You Can Lead A Fish To Water

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Last month I was involved in training a client’s senior salespeople on how to build their social media profiles. Easy money? Not so much. This was a tougher crowd than the pro-marketing social media converts you’d normally lead in these types of sessions.

While marketers continue to extol the virtues of social media and build it into their programs at a rate of knots, salespeople are different creatures. Their motivations are typically quite different. And this comes down to measurement. And no, this won’t be another blog post on social media measurement. The measurement I’m talking about is how salespeople are measured versus marketers.

In many companies, marketers are still measured on output. Metrics such as “how many things did I do” still prevail. Latterly, via social media, we now see “how many people saw those things that I did”. An improvement I suppose.

Salespeople on the other hand have a simpler measure – the target. How many deals did they close and what was the value? And this means today, this quarter. Not in two years from now. The tangible nature of the target versus the rather intangible nature of marketing’s metrics has created a marketing and sales dichotomy.

So, I’m standing in front of a room of senior salespeople and wanting them to understand something that we as PR folks all believe – but is still largely un-tested. The knowledge that social media is a B2B sales enabler. Naturally, you lead with statistics. Global Web Index tells us that 60% of B2B buyers use social media (met with raised eye-brows). Social Media Revolution 3 gets toes tapping. But they can’t see themselves – or their clients – represented. Most critically, didn’t see themselves as people with something to say online.

This is the challenge. They didn’t see themselves as experts. They saw themselves as salespeople. To our credit, we earned a little ‘aha!’ moment when showed them how the Internet saw them. And this got them talking about things they knew.

From there, we had them using Twitter and LinkedIn to find clients and prospects. ‘Aha!’ moment number two: some of their clients and prospects were active online. A little step, but one that forced them to consider that their traditional channels of influence could at least be augmented through this thing called social media.

‘Aha!’ moment number three came during the engagement session (in which we had them open a Twitter account and start tweeting). It may sound simple to those who eat, sleep and breathe digital. But when someone who’s never tweeted before gets a reply from a long-time client contact in almost real-time, little light bulbs start to glimmer.

It’s these kinds of social business reality check moments that helped this group understand that this digital thing that “…my kids are doing” is actually connecting them to those who can help them sell.

It was a tough room and I’m glad. Our faith alone is not enough. Social business will succeed when people from a range of disciplines understand on their own terms why this makes sense. And if it doesn’t make sense today, why it will make sense tomorrow.

 

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Social Business News as part of a partnership with Text 100. 

Photo credit: flickr user cheyanigans.