04 Jun Social Selling: Your Sales Team’s Role in Social Media
Business owners cringe a little when I suggest they activate their sales team as part of their B2B social media marketing plan. Social updates, after all, are like a billboards out there for the whole world to see. What if their sales force posts something that makes the company look bad or spills company secrets? We’ve all watched some of the best employees go down in flames after posting insensitive and badly timed information online.
Let’s look at the benefits of encouraging your team to support your company through social networks:
Reach more people through their personal network.
Improve morale because they feel like you trust them.
Increase positive perception of your company because others see it as positive place to work.
First, give your team a few guidelines.
We’re not talking “say this and you’ll be fired” kind of guidelines. You want to empower your sales team not scare them to death. If you have clients or processes you want to keep confidential, be clear those areas are off limits for status updates. On the flip side, share with your sales team areas and ways you’d like to grow your business. What is your small business social media strategy? Where are the best opportunities? These areas point your team in the direction you need them to go to grow your business (and their income if they are on commission). You may also want to lay out a few other ground rules like no foul language, no sexually explicit content, etc if they intend to use their personal profiles to connect with customers. You can’t control what your team says online, and you shouldn’t try. However, if they want to use their social channels to promote their work with you, it’s reasonable to ask them not to post content that would be offensive to your customers.
Second, give them some freedom.
Sure, you could send out suggested posts to your team every Monday morning, but if they copy and paste your words, their followers will know it’s not them. The key to social selling for B2B businesses is allowing your employees to take ownership of the strategy a bit. If your customers love your sales rep’s bubbly personality, but she’s posting your dry wit on her Twitter account, they will smell a fake. While you may offer topic ideas for services or products you’d like to promote this week or this month, let them say it in their own words.
Third, ask for their ideas.
Your sales team is your most knowledgeable asset. They know the questions their customers ask every day. They know the problems they face. Some of them can you tell you their customers’ favorite sports teams and what kind of coffee they like to drink. If you’re looking for content for your blog or company social networks, ask them what they are hearing from your customers. How can your company provide the content to back up your sales team? Let them be a part of the process, and they will be much more likely to want to share the content you are producing.
Fourth, encourage your team to think socially throughout the day.
So many social channels are visual now. Ask your team to take photos when appropriate and share with the company’s social team. Have a “how-to” session to show them how to frame shots with their camera phones, who within the office needs to receive those pictures to post to the company social sites and what information to include. Make sure whoever within your office posts that information knows to give credit to the salesperson who submitted the photo. This builds your sales rep’s credibility, encourages them to participate and to share the photo on their personal sites.
Fifth, offer some incentives.
Your millennial sales reps will likely flood your social team with content. Your older sales reps may need a little more incentive. Simple recognition for those who participate through company emails or awards may be enough. You may want to offer an incentive to the rep who sends in the idea or picture that garners the most likes or comments by customers each month.
You trust your sales team to represent your company to your customers every day. Give them a little more leeway to represent your company to the world through social media.