Mark Fidelman wrote an op/ed piece on Forbes.com titled Salesforce.com's New Social Strategy is Brilliant, Here's Why that I thought was very relevant to how sales professionals will develop new business leads and interact with their customers. It is a given that social media has transformed how we interact with each other - not just communicate. It is now about open and free flowing information exchange. Those companies that do not adapt to open exchanges of information with their prospects and customers face being left behind by their competition.
It is still surprising how many small and medium-sized companies I run into that rely on outdated spreadsheets as their customer relationship management (CRM) system. There are so many solutions available today that allow companies to better manage their relationships with their best customers. Salesforce.com is the leader in providing CRM solutions that integrates with content management systems.
Fidelman asserts that if you want to remain profitable in today’s increasingly competitive economic environment, you have to collaborate more effectively internally and externally with your customers.
Here are 4 ways in which selling will be transformed in today's ne social strategy:
1. Prospecting and Lead Generation:
Cold calling has always been viewed by sales people as a necessary evil. It is universally hated and in truth, not very effective. It is also very intrusive to the prospect since they are being interrupted from their day-to-day life to be sold something they probably don't need or want.
Today, there are many marketing automation tools available that provide highly qualified leads such as Marketo or HubSpot. These leads have typically converted on a marketing offer in exchange for their contact details. In essence, they have provided permission to interact with them. Now, the sales person has a lead to follow up on that has a specific product or service interest that their company offers. It is much easier to follow up with this lead since the sales person now has something to introduce themselves with.
With the contact information with the conversion, the sales person can now go to LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter to research the lead's social profile; who are they connected to? Who are they following? Who else in your network do they know? What groups are they a member of? Can you get an introduction through your network?. Cold calling becomes warm calling.
2. Nurturing Your Leads:
Today, marketing automation provides sales people with extra hands that helps their sales efforts. Sales people have greater ground to cover, are being asked to do more to say ahead of their competitors and grow their relationships with their best customers. Automated lead nurturing or 'drip campaigns' help sales develop and maintain relationships. Lead nurturing campaigns are email campaigns where targeted emails are sent to leads or customers at regular intervals over a 30, 60, 90 or 180 day period that offers additional content that further educates your leads and customers.
3. The Sales Brochure Has Been Replaced by Educational Content
Your audience is not interested in being sold any longer. In today's economic environment, buyers have many daily tasks to complete and have little time to spend listening to sales pitches. They want information NOW and are impatient if they don't find solutions to their immediate concerns immediately. 93% of all B2B buyers start with a Google search. They l also reach out to social media, such as Twitter, Facebook and their LinkedIn groups or to other sources, such as Blogs, Wikipedia or YouTube. They want answers. Those companies that create rich content that educates their audience and demonstrate how to fix a problem and answer their audience's will generate more leads and customers. They will be willing to pay a premium price for solutions to their specific needs they cannot find anywhere else. Sales people now have to become more in tune with the behavior and demographics of the prospect or customer, and distribute relevant content that best matches the individual's circumstances. To be a best-in-class salesperson in the future, you need to work smarter and more effectively than you did in the past. Embracing the new tools available today will help you achieve.
4. Transforming Your Value Proposition With Your Customers
In the past, companies huddled in boardrooms or in retreats trying to figure out what their customers wanted, what their competitors were doing, what the perceived value proposition was in the marketplace to define their company's strategy moving forward . Companies spend a lot of time, effort and money analyzing what their customers say they want, what their perceived strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats are mostly on hearsay and interviews. It's a fact that 90% of customers make no attempt to tell a company of their true feelings about a company's competitive position or what their true strengths or weaknesses are. This can lead to misguided strategies or value propositions.
The free flowing information exchange occurring now through social media and marketing automation software provides advanced analytics never available before. Instant feedback is now available on which marketing and sales channels are performing or not performing, which offers resonate with a company's target audience and what your prospects and customers say about you. You get a 360o view of your combined sales and marketing efforts and allows for making smarter decisions about your value proposition or how to position what you're selling to maximize your sales.
Those companies that implement this new social media strategy will benefit from a focused sales and marketing effort that will help you cultivate your best customers. Those benefits will include: