The Role Social Media in Sales (Part 1)

Landy Chase and Kevin Knebl begin their book “The Social Media Sales Revolution:  The New Rules for Finding Customers, Building Relationships, and Closing More Sales Through Online Networking” with a story about a successful sales person who increasingly found it difficult to achieve the same high level of sales with the strategies he was using.   In the past the phone was the primary tool for sales development.  The number of ‘cold calls’ determined the number of sales you achieved.  In their book, the sales person at his sales peak could make  twenty-five calls per week to get his results; as the years past and the technology evolved he had to increase the numbers of sales calls to get the same results until it became impossible to continue.  He had to rethink his strategy, adapt his skills and competencies to leverage the new technologies to maximize his productivity with minimal stress.  In the United States landlines are no longer being installed in new housing developments.  The telephone, although still useful is slowly being replaced with new technology.   

SmartPulse from SmartBrief on Social Media recently asked the question, “Do you use social tools to identify and nurture specific sales prospects?”  Given the amount of information regarding social media and why you should use it, the answers are surprising.   

  • 45% of people responded to ‘we don’t use social media for sales,’ 
  • 21% of people responded to ‘yes, but we move the sales process to other channels.
  • 18% of people responded ‘No – we use social media for sales, but not on a 1-1 basis.
  • 15% of people responded ‘Yes, and we continue the sales process via social media.   

The definition of insanity it seems is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the same results has become apparent in the way we sell today.  What we already know is that Social Media has changed the way we do things from communicating with our friends and family to the way we conduct business.  What we seem to forget is that people do not want to be sold to; they, as Jeffrey Gitomer in his book “Social Boom!’ suggests, come to social networks for fun, information, connection, and entertainment.    

The topic of Social Sales to put it mildly is an immense topic and the frustration for most of us is where to start.  The best way to start anything is to start from what we know and where we are.   

1. We all have skills and knowledge that we can build on.  We just need to learn which ones we can leverage with the present technology that we have available.  How we listen will be different in face to face conversations, using the phone, communicating via the social networks and blogs we use.  Listening is key, not the technology.  The strength of your sales success will always be on how you make your customers feel.   

2. Ask Questions.  When we feel overwhelmed we tend to focus on what we can’t do.  In Craig W. Ross and Steven W. Vannoys book ‘Degrees of Strength’ the suggestion is to ask forward focus questions such as 

  • What’s working well in this area right now?
  • What created those successess?
  • What are our objectives?
  • What can we do more of, in addition to, or better to achieve our objectives? 

3. Create a strategic sales plan.  I use software such as SmartDraw and iMindmap to visually map out my strategy explicitly determine how much time I will need and how that invested time will be converted to actual sales.   Melanie Mathos and Chard Norman suggests in their book ‘101 Social Media Tactics for Nonprofits’ actionable tactics that anyone managing or supporting a social media program can use.    The five tactical checklist they suggest is 

  • Your setup
  • Communication
  • Engagement
  • Fundraising – if you’re a nonprofit 
  • Measurement 

Borrowing from the social strategy from Groundswell, authors Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff suggest your social strategy should be a four-step approach,

  • People – where are your constituents engaging and how can you best reach them?
  • Objectives – What do you want to accomplish
  • Strategy – What do you want things to look like when you’re done?
  • Technology – How are you going to get there?   

The Role of Social Media in Sales is simple. Your ability to connect, communicate and collaborate with others will always trump the current tools of the day.

What is one sales technique you have learned to leverage social media tools to increase sales?  

Image Credit: Management Pocketbooks