David Meerman Scott is a renowned marketing strategist. He has written seven books (with translations into 26 languages), hundreds of magazine articles and his Web Ink Now blog rates in the world’s top marketing blogs.
Concentrate asks David what technology exporters should consider when thinking about using social media in their marketing mix.
Concentrate: How can Kiwi technology exporters use social media to find prospects and sell their products? David Meerman-Scott (DMS): They can use real-time tools to not only find prospects and collect actionable data about their needs, but in turn be the first to respond to those needs through real-time communication.
As the wired world ramps up the speed of business, sales and marketing efforts will be focusing on minute-by-minute gathering, analysis and response to real-time data. Technology exporters or any organisation trying to drive product purchases will need to create a real-time enabled sales portal.
Sales teams will be employing a real-time dashboard approach to sales. A modern, real-time enabled sales portal should function like this:
As a buyer visits your web site and registers for a Webinar, an alert is triggered on the salesperson’s real-time dashboard, providing details about the buyer based on the page that person is visiting.
The alert notes that person has downloaded a white paper just a few days earlier. In fact, the alert is flagged as high priority because that combination of actions (white paper download plus webinar registration) is highly indicative of a propensity to buy.
The alert automatically pulls up information on the buyer’s company. Are they already a client? Have others from this company visited this site before? What do third-party information providers say about the company? Even the buyers LinkedIn and Twitter profiles appear. And all this happens in real-time.
With all this information, the sales call is anything but cold. The sales rep initiates contact armed with up-to-the-second information. And that buyer is being contacted at the precise moment when he or she is most receptive.
I also advocate that companies create and implement real-time sales playbooks. The playbooks prompts the salesperson in real time to engage with a buyer at each step and suggests what needs to be communicated and what information is sent along.
There are companies too like Kadient that offers automated real-time playbook applications for use by large sales teams. Brian Zanghi, CEO of Kadient, describes them this way, “We automate the playbook application right inside the systems already used by companies. At each stage of the sales cycle, the playbook identifies the resources salespeople need in speaking to specific buyers in a variety of selling situations.”
Concentrate: Do Kiwi tech exporters have to be prepared to ‘give away’ some of their knowledge to use social media? DMS: Everyone at your company should be both prepared and willing to share knowledge in real time. You not only have to be prepared but you have to be proactive. People must be empowered to think on the fly, to take initiative, and to use common sense, empathy, and judgment derived from experience.
If you establish a real-time communications policy in the company, this empowers every single employee in your company to share knowledge through these tools. IBM, Telstra and the U.S. Air Force are among large organisations worldwide that made huge strides in creating formal guidelines for employees. Companies must be willing to free their people to communicate in real time.
Concentrate: What are some circumstances where social media is not appropriate? DMS: I think as long as your company has a real-time communications guideline in place – there are few times when you don’t want to respond. As long as the person you are responding to is thoughtful, it is worth a response. However someone who only wants to pick a fight can be avoided.
In my book Real-Time Marketing & PR: How to Instantly Engage Your Market, Connect with Customers, and Create Products that Grow Your Business Now I talk about IBM and its creation of Social Computing Guidelines. Tim Washer, head of social-media productions for IBM worldwide said, “IBM wants IBMers to communicate. A big part of being engaged in the community is feeling comfortable with what you can say and what you can’t say, so we wanted to establish the boundaries.” If someone identifies themselves as an IBMer they are required to adhere to the guidelines and the guidelines are that if the topic has something to do with IBM, they want employees to speak as an IBMer.
Concentrate: How important is it to have a clear understanding of who your customer is, what your target markets are and what your story is before you embark on social media activities? DMS: It is of utmost importance and companies must also take the understanding they currently have of their customer, their target markets and their congruent marketing messages and adopt a real-time marketing and PR mindset to enable real-time sales.