Last week I participated in an interview with ZoomInfo, a a news and information hub for sales and marketing executives.. Read below for an excerpt, or visit ZoomInfo.com for the full article.
ZoomInfo: What are some of the initial steps sales managers can take in developing a social-media strategy?
Meister: The first step is a change in mindset. It’s not going away and it’s the way people are communicating and connecting. For example, a person’s resume is no longer just an eight-and-a-half inch piece of paper but that person’s ability to engage on blogs, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Social media has become part of working life and that entails all sorts of guidelines for employees. The guidelines shouldn’t necessarily be what a person can or can’t say [on social media channels] but what the company considers fair play and what [information] is off limits. The initial strategy requires input from cross-functional teams, including HR, Legal, Internal Communications and IT. The sales departments must reach out to this cross-functional network and participate in brainstorming to create a strategy for using social media both inside and outside the enterprise.
ZoomInfo: What are the benefits of using social media to drive sales and cultivate prospects?
Meister: It’s a way of being more open and having a conversation with the client rather than pushing them to agree to a sale. It’s moving from push to pull in the sales interaction and in marketing from campaigning to conversation. And as more millennials (generally considered people born between the mid 1980s and early 2000s) enter client positions they’re going to want to communicate and partner with vendors the same way they communicate with everyone else – through social media.
ZoomInfo: What about the cost of using social media?
Meister: There’s a lot you can do in Open Source for zero budget. The sales team should collaborate with marketing, IT and communications departments to work out a pilot for experimenting with social media. What many companies are doing is taking one department like Sales, HR or Learning & Development, and testing out how social media can drive greater business impact with one or two business challenges. Remember, this is not a technology fad but needs to be driven by how it can improve the business. You can explore what’s possible that your company has already invested in (regarding social media) and explore how to leverage this for greater collaboration. For example, many companies already have Microsoft Sharepoint and this has a tremendous capability to share content and videos as well as participate on wiki’s. Some companies that are using Sharepoint as their social media platform include BT (British Telecommunications) and CA (Computer Associates).