Capturing the "Shy Yes": Qualifying Sales with Social Media and Social Network Tools

Covered WagonI’m going to take some liberties here and poke a bit of fun at traditional marketing, for the sake of making a point. Traditional marketing
efforts in B2B have been largely focused on driving traffic to a
landing page with enough enticements to move people through the long
sign-up form in hopes of a payoff, such as a white paper, at the end. I
once heard a presenter says that it’s analogous to what we do in Texas
with cattle at branding time: We try our best to get ‘em to move
through a chute with various enticements and prods in order to count
‘em and brand ‘em so we know our total worth in beef.

What’s on offer now is a perspective that lets the most interested
or qualified prospects through the filter, but does it in a different
manner. Think about all the traffic interested in visiting your site (a
product site or social networking component of your site, or your media
content, now spread all over the Internet). This traffic falls into one
of three types: Yahoos, Bluebirds or Shy Yesses.

The Yahoos are a small percentage of people on the left side of the
bell curve that are lost or kicking tires or whatever, but you’re not
marketing to them.

The Bluebirds are the visitors who come to your site on purpose and
engage directly. You focus on moving them into the sales process
directly. You’ve been a Bluebird, haven’t you?  When you just call up
and order something directly from a company–no salesman contacts
you–that’s a bluebird sale. It’s the small percent of the bell curve on
the right-hand side and, regardless of their numbers, you’re really not
marketing to them either.

In the middle of the bell curve of behavior is the Shy Yes traffic.
These are all the people coming to the website or bumping into the
hundreds of podcasts and blog articles your company has distributed all
over the Internet for the last few years. These people have some
particular interest. Likely they have a need brewing on the horizon but
the last thing they want is a sales guy calling, and they sure don’t
want to tip their hand by filling out a long form just to get a white
paper and then have someone start hounding them.

Long before a salesman comes into the picture, your company gets
involved in a scoping or planning session to do something and wants to
figure out how to proceed before getting vendors all hot and bothered. 
This is the makeup of a Shy Yes. I’m sure you can think of other
behaviors of people finding your content and hovering over product
pages, checking things out.

What’s needed are ways to entice or engage the Shy Yes with small
pieces of interaction … what you get is more and more of his/her
attention by satisfying their need to learn more, to ask questions
without worrying about a sales guy calling, to be better informed about
making budgeting decisions on projects.

I think of the social media (audio podcasts, video podcasts, blogs,
comments, and so forth) and social networking (being a member of a
community to exchange useful perspectives and information on
pertinent topics) as a kind of birdseed.

when you were a kid and you went to the park? You’d put a few pennies
into a seed dispenser so you could feed the birds. At first you would
just run and throw the seed at the birds, thinking you were giving them
what they wanted, but the birds would fly away. Over time, however, you
noticed people who were sitting patiently on benches and had birds
eating out of their hands. You noticed that the people got up slowly
and put food down in small, separate portions, giving the Shy birds the
seeds and space they needed to build trust. Over time the birds
developed enough trust in that relationship to come right up to the
person on the bench.

Social media and the container for engagement/social networking are
the birdseed. They are what will draw the attention of the bulk of the
web traffic poring over your site each month. This is the Shy Yes
traffic, picking up information piece by piece, engaging more and more
with your company. They spend more time on your site, which is
garnering more of their attention during the day, and maybe in the
evenings on their iPhones and iTouches. You’re there, and when they are
ready they start to communicate with you because you’ve made it easy.

There are so many more ’seeds’ of engagement now with social media
and social networking, compared to the old days of only one landing
page per 45-day sales campaign. And now every touch point can be
counted and used for gentle encouragement to offer help or for the Shy
Yes to contact you when they want to know more.

As I’ve said many times before, none of this replaces traditional
marketing efforts. Those will always be with us and always have value.
I’m simply introducing a new perspective on other ways to find
qualified prospects from the web using the various social tools now at


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