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First The Good News: Social Media Doesn’t Drive Sales

Google has made us smarter, far more discerning, and knowledge-driven. We don’t buy until Google tells us all systems are “go.” Ninety four percent of business buyers start with a google search to initiate the purchasing process, (The 2014 State of B2B Procurement study). The search leads prospects directly to your website, or your competitor’s. Social media may even have a negative impact on sales: A study by Custora reveals that the lifetime value of a customer is highest when the customer comes through organic search, directly to a business website, and declines significantly through Facebook, and is negative through Twitter.

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Social Media Is Your Mirror

Social media may not be a sales generator, but it does have a vital role. Social media gives real-time answers to customer services issues, and provides invaluable strategic business intelligence that can influence future product and service enhancements. But in the initial stages of the awareness phase, prospects and investors will head directly to your webpages for your insight and knowledge. This is great news; you will have far greater control over the content here than you will on social media. But more importantly, how can you optimize your home page to ensure prospect click the “Contact Us” tab?

Give Them Proof

Prospects don’t want you to tell them anything – they want you to show them everything. How do you gather information? How do you assess the problem? How have you implemented a solution, and how long did it take? Prospects want real world examples. Customer stories are specific measurable ways that show how customers are using your product to solve their real-world problems and maximize benefits, explains Jamie Gregory, Customer Education Officer, FMX. She adds, “Being able to share a happy customer’s success story is very powerful, because they add credibility to our service.”

These stories are so valuable in both the awareness and evaluation stages that more than 70 percent of B2B buyers cited testimonials and case studies as the most influential content. hawkeye’s B2B Buyer Journey Research. “Success stories are a great way to provide a snapshot of how HMB bridges the business and technology gap to help companies succeed,” adds Tom Harris, CEO, HMB.

Buyers are scanning your web pages, asking you to show them, “How will you change my life for the better if I purchase your product?” Considering their power in the sales cycle, why leave them out? Gregory goes on to explain, that customer success stories not only educate prospects, but give valuable internal insight; “These customer success stories equip our sales team with knowledge of best practices, specific ways customers are using our software.”

Facts Tell but Emotions Sell

An interesting study by CEB found that emotions have far more power than logic in driving B2B purchasing decisions. Emotions are what keep your prospect reading – yes, especially in business, where dry, data-driven product data sheets reign. Case histories are essentially stories, and thinking of them as “stories,” with a hero, an obstacle, a villain, and a happy ending is not only entertaining, but essential. Creating a revenue-earning, memorable transformative customer story is essentially an art form. You can find a build-a-great story worksheet, here, if you need help.

The Sales Cycle Starts on your Webpage

Strong brands are built upon great experiences with your products and services. You have those stories. It’s time to meet with your customers to unearth them, give them life and formally reveal them directly on the pages of your website. Once written, your story can be transformed into white papers, videos, byline articles and social media updates. But, let’s start with your website. This is where your customers will find you through search, and where they will be looking for the proof that you can transform their life by solving their biggest problem.

Susan J. Owens is an personal and product branding specialist. You can find here: Plumbline1.com

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