Does your sales team have a strategy around social media? Do they use it in their selling process? Are they aligned with the marketing team in this effort? It is not just about posting some interesting articles, tweeting the latest and greatest, etc. The sales team needs to be on board otherwise your efforts will be mediocre at best.
There has been a shift created by social media. Most great salespeople share many common traits, and change to a new environment is not always one of them. The marketing department usually embraces change. Salespeople usually follow a tried and true path: analyze the market, find the right process, establish a routine, identify pain points, determine value adds, and stay persistent until a sale is made. If there is a needed change to this process, it is like 50 pound weights around their feet. To a great extent, Social Media is that 50 pound weight.
So before the social media campaigns devised by your marketing department will have any impact, your salespeople need to be on board and that can be a very tough sale. They may understand it’s a valuable tool, but they are not sure of the hows and whys.
Sales management will usually hold salespeople accountable for making sales calls and sending emails. But, does that really need to be the primary lead generator? Now, these can be productive in their own right, but since one-to-one interactions can be very effective. That is obvious. But, does sales management embrace and require the sales team to engage in the social campaigns of the company? It is a challenging change for sales, but can be powerful.
Acceptance from your sales team begins with their understanding on how it affects their bottom line. 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. 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 primarily 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.