Facebook recently announced its Messaging service, which basically unifies email, IM and SMS services into one application. While this development might yet again change the way Facebook users communicate with each other, there are positive consequences for business-to-business transactions, as well.
The Internet has had a profound impact on the nature of B2B: Buyers are now more informed, as it is easier to do research online than it ever was before. However, sellers can regain an advantage, despite the fact that buyers can find out all there is to know about your product without once talking to you or your sales representatives.
The common misconception amongst salespeople is that social networking sites such as Facebook are merely static channels. Most still prefer to use Linkedln discussion boards to create leads, while Facebook pages and the like are treated merely as advertising spaces.
However, Facebook (as well as other social media) are fast becoming real-time playing fields where businesses compete with one another for customers, especially now that Facebook is fast-gravitating towards smart sorting of one’s interests. Concurrently, this is all about prioritizing messages and information from close friends, but this service can also be expanded towards prioritizing messages that match your interests.
For example, a clothing manufacturer may go online to search for better sources of cotton. He would go online, browse through different websites, and e-mail his friends for leads. His smart messaging service would then analyze his online traffic, looking at keywords in his e-mails and queries, even the URLs of the sites he visited. This clothing manufacturer would then check his inbox to find that messages that correspond to his recent searches have floated to the top and irrelevant ones have disappeared to the bottom. It’s like a supercharged spam filter, one that sorts your messages based on your own personal online activity.
As an enterprising cloth supplier you could then, upon finding out that the manufacturer visited your website, track his online activity and find out his interests. You can follow him to the various sites and discussion boards that he visits and find out his contact information. After which, it’s just a matter of creating a customized message that would float to the top of his inbox, stating that you in fact can provide just what he’s looking for. All the while your competitor, not knowing the manufacturer’s specific interests, would just send a mass-produced catalog of their products.
It’s easy to see how this could dramatically increase your sales, whether you’re in the clothing industry or if you offer car loans. It’s all about being able to move fast to address the needs of prospective customers, much like search engine optimization where you design websites that attract specifically the type of customers that you need. However, instead of websites, you’re customizing messages, and therefore you need good content and the ability to communicate well.
It’s an exciting prospect and, one that would greatly benefit B2B transactions precisely because these smart messaging services would tailor peoples’ inboxes specific to their needs. By creating a message that is tailor-fit to a potential customer’s needs, expectations and online activity, you can reach them and call their attention easier, rather than having to face the traditional sales hurdles. At the end of the day, your message will do all the sales talk you’ll ever need.