Contrary to popular thinking, content is not king and cold calling is not dead.
Some marketers have begun to think if they do a great job at B2B social media, then qualified prospects will rain in. Grizzled sales veterans contend it's still all about building personal relationships.
The fact is, building and nurturing a business-to-business pipeline requires a delicate balance of both new social media approaches and old school prospecting.
Most companies don't get "invited to the party" because prospects don't even know you exist. While the search engine optimization (SEO) value of your content can generate leads, you will grow old waiting for it to fuel a solid pipeline.
You need to develop and qualify a prospect list and reach out to them with a thought-provoking combination of traditional mail, email and phone calls. Occasionally you will get lucky and reach a prospect with an immediate need.
But more often, if there is a glimmer of interest, the prospect becomes aware of you and will begin to pay attention to your content - either passively as you email it to them, or actively following you on Twitter, LinkedIn or your blog.
And so begins the nurturing process. When they click through an email or retweet a post, your sales team takes notice.
They happen to leave messages with prospects about the very topic they expressed interest in. The dance continues until you raise their level of interest and interaction or you get a definite "no."
Any shred of new information, whether it's a development in their company or a manner in which they respond, informs your next move.
If there is no response, back them off to a maintenance level of contact and move on to another manageable wave on your list.
There is no substitute for old school prospecting.
But it is a wasted effort today if it's not supported by rich content. That's where social media marketing champions are exactly right - B2B prospects will do their homework.
(They do want to feel like connecting with you was their idea. That's fine, we won't tell them differently!)