Can Social Media Grow Sales? Yes, When You Couple Sales and Marketing

By Kevin Popovic

There is a moment in every business when marketing hands off to sales. Planned or not, marketing has created an opportunity, and sales is getting its chance to create a customer.

At least, that’s what’s supposed to happen.

Did marketing create enough interest? Can sales create enough curiosity and trust? Did they both do their part in getting the prospect to “tell me more?”

As the VP of sales and CMO debate, the big question remains for every CEO: How can marketing and sales come together for the good of the company?

And now there are even more variables.

Marketing and sales have both looked to social media for their own rewards, but so far, most have been unable to make it happen as it’s been promised to them, and subsequently, as it’s been promised to you.

Does that mean social media has no place in business? Of course not. What it does mean is that you have to make informed decisions and set realistic expectations.

Best Practices: How Marketing Utilizes Social Media

New social media marketing options come as fast as the relatively old ideas become obsolete and discarded. B2B and B2C strategies vary, but trending (in addition to the compulsories) at the time of this article include:

  • Mobile
  • Facebook Fan Page
  • Facebook Place Page(s)
  • Twitter Profile
  • YouTube Channel
  • Google+ Profile
  • Google+ Business Page (soon)
  • Ustream
  • QR Codes
  • Quora

Content Marketing

How does our fan page get “likes”? Why will someone “follow us” on Twitter? What kind of video do we need to get subscribers on YouTube and will it work on mobile devices?

Most marketing departments are deep in assets and resources from conventional marketing strategies, both current and archived. This is “content,” the gold of the Internet, and can be fuel for your company’s social media machine.

  • Marketing Strategy: Research, focus groups, stats, etc.
  • Branding: Logos, color, type, icons, themes, tag lines, etc.
  • Advertising: TV, radio, outdoor, print, online.
  • Design/Collateral: Copy, calls to action, pictures, graphics, offers, etc.
  • Web Site: Company/industry background, product/services info, case studies, etc.
  • Multimedia: Movies, animations, interactive, interviews.
  • Public Relations: News, links, clippings.
  • Events: Set/stage, company representatives, customers, prospects, new products/services, promotional collateral.

When packaged correctly and presented appropriately, this becomes the quid pro quo. This content becomes the reason a fan likes your page, an established blogger follows your tweets, and why customers talk about your brand.

Best Practices: How Sales Utilizes Social Media

Although marketing can get by with “broadcasting,” sales must engage. Preparing for the interaction with a prospect is one thing, but creating — and sustaining — the interaction through your sales process is quite another. Social media sales tools currently trending, in most industries, will include:

  • LinkedIn Company Profile
  • LinkedIn Profile (per salesperson)
  • Facebook Profile (per salesperson)
  • Google+ Profile (per salesperson)
  • Twitter Account
  • Delicious Account
  • Blog

Ready all the social assets before using them to support your sales. Review them from the eyes of a prospect. Remember, first-round calls will start the process of generating searches in Google and LinkedIn about your company and its representatives. Missing or ill-prepared properties don’t present your sales team’s best face, and spurned searchers may not give them another chance.

Sales Tools Applied

Like marketing, sales has resources that can fill social media profile fields, create system-generated content and provide the fodder that attract prospects. Understanding how they can be used for social media is the challenge.

  • Sales Force: 1 or 100; use the multiplier to your advantage — create profiles for everyone.
  • Sales Process: Solution Selling, Customer-Centric Selling, Story Leaders: All processes create assets and a structure for connecting.
  • Business Cards: Use the same name, title, contact, etc., for their respective profile — consistency counts and builds confidence.
  • Spec Sheets: Information, images and resources for updates, tweets and posts.
  • Samples/Demos: Use these to create events, on-demand webinars and social capital — the quid pro quo of why they will pay attention and ask questions.
  • Subject Experts: Introduce to create new relationships, share information, provide expertise, facilitate meetings — whatever your prospects needs to begin a dialogue.
  • Pricing and Information: Give them what the prospect really wants — but at the right time.
  • Customer Lists: Use contacts and information to identify more friends, fans, followers and connections faster.

Creating Convergence by Planning Convergence

The unification of two historically different arms of a company doesn’t just happen. There has to be a plan on how both will contribute, how this abundance is managed, and ultimately, how the company will communicate to its multiple target markets, including:

  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Events
  • Advertising
  • Public Relations
  • Social Media
  • Internet
  • Everything

Many companies will have planning documents in place that are department specific, or share more information than is necessary. Be careful not to reinvent the wheel, just track what is necessary to accomplish your goals.

Concept Applied: Sample Communications Plan

A good communications plan is simply a map of what you’re going to say and when you’re going to say it. It should be quick to create, easy to understand, and easily updated as necessary.

In this example, organizing the assets and details of each type of communication familiarizes all contributors with what you have to work with. Scheduling each for delivery to a target market on a specific date forces creative meetings, production estimates, and a justified workload for respective departments.

Kevin Popovic is the founder of Ideahaus, a creative communications group that helps businesses figure out what to say, and how to say it to their target audiences. Kevin was recently ranked No. 43 in Fast Company’s Influence Project to find “the most influential people online.”
Originally published: Sep 12, 2011

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