Social media is always talked about in the context of being a marketing tool. While I agree that social plays a big role in marketing, it can also help in the selling cycle. No, I’m not saying that social media is going to sell anything. That’s not its purpose.
Social can help in the sales process, and according to a recent post by Nicky Jameson, Do social media tools help B-to-B companies sell?, she points out that social can’t help close the sale. There are CRM tools out there that serve that function. Nicky says that by using social in conjunction with a CRM program, it will help the sales process forge new relationships and connections based on trust. She stresses that the relationship comes first. You must know, like and trust someone before you start doing business with them.
Social can, though, identify, evaluate, engage, promote, measure and improve relationships with potential customers. All valuable info that sales would love to have before talking to a professional tradesman. The competitive landscape has changed and users are more likely to know a great deal about solutions to their problems before they talk to anyone. In a recent BtoB magazine post, the DMA conducted an online survey to more than 3000 companies. Here’s what they found:
More than 70% of companies are currently using social networks for branding and collaboration purposes, with many viewing it as a key voice-of-the-customer tool, according to a new survey by the Direct Marketing Association.
According to DMA’s “Social Media Survey,” conducted by the organization’s Social Media Council, almost 60% of those surveyed think that social networking can have a high impact on brand awareness, with more than 45% viewing social outreach as important in providing customer insights.
So many times the marketing departments are so busy compiling all this info on your customers and potentials that they sometimes forget to share it with the front line guys in sales. According to Aberdeen Group research, top-performing companies are turning to social media as a way to connect their sales force to subject matter experts within the company so they will reduce time spent in preparation and more time selling.
The bottom line is a well-informed and educated sales force (not only on products, but on what’s happening in the social space that they play in) will represent you better and sell more!
How are you using social in conjunction with your sales force?