WWKPD: 5 Social Media Must-Haves for Sales Pro's

Filed in Sales, Social Media by on January 13, 2011 5 Comments
[ismember]

From copiers to medical devices to new cars, I have friends whose job it is to sell a product or service, but they're not using social media.

I also have a lot of friends who teach sales professionals to be better at what they do. Most with a methodology or process, like my fsales coach Mike Bosworth (Solution Selling, CustomerCentric Selling, Story Leaders), the art of the sale has become big business because as quotas go up, salesforce roster numbers go down, and in the end pro’s need to sell more. But regardless of what you sell, or how you sell it, there are some tools of the sales trade that I would not be caught in the field – any field – without. It's social media, man. Sure, traditional sales guys know the product, they know the players, and they know the game. And so does every other sales rep in their space. Where is the competitive advantage? It’s not in pricing – everyone’s margins are not what they used to be. It’s not in the service – a lot of this is commodity sales. Where, oh where, can you be better than the guy going after your dollars? Social media provides the technology for a sales person to:
  • connect with the people they know
  • meet more new people
  • learn more information
  • identify decision makers
  • influence sales decisions
- if you know how to use it right. Each system facilitates much of the foundation to connect with people you know, as well as new people, and to generate discussions within their communities of users. So, the question is, which ones?
WWKPD? Click play to hear KP tell you about the social media he uses in sales.

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[private Professional|C-Level]
Download: Click here to download this file.
[/private] There are hundreds of options in social networks, both personal and professional, with photo and video sharing, video streaming, micro-blogging, blogging, event, and/or presentation sharing capabilities. Some have every tool you can think of, like a Swiss Army knife, and some you would have never thought of. Like any job, knowing the right tool for the task at hand makes all the difference in your success. LinkedIn Profile A LinkedIn profile is today’s business card. It’s a ticket to a business-networking event with the all of the players in your space. And any professional that does not have a profile is ill prepared in presenting themselves to the people they work with. Colleagues, employers, recruiters, clients, vendors: I want people to know whom they are working with, but it’s tacky if I have to tell them (which is different than selling myself) and nobody likes that guy. I want people to know what I do, where I do it, and what I’m looking for in business opportunities. I want to demonstrate what I do, and how well I do it. I want to create new business opportunities and my LinkedIn profile gets me in this game quickly, efficiently and effectively. LinkedIn Groups LinkedIn Groups are like networking mixers without the bar. Each is its own game, kind of like pick up basketball at different clubs. Some places you’re the star, and some place you’re just trying to keep up. Nonetheless, everybody is there for similar reasons; looking for a new job, looking for new business, looking for a date. Whatever you’re looking for, this group is as good as any other but it has a lot more people and you don’t have to park. You can join up to 50 groups. Choose wisely and you can cover a hell of a lot of ground in one day that you could never replicate in person. The scope and reach of the LinkedIn community expands your “territory” to global, and with a little technology and your personal charm why can’t you close business all around the world. Unless you like your tiny little market ;-) Just because you can join 50 groups doesn’t mean you should. Join the groups that make sense – for sales, join groups where your prospects are talking about what you want them to talk about. Join groups in different verticals, and be cautious of groups with too few members (>100) or too many (<10,000). You want enough people to make your one-to-many sales efforts fruitful, but you sure don’t want to get lost in the crowd or have to fight to be heard. And don’t make sales calls, make help calls. When you join these groups you will be tempted to follow some of the bad habits of those around you; posting sales fliers and cheesy “buy now” posts that have become the junk mail of social networking. These groups should have discussions going on already about what you, as a sales person, dream your perfect customers would talk about. Issues, ROI, cost benefits, lifecycles, specs, application, the industry; join the conversation. Answer questions, share stories, provide links, but for God’s sake, don’t sell. I know you’re in sales. I know you get paid to sell. I know you make money when people buy things from your company. And I’m telling you that if you try and sell in a social environment you will lose the opportunity and your credibility. I am also telling you that if you help your connection with their problem they will be indebted to you (increasing your social capital) and they will, eventually, buy your products and services. Understand this subtle difference here. This is the difference between social media for sales working and not working. With 50 groups you can get 50 daily e-mail notifications about what is going on in each group. Why do I want 50 automated emails? Because each saves me a trip logging in to LinkedIn and checking the group for what’s going on, and each of the summaries become a source for my new biz leads ( and if you sign-up for the weekly notifications you get old fruit – dead on the vine). Google Alerts Staying on top of what goes on in your space is important and provides a distinct advantage over the putz that doesn’t. Your company, your competitors, manufactures, key players, industry regulation, government policy changes – there a lot of things in play and if you’re standing when the music stops you get cut. Google Alerts is a free service (and easy add-on if you already have a Gmail account) that searches Google daily based on keywords and phrases you add to a form and emails you the results. Me, I’m in business communications, so I have alerts set up for branding, marketing, social media, web development, etc – each of the verticals in which we work. I scan the emails for a quick dose of news, links, reports, stories, etc. Not that you wouldn’t remember to check your own industry on a regular basis, but hey, if they’ll do it for you – why not? Scan the search results, check out anything of interest, and stay on top of what’s going on in your industry. It also makes for great social media fodder, like on Twitter. Twitter Twitter is amazing because so many people signed up without any idea what the hell they would use it for. It’s like the toothpick of the social media Swiss Army knife, and all it does is one little thing but people love that one damn little thing. And what it does is share 140 characters (letters, numbers, spaces) of whatever you “tweet” to everyone who has elected to “follow” you. Now, if I’m a sales guy I think I would love to have all of my prospects and customers listen to what I have to say. So working backwards from that, what do they care about? What do they need? What do you know that can help them? Well, sometimes it’s better to listen before you speak.
  • “Following” your customers is a good way to start.
  • Follow their company and the people that work there. You’d be surprised at the different messaging that comes from different levels of an organization.
  • Follow the industry associations, organizations and publications.
  • Follow people who you think can make you smarter.
Use Twitter to keep your finger on the pulse of everything that goes on in your business. When you have something to contribute (not to sell) tweet to your followers. If it’s helpful, insightful, of some real value they will re-tweet it to their followers, who in turn will follow you. Use the admin settings in your LinkedIn profile to add your Twitter account to your profile as a link under “websites”, and to have your Twitter account update your status on LinkedIn. Remember, when your status is updated on LinkedIn it lets everyone of your connections see your updated text message in the Home page stream (again, leading to increasing the number of your followers on Twitter). Facebook Profile If business is built on relationships, why wouldn’t you use your personal relationships to generate new business opportunities where you see them? Now, if you are just adamant about not mixing personal and business you can skip ahead in the book, but for me? It works. People like to work with people they like, and that they know does a good job at what they do professionally. So, without being “that guy” on Facebook, I believe you can share enough of what you do, whom you do it for, and some of the topics commonly shared over a beer at the end of the cul-de-sac on a personal social network. Share the funny thing that happened at work today. Now your friends know what you do and where you work. Share pics from the conference you attended. Now they know you stay up on things in your business. Post a picture from the dinner your wife took you out for to celebrate your promotion. Now they know that you’re going places. And what happens when your customers want to be friends on Facebook? Indeed, a judgment call, but many times I add them (I mean, I don’t work with people I don’t like anyway, so...). Just think before you post, and use your privacy settings to control who sees what you share. This is not the end. This is, by no means, the end all of what social media tools a sales professional should / could / would use, but it is the bare essentials for being a sales professional today, and an asset to your sales team. And knowing how to use the tool properly is another lesson altogether. A smart sales professional will be using social media to learn more, to reach more people, and to build professional relationships that create mutually beneficial opportunities. A coordinated sales team of these professionals will provide a steady stream of prospects, a list of repeat customers, and an industry reputation for being the ones to beat. Today, every vertical I know is facing longer sales cycles, smaller budgets, and more companies than ever before competing in their space. Ask your Sales Manager, what is your team going to do different this year that is going to make a difference in how well and how much you sell? I'd be interested in hearing their answer ;-) [/ismember] [nonmember]

From copiers to medical devices to new cars, I have friends whose job it is to sell a product or service, but they're not using social media.

I also have a lot of friends who teach sales professionals to be better at what they do. Most with a methodology or process, like my fsales coach Mike Bosworth (Solution Selling, CustomerCentric Selling, Story Leaders), the art of the sale has become big business because as quotas go up, salesforce roster numbers go down, and in the end pro’s need to sell more. But regardless of what you sell, or how you sell it, there are some tools of the sales trade that I would not be caught in the field – any field – without. It's social media, man. Sure, traditional sales guys know the product, they know the players, and they know the game. And so does every other sales rep in their space. Where is the competitive advantage? It’s not in pricing – everyone’s margins are not what they used to be. It’s not in the service – a lot of this is commodity sales. Where, oh where, can you be better than the guy going after your dollars? Social media provides the technology for a sales person to:
  • connect with the people they know
  • meet more new people
  • learn more information
  • identify decision makers
  • influence sales decisions
- if you know how to use it right. Each system facilitates much of the foundation to connect with people you know, as well as new people, and to generate discussions within their communities of users. So, the question is, which ones?
The remainder of this article is available to members of the Ideahaus Professional Community. Sign up for the free Social Member level here.
[/nonmember]

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About the Author ()

Kevin Popović is a communications expert, featured speaker, and author of '20YEARS Communications: 20 Leaders, 20 Questions, 100's of Lessons.' After more than 30 years of professional experience, he helps business leaders make smart decisions about communications. In 2010, "KP" was ranked #43 in Fast Company's The Influence Project measuring the "most influential people online." In 2014 he was ranked as one of the "Top 40 Digital Strategists in Marketing" by the Online Marketing Institute.

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  1. The Ideahaus Community Editorial Calendar - July 2011 | Ideahaus® | July 7, 2011
    • Ideahaus says:

      Thanks, Steve – do you think I missed anything?

      • Eric Pursh says:

        Kevin – what are your thoughts on being blog-centric? Meaning, trying to tie the development work you do on the social networks together by pushing the conversations toward a blog (like this one!).

        • Ideahaus says:

          Well, “blog-centric” would be a marketing strategy that would impact the language you used on the social media sites. We use this strategy when we want the conversation to happen on our site, like the 20YEARS project and specific posts. Its great that the comments are made on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc but having all of these in a single place makes a bigger impact on future “readers” and fuels the conversation in the place you want it most; the source of the conversation. If a good comment is made on one place we will follow up and encourage the respondent to “post that to the blog so others can learn” or something to that effect. And don’t just tell them to do it, that’s rude. Encourage them to share their insight with others interested in the same (as being perceived well in front of others is a good motivator).

          This is different, Eric, than just adding a Like Box or Twitter feed on your web site / blog. Its directing the conversation.

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