The Social Sale: Don’t Underestimate the Value of a Social Lead
Sales and marketing professionals have heard it all before - the doom and gloom statistics that make most think they have to reinvent the wheel to grab the attention of prospects and keep that of customers. For example, "80% of marketing leads are ignored," or "Sales reps stop trying after three attempts." Thus, some companies scramble to stake a space in the 20% of leads that are paid attention to, often investing more than they should in marketing gimmicks.
While some of these marketing dollars may indeed see some return on investment, there is a subtler, somewhat less expensive way to generate leads. Drum roll please ...
Yes, social media can and should serve as a tool in any company's lead generation efforts. Healthcare, in particular, has taken a strong shine to social networking, as providers, vendors, consultants, academics, and patients - even the government - share and seek out information on industry trends and challenges. It is a unique environment that enables providers to give and vendors to receive real-time product feedback; government policy makers to converse with patients; and most important of all, advice, kudos and complaints to be shared with anyone willing to listen.
This last phrase is key to any healthcare company looking to foster relationships with prospects, and bolster those with valued customers. Paying attention to your prospects' and customers' updates and discussion topics gives a glimpse into their pain points and victories, what's working well and what could be working better, what's new and what's in the works.
Responding to those posts in a respectful, non-salesy way lets them know you value their information. As relationships become trusted ones in the social space, prospects will likely be more inclined to turn to your company's solution when the timing is right.
Did the hospital you've been calling on just post Facebook pictures from the recent opening of its new pediatric clinic? With the paint still wet, they may still be in need of kid-friendly devices and services. And while they may not be ready to buy immediately after a grand opening, they may be willing to start a conversation about what they will need down the road. This willingness escalates when the existing social relationship is factored in.
The key here is to use social media as a means to get into the sales cycle early - some call this the pre-sales phase, so both vendor and provider have more time to nurture their relationship and build up a level of trust that makes the end of the sales cycle that much easier to get to.
Let's look at another example:
Evergreen Hospital in Washington obviously has an interest in engaging with its patients via Twitter (and Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn, according to the Billian's HealthDATA Portal). As seen from recent tweets, they are focusing on promoting their mammography and weight loss surgery services. Vendors who offer products specific to these two areas should take note, and do a little digging to see where their products might fit into Evergreen's offerings. Before jumping on the phone or even sending an email, try sharing information via their social networks relating to either of those subjects - some type of content that might not only be of interest to the hospital, but to their patients as well.
It's all about adding value while building a relationship that stands the test of time - and sales cycle.