Monthly Archives: February 2010

Social Media As A Sales Tool

Many companies are starting to experiment with social media and how it can be integrated into their overall marketing strategy to support company goals and objectives.

In addition to creating and promoting a corporate presence on various social media Web sites, it also makes sense for sales professionals to become familiar with social media, and to use it for the benefit of their business. 

Getting involved in social media can offer value to sales professionals, without requiring hours of time.  In fact, there are a number of benefits to be gained by spending only minutes a week on popular social media sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter.  

Take advantage of these six guidelines for engaging in social media as a sales tool:

1.  Connect with and make better use of your professional network. Sales is a relationship business, and professional social media sites (such as LinkedIn) provide an additional way for account executives to enhance their relationships with clients and prospects alike. 

Social media offers you another platform – beyond more traditional email and telephone conversations – for connecting with key contacts that you wish to reach out to and engage with further.  Not only will you learn more about them, but they can gain a better understanding of your expertise, your thought leadership and the value you have to offer.  Social media is also a useful way to obtain referrals and recommendations from your contacts, helping you grow your network.  

2.  Learn more about your prospects and clients. Social media also offers an excellent way to gather intelligence from your contacts.  Pay close attention to the professional profiles of your clients and prospects, looking for anything that can make you more successful in conversations with them. 

The intelligence that can be gleaned from a prospect’s or client’s profile can help to identify common ground and enhance the sales conversation.  For example, examine their previous experience – maybe they have worked at another company in the past that is a client of yours.  Or read more about their education, as you may find something you can use as a way to begin a conversation or make a connection.

Also, be mindful of the fact that your professional contacts – prospects, clients, other colleagues – are likely using social media sites to learn more about you and your company as well.  Therefore, it’s important to ensure that you are displaying a complete and professional profile.

3.  Identify decision-makers and other appropriate contacts within a company. Professional social media sites provide a wealth of information on organizations.  First, many people are connected to their colleagues.  By taking a closer look at the profiles of your clients and prospects, you may be able to fill in some of the blanks regarding decision makers within a company.

Company profiles also offer intelligence on key individuals within organizations.  These can help you identify the appropriate contact within a company, especially if your initial contact has left and you are having trouble getting in touch with anyone beyond the receptionist. 

4.  Gain new work-related insight. Groups, message boards and other social media sites are an excellent way to discuss relevant industry topics with likeminded professionals in group settings.  At its core, social media is a conversation, so identify groups that are relevant to your industry and expertise and participating in the discussion.

By joining a group or getting involved in other social media sites, you have the opportunity to learn from other professionals within your industry, contribute to discussions on topics that fit well within your area of expertise, and differentiate yourself and your company as a consultant and a thought leader. 

Consider focusing your efforts on making thoughtful contributions to the most relevant topics – you do not need to respond to every discussion within a group.  Ensure that your comments are adding value and presenting your company in a positive manner.

5.  Remember the basics of social media. While participating in social media can be beneficial to sales professionals, it is important to respect it as a communications platform.  Don’t abuse it as a way to push a sales pitch.   Remember that social media is a two-way conversation, and ensure that your actions are providing value.

6.  Offer guidelines for effective use. Sales and marketing management should consider holding training sessions or developing guidelines on how to effectively use social media as a sales tool.  In addition to providing guidelines on how to create accounts on relevant social media sites, you can offer examples of demonstrated best practices for utilizing social media resources for professional use.  It would also be valuable to emphasize the importance of spending the right balance of time on it, and demonstrating how it can be a powerful tool in the sales process. 

For businesses, social media offers an unprecedented opportunity to engage in conversations with their audiences – both customers and prospects.   Take advantage of social media tools to foster positive relationships with your clients and prospects, and to support your overall business goals.

Article by Angela Hribar

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Filed under marketing, sales and marketing, Sales Tips, Social Media

Motivating Employees

Could a simple five-minute interaction with another person dramatically increase ones productivity?

In some employment environments, the answer is yes, according to Wharton management professor Adam Grant. Grant has devoted significant chunks of his professional career to examining what motivates workers in settings that range from call centers and mail-order pharmacies to swimming pool lifeguard squads. In all these situations, Grant says, employees who know how their work has a meaningful, positive impact on others are not just happier than those who don’t; they are vastly more productive, too.

That conclusion may sound touchy-feely, but Grant has documented it in a series of research papers. In one experiment, he studied paid employees at a public university’s call center who were asked to phone potential donors to the school. It can be grim work: Employees don’t get paid much and suffer frequent rejections from people unhappy about getting calls during dinner. Turnover is high and morale is often low. So how do you motivate workers to stay on the phone and bring in the donations?

One relatively easy answer: Introduce them to someone who is aided by those dollars.

In his 2007 study, Grant and a team of researchers — Elizabeth Campbell, Grace Chen, David Lapedis and Keenan Cottone from the University of Michigan — arranged for one group of call center workers to interact with scholarship students who were the recipients of the school’s fundraising largess. It wasn’t a long meeting — just a five-minute session where the workers were able to ask the student about his or her studies. But over the next month, that little chat made a big difference. The call center was able to monitor both the amount of time its employees spent on the phone and the amount of donation dollars they brought in. A month later, callers who had interacted with the scholarship student spent more than two times as many minutes on the phone, and brought in vastly more money: a weekly average of $503.22, up from $185.94.

“Even minimal, brief contact with beneficiaries can enable employees to maintain their motivation,” the researchers write in their paper, titled “Impact and the Art of Motivation Maintenance: The Effects of Contact with Beneficiaries on Persistence Behavior,” published in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.

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Five Key Elements Of A Personal Plan

I’ve had the privilege to speak with and mentor a number of very talented individuals who are currently in the throes of making a career change. 

Changing careers is exciting and fulfilling, no matter what the economic times, and its a small price to pay to find a rewarding career, reinvent yourself or open that business you’ve always dreamed of.

Making a career change without a personal plan is like making a conscious decision to skydive without a parachute.  Every successful change can take weeks, even months to prepare for but if you don’t have a personal plan in place you could end up adrift or accepting a job that didn’t reflect your goals and intentions.

Here are five key elements that should be included in your personal plan.

  1. Your committment to change.  One of the first things that you need to consider is your level of committment.  How committed are you to making a change?  If your not 100 percent sure that you’re ready to make a change, don’t make one.  The best time for a ‘gut check’ is right now.  Explore the Internet.  Take a personality test.  Enroll in a class or get a certificate.  You’ll find the more you invest in your committment to change, the more committed to the cause you’ll become.
  2. Asses your professional skills.  Are you a butcher, baker or a candlestick maker?  If these professions no longer appeal to you, find something that excites you even if it means that you have to go back to school and learn a new craft.  Identify what excites you the most and find a career that reflects your new-found passion.
  3. Place yourself on a well-travelled path.  Find successful people who are currently associated with the career change you wish to pursue.  Call, write, email, and meet them in person and ask for guidance.  People are generally eager to assist and you’ll eventually find someone who is willing to help and can offer the type of guidance you are seeking.
  4. The consequences of change.  How will this new career effect you, your family, and those you love?  Are you ready to travel and to do what it takes to make your new career a success?  Do you have kids in school who may be adversely affected by a change in jobs or potential relocation that goes along with it?  Do you have the support of your husband or wife and are they ready, willing, and able to support you through thick and thin?
  5. Get support.  Change is not easy and you will need the support of family and friends who will help you remain positive, move forward, and overcome obstacles.  Keep them in the loop with your career change and thank them for being there when you needed them most.

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Etiquette Is A Simple Balance Of ‘Give’ And ‘Take’…”First Converse, Then Commerce”

When was the last time you attended a networking event and you were approached by a person who was more interested in pitching his product or services with little regard of who you were and what you did?   Most likely the last networking event you attended.

Dictionary defines etiquette as conduct or procedure required by good breeding or prescribed by authority in social or official life. With this definition as a guiding principle, etiquette is even more important in a networking situation than in others because most who are in the “taking” end do not even realize that their behaviors and even attitudes are making it hard for those at the “giving” end to be gracious about being considerate.

Why?

Etiquettes are the lubrication that makes things move smoothly. Ignoring them can create unnecessary friction and hurt. Practicing the right etiquette will not only get what you want, it will also help you position yourself in a differentiated way in the eyes of those who are at the “giving” end!

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Google To Concentrate On Mobile Devices In 2010

The number of people using the Internet on their mobile device will more than double to reach one billion by 2013. Meanwhile, the number of mobile applications or “apps” available on Google’s mobile platform, Android, has risen sharply from 10,000 in September 2009 to a little under 20,000 in December 2009.

Where does Google go from here? Right in our pockets, it appears. The release of the Nexus Phone made a splash, but Google is concentrating on the red meat of advertising and search to really make its mark in 2010, especially on mobile devices.

In 2009, Google saw mobile search increase 5 fold. The advertising that goes along with mobile search is even more specialized for customers. According to Senior Vice President of Project Management for Google, Jonathan Rosenberg.

“The new formats, the targeting tools and the reporting we are giving to advertisers (are) making a difference. Click to call, letting advertisers target specific high-end devices or carriers (we are) seeing improved monetization across mobile.”

This goes along with the trend Google has shown in strengthening its geo-specific local search results and the goal of getting answers to search result question to the user quicker. The feature is especially appealing to marketers as more consumers are using their phones to research the pricing on a possible item before buying.

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The Big Advantages Of Small Business

We have all heard it said that small business is the backbone of the economy, and we all seem to know that is true. The exact definition for small business is not so clear, but what is clear is that most businesses are small by that allusive definition.

It is a bit of an irony that some business owners try to project the idea that they are bigger than they really are. As much as we might say bigger is not better, our attitudes and actions will determine whether we really believe that or not.

There is strength in being small once you discover how to harness your energy.

The idea of comparing the size of a business, to the size and power of a boat, provides an excellent analogy. A cruise ship may withstand storms and high waves much better than a small yacht, but it is not very maneuverable. A speedboat can go places a ship could never attempt. It is faster, agile, and can turn quickly to avoid danger.

These comparisons are no surprise. Most people seem to realize these differences, but contemplating them well enough to seize their potential is what separates the weak from the strong. The small athlete, who could easily be crushed by bigger competitors, can still win by dodging them and outrunning them.

For small business owners to adapt the same thinking as big business can easily bring disaster. You have the advantage if you think differently. Business models are changing fast, and a small agile company can adapt more quickly. There are big companies teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Some of them are so steeped in outdated business practices, that they cannot adapt quickly enough to avoid hitting the iceberg.

While big corporations may have an advantage in marketing budget and buying power, small businesses are usually better at having substance. They can respond to their customers and provide more personalized service. They can specialize and prosper in a smaller niche market that would be impractical for a bigger company.

It is difficult, perhaps even impossible, for a big company to operate as efficiently as a small business. With small business, efficiency is not optional. Wasted resources can easily ruin a small business. Because efficiency is so necessary, small businesses tend to be much more productive.

Small businesses can also easily implement methods to increase their efficiency. Advances in areas such as lean manufacturing, modular tooling and work cells, automation, communication, and information technology help level the playing field for small business. With video conferencing and the Internet, collaboration can be accomplished without expensive travel.

In spite of the challenges, the opportunities for small business have never been better.

If you find yourself wishing your business was bigger, that’s great, keep reaching higher. Keep growing and improving. Reach for your fullest potential. Make sure to enjoy the journey though. Your business might always be small according to the unclear definition of whatever small is, but being small can also be your greatest strength.

Source Steve Chittenden

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