B2B Social Selection – Survival of the Fittest.

Turns out, I’m using B2B social to select clients. I’ve been nagging you to follow a similar strategy, so imagine my surprise when I started taking my own advice.

Capturing and filtering conversation via B2B social is viable these days. Businesses suck in data from Google and filter it for relevant information. Marketing automation solutions profile data, assess interactions, template responses, activate triggers and transition customers to the sales team. It’s a neat trick, if you can pull it off. It can also be expensive, cumbersome and out of reach of SMBs.

There isn’t a hope of most SMBs managing, resourcing and paying for anything other than the most accessible CRM tools to nurture new customer relationships. So without large corporate resource, what are we left with? There’s the old-school methodology of data trawling, but I’d rather hang naked by my toenails. That leaves the utopian dream of a social eco-system where everyone talks to each other and the customers just miraculously ‘appear’. Yay!

Well that’s not going to happen anytime soon. It absolutely will happen though – my 3 largest clients started with a tweet.

But it won’t happen fast enough to support business plans because the B2B market has yet to fully grasp the opportunity for social engagement.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is when I found myself subconsciously and subliminally following my own advice that I hadn’t even given myself. (I know, it’s complicated.) The temptation was to say, “Screw it. Find me a list and light up the sky with emails because 0.0001% response so totally rocks!”

But, uncharacteristically resisting temptation, I looked to my social network. So when I was presented with a fresh database of prospects, I didn’t call them. I didn’t mass-email them either. What I actually did was trash the vast majority. They’d all ‘expressed an interest’ in my services, but they weren’t part of my (or any) social network. Arguably they represent an opportunity, but not for me. I want to actually do it, not just think about doing it.

There’s a valid point right there – don’t get left behind etc. But that’s not ‘the’ point. The point is that without a moment’s hesitation I dumped over 85% of a well-qualified database because the named contacts weren’t ‘social’ – not just with me, but anywhere. Those individuals and organizations have missed the boat. The train has left the station. Elvis has left the building. From now on, and forever more, those brands will be playing catch-up. Ouch.

The point then, is not that I’ve started to exclude conversations, meetings and ‘opportunities’. The point is that if I’ve done it, you can be damn sure customers and prospects are also making (and will increasingly make) the same decision. If I don’t even want to sell to you, are you seriously expecting a digital and social audience to want to buy?

We respond in business to associative brands – we project our values, beliefs and personalities into like-minded individuals and organizations. If you’re not in my (or any) social space, you’re not the type of brand I want to associate with. Based on the who’s who of brands that I’ve just thrown away, there are a surprising number of ‘haves’ that will ultimately ‘have not’. Play the long game people. If the difference between survival and extinction is opposable thumbs, you should try to use them, instead of sitting on them.

Scot McKee