Thursday, June 17, 2010

3 Sure Fire Ways to Turn Sales Reps into Social Fanatics

The dysfunctional relationship that can exist between corporate sales and marketing departments has the potential of souring social media initiatives by adversely impacting the resources, time and attention required for success.

Marketing teams bemoan sales reps for their lack of timely follow-up with prospects, as well as for a perceived inability to think beyond the tactical needs of whatever deal they may be chasing at the moment. For their part, the sales group has been known to deride marketing for poor lead quality and for squirreling away budget on brand building activities with their nebulous return.

Social media steps into this clash with the power and potential to appease masters on both sides of the aisle. For sales, social can be tactically aligned with key benchmarks related to lead generation, cultivation of prospect relationships and deal capture.

And for marketing, participation in social networks and online communities elevates awareness, lends credibility and improves search engine optimization (SEO).

Yet, for social media to serve as a catalyst for sales and marketing harmony there must be executive level sponsorship, along with some adept internal promotion and outreach.

At Strategic Communications Group (Strategic), we are typically engaged by a client’s marketing organization so our focus has been on developing a set of best practices to convert even the most skeptical sales rep into a social fanatic.

1. Concisely document connections forged in social networks. We’ve found that marketing typically reports quantity and quality of blog readership, Twitter followers, and community contacts with the goal of measuring awareness and influence.

Take the next step and map how these connections align with the organization’s sales pipeline. You’ll be able to demonstrate to sales reps that their prospects are actively involved in and reachable through social channels.

2. Push social media content as dynamic sales collateral.
Sales executives will tell you there is little value in a prospect call that is merely “following up” on a prior meeting or discussion. It’s critical to connect with new information that is of value and supports the organization’s sales proposition.

That’s exactly what social media content accomplishes. When effectively produced it engages, educates and entertains. Plus, no other marketing collateral or white paper can match the timeliness of a blog post, tweet or update.

3. Integrate social connections with your organization’s CRM and marketing automation software. The next frontier in social media marketing is the capture of every interaction in an online community with how the company tracks, scores and prioritizes sales leads. The top enterprise vendors such as Siebel, Salesforce, Eloqua and Hubspot have already taken steps to develop this integration.

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