In this discussion Adam Fraser points out that sales and marketing traditionally have tended to blast their message out to prospective customers and talk about how great their company and products are.
He emphasises that we need to listen and engage first. And a great place to listen to customers is on social. He goes on to say “listening and engagement are the foundation of a good social media strategy, and listening very much coming first, so I’d just encourage salespeople to listen on social”. Effective listening and engaging on social draws customers to us and presents us with triggers that will open the door to opportunities for effective face to face selling.
Adam goes on to discuss the ways in which we can listen on social and talks about the sort of technology that will help us do that effectively and efficiently.
See the full discussion below for the answers.
Adam Fraser is the founder of Echo Junction who help organisations and businesses leverage value from social media technology.
John: Hello, I’m delighted to have Adam Fraser with me – welcome, Adam!
Adam: Thank you, John – great to be here!
John: Adam is the founder of Echo Junction, and he helps organisations and businesses leverage value from social media technology. Looking forward to hearing about some of this, Adam.
Adam: I love talking about this stuff, John – so glad to be here.
John: We normally have sales experts in here, but we’re hearing so much now about how social media needs to be something salespeople are across, so I thought it was a good idea for us to have a chat, if we can focus it on what salespeople do. You talk mainly to marketers, from what I understand.
Adam: Typically marketers. But look, one of the messages, John, I try to get across to people when I’m talking to enterprises is it’s not just about sales and marketing. Social media now is an important part of business more broadly, and it can impact a number of divisions within an enterprise.
John: A lot of people are saying salespeople need to become marketers as well, and I think you’re about to say that. Before coming on camera, we were talking about the fact that salespeople need to learn how to listen on social.
Adam: I think that’s right, John. I mean, sales and marketers are a bit alike in this sense, that we see social media, we think back to the good old days of TV, radio, print, billboards. We just want to blast our message and talk about how great we are, how great our product and our services are. I’d just encourage both sales and marketers to take a step back and really listen first. We’ve all heard the old adage about two ears and one mouth, and I think we should use that in the correct proportion.
John: And my experience is, definitely on social. In fact, the key message I’m giving salespeople is to never sell on social.
John: Social is a tool for listening, it’s a tool for sharing, giving value, but never trying to sell. You take the face-to-face sales activity off social when the time is right.
Adam: That’s right. Look, John, I always say listening and engagement are the foundations aspect of a good social media strategy, and listening very much coming first, so I’d just encourage salespeople listening. There’s target markets, there’s sectors they’re working in, there are specific brands and industries they’re focused on; there’s just gold in the data that’s out there in terms of the conversations that are happening on social. There’s groups where people are discussing the things that you’re interested in, and there’s just great value to be had in listening first.
John: And I know a lot of enterprises out there, a lot of companies out there are implementing some really good technology that will help both their marketeers and their salespeople listen. And that’s important, isn’t it?
Adam: Absolutely. There are a number of enterprise tools out there, we’re going to talk a bit later, John, about the number of marketing technology tools there are. There are a number of options for enterprises at scale to be able to listen both to the digital media and also across public social media, and, again, there really are… When sliced and diced and analysed, there’s some real value in the messages there.
John: So, what sort of things should salespeople be listening for?
Adam: Again, it may be about a specific target, so obviously news and opinions about the products of a specific business, there’s obviously then competitors to that business, then there’s the broader industry, so just thematics. What are their potential buyers talking about? Where is the conversation focused on? What are the hot industry topics? What do people think is going on in this sector?
John: And all of that’s good insight, and a lot of that will give triggers I guess for a salesperson. “Aha, there’s an opportunity developing here. I probably need to pick up the phone and call somebody.”
Adam: Absolutely. There’s sort of longer-term, deeper strategic insights to understand, like I say, the industry or the specific business, there’s also short-term, tactical things. So absolutely, on occasion specific lead opportunities can come from social listening. Again, heed your message, don’t jump in and hard sell, but absolutely be looking for the appropriate trigger points.
John: And go into dialogue where necessary on social.
John: There’s nothing wrong with dialogue on social.
Adam: Nothing wrong with dialogue. And, again, both at the individual sales level, and more broadly for brands, focus on what your customers want to talk about. I often see brands jumping into conversations that really have nothing to do with their product or sector. Same for salespeople; keep within your sphere of expertise, listen and follow… Join the conversation.
John: Nothing worse than a customer saying, “Look, I’ve got this issue or challenge,” and then someone going on social, saying, “I’ve got the product just for you.”
Adam: No – it’s pretty vulgar and it doesn’t go down well.
John: Yes, agreed. Alright, some great messages there. So, the bottom line message that I’m hearing really is – and I’m pushing this out a lot at the moment, because I see a lot of people getting enormous return on investment as salespeople – as salespeople we’ve got an opportunity, a gold mine of information, if we just listen on social. It takes some work, it takes some practice, it takes an understanding of how to do that, but once you learn how to do that, it’s a gold mine.
John: Thank you very much, Adam!
Adam: Thanks, John!
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John leads three related organisations, Custell, Strategic Selling Group and Sales Masterminds APAC. These help B2B selling organisations, who recognise the need to transform their sales capability, to respond to the tsunami of change that is starting to wash over us all. He works with people who recognise that to survive they must more strategically support their customer in their buying journey - and understand that they must become specialists in the customer's domain in order to be of value to them. He also helps sales teams build differentiated personal brands and leverage the digital and social worlds to engage to create trust and value.