“Why are you all over social media?” That was the surprising question I was asked at a recent conference at which I spoke.
What surprised me was not so much the fact that someone questioned my extensive use of social media – many people have done that (mostly my wife!). The shock was that the person asking was involved in business development and sales.
If you follow me on LinkedIn or Twitter you know I am a fairly active on social media. Since the days of Compuserve and Egghead Software I have been an advocate for technology and the tools that create a competitive advantage in business.
Notwithstanding my obsession, anyone involved in business development – regardless of the industry - that has not included social media as part of their business development strategy, does not get it!
Research has shown that the use of social media has a significant positive effect on sales. Salespeople using social media experience 78% greater sales than similarly situated salespeople not using social media. With these numbers I cannot understand why salespeople would even think of balking at social media.
The following are five reasons why every salesperson and business development officer should implement a well-thought-out social media strategy.
1. Social Media is a Workhorse. Successful salespeople work long hours. Colin Powell has said “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”
A salesperson’s typical day begins with responding to emails, writing proposals, working prospect lists, making phone calls, attending mixers, presenting at conferences, driving for miles, flying for days, etc.
But no matter how driven and dedicated a salesperson may be, eventually there is a need to call it a day and recharge the batteries.
Unfortunately, business today is global and it crosses time zones. The Deal waits for no one – no matter how many hours per day a salesperson puts in. That’s where social media comes in. With social media, a salesperson can remain engaged and not skip a beat – even while sleeping in a different time zone or on a different continent.
Well-executed sales strategies make use of social media to create and maintain professional profiles that can provide needed information and convey knowledge, experience and competency. The use of a well-crafted social media profile accompanied by well-developed content, gives the prospective buyer the information needed to place the salesperson on the short list for follow up or to begin the sales process.
2. Social Media Validates. Years ago I heard someone say “the Internet is the new resume.” Then a couple years later I heard someone say “Google is the new resume.” Today, most will agree that social media (and LinkedIn, specifically) is the new resume.
In my experience, nearly every business development meeting is preceded by or followed by the prospect visiting LinkedIn to validate information. Savvy buyers know that LinkedIn houses the resumes, expertise and accolades of over 300 million professionals worldwide. With this many professionals in one place, LinkedIn is without question the new resume and worthy of inspection before inking a deal.
It is in every salesperson’s best interest to maintain not only a social media presence, but also a presence that projects the message the salesperson is attempting to convey. The social media profile must be impressive and appropriate. It must not only validate the salesperson – it must bring the prospect closer to closing the deal.
3. Buyers Are In Control. Sellers are no longer in control. Buyers tend to do their research before making a purchase, with the average consumer viewing more than 10 pieces of content prior to making a purchase.
This means that buyers no longer rely on the information provided by sellers. Whether the transaction is business-to-consumer or business-to-business, buyers are doing their homework by visiting social media sites and digesting available content to support the buying decision.
Salespeople must make themselves easy to find if they stand a chance at closing the deal. In the 1950s a bank robber named Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed so many banks. His answer: it’s where the money is! Today, salespeople must ask themselves a similar question. Why create a social media presence? It’s where the buyers are!
4. It’s a Sharing Economy. Savvy salespeople know the power of “going viral.” The Internet has turned ordinary entrepreneurs and salespeople into overnight success stories as a result of social media’s ability to easily and quickly share information. The ability to share information on social networks means that anyone with a little creativity and some luck can become the next millionaire or billionaire!
Social media’s success is built on its ability to share information. Visit any social media profile or view any video, photograph or other form of content on social media and you will see the buttons that encourage sharing of the information. Social networks encourage buyers and potential buyers to share information about the product or service.
Salespeople that make use of social media create the ability to turn prospective and actual buyers into advocates/evangelists for the product/service. Instead of being a sales force of one, salespeople can potentially activate hundreds, thousands and even millions of people in getting the word out.
5. Content is Not King. Many believe that content is king. I don’t. I believe that content is a king maker.
Social media makes salespeople accessible 24X7. Through well-crafted content found on Web sites and through social media, salespeople can create a trail of bread crumbs leading potential buyers straight to the seller.
Content is any information that can be housed on the Internet. This includes videos, podcasts, photos, articles, whitepapers and any other piece of information that can be retrieved by a potential buyer.
The power of content is its ability to inform and influence prospective buyers. Some prospects prefer videos to view the features of a product or service. Others prefer whitepapers containing technical specifications. Others prefer infographics that provide snapshots.
Each prospect has his/her own preferences. The key for any salesperson is to develop content in different formats that provide the information that prospects seek before making a purchasing decision. A salesperson that fails to create and maintain such content gives the advantage to competitors that incorporate content as part of their business development strategy.
Getting back to the opening question: why am I all over social media? Because it’s where the sales are. Ignoring social media gives the competition the advantage and turns potential buyers into the competition’s advocate – not mine. That's a pretty god reason to be on social media.