Posts Tagged ‘sales’

Are Social Sales Still a Taboo for Brands?

To sell or not to sell, that is the question when it comes to social media.

Until recently, the concept of using social media to sell products and services was not seen as something that brands should pursue. It was based on the belief that social media was a place for engagement and relationship building, not selling.

social salesBut as more brands look to drive return on investment from their social media activities, the rules about social selling started to soften. Instead of just talking, brands were looking to generate sales.

Apparently, this marked the emergence of social selling. The rule of engagement had changed to embrace monetization.

But has this changed really happened, or have we simply put some of these social selling efforts into the spotlight?

In a KissMetrics blog post, Sherice Jacob talks about how brands are wasting their time chasing sales on social media.

“The problem lies in the way most marketers tackle social media,” she wrote. “They look at it as an extension of their brand – something that’s just as much of a sales vehicle as email or a product description page.

They feel like their mastery over it means they can shuffle the masses of likers and sharers over to their website. And when it doesn’t work out that way, they either keep pushing harder or resign their Facebook page to a ghost town, convinced that it’s useless as a sales tool.”

As much as brands would like to use social media as a sales channel, it may be that social media thrives when it’s not about sales at all. The strength of social media may not be commerce but the ability to set the stage for transactions down the road, or drive customer loyalty.

For some brands, this reality may be a disappointment because they want to see a direct correlation between their tactical efforts and sales growth. To use social media as a “soft sell” medium may not seem aggressive enough.

When you step back, however, it may be that social media is more effective when brands use it to drive awareness, connect with potential and existing customers, and not try too hard to get the sale.

This approaches requires discipline because brands are making major investments in social media (time, people, money) so there is pressure to see a direct return. Social media, however, may be a different corporate beast because it may not be a blatant sales channel for most brands.

It means using social media to achieve different objectives and goals that have nothing to do with driving transactions.

What do you think? Can brands leverage social media to sell? If so, what are the best approaches.



Goodbye Cold Calling! Hello Social Media

While most people seem to be either entering the world of social media or still trying to solve its riddles, the question that lingers is does it equal sales?

In other words, does social media have the same resonance as old sales techniques?

Data is starting to surface, and it seems social media has a definite and pronounced affect on the lives of salespeople who use it.

According to this study by by Jim Keenan, 78% of salespeople using social media outsell their peers. This figure has to be surprising to most people.

The report becomes more impressive as you dig deeper:

– 54% of respondents who used social media correlate it to closing at least one sale.

– More than 40% said they two to five sales were attributed to their social media activity.

In many respects, sales is still seen as a very old school and relationship based practice. One’s success is tied to their ability to connect with another person.

If you believe this, than social media can only help further your sales goals. It is all about connecting and building lasting and mutually-beneficial relationships.

If you read this report, it becomes clear that salespeople who were surveyed had no hesitation about declaring social media being responsible for one or more of their sales.

If you are a salesperson, you need to learn about how social media can help you achieve your goal to always be closing.


Looking for Sales Leads? Try Twitter

When we think about social media, leads and sales are somehow regarded as unseemly. It’s as if brands using social media are frowned upon if they attempt to actually generate business.

But as brands look to drive more ROI from their social media activities, it makes complete sense to see leads and sales as a reasonable objective, along, of course, with engagement, conversations, etc.

If we accept the fact leads and sales can be part of the social mix, what social media services are the most effective to make that happen?

According to an analysis of 600 U.S. B2B SMB websites conducted by Optify, Twitter generates the most leads.

Here’s an excerpt that appeared recently in eMarketer:

“The study, which parsed over 62 million site visits, 215 million page views and 350,000 leads in 2012, found that visitors coming from Facebook made up 54% of all social media-sourced site visits, and those from Twitter just 32%. Nevertheless, Twitter accounted for 82% of all social media-originated leads, while Facebook accounted for a paltry 9% of leads. LinkedIn played a relatively minor role, accounting for 14% of site visits from social and 9% of social leads.

In some respects, the results shouldn’t be too surprising. When you think about it, Twitter is a natural medium to promote a brand’s products and services because it is where consumer go to get information and content.

On the other hand, Facebook is place for brands to engage and have conversations with consumers, while LinkedIn is where business connections happens that don’t involve sales.

Regardless of what social media service works the best to drive leads and sales, it is also important for brands to take a balanced approach.

If they try too hard to make leads and sales happen, there’s a good chance it will create a backlash from consumers who don’t want a hard sell. At the same time, brands shouldn’t be afraid to gently push their products and services. The key consideration is to slot sales into the overall mix in a smart way.

What do you think? How important is the creation of leads and sales to your brand?

Does Social Media = Social Sales?

social salesTo date, social media has not been about brands driving sales. Instead, it’s about building awareness, engagement and connecting with consumers in a “soft sell” medium.

But as brands look to determine the ROI of their social media activity, it is inevitable its impact on sales will be thrust into the spotlight.

The focus on social sales was apparent in an opinion piece in yesterday’s New York Times by Stephen Baker, who talked about how it is still challenging for brands to measure their success on social media.

While Baker danced around the notion that sales should be a key element of a brand’s social media activity, his piece is food for thought about the role of social media.

In particular, it should spark conversation about whether sales should be part of the social mix. Rather than the focus on engagement and conversations, maybe sales should be front and centre.

In other words, let’s not be shy about why brands use social media.

Instead, maybe the success of social media should be determined by its impact – direct or indirect – on sales and profits.

Another way of thinking about social sales is it’s part of social media evolution. Many brands started with having a presence, then moved to engagement and content. And now it may be time for sales to move into the spotlight.

New Webinar: Driving Sales Through Social Media

How can social media be used to encourage, promote and drive sales?

It is a question many companies are asking as they look to gain more insight into the benefits of social media and, as important, the return on investment (ROI) social media can generate. When it comes to sales, social media is an interesting beast because many consumers don’t see it as a sales transaction medium as opposed to a place to get information and recommendations, and ask questions.

To provide more insight into the connection between social media and social media, we’re doing a Webinar on Aug. 24 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. (EST) focused on how real-time social media monitoring can be leveraged to recognize and capture sales leads. A white paper focused on social media and sales can be found in our business library.

Presented by Mark Evans and Nygel Weishar, Social Media & Community Relations Specialist with Marketwire + Sysomos, the Webinar will provide approaches, tips and best practices to quickly and effectively identify sales opportunities, monitor what the competition is doing, and engage with people who have expressed an interest in your product or services.

The Webinar is part of Sysomos’ ongoing effort to provide new ideas and thinking so you can more effectively use social media to drive and expand your business. This includes our recently launched business library for social media that features white papers, reports, Webinars and more that will teach you how to capitalize on social media conversations and interactions.

Click here to register for next week’s Webinar.

Extreme Savings Through Social Media

I don’t watch a lot of reality TV. In fact, I don’t really watch any, but thanks to my roommate, earlier this week I was introduced to TLC’s Extreme Couponing. For those of you unfamiliar with the show, it’s a series that follows a shopping trip by the kings/queens of savings as they turn large purchases into pocket change. These people stack coupons on top of in-store savings on top of other deals to get the best deals I have ever seen in my life. In the episode I watched I saw a woman go to the grocery store and purchase over $1,900 worth of items for only $103. It was one of the most incredible things I had ever seen.

The show got me thinking though. Not everyone is as extreme as the people featured on this show, but everyone loves a good deal if they can find one. Not only do people like to find a good sale, but they usually like to share it as well. What better place to do that than via social media? So, I decided to a little investigating using MAP, our social media monitoring and analytic software.

Doing a search for the terms “sale” or “coupon” showed me that for the past six months there has been 13.2 million blogs, 10.3 million tweets and 9.3 million forum postings mentioning these two words. Granted, not all of them may be using them in the context that I was looking for, but I was searching out of sheer curiosity and not exact  scientific proof.

What was most interesting about my findings was that different mediums seemed to peak in their sale and coupon talk at different times, and not all around Christmas as I had initially thought they would have.

I broke the mediums down to get a better idea of just when the sale and coupon talk was happening. On Twitter I found that the most talk about sales and coupons happened right around American Thanksgiving. This is most likely due to all the sales that happen the day after, known as “Black Friday”, the day that everyone starts their Christmas shopping. People were talking about all the deals they had found and were sharing with others where to go to get these savings.

Over in forums, I found a large spike around the same time as on Twitter. However, it’s interesting to note that there was continuous talk about sales and coupons almost all the time, so the Black Friday spike doesn’t look as large as it does on Twitter.

I found looking at blogs to be the most interesting though. I expanded this chart to show a year’s worth of activity to show you what I mean. During the year there is a build up of talk about sales and coupons that one would think would peak around the same time that Twitter and forums do, but instead blog talk peaks in January.

Just to be sure that this peak wasn’t due to the sale of a large company, I dug deeper into the January spikes. Looking at the analysis from our buzzgraph though, it shows that most of the words being used had to do with actual sales and coupons and not some big sale of a large company. Perhaps this is due to retailers having to clear out leftover stock from the holidays.

Something else interesting I found while investigating this was who was actually talking about these deals. In blogs I found that women were talking about sales and coupons most by holding 70% of the blog conversations.

However, over in the forums, males were the dominent conversation drivers at 74% of the conversation. I couldn’t find any real explanation for this other than a guess that males are more likely to post in a forum than females (but again, that’s just a guess).

Lastly, I decided to do all of you loyal readers a favour. I decided to help you find the best deals through social media by putting together some lists of the top Twitter accounts and forums that talk about coupons and sales.

Top Twitter Accounts Talking About Sales and Coupons:

Top Twitter Accounts Talking About Sales and Coupons:

Do you know of any great places to find deals and coupons online? Do us a favour and share them with us and our readers in the comments.

Happy shopping!

Love Your Social Media, Don’t Orphan It

When many companies get into social media, one of the strange offshoots of their enthusiasm is they place their social media efforts into a silo.

This often happens because a company is so focused on making social media happen they forget to integrate it into the other parts of the business.

It’s a situation that emerges because the effort to create and launch a social media strategy and then implement a tactical plan can take a lot of time and energy.

This means the idea of blending social media into their communications, marketing and sales activity may appear like a different project altogether – something that would take a separate plan to implement.

The reality, however, is social media must be part of the overall mix from the beginning.

When a company starts to explore the idea of embracing social media, it also needs to think about how social media will support its communications, marketing and sales efforts. As important, a company needs to consider how its communications, marketing and sales efforts will support social media.

In other words, you want to create an ecosystem in which cross-pollination makes 1 + 1 = 3.

The worse thing a company can do is put social media into a separate silo or make it a corporate orphan left to its own devices. Without the support of the organization, social media can suffer and fail due to a lack raison d’etre.

The bottom line is social media needs to be embraced and cherished by everyone. When that happens, there are benefits for everyone involved.

Social Media and the Art of the Soft Sell

It goes without saying that social media has emerged as a powerful and effective sales and marketing tool. It explains why a growing number of companies are happily jumping on the bandwagon as a way to boost their online presence.

One of the key lessons that many companies are learning, however, is that social media is not a place for the hard sell. Unlike other mediums, companies that try to blatantly pitch their goods and services are penalized rather than rewarded.

This is a difficult reality for many companies to understand or accept because it means changing their behaviour, as well as the way they have done business for years. Social media is not a broadcast medium in which yelling louder or more often than the other guy works effectively.

Rather than slapping someone in the face to get their attention, you give them a nice, friendly social media hug. Instead of repeatedly telling to consumers about how wonderful your product or service is, you whisper it in their ears.

In other words, it’s all about the soft sell rather than the hard sell. It’s about getting the message across without having to be blatantly obvious about it. If the product or service is any good, consumers will likely gravitate to it.

Here’s some tips about the “soft sell”:

1. Don’t try to sell.

2. Be subtle rather than blunt. Rather than selling all the time, relax and let your product or service doing the talking.

3. Provide information and insight about a variety of topics that engage, entertain or educate. This will provide the opportunity to also talk about your products or services without getting pushback from consumers.

4. Make sure you give and take. The more you give, the more you can take.

5. If you are going to promote a product or service, talk about the benefits and features. Provide consumers with a reason why they care or pay attention, otherwise they will quickly move on to the next conversation.

Five Truths About Social Media

fiveIt’s still early days for social media so there’s still an awful lot of hype and misconceptions thriving amid the enthusiasm and excitement. Here are few social media realities that should, hopefully, not come as too much of a surprise.

1. Social media is not about the tools and services such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, although they do play a key  role in making things happen. Social media is how the tools and services are effectively married with great content, creative ideas, smart strategies and tactics, and all the other communications, marketing and sales activities done by companies to do business.

2. Social media is not a silver bullet or elixir. Adding some social media into the mix won’t produce miracles or wild success if there are other issues or problems such as mediocre products and services, bad customer service, ineffective marketing, or intense competition.

3. A company and its employees have to embrace social media and make it part of the corporate culture. Social media can not be outsourced or ghost-written because unless you’re really drinking the corporate Kool-Aid, it’s difficult to be completely committed.

4. Social media is not a standalone activity or something that operates in isolation. At its best, social media complements and enhances a company’s other activities, and vice-versa. Social media thrives when it’s tightly integrated into how a company does business.

5. It’s still early days for social media so companies that think they need to play a desperate game of catch-up can take a deep breath. That said, social media is gaining a lot of strategic and tactical traction so companies better start thinking why, how and when they want to get into the game.

What are some of the social media truths that you would highlight?

The Importance of Social Media Defense

Amid all the chatter recently about ROI, one of the major themes is how the paramount goal for social media is driving more sales. It’s an idea based on the belief that if more revenue ain’t coming in the door, then it’s difficult to justify making a major investment in social media.

There are a few holes in this theory. First, social media is just one element of a company’s marketing/sales mix so putting the spotlight on social media without also scrutinizing other marketing and sales activity efforts is a mistake. Second, the focus on driving sales has much to do with the offensive side of social media but it deflects attention away from the important defensive role played by social media.

Say what? The defensive side of social media?

It’s not particularly sexy but social media is a crucial tool that helps companies deal with crisis issues, customer service, bad products, unhappy customers, upset investors and disgruntled employees. By participating in the social media ecosystem, companies can quickly discover and pro-actively deal with issues before they become major problems. In many cases, problems can turn into positive situations if a company responds in the right way.

But how do you measure the social media ROI for defense as opposed to offense? It is possible to measure the happiness of customers, employees and investors who have been engaged using social media? It’s clearly a much more challenge difficult to measure than sales but, arguably, it’s just as important.

In many respects, social media is like sports in which a good defense plays a key role in creating a good offense. It’s important to remember that social media isn’t all glitz and glam; there’s a lot of grunt work happening behind the scenes that’s defensive rather than offensive.

For more thoughts about social media ROI, check out this post by ReadWriteWeb.