Selling Social Media to the Sales Team
I'm not trying to spit in anybody's facebook, but you can spend all the time, resources, and tweet equity you want on a social media campaign but if your sales team isn't on board, your efforts will be compromised and results will be social mediocre.
There has been a shift created by social media and the sales process greater than the valuation of Bitcoin or any stock. I have found that great salespeople share some common traits -- desire to change is usually not one of them. Marketers love change; salespeople often loathe it and understandably so. Once you analyze the market, find a process, establish a routine, and identify pain points and value adds that works, you stick with them. New opportunities are great, so if it's a new product or flavor of ice cream they can sell it all day. But if it's a change to the menu, they'll balk. Social media is more than a new flavor, and it's more than the cherry on top; it's a whole new course. And that's not to everyone's liking.
So before the social media campaigns devised by your marketing and advertising departments will take off, your salespeople need to "buy" in and that can be a very tough sale. They understand it's a valuable tool, they are not sure of the hows and whys. I just watched a sales video that chastised sales prospects for not returning sales calls and emails. Really? Do sales organizations actually expect to lead sales efforts with outbound, unsolicited telephone calls as the primary lead generator without social media? I'm by no means saying that phone calls are unproductive or unnecessary. Quite the opposite in fact as the human touch is more important than ever in our digital world. But sales needs social media has set the table. It's no longer a special de jour.
Acceptance from your sales team begins with their understanding on how it affects their bottomline. They don't need to know how to Tweet but do need to understand the strategy that your social media team puts into place. They need to appreciate the benefits of thought leadership, the importance of establishing trust through ideas, and the benefit of breaking the cardinal rule by giving something for nothing. Engage then walk away, is easier said then done.
What salespeople can agree upon is that customers buy the salesperson first and the product second. I remember when a great ad sales person I worked with was duped by unscrupulous vendor explained, "Salespeople need to believe in the product to sell it. So when it comes to other good sales people, we're an easy mark." In short, salespeople need to be the social media evangelists as well as participants.
What needs to be done is to update how business looks at sales and social media's role.
Part of the blame can go to upper management that still wants to put social media soley in the marketing bucket. Sales teams often get "exempt" from new tasks as not to distract them from the primary objective of closing sales. Smart companies learned long ago that the "Separation between Church and State" that existed between sales and marketing didn't make for good business. Sales are your eyes and ears to the industry and there are no better people to know what people want and search for. Today, the more social media is integrated into the sales process, rather than lopped on top like a cherry, the greater the revenues will be.