As social media continues to evolve and new mediums emerge, it can be difficult to keep up with new trends and strategies for using social media effectively. More and more printing salespeople are creatively using social media, mobile, and digital communication as a way to expand their networks and engage with their customers. Printing customers are there, so salespeople should be there, too. The key is finding the right channels to invest your time and determining how to use them to grow your business.
We asked David Giroux, VP of Vertical Market Sales NA for GMC Software Technology, how he uses social media. He explained, “Leveraging social media and business contact tools like LinkedIn and Jigsaw accelerates lead generation and early sales stages. These tools allow salespeople to better understand contacts before making sales calls. Customers assume you’ve done your homework and that you have an understanding of their industry and their challenges. Participating in social media groups enables salespeople to gain critical knowledge.”
David shared a good tip: “On the LinkedIn Profile Pages there is a section called ‘Viewers of this profile also viewed...’ In this section, you may find professionals who share the same business objectives or are in the same field as your contacts.” By networking with these people, salespeople can gain valuable research and potentially turn cold calls into friendly calls.
Three Relationship Builders
Working with our clients, we have established three key areas for salespeople and print providers to use social media outlets.
1. Targeting and Researching Individuals and Companies
One of the biggest trends is the dramatic increase in the amount of time required to do research on clients as well as competitors. The need to do this research is due primarily to the inability to get enough face time with customers to prospect and conduct needed assessments.
This is where social media really helps. There is an enormous amount of crucial information that is readily available on social media sites. The payback is that salespeople will be much better prepared to have timely and intelligent conversations with their prospects.
2. Building Better Customer Service, Loyalty, and Retention
There is a growing expectation of immediate communication between suppliers and customers. Social media outlets enable salespeople to connect with their customers instantaneously. I traveled with an account manager who used text messaging to update his customers on the status of projects. Whatever the outlet, customers will dictate how they want information. If your customer doesn’t tell you their preferred way to communicate, ask them!
3. On Demand Training
The amount of training and information that printing salespeople are required to absorb can be crushing. We have worked with clients who use video to capture sales role plays, customer interviews, and company best practices. There are a variety of outlets such as YouTube and Vimeo that can provide inexpensive repositories for company training. Also there is extensive and free training on trade sites such as MyPrintResource, YouTube, Linkedin Groups, industry blogs, etc.
The Risks of Social Media
Use good judgment when researching on social media. Many customers may attempt to keep their activity on social media for personal use, not professional. If you notice that a person you are looking to target has set their profile page to private, don’t reach them there. Generally, a site like Linkedin is better than Facebook for a cold call.
The opportunities for salespeople to use social media are endless. The challenge is to recognize that social media is a tool or resource to get to more sales. Be aware of time management. The use of social media is like any other sales activity—there needs to be an ROI. There’s no need to be on every site. It’s about strategically using the right sites to help meet selling goals. It doesn’t fully replace face-to-face communications, phone calls, or emails. Social media is another form of communication and needs to be integrated into our sales activities only when it makes sense and results in more sales.