24 October – The new “ABC” of Social Selling

 

In the movie Glengarry Glen Ross, Alec Baldwin’s character Blake, famously delivers a macho and expletive-riddled motivational speech to an under-performing sales team, distilling for many sales people the essence of sales.

 

ABC

 

Of course, this essence was “ABC”, or “Always Be Closing”, a fundamental behaviour trait required in all sales people in order to get prospects across the line. Essentially a successful sales person is simply the one who is able to get the most new business signed from a selection of leads.

 

Within the speech Blake describes another common principle in sales and marketing; the “AIDA” model of “Attention, Interest, Decision and Action”. This model simplifies the steps that prospects and consumers take during the sales cycle. Combining the two for Blake, is the key to becoming a successful salesperson.

 

Then and now

 

Of course, since that movie, things have moved on. Leads are certainly not passed onto sales teams on pink cards anymore. Today, it’s all about CRM. As I have discussed in previous blogs, the advent of social media has changed things massively too.

 

Social media is now one of the most important inbound marketing channels for any business, B2B or B2C. Prospects use social media networks, as well as online communities, for inspiration, ideas on strategy and best practices.

 

Being “active” on social media is not going to cut it any longer. Social selling doesn’t start with you closing, but it does start with you influencing.

 

Before you think about your ABCs or AIDAs, start generating content

 

“Content is King”, OK? I don’t need to tell you that. What you may not appreciate however is the importance of that content, and the actual impact of it on business outcomes. In fact, salespeople who use social selling help enterprises on average gain an impressive 16% increase in year-one revenue, according to the Aberdeen Group.

 

Social selling starts with content.

 

I meet a lot of enterprises regularly, and I am still alarmed when they tell me that a content strategy wouldn’t work for their business because they don’t have enough to talk about.

 

I don’t agree with this, as there’s always something to talk about. Your first hurdle to overcome is the volume of content you’re producing. Is it too much, too little? Is it varied enough? After this, you need to start thinking about that content a little more strategically.

 

Always Add Value

 

This brings me onto the point of this blog; the new ABC of sales and marketing. Drum roll…your new ABC is… “AAV”, or “Always Add Value”.

 

What do I mean exactly by this? Think of content as a commodity. This content is valuable to you, but even more importantly, to your prospects. It has got to always add value to them. If it’s not adding value, then what’s the point of creating it? This is a simple, but often overlooked aspect of content marketing. Bland sales messages are out. Opinion and sharing is in.

 

How you can add value, easily

 

You have a great new product? Fantastic, then why not add value to your prospects by running a free webinar demonstrating its benefits? You’ve signed a great new customer…brilliant…how about creating a Case Study on them, and how you delivered on their expectations? How about getting them involved in the creation of that case study? You’ve got some amazing insights on a marketing or sales topic? Great, how about creating a whitepaper on it?

 

Simply put your prospects are far savvier today, and marketing channels, especially online and on social media networks, are so crowded that you need to be adding value to every single thing you do, to attract those vital prospects.

 

Merely announcing how great you are as a business or how great your product is on social media isn’t really adding much value to me as a prospect.

 

Always Distribute

 

My final acronym is something I often talk about; it’s “AD”, or “Always Distribute”. Invest in a killer social media amplification platform (I know a good one – our own socialondemand!) that allows your marketing team to share targeted, relevant and timely content to your sales teams, employees, sales partners and other brand advocates.

 

After all, once you’ve gone through all of this effort to get a good content strategy in place, you want to make the most of it, don’t you?

 

13 October – Social Employees: The new (old) trend

 

Everywhere I turn (at least in meeting rooms), I hear the words “Employee” and “Social” mentioned together. Companies are keen to get their employees “active” and “influencing” on social media but I’m not always convinced they completely understand what it means, or if they are really prepared for what it actually entails.

 

Not enough businesses are doing ‘social employees’

 

I don’t want to scare you off now, but socially empowering your employees is a risk. The risk however, is mitigated significantly with the right organisational culture, tools and policies.

 

This is something I’ve been saying now for more years than I care to remember; employees are your best brand advocates, and not enough companies are involving them in their own social media campaigns and activities.

 

Not only can you extend the reach of your brand on social media, but bringing employees on board when it comes to social media creates influencers, and influencers are very important! In an era where social media is creating huge opportunities for the enterprise, it makes sense that your employees are included in your efforts in this channel.

 

The difference between “active” and “influencing”

 

I know many people who are extremely active on social media, both personally (which I won’t discuss!) and professionally. They tweet a lot, generate tons of updates on LinkedIn, etc. But are they socially influential?

 

What’s the difference? Simply put, content. The quality, quantity and variety of content are important factors in how influential you and your employees are. Any one or two of those factors combined only makes them active. All of those factors working together create influence.

So how do you create a socially active community of influential employees, whilst maintaining compliance and controlling brand messages? The answer is simple; the right employees, the right platform, the right controls.

 

How do you make this work? 1. Policies and Guidelines

 

To create a thriving, but compliant employee social programme, you need to put in place corporate social media policies and guidelines for your employees. Policies define the behaviour, and guidelines explain how that behaviour is used in practice.

 

Your social media policies should clearly outline your company’s, and employee’s responsibilities for social media engagement. It should encourage employees to be involved in social media and explain behaviours which are acceptable on social media, and behaviours which are not.

 

Your social media posting/ engagement guidelines should be more employee-specific, and geared towards particular groups of employees, either by market, business unit, job role or a combination of all of these factors. It needs to outline who can post what, where and how.

 

How do you make this work? 2. Content

 

As you have probably already heard (from many other industry sources), you need to invest in content. I won’t expand on this too long but one crucial thing: you need content that adds value to the food chain, content that makes your employees become ‘influencers’. So, it’s not all about product news. You have to source industry news-type content, thought-leadership pieces, i.e. content that will attract those people and businesses you are interested in.

 

Mixing this high-value content with more product or brand related news is what will keep your employees engaged and become more ‘influential’.

  

How do you make this work? 3. Content distribution

 

You could just put a few messages and posts on the intranet and ask your employees to self-serve. This won’t work… it takes too much time and such an approach is not targeted enough – not all your employees want the same content.

 

Instead, I would suggest (I admit I am biased) that you invest in a content syndication amplification platform for your employees (like our own socialondemand®) and max-out distribution. It would make it so much easier for employees to find and share brand messages.

 

But what if you’re distributing content across different regions in different languages, or to different types of employees selling or being involved in different verticals/ sectors? Then you need to find a robust and global solution (again, like our own socialondemand) that lets you target content to different groups of employees, in multiple languages, in a meaningful and simple (for the employees) way.

 

Conclusion

 

Getting employees socially engaged on behalf on their companies isn’t a new trend. It’s something which leading brands have been doing since social media was invented.

 

It’s something you HAVE to do and do SOON. Your competitors are likely to have started…

 

The journey to make this happen won’t be easy but the steps to take are clear and the outcome HUGE.

02 October – Your future business is a social business. Are you there yet?

 

I hear a lot in the press about being a “Social Business”, but not many of my customers ever mention this. Strange? Yes, Worrying? Very!

 

Is it because nobody really knows what a social business is or perhaps how a business becomes a social business? Maybe it’s because they just don’t know the steps needed to get there or even if it’s a journey worth embarking on?

 

What is a social business?

 

A social business is one which has broken free from its own social media handles and has seen the bigger picture.

 

Their customers and prospects are interacting with the organisation via social media… at all levels… before they become a customer, when they are about to make a purchase and of course after they’ve made their minds up and bought the product(s).

 

Importantly, social businesses have their teams engaged on social media too. Senior Management to educate the market, sales teams to find and close business, marketing to drive awareness, HR to recruit new staff, and Customer Service to serve customers. The list goes on and on.

 

These social businesses have grasped the crucial fact that social is no longer something which can be done in isolation, in one part of the business or for just one function…it is the business.

 

For me, what separates a social business from one which is not, is the difference between “Social something” and “Social everything”.

 

 

Is becoming a social business important?

 

I believe very much so. There is no doubt that social media has changed the way we do sales, PR, marketing, HR, and technical support. Critically, with change comes opportunities, and today they are bigger than ever.

 

Social businesses can do everything faster, better and more effectively. They can react to customer issues quickly, they can adapt to change and move to new markets faster, and they can be more personal, engaging and likable.

 

Look at how brands like Oreo managed to take advantage of the Super Bowl lights fiasco in 2013.

 

Oreo 1

 

It’s not just about marketing either; British drink brand innocent leads the way in handling customer feedback and engaging with customers every day, which delights their customers and builds their brand on a one-to-one level.

 

Innocent 1

 

It’s a tough journey to get there.

 

Enterprises are going to need to address critical areas of the business in order to become full-blown social businesses. Technology can get you a long way, but it’s not the silver bullet.

 

Your sales teams are going to have to learn how to effectively sell socially, your customer service teams are going to have to learn how to engage with customers in a timely, sensitive and sometimes confidential manner when the whole world is watching.

 

It’s not simple. Your enterprise will need to put in place policy changes, controls and training in addition to working out how each component of the social business can be unique enough, but also similar enough to sit within your brand.

 

 

How to help your sales and marketing teams?

 

Once you have made the decision to create a social business, and you’ve thought about how you can “socialise” each area of your business, you need to start thinking about how you’re actually going to do it. This is where technology comes in.

 

Most of your social business is going to need a technology which allows you to create the vast majority of your content centrally, and to distribute this content to the right people, at the right time in your organisation.

 

Fortunately, I know of a platform which allows you to create content, and target the content to distribute it to the right teams, in the right languages, at the right time.

 

With socialondemand® you create the content, you target where that message is going to (and in what language) using advanced filtering and segmentation within the platform, and you schedule your content to go out when you want it to go out.

 

Your senior management, employees, sales teams, partners, retailers or whoever, then get an email to notify them of this new content. With just three clicks they are able to share this rich content to their followers on their own profiles as their own content.

 

I’m proud to say that my company, purechannelapps works with many businesses, and that we’ve enabled organisations like Microsoft, Adobe, SAP, McAfee and Xerox to excel at being social businesses.

 

And we can help you too. Please email me, or call me, and I’ll show you how this social journey is one you really must take.