How Sales and Social Media Can Work Together
There has been lots of discussion about the value of social media. Ultimately, the discussion comes down to “Can the value in social media be translated to actual bottom line?” The simple answer is yes. But as we, all know there is no simple answer to anything. Sales and Social media can work together to find prospects, talk with prospects, and provide valuable information.
The challenge comes in that social media is rarely, if ever, the direct sales channel itself. This is especially true for business-to-business sales. Social media can increase the likelihood of sales through better targeting, more consistent touch points, and availability of information, establishing affinities and relationships and all of the things that support the eventual transaction. Those are the same things we would want to do offline to nurture our prospects, but now we have more online channels to bridge those connections in both places.
For many companies they get so excited by the sheer size of the likes of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the like that they get excited about the potential to create a direct marketing and revenue channel. However, it is not that simple.
Instead, consider social media as the supporting cast for the sales process, and a way to enhance your prospects’ experience with your company so that the eventual sale feels like a natural, even welcome culmination to the relationship. Here’s a few ideas of how:
- Listen for Trigger Events
Just like a good salesperson that is always listening to hear their prospects pain points. You need to listen carefully for when people are asking the right kinds of questions or seeking the sort of information that you can helpfully provide, which turns you into a problem solver instead of a pitch artist. It’s the difference between having your response or comment be an ill-timed interruption or a perfectly timed contribution. Not every mention of your company or competitor is the same as an expressed need, so study the difference and handle with care.
- Be Responsive
People hate the feeling of being ignored and this is especially true for your prospects. Be there when someone is asking for you, answer inquiries in a timely fashion (on the web that usually means minutes and hours, not days), and you’ll already be ahead of the game. As a great salesman know you don’t ever scold someone for being too responsive when we’ve asked for their attention, so it’s a worthy goal to aim for. The web moves fast, so we as businesses need to be prepared for new notions of speed.
- Focus on the Customer
Take care to make your website and social destinations user friendly and a fluid experience that reflects the focused needs and attention of social consumers. Have lots of resources front and center, and easy to find, whether it’s on your website or elsewhere. Make them easy to consume, download, and share. Make sure you use file formats that are universally accessible and that keep your writing concise and simple visuals. Focus on providing the information that your prospects want and are asking for not just the information you’re wanting them to see. This also applies to sharing others content. It’s more important to share relevant content to you prospects weather you created it or not.
- Be friendly
Great companies like Disney, Southwest and Apple already know it, give great friendly customers service and you will develop a very loyal following. Teach your front line staff how to be gracious, helpful, and friendly on the web, even in the most trying of circumstances or in the presence of criticism or competition. Help them stay approachable and accessible in the places and ways that your customers are reaching out to you. And if you can’t teach them to do that, it’s time to get different staff to work the front lines of social media. It’s that important.
- It’s as much about the process as the result
As businesses, we’re often razor focused on the end of the line result. The sale. The close. But what we forget too often is that the sale is a momentary and temporary point in time. It’s an important one, but the sustainability of a sale and a customer is only as good as the experiences between the transactions. Before the sale and after the sale. We spend most of our time as customers in the moments outside of the sale itself, yet we often treat those moments as merely the means to an end. Shaping and nurturing the entire customer lifecycle is important, and the interactivity and pervasiveness of social media makes it beautifully suited for the task.
So to answer our earlier question “can sales and social media work together?” Absolutely. However, it us to remember that a sale is a multi-faceted thing with many variables along the way. Moreover, when we start seeing our sales as living, breathing cycles instead of instances that stop and start, we can start understanding and investing in all of the moments and experiences that make a sale a success.