Bringing the Sales Organization into the Social Relationship

OK, Marketers. Be honest. If I were to ask you what your first thoughts are when thinking of social media marketing, what would you say? If being honest, the majority of you are thinking of social networks, social media influence or maybe social media ROI: all popular themes among my colleagues today.

If you’re extending your thoughts to other business silos, maybe you’re thinking of the Customer Service or PR departments. Maybe C-Suite bloggers.

Chances are, few if any of you are thinking about the sales department. Most marketers believe that social media marketing is about freely sharing and exchanging ideas and dialogue, building online communities and not overtly selling products.

I myself preach the value of Return on Engagement: feeding your community and not your ego, etc.

In general, this IS the correct strategy for social media marketing. Broadcasting sales offers and product benefits does not work as well in social communities as starting conversations or opening up your business up to the communitys feedback.

However, there is and must be a place for the sales team in the CMOs social media marketing plans. Fail to consider or include them and youll lose a valuable distribution channel that can help drive social media marketing, and thus overall corporate success. The sales team can be an incredibly effective channel in promoting your efforts or building critical mass.

imageThe reality is that your sales team has already established in-real-life relationships with your business prospects and customers. And isnt building relationships what youre trying to achieve with your online efforts?

So how can you leverage the sales team in your social marketing efforts? Below are some tactics that Ive found successful with my clients:

1. Keep the sales team updated on available social assets that you or your community have created, explain why its important and give them the tools to share this information with their contacts. Most sales people crave a reason to re-connect with their prospects or customers. Use that need to build an In-Real-Life social media army to drive awareness and encourage participation in your online social engagement campaigns.

2. Give your sales team frequently-updated templates for e-mail signatures that link to your social media networks, wikis and blogs. Salespeople generally distribute the largest volume of one-to-one e-mail within the organization. Why not leverage this free distribution channel?

3. Create communities of interest for sales people and their customers/prospects where people from within client or prospect businesses can connect with your sales team. They can feature feedback forums, idea portals and/or wikis where your sales teams audience can connect with each other and the sales reps. Creating these private community networks for your sales team as opposed to for your social engagement campaign creates a sense of ownership for the sales team.

4. Most organizations sales teams are product experts. Leverage that by encouraging those experienced sales team leaders to write blog content that demonstrates both their and your companys thought leadership in your business vertical. Sales personnel will appreciate this on many levels, most importantly the ability to increase their awareness and the inbound sales calls this will generate.

Most businesses fail to look internally before marketing externally. Creating social roadmaps within your organization is critical to establishing the framework for social networking outside your business with the customer audience.

By Sam Fiorella
Feed Your Community, Not Your Ego
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