Social media is here and here to stay. Many of us in the commercial space shunned it in the early stages, until we begrudgingly opened our minds to the fact it does have real benefits if we understand its power and use.
Remember when we made the decision to expand our reach and pursue business in far off states and territories? These were nervous days as we were often making our way to these locations for one order and a whim that one day, business would expand justifying the investment.
Social media has now provided the bridge we lacked back then to cast our net further, creating awareness of our offering while providing access to information without an expensive visit from one of our salespeople. Remember, not all business is worth pursuing or maintaining!
Initially social media was cloaked in secrecy and, to some, considered a black art form designed to confuse us. In the mean time, the purveyors of that industry generated lots of money.
Sadly, social media was initially emblazoned with pictures of cats and meaningless correspondence doing little to warm the hearts of the industrial sector outside the occasional mention of our brands. Fast-forward to today and we have, or let me suggest, we should have a greater understanding and acceptance of the true value a well-constructed social media platform can provide.
All online conversations, whether they be generated via our web pages, LinkedIn or Facebook, or the plethora of other online medium, need to be taken offline as soon as practical and into our traditional arena. This allows our trained sales people to do their best work.
Social media for sales purposes on the other hand, serves primarily to provide information on the individual and the value that person’s involvement and input can bring to the table. LinkedIn, in my experience, is the best platform to successfully establish this criteria both professionally and efficiently for industrial type sales. Not to be confused with the more social side of, let’s say the likes of Facebook and Instagram, a LinkedIn profile is actually valued much higher.
The average LinkedIn member age is much higher as well as the average salary earned per annum. While there are many questionable connections still made, a professionally constructed and managed LinkedIn profile with the correct photo, summary and experience portfolio is without doubt the first point of call for all industrial salespeople.
Furthermore, linking your salespeople’s profiles from their email signature is a natural course in the first steps of the process. Please let me reiterate the need for professionally constructed profiles to be both approved and managed by your company if they are linked from your business cards. I have previously stated our salespeople are being researched along with the products and services we offer in the modern day sales arena. And, we are just at the beginning.
Let me share a social media “aha” moment with you that opened my eyes to the power of this phenomenon. I attended a conference in Las Vegas in 2013 where personnel from the Nevada Energy Corporation (the equivalent of our state-run power grid) were in attendance. They shared a story of how Facebook approached that body with a direct comparison of how they could avoid the spend of US$700 million for a 300MW power station across a four-to-five-year period.
They had proposed Facebook approach their contacts base in Nevada and promote the use of a power reduction device in the meter box of the user. The user sees a reduction in power usage, Facebook applies a margin on it selling to the grid. Set up costs were approximately US$50 million, being a win-win all round – all this without addressing either the feedstock supply to power it or, the environment issues surrounding operation.
If any of us doubt the power and potential of social media now is time to review our understanding and appreciation of its potential.
Now this is key: it is the time we allow these online relationships to foster and grow offering value along the way before we transition into sales mode that makes all the difference. This can be a minefield if you rush the process.
Compare it to a first date. Did you propose marriage or simply learn to understand the other person? It is the same online.
This is an excerpt from Russell Moore’s ebook Selling Up A Storm, developed after speaking with hundreds of companies about their current sales team challenge