Can Social Networks Improve Your Sales Process?
Social networks are noisily having such an impact on the Internet and on sales and marketing in general, so I've been checking them out. If you are already familiar with Linked-In or Twitter, for example, you might wonder what took me so long. If you are like a lot of other people, however, your BS detectors may be on alert.
Let me say right up front that social networks are important. You and your company will do as well to not ignore them. Here's why:
Remember the old idea that hiring salespeople who had a "good rolodex" was a good way to increase sales? I know of insurance agents who would switch from one carrier or broker to another and bring their "book of business" with them, but that was about the only instance where that idea might work, and then only once or maybe twice.
Liking and respecting someone is one thing, but switching your trust for uniforms, construction equipment, accounting services or any other unrelated thing is something else entirely. Relationships aren't built on manipulation. They are built on perceived value.
People are legitimately concerned that social networking systems can be used for manipulation. The thing is; they can also be used for useful communication and research.
One of the reasons eBay is so popular is the effectiveness of displaying buyers and seller's ratings of each other. For example, when I let my 10-year-old son use my eBay account to buy a Transformer® toy on eBay, he got into a petty argument with the seller, who left a bad evaluation on my record. I made sure my son had his own account the next day so he wouldn't mess up my reputation! eBay works because, for the most part, the trust system works.
Good successful social networks are like that. Used intelligently and respectfully, they enable you to build and maintain (and document) far more relationships and they enable other people to realize and appreciate your reputation.
This is obviously important to people, especially those who are intensely social.
Now I do not want to present myself as an expert in this field. I have been learning a lot about it from my friend, David Nour (www.relationshipeconomics.net). In fact, David has an information product about how to use Linked-In which I purchased and have learned a lot from (and, no, I don't make any money by making this statement!).
Next week, I'm going to tell you some things you might not know about one of the hotter social networking systems (www.twitter.com), and how companies are using it in their sales and marketing processes. In a few more weeks, I'll have a similar report on Linked-In.
Because you're a reader of my blog, I'd be happy to connect with you on Linked-In. Visit my public page at: http://www.linkedin.com/in/michaeljwebb and click on the "Contact Directly" link at the upper right.
Also, if you already use Twitter, or are curious, I invite you to follow me there:
www.twitter.com. Just search for username: mjweb
Next week, we'll see how companies are using Twitter to improve their sales and marketing.