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Social Media Is Getting Tired…Social Business Is the New Frontier

Research suggests that most social-media initiatives are owned by marketing, not sales. Yet salespeople have the most to gain from the emerging new discipline: social business. Yes, social business. Social media is designed for fun; social business is designed to create customers. While social media often leads to a waste of time, social business leads to more business.

The big question is, why aren't more salespeople getting with the program?

This week I took notes from my conversation with successful sales executives, and here is what I am hearing:

  1. "All salespeople should blog."

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    Mark Roberge, the VP of Sales at HubSpot, told me during our recent Webinar that ALL his salespeople are asked to start a blog the moment they are hired. "What's the ROI?" I asked. Mark said that he found that there is a direct relationship between his people's blogs and the company's SEO ratings on Google. He said, "HubSpot gets a higher ranking because of our blogs. What's the return on ignoring?" Mark also suggested that everybody in the company should be a marketer.

    Insight: It takes a community of sales bloggers to create customers. 
     
  2. "We plan to sell book chapters like songs."

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    An editor at a New York book-publishing company shared how the company shifted its mind-set from printing books to selling content. The big idea this company is working on involves selling book chapters like Apple sells songs on iTunes. The plan includes creating mini communities where people can share comments about a book chapter and tweet about the content. Inkling, a San Francisco-based company, is selling college textbooks online. Students can purchase individual chapters. The best part: some chapters are free. 

    Insight: Watch how other companies become social-business leaders. 
     
  3. "I made $1,200 by responding to one tweet."

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    A software sales rep told me about closing a deal. The lead was generated by his "listening" to a tweet from a prospect he'd never heard of. He checked out the prospect's company Website, then found the prospect on LinkedIn but still had no email or phone number by which to contact this person. (Yes, there are too many companies that don't publish their phone numbers on their Websites.) Next, the sales rep used a OneSource tool, iSell, and got the phone number and email address of the prospect. He sent out four emails and made eight calls before the prospect responded. Thirty days later, he closed the sale. His commission: $1,200. The result of following one tweet. 

    Insight: People do business with people, not companies. Lead by listening. 
     
  4. "I bought a plane and asked the salesperson only one question."

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    A friend of mine recently told me that he sold his old plane online and then purchased a Beechcraft Bonanza for $675,000. He "listened" to his peers on community sites to educate himself on the avionics, plane specs, purchase options, and discount structure. He learned that Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak crashed his Bonanza at takeoff in Santa Cruz due to premature liftoff followed by a stall. He used that information to get into a high-performance training course. He learned that other pilots are more credible sources of information than company Websites. Once he completed all his research, he emailed the aircraft sales rep his list of specs and what he was willing to pay, along with only one question: "When can you deliver?"

    Insight: Companies are no longer in control of the message; customers are.

In his best-selling book Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us, Seth Godin said it best: "For the first time ever, everyone in an organization – not just the boss – is expected to lead."

Suggested Action Steps:

  1. Change your mind-set from social media (low ROI) to social business (measurable ROI).
  2. Expand the definition beyond personal selling. Turn your salespeople into digital influencers. Teach them how to listen online, join the right communities, and engage customers in their social-business sphere. Give them sales intelligence tools, such as InsideView for Sales.
  3. Create your social-business strategy before searching for the best technology. Gartner considers Jive, Lithium, and salesforce.com as key players in the market.
  4. Take a closer look at Social CRM tools. SugarCRM, Nimble, and salesforce.com executives participated in a great panel discussion on the subject. Note how Jon Ferrara (founder of GoldMine) sees the future of Social CRM. Don't miss this eye-opening video.

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  5. Roll up your sleeves and participate in this brand new conference on November 15, 2011, in Santa Monica called "Sales Strategies in a Social and Mobile World." 

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benjamin

This is right on. Social business is no longer just the future... but now its the present! I used to buy and sell my Used College Textbooks all the time back in school. Now so much has changed with the internet and what is available. Excited to see how technology with the right forward-thinking mindset will continue to change our society in the future.

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This article is very enriching. I am engrossed with such information about the power of social business nowadays. Nice post!

Geoff

This article is a fantastic reminder of the power of blogging and social media. In all of the examples cited, positive results were attained by joining in and listening to a conversation. The key is to sharpen your listening skills so you do not miss out on an opportunity. Sometimes people are calling out for help without saying it directly in these conversations.

Blogging also puts you in touch with the very people who have first hand knowledge. Yes, some of them are the subject matter experts, but often the comments yield more about the matter than the post itself. I see the initial post as the catalyst to the true exchange of useful information. Again, we must be willing to participate and listen carefully.

Vorsight

The reason that blogging works so well for HubSpot is because they sell inbound marketing solutions to social media savvy prospects with less than 500 employees. These people are searching - and they find HubSpot. Groovy for them! What if your ideal customer doesn't match this profile and doesn't search and digest content? I've found that social selling, social media, and social business is absolutely more effective for selling to marketing minded folks and small businesses (HubSpot catches the lucky intersection of the two). Let's face it - part of the job of marketers is to stay up on this stuff. Does anyone have examples of selling $100k plus solutions to companies with $100m+ in revenue where the initial executive level traction came via blogs? Perhaps we just aren't blogging enough or need to blog around better keywords.

I'm starting to believe that the mix of inbound/outbound is very dependent on what you are selling and who you are selling to. From my experience SVPs of Sales with big quotas at larger companies just don't have the time or inclination to read blogs. These all encompassing statements about social media and prescriptions for sales organizations to blog are hazardous.

I'm headed to the Inc. 500 conference in DC this weekend and plan to ask these CEOs the same question. Would love to see the thought of the SellingPower community here. Am I nuts or just doing something wrong?

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