Yesterday I gave a presentation to a field sales team at Pitney Bowes Software about how we can work collaboratively on our Engage Today social media marketing program to support their tactical success.

I focused the discussion on the four high-value sales outcomes we have been able to consistently deliver:

-Lead introduction

-Lead nurturing

-Deal capture

-Competitive intelligence

This was the first time I swapped out lead generation for lead introduction in a presentation.

Why the change?

As Strategic Communications Group (Strategic) has matured its business-to-business and public sector focused  “social media for sales” programs on behalf of clients like Pitney Bowes, Polycom, British Telecom (BT), Intelsat, Blue Coat Systems, Mandiant and others, we have recognized that a lead generation expectation simply isn’t realistic.

Companies place considerable weight on quantity when evaluating the effectiveness of a tactical approach for lead creation.  It’s understandable because corporate marketers can model top of the funnel leads to an anticipated revenue output.

While our programs have demonstrated the ability to produce new leads through premium content offers, they are not at a level that survives a cost per lead analysis.  It’s because of this that my recent pitch to two exceptionally qualified and interesting prospects fell short.

Lead introduction though is achievable and, in my opinion, of equal (if not greater) value in a business-to-business and public sector context.  That’s because the majority of vendors sell multimillion dollar, enterprise solutions to executive level decision-makers.

Whether a company is pushing product, service or a combination of the two, it is a consultative sell.  Executive buyers have to be educated and, equally critical, a relationship defined by trust must be established.

Education via thought leadership content and customer or prospect intimacy – those are the core tenets of an effective social media initiative.

A wonderfully composed guest post on Marketo’s blog by Andrew Gaffney of DemandGen Report validates my view on lead introduction as a realistic social media for sales outcome.  Gaffney presents three key points:

1.  Executives play a prominent role in the buying process;

2.  These executive rely heavily upon peer reviews, feedback and content-sharing to inform their buying decisions; and

3.  Social media even more popular among executives than it is among their subordinates.