Social Media and Sales

Radio Ink Magazine

I spoke this week at Radio Ink Convergence on the Silicon Valley Microsoft campus with James Hipkin, Alejandro Reyes and Bryan Fikes. I thought the show organizers were spot on with this opening statement “Interactive Media is Radio’s Next Big Boom. You cannot manage it if you don’t understand it.” Here’s the highlight reel from day 2:

Our panel was on Sales 2.0 and geared towards the sales teams. It’s a pretty big subject to cover on a panel in less than an hour, and as usual I’ve got a bit more to add. So let’s talk about social media and sales shall we?

The social media sales cycle
As I mentioned several times today, listening is the first step of any entrance to social media no matter what your business is. Who’s your market? Where are they hanging out online? How can you best approach them? Which networks have the most concentration of people you want to reach?

Remember, you don’t want to spend all day nurturing multiple networks right off the bat. The learning curve is relatively shallow for these networks, but all together they can aggregate into a mountain. Pick one or two to start. Establish your presence, make sure the brand is visible and the profile contains information about the station and who to contact for more information. Expand your reach later as your network grows organically.

Listen locally
For a local station leveraging the local social media sites is just plain smart. Get out there and listen for opportunities to help. Here’s a short list of social media listening tools that can help. The idea is to engage people where they are already comfortable and in language that fits the network instead of creating your own network and trying to fit them into your box.

Raise awareness
Can you answer a question, give directions or raise awareness of an issue by directing users to a particular program? Add worthwhile input to the conversations you discover and become more visible. Stick to the 80/20 rule. 80% of what you post on any network should be in support of others. Is there a local charity, school or event you can talk about? The other 20% can be about you, but you don’t ask for the sale at this point. We’re building awareness in the public sector, and if you’re interesting you will see inquiries from prospects. Be a connector within your network and others will return the favor.

Get to know your prospects
There’s a lot of information out there. Some might say too much. Like any other kind of relationship building you need to get to know who you’re dealing with. If you do some searches on me for example you’ll see that I’m a Mac user, I ride horses, love the California coastline and travel quite a bit. Any salesperson worth her salt sees the value in this kind of information to develop a relationship, right?

Prospects to leads
So you’ve attended the tweetups, had conversations with people on your blog, Facebook page or whatever networks you’re using. Now what? Use those listening skills you’ve developed to look for an opening to convert a prospect into a lead. Just because you met them online doesn’t mean you have to go through the whole sales cycle on Twitter! Use your social media presence to encourage prospects to subscribe to a newsletter. Call them on the phone. Send them flowers on their birthday. I don’t need to tell you how to take it from here now do I?

Evangelists
Probably the most touted word used by social media consultants is “evangelist”. The truth is; when you create relationships online and show you’re an honest forthright person making a living, when the station shows it’s support for the community, the people in the community support you back. When you send out a call for help for a promotional campaign they are more likely to respond to the guy they’ve been chatting with online than a cold call. Wouldn’t you?

How long is it gonna take?
Building awareness and goodwill, communicating with your market, connecting people who need to know each other, all help to raise your visibility and increase public awareness of what you do. These kinds of deeper relationships are going to show a much faster return than if you broadcast your message out to a pile of networks but don’t connect with individual users. That said, it’s not a magic bullet. Expect to see some returns such as personal connections in a fairly short period of time. Deepen those relationships without asking for a sale until you know you’ve reached the tipping point. Expect to nurture these relationships for a minimum of 3-6 months before you start to see a significant volume of return. Then watch it snowball and pick up speed.

Measurement
I’ll be the first to say it’s hard to measure the ROI on social media. How do you “measure” a relationship online that turns casual acquaintances into evangelists? What value does the evangelist have? What value do the evangelists’ networks have? Their networks networks? If you really want to dig into social media measurement KD Paine is the diva of measurement. Visit her site for a deeper understanding of how this all works.

It’s never over
Social media evolves constantly. Your relationships need to be nurtured even after the sale (maybe especially after the sale) like any other valued sales lead. The cool thing is, with social media you can continually feed your network of prospects, clients and future clients with useful information that enriches their day and keeps you in top of mind.

And there’s more!
I spoke a bit about creating a corporate social media policy and efficiency as well. Here are some additional links I think you’ll find useful.

Last but not least, if you’ve got questions put them in the comments below or shoot me an email ( Janet at JanetFouts.com ) or find me on Twitter. I love questions!

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Have you read my book yet? “Social Media Success! – Practical advice and real-world examples for social media” is available on Amazon

  • Really good and relevant insights here Janet. Nice share.

    I'll go further and say that I think that the integration of technology powered-up by Social will lead to a whole new world of sales and marketing where places, like say a Mall will no longer be where you buy, but be an augmentation to your shopping. Almost like a showroom where, sure you CAN buy and carry, but more likely, have it sent direct to home after checking yourself out in the store. In this case, the buyer will begin to truly have a personal relationship with their marketplace. For the chains that do a great job engaging their clientele, the relationship will transfer to all other stores in their chain, but on a much deeper level than: “I like their jeans/hamburgers/service/etc.” That retailer will begin to become a trusted source in the client's personal life. Apple has already begun to push this envelope and we're only at square one.

    Darin Kirschner~

  • Thanks Darin,
    We'll be wading in augmented reality before we know it. As it is now we scan barcodes and check for better deals nearby, reviews of products on my phone, ask my network in real time, etc. Companies that get on the wagon early and follow through with deeper engagement and customer service will see the value continue to grow.

  • I completely agree Janet. With the ease of reaching out to a dedicated warm audience (provided you know HOW to reach out to them) I'm beginning to see various new trends. One is the re-advent of the mom & pop shop, but run out of trailers on empty lots (and right under the nose of bigbox stores). Its become something of a fad here in Austin to get a refurbished Airstream and group it with a few others and create a makeshift food court/shopping center on an old parking lot. Enough locals armed with smartphones and FB accounts start the word of mouth and in no time there's no place to park and lines form right at opening time.

    Social has pressed the restart button on business, marketing, outreach, community… IMO, companies who recognize this and embrace it will look like outliers for a little while and then like genius' within 2 years time as they get an unbeatable jump on their less Social savvy competition.

  • Great overview Janet. I would like to expand a bit on “value,” the basis of the relationship.

    There are a few things to keep in mind when you are trying to create value through Social Media. First and foremost, the value must be incremental to the functional benefits of the product. In the case of a radio station that's the on air content so value created through Social Media must go beyond this. Obvious perhaps but not understanding this leads to using Social Media as another channel through which marketers deliver sales oriented messages. You made this point in the panel discussion and it's important, so worth emphasizing here: sell, sell won't maximizes the ROI on Social Media, delivering incremental value will.

    Value must be in the eyes of the recipient. Take the time, through listening to your audience, as you mentioned, to understand what “value” is. Then build your messaging strategy around these factors. This may be exclusive content, it might be access, it might be acknowledgment, but whatever it is let your audience tell you through their behavior.

    Finally, recognize that the relationships you foster through social media go through four broad phases: Prospecting, Consideration, Connection and Loyalty. Each requires a distinct approach so plan your Social Media activity appropriately. If a consumer is just dipping their toe into your water (Consideration) don't overwhelm them with offers to have a relationship. On the other end of the spectrum, Loyal listeners should be spoken to like you have a relationship. Leave the sales guy's plaid jacket at home. Talk to them like you know them and like they know you, because they do.

    Over the years I've developed 5 relationship marketing principles that will help marketers craft an effective Social Media strategy.

  • Thanks for moderating and keeping the conversation flowing Jim. “Value must be in the eyes of the recipient.” Well said.

  • Thank Janet for putting down your after thoughts. As some one who comes from the Radio Industry, I strongly feel that radio as a group needs to understand that value of individual sales executives creating a branded name for themselves using Social media as a method to broadcast correctly their message. It was nice joining you on stage for a brief discussion. See you in the space.

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