I came across a very important post this week from Barry Libert entitled “Do you stink at being social?”. He makes the very solid point that companies need to knock the walls down and become truly social by being:
3. Showing WIIFM – What’s in it for me? (Value Proposition)
There is one layer that I felt was missing. If an organization is transparent about its wins and desires, shows off its warts and successfully portrays the value add for its customers and partners, the organization will build trust. Trust is the ultimate close! Real testimonials and positive sentiment raises the viability of buying without persuasion. Proven fact! 90% of consumers online trust recommendations from people they know; 70% trust opinions of unknown users. (Econsultancy, July 2009)
So with that, I made a slick slide. Use it as you see fit!
Finally, here are a couple new tools I stumbled across:
Rovion – Video on page advertisements for enterprise level businesses. Very slick and can be highly effective with a well thought out campaign.
Weedle – Takes a Skill Set Management approach to job hunting and talent acquisition. Instead of taking a leap of faith that a person’s resume is legit, the two sides can connect the dots based on skill sets. I also felt like Weedle does a great job of being transparent, hammering the value proposition and using testimonials and case studies of success to build trust and close the visitor into using the service.
Hope everyone is making the most of the rest of their summer.
Over recent months it has become apparent that there is a lack of mentorship in the world- especially in the Social Media space. Because Social technologies allow any yoyo who understands technology to decree they are an “expert” in the space, the market has been flooded with people who claim to be experts, or my least favorite term- “guru’s”. When in reality all they really have is partial knowledge of the value proposition of Facebook and Twitter and think that is all it takes!
With this knowledge in mind and Valentine’s Day having just passed, I would like to acknowledge the people who have been instrumental in my development, are true mentors, peers and friends and most importantly- really are experts and guru’s. Folks who think about SM with hardened business objectives in mind. We have grown together in a fledgling space and I feel fortunate to have worked with these people and continue to share, rap, learn and grow professionally with them today.
My “Social” Mentors, Peers & Friends
1) Mark Wallace: Mark has been instrumental in my growth as a professional. He taught me a great deal about sales, business, being crisp and thinking about every action from a dollars and sense point of view. I worked with him at DCI-Shared Insights-Mzinga from 1999 on. Today, his Commonground Community won the Forrester Groundswell Award in 2009.
2) Jim Storer: Jim was talking “community” back in 2001. His vision then was to create a stable of IT professionals to go direct to market too with new events. DCI was a IT conference event company. Frankly- his vision for the future of the business was dead on back then. Jim and Mark both asked me to leave the sales world, and do what I was doing in my personal life (running an online community for the music industry) for Shared Insights. This move was instrumental in a career shift that has served me well to date. He is one of the founders of the highly successful Community Roundtable where Social Practitioners meet and continue to grow and learn together in an ever evolving space.
3) Aaron Strout and Heather Strout: This brother/sister combo are not only SXSW veterans, they are very social savvy. Aaron is a go getter that has travelled far in the space by being tireless in speaking engagements to drive both the Mzinga brand and the Powered brand today. Heather was my peer at Mzinga when we were both “Consultants”. Heather to this day is a voice of reason for me and is always there to bounce ideas off from. I have learned that perspective comes in the number of questions you ask- Heather is never short on answers!
4) Pauline Brannigan: Pauline is one of the few sales professionals that understand how to map the use of Social to the hardened business objectives that result in real ROI. She too has challenged me on many occasions to think about strategies from a different angle. Today she works for a fantastic enterprise social computing solution called INgage. Check em out and hit her up on Twitter to learn more!
5) Barry Libert: In 2004 Barry Libert said in a meeting “when you give your customers what they want, when they want it, and how they want it- you will win their business over and over again.” He went on to say that technologies in the not too distant future will enable the business to engage the consumer real time and for much longer life cycles. That conversation changed my professional life and made me realize that the future of business was shifting and the consumer would be empowered like never before.
6) Tom Humbarger: Tom is what I would call a “knowledge sponge”. He soaks up everything applies it to his consulting business- smart! That way of “sucking and applying” has served me well and to this day, I don’t let a day pass where my Netvibes page doesn’t educate me or open my eyes to new strategies and new ideas. Thank s Tom!
7) I would also be remiss if I did not mention Chris Brogan and Jeremiah Owyang. Although they are not my friends, I mention them because no matter how large their brand expands, they still respond to personal requests and DM’s as if they are your neighbor up the street. Exactly the point of Social! Even the smallest voice is heard with the “big guys”. They are practicing exactly what they preach to large organizations far and wide. Listen and react to everyone!
Social Media Suggestion:
Just because you buzz, doesn’t mean you are an expert! Listening is the key to knowing! Many people feel as though the more they talk, the more they are heard, the more of a “guru” they are. When in reality the more you listen, the more you are open to opinion, the more you react based on the feedback of the “we”- the more of a Social Media adopter you are. Brands and experts need to stop putting out fluff to flood the marketplace purely for exposure. Instead they need to write something of value that will penetrate a niche marketplace and help educate. If it is not of value, then don’t bother because you are hurting your brand creating content solely to be heard. Stop Tweeting just because a certain #hashtag is trending. If you don’t know about the subject, eat some pie- listen and learn. The people I mentioned above listen and learn as much as they teach- which is why they are successful. Just a suggestion based on their actions.
Listen, strategize, apply, create and don’t be afraid to be a mentor is the message of this post! Thank you to the folks mentioned on this list for being who you are and for what you are doing in business today!
The customer is always right? At least that is how it should be- or once was?
I have come across several instances lately where the “Sales Process” superseded the need of the customer- namely me! Maybe I am hyper sensitive to the sales process because of my sales background, or maybe it is something larger. Maybe the writing is on the wall? Is the sales process of old obsolete? Are we in fact entering a new age of sales- Sales2.0 if you will? Gone are the days of the 8 step sales process that bring is in an army of experts to sell you on one product?
I entered a meeting today with a vendor that is already working with our organization. The purpose of the meeting was to go over the capabilities we had already purchased. 20 minutes of up-selling and chest thumping- and we finally started the overview of the purchased product. When is it time to stop selling and start servicing? It is proven that when you service a customer to extreme satisfaction they will purchase again and new sales ops organically develop. Turn the page and service your customer and ye shall find organic sales ops!
Another example: I was on the second sales call with a prospectus vendor. The mission for them was to show us their product with our brand in mind. Our own data points, a test drive if you will! No using Coke and Walmart as examples of how powerful the product is. Instead I was met with the following:
“It costs us money to use your data in a demo”
“We don’t have a playground for you to try it out, but we do have screen shots”
“Just follow along with the slide deck- it’ll answer most if not all of your questions.”
My thought was “Maybe car salespeople aren’t so stupid- they at least let you test it before you buy it!” Ultimately both situations were a supreme waste of time for me. Time is of the essence to many of us in business today, so losing time for the sake of a sales process is futile. Barry Libert once said “When you give your customers, peers, constituents and family what they want, when they want it, and how they want it- you win them over- over and over again!” That resonated with me!
According to wikipedia a sales process is a systematic approach to selling a product or service. Traditional sales process definition breaks a selling cycle into the following phases:
So what is Sales2.0? I would argue it is listening more than you sell. Ask questions to get to the fundamentals of selling which is “find the need and fill the need.” But to do that you must listen. To listen you need to abandon the traditional sales process dictated by your organization and let the prospect tell you what they want. In order to do this I suggest giving the prospect an information sheet ahead of your call/meeting. In the age of online shopping and testimonials it has become a greater practice to research before you buy. A trend that will continue to grow as technology infiltrates all facets of our lives.
In addition to listening, I suspect large ticket items are going to all move into a “try it before you buy it” approach to sales. If you have nothing to hide – then have at it. Have faith that your product to will perform to the prospectus customers expectations. In many instances this will actually speed up the process and remove unneeded steps.
Finally, think about selling activities that allow both sides of the fence to learn from each other about what they would like. This helps build trust, mutual understanding and a true feeling of partnership from the outset. This is finding the need and filling the need collaboratively and in a far more productive way.
Be sure to check out a swell site called Sales2.0: Next Generation Sales Tip & Sales Strategies and here is something to think about if you service your customer. If you stop selling and service them- you will open pandora’s box for new organic sales without the need of a sales process.
I had a couple #followfriday and direct messages lately calling me a “Social Media Guru”, or an “expert”. Honestly, it made me a bit uncomfortable, so I decided to share this video and then speak to these over used and rather silly titles:
The bottom line is I am not a Social Media expert or guru! What I am is someone that was fortunate enough to have lived in the music world and was doing “web2.0” marketing from 2000-2004 (before the value of doing so was recognized). To be honest, I had no idea what I was doing then, I just knew it made sense. I was simply trying to garner exposure for my fun little website with a $0 dollar marketing budget. In 2004, Barry Libert bought the company I was a sales executive for and from that point forward my career was transformed. In 2004 I was a Community Manager for Shared Insight (today Mzinga) and in 2007 & 2008 I moved into a Strategic Consulting role with Mzinga. Early 2009 I was laid off and brought what I knew to Authority Domains and their customers. Does my experience make me a “guru” or an overused term on Twitter- “rock star”? No! I say I have been afforded the opportunity to be educated on a fledgling industry and have passed on my experiences to those organizations in need!
With the economy being as it may, it is imperative that you have a strategy to show ROI and create realistic benchmarks for your brands Social presence at the outset. If you don’t, you might be setting yourself up for career suicide. Remember everyone is accountable, so a clear strategy with an identified niche is necessary. If you need help doing this, my suggestion is to go old school and look at a “guru’s” resume (notice I don’t hide my resume?). Unless they lied, the resume will give you a clear indication of just how long they have been in the Social industry. Remember, according to Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers- “People don’t rise from nothing,” he writes. “They are invariably the beneficiaries of hidden advantages and extraordinary opportunities and cultural legacies that allow them to learn and work hard and make sense of the world in ways others cannot … It is only by asking where they are from that we can unravel the logic behind who succeeds and who doesn’t.” He also goes onto explain “… these statistical “deviants” benefit from their ancestry, their culture and where they live. To this fertile soil add sufficient ability, opportunity and 10,000 hours of deliberate practice.” In other words it takes 10,000 hours to be a “master” of anything-or in this conversation-be a “guru”. Has Social Media been around long enough for anyone to master it or put 10,000 hours in?