Social media is a beast of a tool, but most just don’t know how to use it effectively. Contrary to the many naysayers, social is an extremely useful tool to increase revenues. It’s not just a hotbed of cluttered content. It’s a place to connect and engage with your audience, and drive sales too.
As social media matures, companies are mastering conversions and increasing customer acquisition. But the lack of concrete ROI numbers leaves many businesses skeptical to its pervasive power and reach.
To help businesses better understand social’s influence for gaining new customers, on December 2nd Fanatics Media CEO, Mark Fidelman, sat down with Jon Ferrara, Daniel Tautges, and Vala Afshar to help define the big picture of customer acquisition potential through social media.
As Mark put it, “If you sell anything, this is an episode you don’t want to miss out on.”
Jon Ferrara is the Founder of GoldMine, one of the first ever contact management apps, and the current CEO of Nimble, one of the leading social CRM tools on the market for small businesses. This pioneer in the CRM industry has more than 20 years of experience in influencing customer relationship management and sales force automation technology and techniques.
Daniel Tautges is the President and CEO of Pinpoint Worldwide, a software business acceleration company, and Fanatics Media’s own Chief Operating Officer. In addition to also Co-Founding Fanzeal, Daniel is an author with more than two decades of experience in global management of advanced technology industries and excels at building and managing world-wide markets.
Vala Afshar is the Chief Digital Evangelist for Salesforce, the former CMO of Extreme Networks, and author of “The Pursuit of Social Business Excellence”. Vala is also contributes to various publications including Huffington Post, INC Magazine, and other where he discusses technology, business, and leadership. With Slideshare presentations nearing the 2 million mar, Vala has some highly sought-after insights to share.
Question #1: How Have Sales Evolved in the Last 12 Months?
Jon shared, “I think people have woken up to the fact that service is the new sales.” and, “If you’re not entering every sales opportunity with the intent to help that person grow, you’re failing as a salesperson.” Firmly believing that there is a current renaissance happening in how relationships are managed, Jon stated that people are beginning to see the value of an individual’s social network.
Vala stated that communities and customer engagement have become more important than ever before as a way for a company to deliver the brand’s promise. He articulated that customers are more connected and informed through social media, which is the number one way people use the internet.
Daniel believed the most noticeable evolution has come through the customer; people are more educated on brands and products than at any point prior. He pointed out how authoritative and dynamic social media and content have become and stated, “The reliance on digital media has gone supernova, and social, because that’s the way they are informing customers now.” Through these channel of communication he stated that the customer has come to know a business’s products just as well as the brand itself.
Question #2: What’s New in Social Selling and What’s on the Horizon?
Jon declared, “What I see that’s new that I’m not really liking is the automation. I think that people smell it when it doesn’t feel right, when it’s not human. And I think that the more digital we get, the more human we need to be.” He echoed his disdain for emails that are not personalized or reflect that the sender has not thought through who he is and how they intend to help him grow. He proclaimed that in order to be successful connecting with someone through email, people need to reach out in an authentic and relevant way as well as follow up and follow through on all promises. He also stated that sales people need to become their own marketers in a sense and that if automation is used it absolutely must be tailored.
Mark added to the topic and asked, “Is sales and marketing going to combine at some point?”
Vala said yes. At a previous company, he found that inside sales teams were integrated with marketing; this ultimately boosted conversions and the quality of leads. He also noted that current technologies are pushing in the direction of this type of merger and it will enhance communications over time. Vala asserted, “Revenue is more important that qualified leads”
Jon stated that sales and marketing have been intertwined for a long time, however, companies still need marketing departments and that sales people should not become full-fledged marketers. Instead, the two groups should be working together more closely on the vision and message of the company and that sales people should be sharing curated content to help educate customers. He emphasized, “I believe a company brand is built on the promises you make and the experiences that you deliver.” These building blocks are delivered through the customer-facing members of an organization and the more human a company is, the more people will connect with it.
Question #3: Why Hasn’t Everyone Embraced Social Sales Yet?
Daniel remarked, “I think there’s still a paradigm between what you want your sales people doing and what do you want your marketing people doing and I want my marking people marketing and my sales people selling. When you start to converge those things, what ends up happening is it breaks.” To drive his point home, he reflected on how he made a call to a company with the purpose of having them walk him through the sales process as a customer and the business would ultimately be scored on a one hundred point checklist. Daniel stated the person he received was clearly either a marketer or an uneducated sales person as they had no idea on how to close.
Jon intervened, pointing out that today’s educated customers do not want to speak with sales people, they want experts. Additionally, Jon stated that he himself does not want sales people talking to customers, he wants“customer wow-people”; individuals who understand the customer journey. He discussed how at GoldMine he would hire people who were remarkable at customer interactions, despite their current occupation, and teach them the technology.
Vala explained that one of the great aspects of individuals who are just now graduating college and coming into the field is that they are digital natives and don’t need to be told how important social is. He expressed that it is crucial to leverage as many social channels as possible to gain a deeper understanding of the different buyer personas and processes as well as to interpret how and when to deliver the right content to the right people across the right channels. For businesses to make a lasting and meaningful impact, they have to be able to speak the customer’s language and position themselves as a trusted advisor. “Trust is the currency in the hyper-connected, knowledge sharing world that we live in, and social just enables that.”
Question #4: What are some of the Specific Activities that you or Your Customers are Doing to Drive Revenue?
“Part of making meaningful connections is understanding our customer’s narratives.” Vala advised to nurture the connections you have already established and to always seek to share useful information that will help others grow. He expressed this sentiment when he stated, “If you’re not helpful, you’re not influential.” He felt that every person you help can potentially increase your circle of influence and described just how useful various social channels have been for him personally. “Wherever you are, make sure you are sharing interesting content that can help people grow, and if you follow that rule I think you’ll be okay.”
Jon expressed his love of Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn while he advised to use all available channels that customers are on. It is a way to understand and connect with others. But these devices aren’t solely for business, they should be utilized personally as well so that followers can connect with people on a human level. He expressed that every business person should have personal and professional landing pages for all of their digital properties, otherwise, they are missing out on a huge opportunity to stay top-of-mind.
Jon maintained that through identifying key influencers, building relationships, utilizing every means possible, and consistently sharing content relevant to your niche, it will help to maximize growth.
Mark asked Vala and Daniel if they agreed and if these activities can be traced back to customer acquisition.
Vala echoed yes, and share that Salesforce has spent $4 billion in marketing technologies to help measure influence across social networks. He stated, “The science has absolutely evolved today where you can point to not only buying signals from various social networks but actually mapping those buying signals to existing opportunities, contacts, and accounts. No question.”
Daniel called it an in-house problem, sharing, “I’m not sure it’s promoted internally. I’m not sure companies are actually promoting it.” He compounded this by stating that if his sales people are on Twitter and meeting their quotas, all is well and good, however, if the numbers are not met he is willing to look at behaviors.
Jon disagreed with this mentality and again asserted that if sales people post curated content, they will begin to build their personal brands alongside building the company’s brand. He added that Salesforce and LinkedIn are spending billions of dollars to educate people on the power of social media.
Vala proclaimed, “Look, how much data points do you need? In august 1 out of 7 people on Earth in one day were on Facebook. You had a billion people active on a social network in a single day.” Simply put, if you’re not on social media, you won’t be around long or at least achieve your full potential.
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