The Right-Brain 'Art' of Sales vs. the Left-Brain 'Analytic' – Musings on Media from the 'Sell' Side, with Occasional Forays into Music…and Wine
The New B2B, Pt II: Social Media As A ‘Sales Tool’…
PART II Recently, I wrote a series of Blog posts about the developing & usage of my own strategy for applying Social Media Tools in my Job search effort. When that search process ends [which is in the process of happening, I’m happy to say], I will be back to the good old days of selling an item/product/service/ Media…other than myself into a new role. And you can bet, from what I wrote in Part I of this post, that I will be using Social Media as a Selling Tool in my future efforts. But will you?
The logical extension of the Job search strategy for my using Social Media in business, then becomes: Can you use those same Social Media tools to facilitate the Sales process…YOUR Sales Process? To reach Decision Makers? Identify new potential prospects? Raise your visibility/profile, build trust, and become a consulting advisor in your Clients’ eyes? Lift you above the ‘mere’ Salespeople [those who are not yet well-versed] you are competing against? I think the answer is “Yes.” Great, but how?
First, understand this post is not meant to be a definitive, complete List of Ways to Do Social Media in Sales. A good list perhaps, but not definitive. I have seen few posts on this subject, which really makes this piece a ‘Dialogue Starter’ on the subject more than anything else, with others adding in perspective as well [such as this more-clinical discussion on TheCustomerCollective, entitled ‘The Art of Social Sales’.] Also, to be clear, this is very much a B2B Sales Strategy, reaching National/Brand accounts, as opposed to B2C [or Business to Consumer, i.e., as in Insurance agents or MLM firms endlessly pursuing a weary public.]
Next, ironically enough, the method proposed here incorporates the best of established, hallmark Sales Concepts from the likes of the great Dale Carnegie, Zig Ziglar & Tom Hopkins, with the best of the new, emerging concepts that are intrinsic to Social Media…then mixes them together.
As you will see, I am not talking about merely “Friending” your Clients/ Prospects on Facebook and/or sending an “Invite” on LinkedIN, then calling it a day. [Or worse, asking them to be “Fan”…of your company’s Facebook Fan Page.] Hardly. That will impress few now, and even less later. We are moving past that here, or attempting to do so.
The best way in 2010 really to Gain Interest & Attention in your clients/ prospects, lies in two words: Be Relevant. That can take form in many ways coming from you: sending invites to key Groups on LinkedIN that will benefit them, sharing key industry/trade articles you come across [the ones that are also keeping YOU current in their field, btw], passing along suggested Lists or People to Follow on Twitter, and last, a bit of a different suggestion: build your own means to monitor their firm/industry, ongoing.
Now this suggestion is one I’ve really turned on its head, and may be a bit controversial, but hear me out. It also has a dual-purpose use here potentially, as you’ll see under Be A Trusted Advisor below. It is simply: build a Reputation Management ‘Deck’. For your Clients. For use by YOU. Not them. NOT them. [As I said, hear me out.]
If you follow the lengthy process outlined by Marty Weintraub, on his aimClear blog piece entitled, ‘How to Build a Reputation Monitoring Dashboard’, you will have as much, or maybe more, info on your prospects’ business & competitors, than they may themselves have…and have it sooner. So, if you get in contact [on occasion, don’t go hog wild here], with data that sets you apart, do you think they’ll pay attention? Very likely so.
‘Show genuine interest in other people, and they will show interest in you too as a result’, is a basic tenet paraphrased here of the Dale Carnegie philosophy. Use it!
Now, since this is a lengthy process, in both setup & ongoing effort, if your Sales work funnels into ‘vertical’ markets [i.e. large Fin’l clients, or for myself, OEM Autos accounts], guess what? You can pretty much set this up, do it by Industry vertical, then create dupe’s where you just replace the name of one firm with another. Presto, you’ve now got one for each potential Client in that segment!
If all of that does not buy your belief into putting forth this kind of effort, the following clip was one I captured from ‘on the Web’ somewhere, and Tara Hunt, CEO of The Whuffie Factor, pretty much answers this question on a Business level….
Gain Attention with Your Clients? Tara Hunt Answers Here.
BE A TRUSTED ADVISOR & PARTNER
I believe that you can combine these two areas together, Sales & Social Media, and Become A Trusted Advisor & Partner, as posed by Dale Carnegie.
There are many, many people [including many on the Client side] that have not [yet] been brought into the ‘Social Media Bubble’. Twitter is, to many people, still not understood, a bit mysterious, and therefore maybe even a bit scary. [I found this out in a series of seminars I did, on using Twitter in your Job Search, and in recent talks with a number of clients current & past.] That is changing daily, but still the last stat I saw, shows roughly 60% of the US population not using Twitter.
So, maybe create your own Twitter list…just for your clients? Tell them about other lists, but put them on yours. Or, is there a compelling reason to create your own, exclusive Group on LinkedIN, selectively for your clients & prospects? Be careful here, and judicious, but there is no reason I can think of where these cannot work outright if applied logically.
Don’t think this effort is important? Think again. No less than Intel spent almost $4M on two spots during the Super Bowl…then had an in-house team monitor the “chatter” coming across all the major Social Media venues before, during, after the game, according to an article on 2/8 on ComputerWorld.com.
So, your current & future clients will only be doing this more. Why not help make sure your client/prospect is at least somewhat up to speed here? Many of them are so pressed for time, don’t you think they would appreciate a bit of external insight, where applicable? I’d say yes.
Next, we come back to that Reputation Dashboard of above. There we suggested using it to establish your credibility in the industry, gleaning info to share on their marketplace and their competitors. Here, we use it to cull crucial data & insight on their company, its status in the market, its standing in the world. And then, judiciously, you share THAT info with them in a timely manner.
Sharing data in this fashion, if you’ve spent any length of time in Sales, is really nothing new. Only the method here is. But using the method, AND sharing the data, are really a two-step way in gaining that credibility. The ‘social media’ part establishes you as “current”, the data part as “credible & interested.” Combining the two is almost unstoppable in my mind, and [a] very powerful tool[s] in your Sales arsenal.
Now if you have set this Dashboard up, you have again put a LOT of work into it, which frankly, is none of your clients/prospects business. They don’t need to know you have set such a system up…only that you are very, very good at what you do, and complete in what you know. I don’t advocate EVER telling your client you have set this up; it sounds Orwellian in a way…and they should have [or pay to have] this kind of system in-house, anyway.
SELL THEM ON YOU…INDIRECTLY
In closing, how are you going to engage your clients & potential clients going forward, especially if you are in social media, or selling social media? Shouldn’t you engage them…via Social Media? Social media is indeed unique in this way, as in so using Social Media in such a manner, it also demonstrates your skillset in the subject area [or had better do so!] Everyone assumes that if you sell Newspaper advertising, you can read, or Broadcast, that you know how to turn on your TV. Not so with social media. Those who say it IS an entirely different beast to tackle, are entirely correct.
Last, be smart with these Tools. All of these ideas are WAYS to reach your clients, not necessarily THE way for engaging each and every one. Think each client or prospect situation through, and think about what Tools apply; DO NOT just go on auto-pilot and do every thing discussed here, for every client. That defeats the whole purpose of your Sales skills!
A key factor of success in Social Media, THE key factor, is that you can sell what you have to offer, MIGHT sell what you have to offer…IF you do it indirectly. “A megaphone all about you, will have no one listening”, to borrow on an unknown quote. Be a resource in the SM realm to your client[s], help them, and they will likely pay attention. To you. And then they’ll listen. And THEN your Sales effort can become formal, and successful.
“The Customer must say ‘Yes’ to you…before they say ‘Yes’ to your Product…”, are words well said, from the great Tom Hopkins.
Having myself studied, trained & been schooled in many of the Sales systems of the greats, a lot of this sounds VERY familiar. And…it is. [Or should be, if you are a Sales pro.] The idea I am after here, is to merely “update the Tool kit” using Social Media skills here as well, just like I did in my Job Search effort.
PROSPECTING, ALWAYS PROSPECTING
Most of the above was written for when you have a Client or Prospect in mind, or already in contact with them. What about developing new ones entirely? Many of these same things can be used here in that part of your effort, as well. For example, while you are staying current in the fields your clients may be in [that ‘vertical’ area from above], or ones you want to be in, look at who’s quoted in relevant articles, Blog post’s, etc. Same with LinkedIN Groups, and Twitter list’s. Keeping a ‘Viral’ mentality here, one that allows you to always ‘look beyond’ in what you are doing, will lead to many unknown, unexpected places. It has happened to me dozens of times.
A COUPLE OF PARTING NOTES
You will notice that I specifically addressed ‘B2B’ here as being Major/National Accounts-level sales activity. That is because the ‘Many to Many’ model for Consumers [and Businesses] is already well in use, with vendors that can even offer this to you. My ‘Many to Select Few’ concept here though, is barely even that at the moment.
Remember, you need to be “Indirect” here, and more than that: Genuine. If you are going to try these ideas even in selling Copy machines or similar [my first job out of college, full disclosure], fine, do so. But the typical bombarding approach used in that field…ain’t gonna cut it here. Be real, make it real.
New ideas & solutions are being conceived every day. My posting here is by no means an attempt for a Definitive summary on the subject; I will leave that to others far better in that area. Rather, this is merely a point of Demarcation, a beginning of the dialogue, the first step of many down a new path. Please join that dialogue here, by adding your thoughts in the Comments section below!
Last, a quick word of thanks to Neal Schaffer of Windmill Networking & Theresa Moretti, Marketing Strategist Extraordinaire. Both of you were inspirational on these series of posts…even if you didn’t know you were being inspirational at the time. Many thanks.
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