Social Selling: The Internal Pitch

CMOGuess where I have been lately? I have been talking to some of our senior leadership about building a stronger social selling practice at AT&T. While this may seem natural enough to some of you, others who have tried to have these conversations realize how difficult it is to get the ear of the corner office. Seminars and entire workshops have been devoted to demystifying how to get traction in the corner offices around Social. Here are three things that I did that seemed to work.

1. Use the power of social to get their ear
Instead of sending an email to the CEO or beseeching their admin to give you a few minutes on the calendar, try a Social approach. I connected with my executives via LinkedIn and then reached out to them via that medium. A sure way to get an affirmative to your connection request is to pay attention to your profile. Make sure it screams success and professionalism.
Once I connected, I made sure I posted blogs and postings around my ideas that they might see. I then sent a direct message asking if they wanted to see some of the posts around successes I was having using Social to sell. In a college logic class I learned the word “Tautology”. It refers to something that is true in every case because it is just, well…true! By exciting my own executives using a Social plan, I was showing them exactly how I excited our customers about our products and services using the same approach.

2. Don’t say social
Once I had my foot cracked into the large oak doors, I was careful to speak about my successes in terms of what I did to succeed, not what Twitter, LinkedIn or YouTube did for me. I think we often make the mistake of trying to arouse interest around Social channels based on the size of their viewership instead of concentrating on what novel ways we can position our messages with real customers using those channels. Every executive has heard of Social Media. Every executive likely has an actionable plan around it even if that plan is moving at glacial speed and is not addressing the issues. One sure way to have your plan dismissed is by having it compete with an existing plan. I couched my ideas as a new way to reach customers that happened to take advantage of Social channels.

3. Prove your case and make a direct ask
My final point is some “Executive 101” that a mentor of mine helped me with before I went in front of my executive with the big ask. There must be some empirical evidence that makes you think your plan will succeed. Bring that out first. Tell the story and fill in the details on what happened and how the success happened. Use that success to make a big ask. Do you need budget? Resources? Support? The ear of another executive? Get to that request in the first 5 minutes and directly ask for it. This is what I did and the answer was a simple, ‘yes.’

Social media is a brave new world that is on the mind of corporate executives everywhere. By demonstrating the power of Social, couching your ideas for what they are and not as simply adoption of Social channels for their own sake, and getting to your point quickly, there is a high probability you will being hearing ‘yes’ too.

Unleashing the Power of Marketing + Sales with Social Media

Recently, I was working on an innovative social media idea that our sales team thought could really drive new sales. I was directed to get in touch with our Marketing contacts to collaborate and coordinate a speedy implementation. I have to admit, marketing is light-years ahead of Sales when it comes to using social, so I was excited to talk to the marketing team to get their input. But I got confused as I began to navigate the various ways we were marketing to customers: print, digital and paid SEO.  More worrying was the fact that some of the marketing initiatives I was totally unaware of as a sales person. Furthermore, some of the campaign pieces missed what I thought the main drivers were with my customers for the services we sold.

For me this underlined a gap and the need for sales and marketing to get in better synch with one another.

To date I have posted about what the sales teams need to do to come up to speed on social and the potential advantages with clients. Instead, in this post, I would like to explore how marketing teams might bridge the gap with their sales partners.

1. Seek sales input

While marketing directives should rightly come from the strategy teams, it is important to ask the sales channels how to best reach their business clients. Sales can provide insights on which channels their customers are using to find information and thought-leadership. Also, by asking for input from sales a willing partner is made. Sales will be much more like to assist in the success of the campaign if they are included in the project development phase.

2. Make sales ambassadors of the message

Exceptional social marketing campaigns cannot escape the eyes of anyone. Unfortunately, they come along infrequently. More often, thousands of dollars are spent developing a content that sales does not use or leverage with customers. Sales teams are not avoiding using tha content, they are often just unaware. I recommend considering the sales force a key target market for any marketing message. Consider how to use social media and traditional methods to put the campaign message in front of the sales teams. By helping them internalize the message, they will help to spread it. Email blasts to the sales force are rarely successful and nothing takes the place of engaging content. Sales people are extremely prone to learning and retelling stories. If marketing helps the sales team to learn the story they want told, word of mouth will move that message to clients and prospects.

3. Work with social savvy sales partners

Every organization is going to have a few social savvy sales people. Seek them out and build a team to help push messages through their social networks. We have developed this at my company. Each week the marketing team sends out a note with examples of messages and content that is pre-packaged and easily sharable. While it may be hard to quantify the impact of doing this, the cost and time required is minimal and it drives sales teams to engage with marketing messages. Furthermore, it keeps dialog and communications open between the teams which can drive future collaboration and understanding.

Have you seen this dynamic between sales and marketing at your company? What is your marketing team doing to stay aligned with sales channels in the B2B space?

How to Conduct a Social Media Audit

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Have you ever been asked to conduct a social media audit for a client or brand? It can be tough getting started. It’s important to focus on the big picture. First, take a look at the brand’s overall web presence. Take notes on the website, campaign microsites and blogs. Also, to find the number of monthly unique visitors to the site, Compete and Quantcast are helpful measuring tools.

From there, take a look at the brand’s social presence. Which platforms is the brand utilizing or under utilizing? Does it make sense to be on all platforms? For example, while a fashion brand typically receives the majority of site referral traffic from Pinterest – that might not be the same for a pharmaceutical company.  Always put yourself in the mindset of the social platform user. For example, if I logged onto Facebook and noticed a request to “like” a tile company, I would kindly decline. Also, people log on to Twitter to be informed or entertained. As a result, blogs, news and humor handles have the largest following. Moreover, always be mindful of who the brand audience is. Similarly, take the time to understand which content is appropriate per social channel.

Content is King  & Context is Queen

Next, take a look at how many followers, likes or subscribers each social channel has. If the content is high quality, people will share it. Evaluate the brand voice. Is the brand successful in engaging each community? Furthermore, is the brand nurturing its community by addressing fan’s questions and concerns?

Key Performance Indicators

Depending on the industry of the company, there should be specific key performance indicators. Key performance indicators are vital to both reporting on investments and strategic planning in social media. Key performance can be measured in a variety of ways: referral traffic, time spent on the site, fan acquisition, engagement, content sharing, purchases, email opt-ins, downloads, etc. Once KPI’s are defined, you can then define the impact on each social goal. For example, if the goal is referral traffic, evaluate the language used in Tweets and Facebook posts. Did the brand create a call to action that would make the fan click on the link?

Additionally, if the goal of the brand is to maximize engagement on Facebook, take a look at the type of content the brand is posting. Is the brand simply sharing links – or is there a variety of content? To increase “Virality” and “People Talking About This” stats within Facebook Insights, take a look at which posts are getting the most action. You will most likely find that pictures, more than links, receive more shares and likes. Why? Because pictures play on emotions. According to Facebook, posts that include a picture generate about 120% more engagement. Other posts that drive engagement include appeals to nostalgia, humor, sex, quotes and major events. The key is to mix it up. Variety is the spice of life!

Timing, Quality and Quantity of Posts

No one ever wants to be the Facebook user who posts a million times per day. You know, the girl who thinks we all care about her dead hamster, The Bachelor finale, her bad breakup and third paper cut this week? According to EdgeRank, a post is considered dead when the growth in engagement is less than 10% of the largest growth of engagement between hourly snapshots. Furthermore, posting too frequently can be off putting. Don’t be that girl. Moral of the story: Quality > quantity. Pay attention to which times throughout the day your audience is most engaged. Every brand is different. Once you have it figured out, capitalize on it. You’ll come to notice that it’s more about “what time” than “how often.”

Conclusion

The purpose of a social media audit is to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of a brand’s digital presence. From there, you can address the needs and provide solutions for each social channel. With over 300 networks, it is worth focusing efforts on only the major players relevant to the brand. Finally, through analytics tools such as Google Analytics, HootSuite, Bit.ly, SocialFlow and Facebook Insights, you can measure the performance of each social campaign.

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