Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Twitter Usage for Inside Sales Teams

I am a huge fan of elevating the game when it comes to an inside sales team. In this article I'm going to propose some ways in which your inside sales team can utilize Twitter. Before implementing any of these methods it is crucial that your company first establishes a public web participation policy. Here we go....

When it comes to the usage of Twitter for business, there are essentially 4 main buckets: Direct, Indirect, Internal and Inbound Signaling. I will focus on Indirect usage by inside sales teams. Indirect is basically empowering the inside sales team to tweet as individuals so as to improve their personal brand. Look at it as a channel of establishing credibility as individuals.

One of the jobs of inside sales teams is also to establish relationships and trust, which leads to credibility. Once the employee establishes credibility, by default so will your company. Here is an example: Say one of your inside sales reps tweets about a best-practice in your industry or tweets a video of an industry expert. Someone sees the tweet and applies it to their business. Or maybe they just thought it was great content. This prospect now views your inside rep as a valuable resource. The prospect then decides to click on the inside rep's profile to see where they work. The prospect does a little more digging into the company and realizes that your company provides a product or service that they could use at their own company. Who knows...they may even re-tweet your best-practice to their entire network of followers.

The usage in this case should be focused on providing peer-to-peer value, not the direct promotion of your company's products/services. This is called "Direct" tweeting and these kinds of tweets come from the company, not the individual. So that's it. Get out there inside sales teams and start tweeting as individuals.... and for the love of the Queen.... make certain your following the company's public web participation policies!

Here are a few more carrots:
1. Great way for them to keep tabs on the competition
2. Great way to share trends in the industry
3. Great way for them to learn more about your space in general and what is being said on the social-media wires

p.s. Here is a link to the Gartner report highlighting the buckets

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Adopting a "Socially Organic" Company Policy

Definition of Socially Organic: The levels of effort your entire company and all of it's employees puts into becoming more social, resulting in more organic searches, leads, and social-media awareness as a whole. I did a Google search and found no such terms or policies, so readers please be aware that I created my own term and definition. Here we go....

Marketing should not carry all of the burden of creating organic leads, search results and awareness for the company. This is every employee's job. Everybody should do their part, at least one hour a day, contributing to the company's awareness on the social-media wires. Brand awareness happens when you contribute value to other communities, blogs, forums, and discussion groups. All employees, regardless of department, have something to say that can deliver value to our targeted audiences and relate to them on a personal level. Managing and tracking what your employees are saying is the tricky part, but I'm sure there is a company out there than can help in this area. Anyways.... try adopting a socially organic company policy.

The best long-term strategy in most companies from a marketing perspective is to create more organic searches. Organic searches have a long shelf-life and can linger on the web indefinitely. Not to mention they are a fraction of the cost of other avenues like pay-per-click and banner ads. So here is my idea: Each manager in the company asks each employee of his/her group to join at least 5 blogs related to their field, area of expertise, or market. Ask all employees to contribute regularly, comment on other postings and recommend other blogs to read.

The reality is, most employees spend a good amount of time on the internet at work. Encourage this, but ask them to spend their time creating your company's brand awareness. My guess is, if we incorporate this policy into our companies...our organic search results will skyrocket over time. Food for thought and bon appetit bloggers!

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Level-Setting Expectations Between Marketing & Inside Sales Departments

Historically Marketing and Inside Sales departments tended to be on different pages. Even worse, they were on the same page, but reading different books. Marketing and Inside Sales should be joined at the hip and have one of the best cross-departmental relationships within any organization. The desire to achieve Web 2.0 status has elevated the importance of this relationship. A great first step, is the process of agreeing on what is considered a contact and what is considered a lead.

My best friend these days is my Marketing department. Marketing used to focus on pumping out as many “leads” as possible to my Inside Sales team. The more “leads” generated from a campaign; the more successful it was viewed. The problem was Marketing’s definition of a lead was drastically different than Inside Sales. The $10,000 question was, “What constitutes as a lead? We collectively sat down and agreed on our own criteria and it has made a world of difference for both teams. It also sets the proper expectations with C-Level folks. Together we are now actively differentiating between a contact and a lead. Contacts are just as important as leads because contacts are the pipeline for leads. If your company is going to put a lead-nurturing process in place you must place equal emphasis on both. Do this and you are one step closer to being a Web 2.0 company.

Take things a step further and start ranking/scoring all contacts. Contacts grow up to be leads. The key is to nurture to the individual contact and where that individual contact is in “their own” buying cycle, not to the masses. When and only when they reach a certain level, do they constitute as a lead. Because there is such a focus on nurturing contacts very early on in the buying process, inside sales and marketing teams have to work closer than ever before. If you make this shift in the way you treat each contact in your database, you are properly adjusting the way you market to Web 2.0 standards. You have also changed the dynamics of the relationship between the two departments. They key is to get both departments on the same page of the same book.

Here are a few Inside Sales trends:

1. Corporate hiring of outside sales reps has leveled off at a .5% annual growth, while hiring of inside sales reps is growing at lively 7.5% annual clip (James Oldroyd)
2. By 2012 nearly 800,000 more companies will host inside sales teams (James Oldroyd)
3. Buyers are finding sellers today, which is a fundamental shift in the sales process.
4. Companies once marketed to the masses, industry verticals or by job title. Now sellers have to personalize content and marketing initiatives based on an individual’s online behavior.
5. Don’t chase everything. Have faith in your marketing drip campaigns and focus on objective criteria (lead ranking) to determine who is ready to buy and who is not. This also dictates when to proactively call prospects.
6. Lead nurturing has placed more of an emphasis on getting contacts in the marketing drip.

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