is the difference between throwing a bullet and shooting it.”

According to Todd, social media, social media marketing, and social business are three very distinct concepts.

Todd said SAP uses social business to employ social media, social software, and social networks to drive a mutually useful connection between people, information, and assets.

“Social business is really how do you take all of those concepts of social media, all of the things you’ve been doing around social media marketing, and define them against business outcomes for your organization,” Todd explained.

The nature of leads is changing.


Todd made a case for transforming to a social business model by describing how the very idea of the “lead” is changing at a faster pace than Marketing can keep up with.

“This idea of moving from ‘sell’ to ‘helping your customers buy’ is at the heart of the social business. It’s a model that the customer is going to make the decisions already. They’re going come to you when they are ready,” Todd said.

From strategy to practice

Adriel also mentioned as evolving buying habits exert more pressure on lead nurturing, today’s common lead nurture tactics – teleprospecting, webinars, trade shows, email, etc. – will need help from social media to remain effective.

“These tactics need help because they’re not giving you access to the full universe of people that are interested in buying your solutions,” Adriel said.

Here are three tips Adriel shared with the audience to help you use social media to aid your lead nurturing efforts.

Tip #1. Listen for what people aren’t telling you directly

Adriel explained SAP uses social listening tools to follow social media conversations by:

  • Filtering for keywords that indicate lead-relevant activity
  • Following key accounts directly
  • Understanding the needs of your customers’ customer

This allows the team to sift through the massive amount of conversations to find those that may be potential leads with a bonus…

“Listening to those conversations on social media can give you incredible insights into the types of content that you can use to nurture those leads,” Adriel explained.

Tip #2. Seed the conversation with what you want to talk about

Adriel advised that if you want to steer the conversation toward your solutions in the marketplace, your approach should be consistent and smart.

Here are some of the key strategies he revealed SAP uses to guide the social conversation:

  • Implement a pragmatic approach
  • Reward top contributors
  • Enterprise-wide advocacy management tool

Tip #3. Engage judiciously and in the right context

Adriel explained once you’ve identified lead-relevant conversations, the next challenge is engagement. Adriel also explained the context of how you engage in the social media channel is vital to success.

“You could be talking to the right people, have a great offer and terrific creative, and while that may work in email, it can fail in social media because the context is different.”

Here were some of his suggestions to help your company engage in the right context:

  • Educate your sales force on how to engage in social selling
  • Leverage your call center for inbound lead engagement
  • Bring customers and prospects together in social channels

Adriel warned that prospects in those different channels would likely have different thresholds for absorbing marketing messages regarding the contextual differences between engagement in social media and different channels.

“The accepted norms in that channel are different, and people’s tolerance for marketing-related materials is different.”

Related Resources:

New B2B Persona Research From Salesforce and LinkedIn Study

How IntraLinks Used Social Media to Generate Twice as Many Sales-ready Leads as Any Other Channel

How to Use LinkedIn to Generate Leads

Lead Generation: Balancing lead quality and lead quantity

Social Media: How SAP operationalized social for replicated worldwide success

Why Social Media is the New Customer Service Hotline

Marketing Careers: Why gut instincts are only artificial marketing brilliance

About the author 

Brian Carroll

Brian Carroll is the CEO and founder of markempa, helping companies to convert more customers with empathy-based marketing. He is the author of the bestseller, Lead Generation for the Complex Sale and founded B2B Lead Roundtable LinkedIn Group with 20,301+ members.

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