1. Get Social
This shouldn’t be hard for sales people, right? It can be when framed in the context of participating in the company’s social media initiatives. I’ve experienced resistance in the past with salespeople that don’t feel it is part of their job to participate in social media for business. However, there is a really good fit between sales and social media. First, as a brand, it’s important to let the world know everywhere you are and all of the amazing things your company is working on. Typically, it’s the sales team that’s at conferences across the country or world. It’s the sales team that is out face to face with your industry every day. Snapping a picture of your booth at a big trade show or one of your sales people shaking the hand of an industry expert reinforces that you are a big deal in your industry and that customers can trust you. When my sales team is out at a conference or traveling, I make it a requirement to snap a picture and write a quick caption and post it on our Twitter and Facebook accounts. Taking a step back, before they can do this, they go through our corporate social media policy and get some training on what’s appropriate to write and respond on our corporate social media assets. A great side effect of involving your sales people with social media, it lets others in the company know what’s going on and is a way to get the whole company excited.
2. Turn your stories into blog posts
So you have your sales team go to a conference or meeting and when they get back you naturally ask how it went. 40 minutes later they’re done telling their story and you probably learned more than you needed to about a dinner they had the night before with a client. It’s not hard to get salespeople talking about their trips, meetings, or conferences they go on. The hard part is getting them to sit down and write their stories into a blog post. Chances are, when they signed up for the sales job, they didn’t sign up to be a blogger. So writing a blog post is just a waste of time that is taking them away from selling, right? Not when their blog post is used as content to help them build relationships and differentiate themselves from competitors. A perfect example: A trade show is coming up and you get the list of attendees. What’s your natural instinct? Import the list into Salesforce, create a slick looking email and email every attendee before the show letting them know that you are attending the show and what booth number your at. But, how effective is that? Wouldn’t it be unique if the salesperson wrote a blog post about their experience at the trade show with some key takeaways or themes? If they emailed potential customers they met after the show with a link to their post, it could be a conversation starter and provide value to the customer. This is one way blogging can be effective for sales.
3. Package sales opportunities like campaigns
In a more complex sale or partnership opportunity, there could be multiple organizations and stakeholders involved, all with their own agendas. Navigating to a sale in this environment is hard to do when you don’t have an organized and synched plan. Having sales people think of a sale like a marketing campaign makes it easier to see how all of the separate pieces need to come together in order to get a win. Much like an integrated marketing campaign, there is more than one channel to get through a complex sale. Keeping them all aligned and messaged consistently will lead to a more professional and cleaner approach in the eyes of the buyer. A side effect of creating these campaigns is at the end you will have great documentation on what worked and didn’t and can learn better ways to approach those opportunities in the future. And you might have developed some really great presentations or collateral along the way that you can repurpose for future sales campaigns.
4. Develop a buying persona
Understanding who your customers are and what’s important to them is crucial. Creating a persona for each type of decision maker that your sales team faces will make them more aware of their needs and more aligned in their message. Our sales team goes through workshops where we create a persona for each decision maker (CEO, CFO, Program Manager, etc) that includes demographic information as well as their critical business issues. We then work on creating really good questions based on their roles and challenges that we can use during the sales discovery process. Constantly updating your question bank for each persona type will help your sales team gain more trust at the front end of the sales process as well as uncover critical information that will help you position your offering’s value in the best light. Not only will your sales team have a good understanding of the different decision makers but marketing will too. It will help in your messaging and approach to communicating with your target market.
Authored by Mike Holihan