Social media is changing the way our customers buy and the way in which we engage our customers. Before customers even see us for the first time, they have a great deal of information—not necessarily knowledge—about our company, our products, and our competition. I am often asked, “How should sales professionals be engaging in social media?”
The short answer is, I’m not sure—but every sales person must be gaining familiarity and leveraging social media. Social media and social selling is changing everything we do, the pace varies by industry, but every sales person must get familiar with how the world of engaging customers is changing.
The most powerful way sales people can be using social media is to listen—listen to the market, listen to customers, listen to competition, even listen to their own company. Tools like Twitter, Blogs, even company sites on Facebook and LinkedIn can give the sales people tremendous insight about what’s going on in their customers’ industries, in their customers’ companies, and in the industry. They provide great insight into what people are saying about our own companies and competition. Leveraging social media is critical for all sales people in being informed and competitive.
Sales people should leverage social media for their own personal development. There are great resources where sales people can learn more about business, professional selling, and things going on in their industries. Sales people should find and subscribe to a few of their favorite blogs. They should join some groups and participate in discussions on LinkedIn. They should start commenting both in LinkedIn, on Twitter, and in some of their favorite blogs.
I’m always asked the question, should sales people be writing blogs? My answer is, “It depends—but probably not.” I know this sounds wrong, and I’ll probably change my position over time. I believe companies need to have strong blog presence, positioning themselves and their solutions, engaging customers in new conversations. The issue is, should sales people be doing that? With a few exceptions, I don’t think it’s a great use of sales people’s time. I also don’t believe most sales people are trained to be able to do this as effectively as others in the organization. Finally, I think sales time is best spent in engaging customers in specific situations relevant to their business.
Finally, sales people need to be cautious. Social media will absorb as much of your time as you let it. You can become consumed with it, not spending time focusing on specific opportunities with customers. Sales professionals don’t let the time the spend with social media become an excuse for failing to produce results.
What do you think? How does social media impact sales professionals? How should sales people be leveraging social media?