Some insight from my meetings with Sales Directors
A couple of calls this week threw up a strikingly similar question from their Sales Directors – “What should we be doing with Social Media?” Now these were both organisations with sales models which, up until a year or two back, worked quite successfully – reps make cold calls via phone, reps make face to face calls when they can, reps close business when allowed. Marketing run events and do outbound mail shots, sometimes by emails, to support. Sounds like a pretty common marketing/sales model used by many since the dawn of time!!
Now it appears that response rate to emails, cold calls and attendees at events are all down (except when they do them over breakfasts – coz everyone likes a free breakfast don’t they). In fact the response rates are so poor that the outlook is a real concern. But I’m surprised that the first question asked by these Sales Directors related to technology – “What should we be doing with Social Media”? Almost as if they thought there might have been a silver bullet waiting to be fired – you know – just aim and fire, suddenly all sales problems will be solved.
I think a better question to ask is “How has your Buyer’s behaviour changed”? Social Media may be a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist in your market. What we do know is that buyer’s behaviour has changed dramatically – particularly over the past 2 years. The arrival of the web as an information resource has fundamentally altered the pattern of communication between suppliers and marketplaces. Buyers are better educated and have triangulated opinions on a supplier’s products well before they engage with the supplier themselves – a challenge for organisations that continue to sell the same way they’ve always done.
So rather than start by asking technology questions – FaceBook?, Twitter?, LinkedIn? or Web 2.0? – ask whether your buyers have changed their behaviour and what information sources they’re using as they make decisions in your space. If you can’t map your buyer’ journey from investigating alternatives to making a decision, then stop – spend your “think time” on this challenge, it’s far more productive and insightful!!
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