business, customers, Marketing, Social Media

Are you Ready for Social Selling?

social selling

2015 Sales Goals are being printed up and prepared across the country. Before the ink is dry and you hit send, here is the key on how to hit those 2015 sales goals: integrate Social Media. The process of social selling is not some trendy phrase, in fact, it is essential to every organization who wants to hit sales goals. You have your message and specific selling goals, now here are 5 steps to integrate social media into the process:

#1 Identify the Key Players in the Company.

  • VP of Sales will set the goals and offer executive support to the new social media program.
  • VP of Marketing has the pulse on what types of content your customers love and will then lead the distribution process.
  • Your Top Sales Rep is key to leading the whole sales team to success because everyone is watching what they do and how they do it. Get them on board and it’s easy.
  • Sales Manager is the heart of the process. They are the person who reinforces the mission and goals–daily, through ongoing training and support to the whole team. Start with this person to lead the plan.
  • Social Media Coordinator is the person who communicates and measures the success of your plan. If you don’t have one, then get one of the sales team to take this over. Someone lives to tweet and measure, find them.

#2 Integrate New Goals

  • Increasing sales is a given so refocus your attention on integrating Social Media into the sales process for 2015.
  • Start by evaluating the sales process and metrics you are using now and begin to see where you can fit in the social part of the selling process–just like attending the Chamber of Commerce Mixer, you begin to find social platforms for your team to begin to network and share. It’s not 3 who get 3. With social media, its 3 who get 100.
  • Look at your social media presence now. Get it unified, updated and branded to your goals. Measure the posts, number of comments–these are your current engagement metrics. Now set new goals based on what you have done (or in most cases, not done.)

#3 Start Training Your Team on Social Media

  • Incorporating social media into a company sales department (or any department) is not something that happens overnight.
  • These are new ideas in most cases; learning to interact with customers and interested prospects through social media, but it is important to realize they are advocates for your company (products and services). Customers are part of your team. Share with them. Have them share you! Make it fun.
  • It is going to take 60 to 120 days of consistent engagement to start feeling the affects of the social selling process. At every sales meeting, every email, every contact with your team, it becomes the primary conversation. If you are not talking about your social media content and training your people every day on the process-it cannot become a habit.

#4 Understand Content Sharing

  • First is to have your team (and every employee) start sharing the materials from Marketing: press releases, posts, articles. Get everyone on LinkedIn and have them repost materials from the business site.
  • Second is learning to curate content that everyone is already reading. Industry materials, articles, posts, and white paper research that is being shared across the internet.
  • Third is beginning to create your own original content. Encourage your employees to write on their own expertise. This is where you really become a thought leader. Use the Blog feature on LinkedIn.

#5 Management Needs to Be Onboard

  • There is nothing more motivating to the employees of a company than seeing the executive leaders sharing in the processes of the company.
  • Don’t just put a stamp of approval on the initiative, become a thought leader on your own and lead by example.
  • As employees begin to see, read and get a personal perspective of their management, they become engaged with the company. Engaged employees have a passion for reaching out to customers in more meaningful ways.

Just remember that marketing and sales made a huge shift when the century changed over. Who you are personally, professionally, and as a company is measured today by consumers based on your online presence! Take a look at what they see when they google your company–are you giving them expertise through content and sharing? This is where you start your plan.

2015 will snowball with delighted, informed, appreciated, and loyal customers when you have a plan in place to listen to them, educate and inform them. That process is social media.

Thank you @kurtshaver, Social Selling Bootcamp, for inspiring me with the process of working with the sales department. #smtlive, #socialselling, #socialmedia, #linkedin, #2015, #salesgoals, #smallbiz

business, customers, Marketing, Social Media

Hire More Humans and Your Revenue Will Increase!

“In the coming year, small business owners will be focusing on growth: Nearly 80% of respondents reported that their top priority would be increasing revenue. Coming in a close second at 67% was the goal of establishing new customer relationships, which can be more costly and labor-intensive than improving existing relationships (46%).” (State of Small Business report-2014)

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I received a “thank you” note from Staples today. It was in response to a long detailed note I wrote them about their color copy machines and the people they hire in the copy department.  They have wonderful color copy machines in the self-service area and in every store I have gone too (two states now) the thumb drive slot is taped over.  In order to do “self-service” color copies with a thumb drive you need to ask the people behind the counter.  The very people who are rushing around trying to finish endless copies for projects; collated and stapled, then boxed in less than an hour.  Me and my thumb drive are not that important.

Customers are the reason businesses exist.  Nothing happens until one person sells another person something.  It is at the core of our economy and the whole reason sites like LinkedIn exist and prosper: customer relationships. I have something you need and want and if I am fair, nice and convenient, you will come and buy from me. Right?

So why is the cost of promoting and growing those relationships so costly?  Is it that relationships really do need a human touch in order to make them important?  67% of the small businesses who reported in this study said that they wanted to grow these new relationships, but sadly,  it came in only second to increased revenue…is that possible?  Can a business increase revenue without also growing new customers relationships? (Of course they can as anyone knows who flies in airplanes, yes indeed, if you charge for everything—oh that they could charge for the air in the cabin– then revenue can go up while the customer relationship suffers.)

But even airline companies, the ones that are thriving, know that relationships must be developed and nurtured, with a human touch, in order for their to be true, long-term, revenue growth.

“Customer relationship management (CRM) is a system for managing a company’s interactions with current and future customers. It often involves using technology to organize, automate and synchronize sales, marketing, customer service, and technical support.”

CRM: Its a well thought out process of managers and technical geeks who work together to find new ways to make customers happy and buy more stuff, but like automated phone services, your customers don’t really like your new CRM strategy for customer growth.  In fact, we hate them. First we know you are just trying to cut labor costs to increase revenue; and second, in this increasingly tech-oriented world, we have no choice but to press 1 for english, for the possibility of being given the option to speak with another human to resolve issues with your services.  Automated phones are not increasing your customer relationships–just ask anyone of the humans at the end of the long trail of button pushing who gets to speak to us! In my opinion, they are saints and need a raise!

Humans are not easily organized, automated or synchronized with sales and marketing goals.  Humans are messy, distracted, funny, flexible, emotional, and easily exhausted by the things like automated phone systems.  Humans aka customers, just want to be a part of the process. We want to feel important to you, valued, and heard.  We want to be greeted with a smile and listened to when we ask for something, or write out a complaint.  That is what makes us loyal and true, spending our money and telling all of our friends and associates how much we love you.

Social media is not a strategy to get your customers love and attention.  It is only the vehicle that carries your true message about a customers value to your business.

The Staples person that wrote me back mentioned that the pricing issues would be brought to the attention of management.  It was an oversight that told me my email was not really listened too, because I only referenced pricing at the very end, and it was not a complaint.  My customer issue was about service.  Telling people in million dollar ads that you are the “small business guy partner and friend” and yet making it impossible to get things done, quickly and without having to deal with your lack of staffing—it is a problem.

The solution? Be human.  Hire more humans.  Act like humans.  Think like humans. Offer services that humans like.  Put away your fancy CRM plan and find people who want to help others. That is my CRM plan for growth.  Humans reaching out to other humans.

#smallbiz, #customer, #customerservice, #CRM, #Human, #relationships, #revenue, #linkedin, #staples, #designbear

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Socrates quote

business, customers, Marketing, Social Media

Finding Your Written Voice

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The most common concern that people have when faced with the task of writing a company blog, tweet or post is: “what should I say?”

I offer a simple solution:
Forget about what to say and focus more on how you say it!

Your business and professional life are full of stories to write about in social media posts. You can Google topics in your industry and probably write out several months worth of relevant, informative posts that your customers would love to have as reference points. But what makes those pieces of information relevant and authentic is the sound of the voice you speak when writing.

“Sound?” you say. “Written words don’t have sound!”

Of course, written words don’t have sounds, but they do have a voice.

Technology may have made it easier to write out words and then spread them quickly across the internet to thousands of people, but technology left out the human connection that it takes to resonate with buyers and customers.

So think about that quote for a moment:

“Speak to the dog, in the language of the dog, about what’s in the heart of the dog.”

Your written voice must contain within it the values and passion that you have for the messages you want people to hear. Your written voice must carry in it the purpose and reasons why you are who you are. What you do is of no importance to the customer because in our social media world they have already found you among the millions of voices that beckon their attention.

Who you are, matters. Why you do what you do, matters.

That is what is in the heart of the dog: values, passion, emotion, purpose, vision, relationships, and conversations. All intangible things that do not involve profit and loss, line item budgets, and overseas manufacturing.

Start by figuring out why you started your business.
Then figure out what truly drives your career.
And finally, figure out the core passion that makes you different from all the other voices and you will have found your true voice. The voice of the dog.

And then?

“Speak to the dog…about what is in the heart of the dog”.

Not what is in the heart of your business, or your last board meeting, or even in the results of the survey monkey. What is in the heart of your customers is usually a value system that makes them “get what you do” because they know and understand why you do it.

They just get you. And that, my internet friends, is the voice of the dog!

#smallbiz, #content, #contentmarketing, #socialmedia, #designbear, #customers, #values, #valuedrivenbusiness