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

Advertisements

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.

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.

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!

Girl Scouts Gone Viral

It’s likely that Girl Scout founder Juliette Gordon Low would approve of her organization’s recent plunge into viral marketing. After all, Low used the then-newfangled telephone almost a century ago to declare her intention to start the Girl Scouts to a friend.

Like technology, cookie sales have been part of the organization since its early years. It’s a lucrative tradition: The cookies, including Thin Mints and Samoas, bring in $700 million in sales a year.

But cookie sales slipped about 1% last year, prompting the organization to look for new ways to get its message across to potential cookie buyers.

The result? The Girl Scouts posted a video on YouTube called “What can a cookie do?,” which has attracted about 24,000 hits since it was posted Jan. 19.

“We’re anxious to see how it works because it lets us get our message out in a cost-effective way,” Laurel Richie, chief marketing officer of the Girl Scouts of the USA, says. She also hopes the video will help engender trust among those viewing the ad. “There’s a greater engagement when a video is passed onto you, because it has the implicit endorsement of the person who passes it on,” Richie says.

The video focuses the connection between cookie purchases and how the girls use the funds to help their communities, learn business skills and build self-confidence. Its point: “Every cookie has a mission: to help girls do great things.”

While the video aims to get viewers to understand the philosophy behind cookie sales, it also directs viewers to a website where they can find a place to buy the treats.