Prevailing wisdom has acquiesced to the idea that sales teams need to be involved in social media, and we agree this makes of the upmost sense – sales people are front-facing, pick up leads, and need ways to immediately communicate with prospects. That means using social media...which usually means social media training.
The next question is: "How involved should sales teams be on social media?" The answer is: A lot. In fact, if your sales team isn't as good or better than marketing at handling social media, you could be missing out on valuable opportunities. Here's why sales needs full buy-in and plenty of expertise to go along with it.
Sales Teams Need "People Goals" as Well as "Number Goals"
This is the big purpose of a crossover into social media: For sales teams to maximize their success, they need to move from a sole focus on number goals to a focus on people goals. We're not saying that salespeople need to work on their conversation skills...but rather that they need to rethink why they're on social media. It's not just about pushing for the sale, it's about using the people they meet as a resource. A sales team on social media needs to be involved with these "people goals" right alongside marketing, and they include:
- Locating potential influencers to establish relationships with
- Tracking the general attitude toward a product or service
- Counting conversations and responses as part of engagement metrics
- Encourage social media-savvy leads with the medium they prefer
Sales Should Be Able to Spot Opportunities
Without buy in and training, a sales team on social media can get a little lazy – and that means missing potential opportunities that arise in conversations, forums, comments and other forms of dialogue. There are plenty of potential leads waiting among both the silent and vocal viewers of social media. Marketing teams can't find all of them. Sales teams, however, have additional chances to notice these social leads and follow up on them...as long as they're paying attention.
Social Media Is the Key to Faster Sales
The famous word on the streets is that B2B buyers today are self-educated and tend to make it far through the sales cycle on their own, without contacting a salesperson until they're on the cusp of a decision. That's troubling for sales teams, because they have to 1) wait around for leads to get that far in the process and 2) risk leads choosing a competitor before they have any chance to, well, sell. Social media is the antidote to this problem: Leads use it during their own research, and sales teams can use it to "run into" leads much earlier in the cycle.
Your Leads Are Researching You
This is a follow up point: Social media is not only important because salespeople can reach leads early on, it's important because leads are researching sales early on. You need sales staff that are experts in social media to impress these leads – moreover, you need well-kept social profiles and sales team profiles so leads like what they see when they investigate just who they're talking to.
Social Media Requires Consistent Follow-up
Without full buy-in, sales people tend to use social media a lot like they use email: Sending out single or group messages for one-time contact. That's a big mistake, because social media is a lot more fluid than that (HSMAI has some great responses on how social media isn't about selling). It's about conversations, maintaining brand and tone, and reaching out on a more continual basis. Being part of a community, in other words. Sales teams need to have enough experience and commitment to social media to treat it properly!