Social media is all the rage right now and for good reason: We are all social beings and with virtually unlimited access to reviews, opinions, updates, people, information, etc, it would be foolish not to plug into it all and leverage this tool to make connections, make better decisions, learn about companies, products and options, and gain an edge in our personal and professional lives. And we all do.
Social media has changed our lives in many ways, and it’s changed the way we make buying decisions as well. If you’re like most people today, you probably search several sites, read reviews, look for deals and coupons and then think about it before you make a decision to buy. It’s obviously changed the way your prospects buy as well and that leads us to the million dollar question: Exactly how beneficial is social media in helping you sell more of your products and services?
To hear the social media pundits talk about it, they make it seem that without a strong and sustained presence and strategy in social media, you will get left in the dust. They promise that if you just write your profile properly on LinkedIn and join enough groups (and are active enough in those groups), get enough people to Like you on Facebook, and spend the right amount of time and activities on other appropriate social networking sites, then you’ll have all the business and referrals you’ll ever need. Ah, the promise of this global paradise is enticing, isn’t it?
But does it work?
To answer that, you just have to ask yourself this: How much of your business last month came as a direct result of your involvement in social media?
If you’re like most of the companies and sales reps I speak with, it’s less than 5%. If that matches up with your results, then you understand why it’s important for you to use social media carefully and intelligently. That means two things: 1) Don’t let it soak up all of your time (face it, it’s addictive!), and 2) Get the information you need and then do what you do best: prospect, qualify and close decision makers.
Let’s face it. While social media, company marketing and referrals are all great ways of meeting prospects, the only real activity that is directly under your control is to pick up the phone and call someone. In fact, the most successful sales reps in all the industries I work with still make the most amount of outbound calls (either cold calls, warm calls to existing prospects and customers, or follow up calls to prospects identified in a carefully orchestrated social media campaign).
Now don’t get me wrong. Social media is a great tool and I use it all the time. What I’m saying is don’t confuse being busy in social media as the same thing as being busy at what you’re hired to do – prospect and close business. In other words, identify where you get most of your business from and then do more of that. And for most successful sales teams, that means identify the best leads and then pick up the phone and make a qualifying call.
Let me use a personal example. There are many ways for me to generate leads and deals in my business as a sales consultant. I’ve spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours pursuing one new “distraction” after another. I’ve pursued social media, pay per click advertising, webinars with associations, multi-level marketing deals, joined endless groups, etc. And while all these avenues bring me some results, nothing makes me more money than picking up the phone and calling on prospects and current customers. Period.
So, does social media work in bringing you new business? I would say that it’s one of many new ways of finding new prospects and making new connections. But at the end of the day, where does the majority of your business come from?
If you can answer that, then do everything you can to get better at it and spend more time doing it. Your result, like mine and all of my clients, is that you’ll make more money as a result.
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