Succeeding at B2B sales …and High School Dating

Doug Barth Web Survey expertI have a confession to make.  When I was in high school I was a total nerd, devoid of social skills.  It was just my dad and I living in a big house, and no women to counsel us on dressing, hygiene, nothing.  Dating was merely a concept to me.  But I didn’t succumb to lowering my standards just for the sake of going out.   At the time, one of the most popular shows on TV was “One Day at a Time” and one of its stars was too-cute Valerie Bertinelli.  Who grew up in my town.  So I called her for a date.  I remember having a nice chat with her mother, who explained, “Valerie lives in Los Angeles now.”


What’s this got to do with B2B sales?  It would’ve been just as difficult for me to ask out Betty Kunkel as a Hollywood starlet, or any number of others, to see if I could land a catch. But I preferred Valerie and hoped I could make something of the hometown connection.


Move the clock ahead to 2012. SimplyDIRECT ran a survey recently that asked marketers what was the most disturbing marketing trend and over a third said, “An obsession with social media.”  Indeed, if you just want to run up the numbers, there are a lot of things you can do.  In high school you can ask out partners indiscriminately, and brag to your friends how popular you are.  In marketing you can indulge in social media, and brag to your boss about how many “likes” you’ve achieved.  In fact, you’ll have lots of time to crow about your success while in the unemployment line, because – if you’re working for a company that offers a specific solution to a specific market – the game will not be won by just “going out” with a lot of off-target prospects.


Social media has its role.  If you’re building a brand it’s a great way to establish your company as a thought leader, fill the funnel with a lot of folks and work them, work them, work them until the right targets reveal themselves through filtration and end up becoming a solid prospect.


But I always preferred going after specific accounts. Based on what you know about your current clients, you can bet that certain accounts will be of high value to your company.  You know just how to please them, grow them, and turn them into long-term reference accounts.  How do you do this? Here are four steps that can get you B2B sales faster, while you leverage social media to expand your opportunity.


  1. Do your company research and identify the target accounts were you believe your value proposition will resonate most and whom you really want as clients.
  2. Research the executives within those accounts that you’ll need to engage.  If it’s a big company, there might be over 100 people who could open the door or smooth the way for you.
  3. Engage.  Okay, it didn’t quite work with Valerie, but just picking up the phone can work (you researched their phone numbers, right?).  Offering some incentive might get them to take your call.  Impressing them with “insider” industry-specific knowledge helps.
  4. Work the accounts methodically.  Build an organizational chart, and win trust with substance-based communication, not, “Can I come in and pitch?”


It’s not easy.  It’s not about a lot of flashy numbers.  It’s about hard work and getting who you really want as a customer.