This will generate lots of ideas for your current recruiting, sales and marketing. We can help focus, implement, execute and give you the results you are looking for through investing in social networking technologies. Our team is changing our clients businesses one at a time with very smart CRM enabled social networks. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to get on our waiting list.
Common Sense Strategery
If you have read this far, you will read this entire article as it will only take 5 minutes and it will share fundamental changes going on in how we buy and how to leverage those changes. This is something you will likely share with your boss, co-workers and your friends as it will expand your social networks knowledge. So when you get smarter, your social network benefits. We will explain why in the next few pages. Welcome to a world of short attention spans, information overload and too many choices. As educated consumers we become smarter and smarter about how we make decisions (when someone is selling us), yet we have almost grinded ourselves to a stop with the mirage of choices at every turn. Choice has become the enemy.
“The sales profession is dying fast.”
In our complex world, common sense has become quite uncommon. So the more we remove friction, simplifying our products and services and the more information we provide in a variety of ways from a variety of sources, the more we will win the game of business. The sales profession is dying fast. Yes, as the former CEO of the National Association of Sales Professionals, I confess that the fundamental drivers of selling have become brand, word of mouth and online interactive information. Not a pushy Sales Professional who has mastered the craft of overcoming objections, yet more likely, someone who exudes your brand, engages you with a story and shares information transparently through other clients testimonials and referrals. This someone may not even be human, after this read you will understand it is in the form of a social network around your business, it is either online or offline.
We all want to create cool places to interact and legions of disciples to share our story. This is the power of ideas and the way some companies grow and others die. A social network can create many ways to share stories through audio, video, white papers, stories, testimonials, email, newsletters, interviews, press, referrals and more. We will present a story that has less Sales Professionals and creates more sales. Information also needs to be shared in a simple, frictionless way to the exact targets for our product or service, now better known as the long tail. Marketing has become indirect and the masses don’t give a damn about your product. The long tail is where we do all our business, these people mean the most to your business, the ones whom are able to brag about their relationship with you, they are consumed by your brand and what it does for them. It is no longer about the product, yet the relationships with others that use the product. Business is still about relationship and how we all interact, so we will share how collaborative communications and social networks are changing the online experience in a way similar that a web site changed everything 10 years ago. For example, you are now in the long tail for people interested in social networks. You are an innovator and someone who likes to be in the know. You are an early adopter and you understand the power of great relationships. Social networks are reinventing our online worlds. This is the internet, take 2.
Death of a Salesman
Selling is getting in the way of sales. There is inherent friction when adding anything between the goal of something, this has become Sales Professionals between information and their consumers buying a product or service. The skills of a good Sales Professionals are very transferrable and still the most valuable in the enterprise, yet soon these individuals will be learning marketing metrics, monitoring their own social network and servicing every request with engaged clients. They will never get caught selling or up-selling, only informing and sharing the brand through stories, interactions and facilitating customers talking to customers. They will tell a story about their brand, not sell the products or services to survive. The future is actually very bright for Sales Professionals who get it and it was never bright for those who do not get it. The difference between sales, marketing, PR and even journalism is shrinking as blogs, micro-blogs, social networks and the people around us shape our opinion in a new world that is emerging fast online and offline. Sales people need to engage in this activity faster than any other field as it is literally changing day by day. Think of the car buying experience. Customers walk in with the exact spec, the MSPR and the payment all from going online. All the power is with our customers. If this information is not available, they would go buy another car.
Trust is all that matters. Trust influences our every action. Robert Cialdini discovered the Power’s of Influence for us over 30 years ago. With so many messages, the only way to influence is through trust, online or off. According to Cialdini we are influenced by:
· Authority – if you are viewed as an expert (you’re reading this document)
· Scarcity – if there are only a few left, we are called to action (we have a waiting list)
· Social Proof – if everyone is doing it, we should do it (others are using our social networks)
· Liking – if they like you they will buy, be likable (I like you)
· Reciprocity – if you give you will get (this was free, I got more stuff for you, too)
· Consistency – if people are committed to your product they will buy (if it makes sense, act on it)
Simply, all factors of why we trust people, companies and products. Sales will become more about designing these factors into a social network than relying on someone exerting from a script or memorizing a sales pitch. You can also allow your customers to become your sales force. This has already happening. We just need to engage the activity.
Marketing is changing too.
“Our own brands are defined by the social networks we engage. “
We all need to get to the Long Tail. The long tail is where your customers hang out, as none of us are alike and personality and uniqueness is pulling us in every direction. We are all part of many different long tails as our hobbies and where we spend time varies more than ever. Mass marketing is officially dead. My DirecTV has over 1,000 channels and 10,000 choices. When I was a kid, I had four – ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS. What channels do you watch? It is probably different than your neighbor. The same is true with how advertising and PR work. Look at how advertising agencies and PR firms are collapsing into one and reinventing their offerings for the demand of today’s social networks. With the internet taking every domain and creating a competitor for traditional TV stations and vying for your time, brand affiliations are more important as we move to where our trusted friends and social networks tell us. We Stumble Upon the best sites, we look at our trusted friends and mentors bookmarks and read their blogs to find out where our attention should be placed. Our own brands are defined by the social networks we engage. On average, we spend more time on the internet than watching TV now, including the time we pretend to work. Commercials go in one ear and out the other, the same for what you see, we remember what is shared by trusted sources not celebrities anymore. Some market researchers now believe it takes more than 27 times for a commercial to be effective. How many great commercials do you remember the products? It’s tough with over 3,000 messages targeted at the masses every day. So how do we manage all of this noise and what people are saying?
We really cannot manage it, we can lead it.
We can participate and we can influence through trust. We need to create a brand and stick to the message. We need to create an environment that shares, collaborates and gives control to the customers (your users) to further define your brand. This marketing is priceless and FREE, beyond the initial setup. We can create perception pieces and add our spin, yet in reality it is our customers that define us. The feedback, testimonials and relationships that can be created normally have a high acquisition cost for marketing and sales. Service becomes easier within a social network as the customer truly gets a voice and can feel part of your brand. We can do this be creating a social network for your business, university or association. The bottom line, over 90% of us have email and very few things get here these days. We are very protective of our inboxes and rightfully so. The things that get our attention are our trusted friends and influencers we look up to (authority). The same goes for recruiting as it is finally be thinking like sales and marketing, sharing the message and funneling the best qualified leads through a process. Yet, as we have shared this is changing.
“So we must engage as many people around our careers, product and services with collaborative communications and social networks. “
So recruiting is even further behind the processes and metrics that sales and marketing have created over the last 30 years. Yet, they can bypass these efforts with an effective social network for potential employees. One of my companies CareerTours.com focused on helping companies with career video to showcase what it is like to work there or in a specific job. Add this transparency to a social network and you have the best way to recruit. It enables current employees and potential employees learn from each other, something that does not happen in most interview processes. CareerTours also enables companies to send their videos to their employees and engage their employees in sharing their video with their social networks. The power of this is undeniable. Over 50% of all hires today in most companies come from referrals and CareerTours.com leverages this technology to enhance the ability to collaboratively communicate a career, all for FREE.
The word of mouth that can be created and channeled around your business needs to be leveraged. Give your customers a way to share. The only way is to participate in an authentic cool place that is all about you and your product. The message that people share about you gives you credibility or will ruin your business. The reason ideas or products catch on is word of mouth. Think how any product, website or service got your attention, most likely it was word of mouth. Sure businesses and companies can create commercial and perception pieces, yet the true growth and phenomena of their success is through people talking about their product or maybe their commercial.
Here is a good example of authentic word of mouth at work, I joined the Word of Mouth Marketing Association as I heard that they had created over 500 members in 18 months through word of mouth. It was an authentic story that shared their message and was told by the members that got my attention, word of mouth created the Word of Mouth Marketing Association. WOMMA’s members were my friends and some of them influencers I trusted, so I paid a $1,000 and joined suddenly to participate in the conversation. WOW! That is how it works. Ideally, this is how this paper works. I create a message that is easy for you to share. So forward to your friend, join the network and get on our waiting list. In my mind, it really is getting simpler.
Service is becoming more important as it is a great part of the talk among the social networks. No longer are customers marketing to acquire customers with infinite budgets. Instead they are switching gears to focus on the customers they have and providing valuable service to keep the attention of the customer and provide an experience worth talking about. A social networking site around your business becomes another way to enhance the experience with interactive communication and feedback, something we all require to learn and grow. Growth is the reason we do anything. Look at a child, the questions are endless. We want to grow. Service is the least common denominator among products, it is also the differentiator. Unfortunately, common sense service is rare. Yet, when we see great service, we share it.
To really understand where sales and marketing are going (as well as recruiting), let’s look at the vicious circle that social networks can control.
See if this makes sense:
Social Networks create prospects
Prospects qualify themselves
Qualified prospects buy your product on their terms and become customers
Customers have a good experience and share Word of Mouth
Word of Mouth creates Buzz
Buzz creates Viral Marketing
Viral Marketing has become the new PR
PR has replaced Advertising
Advertising has become Marketing
Marketing has become Sales
Sales has become Service
Service is about relationships
Relationships are the way to lead your social networks.
So maybe, lead a social network to handle it all. This is pretty comprehensive in the way our clients use social networking technologies. Social Networks must have a call to action and a purpose to be useful, so imagine this as a sales and marketing platform. Another factor that is changing the world quickly is the factor of 100, 1 Sales/Marketing professional with proper CRM enabled Social Network can manage everything from targeted audience to close ratio among the network. 1 Sales/Marketing Professional can replace 10 of the past. Imagine sales calling 50 clients a day and you have 10 reps, that is 500 clients a day. We seek to get more than this many clients on your social network by focusing on your long tail. As for marketing, what better way to manage the message than with your customers. So as sales and marketing converge, the impact of each person grows infinitely by the network that they are part of. Meaning no matter the size, technology can manage it better, more and differently. We have the direct impact on the world, according to the size of our network. What we put into it is what we get out of it. Technology has become the ultimate enabler here. It is just common sense.
So with a changing world marketing and sales world, we must recognize how our customers engage with us and give them options to participate in the conversation. The trust is that only 10% of your customers will participate, the other 90% will watch and learn. Nonetheless, the 10% are the salespeople, mavens and connectors that make things happen. Social networks can identify your biggest advocated and your enemies. They can mitigate safety and encourage transparency. Everyone in the value chain can be connected, from your vendors to your employees to your customers. Everyone can be customer facing and focused on results.
“Everything is becoming digital.”
I think of social networks very differently than Facebook or MySpace. These are lifestyle management tools, largely successful for younger audiences, although something to consider is that these are the future customer. What I am talking about are all the communities that interest you, how do you engage with them? What are they? Magazines, interactive websites, events, meet-ups, emails, webinars and anything else you have spent your time to learn, participate and get involved with the conversation online or offline. Often offline activities today are still controlled online through SMS texting, cell phones, email, newsletters and voicemails. Everything is becoming digital. Our shopping centers will soon change as Circuit City, Blockbuster and Borders days are limited. The ones that will survive will change. This goes beyond retail into every niches out there.
In fact, this week I am completely digital, everything is a bit or byte now for me. I scanned my whole life into a hard drive that is kept in the cloud, meaning it is accessible from anywhere anytime. My companies are paperless, green, mobile and led by the technologies we have built for ourselves. I am an early adaptor with technology, so imagine yourself in 5 years having everything you own online, cataloged and controlled by a click of the mouse. I have my own BuzzGroups to manage all my social networking activities, all my passwords, connections, conversations, interest and hobbies. I am a digital dude! I have circles or communities around me that I interact with and I control through my BuzzGroups on my iPhone. I have incredible freedom to never leave anything behind. It is simple and brings me great joy to have everything at my fingertips, every document I have ever created, every video, audio, contact, event and piece of information attached to me, including this article.
It is all about the circle and the viral loop. At any time I can engage my circles and move messages through my viral loops. Let me explain. The same application for a company enables their employees to participate in the conversation. This enables companies to amplify the conversation within trusted networks of interested participants (future customers) through targeted word of mouth. So you need to create a site that enables sharing in every format as possible. There are tools that enable sharing by bookmarking, posting to blogs and emailing to your network. Other ways to share are newsletters, alerts, forward to a friends and email tools. All of these are essential to enabling your community to grow. All of these will market to people you cannot currently market to. They enable word of mouth, buzz and viral marketing strategies all at once and in an environment that you can learn fast and grow quickly.
The power of circle is unquestionable. A circle can be reinforced with relationships surrounding an issue, business or product. If one is replaced and the others are focused inward, the others keep it strong and especially if you empower the circle to grow.
Circles of Influencers
One person can create a Viral Loop = by inviting a new Circle of Influencers
With this simple concept, we have designed BuzzGroups, a platform for reaching the long tail, a way to create relationships around your business for the success of your business. There is quite a bit more to keep it stimulated, yet we understand the effectiveness of different types of social media to keep the conversation going. A circle creates multiple relationships and dependencies to exist, the reason to communicate and be part of something bigger than one’s self, the reason to participate at all. People count on people. Technology just becomes an influencer and a platform for influencers to share. BuzzGroups circles share the conversation throughout the circle and then we enable the circle to share or connect with more circles through viral loops. Viral loops are another kind of circle. Steven Covey wrote about the Circle of Influence more than 20 years ago and now we have built tools to engage and manage the various circles we belong too.
Viral loops are people joining a circle to engage in the content, then allowing them to share, brag and influence other circles with the information. The network is only as valuable as the content and the purpose of the network. With purpose, the viral loops have a reason to grow. I think viral loops are a game changer as they enable word of mouth through constantly giving people the opportunity to share the conversation that they find important at that moment. Our online and offline lives will soon be captured from sun up to sun down and potentially even while we sleep, so we now have the tools to make it more interesting by sharing more and more with more and more people. Loops bring information to others through many web 2.0 technologies and soon through web 3.0 management of your life. Self-expression is the reason we gain or lose interest among our peers and never before has technology become an enabler for people to rise up on Maslow’s hierarchy faster by engaging the social networks around us with whatever is interesting at that moment. Whether rich or poor, we are all consumers of brands and affiliates of something.
It is all about results. Social networks create social businesses. We are not talking about expense accounts and bloated marketing budgets, we are talking about augmenting your current sales, marketing and PR efforts with a social network that creates a circle around your business and enable each of the members of the circle (customers and potential customers) to participate in the conversation. You can participate too as a sales and marketing professional, just never get caught marketing or selling, be honest and ask for feedback. Give people the power and they will engage. Lead them to your value proposition yet let them tell you what it is or how your product or service can improve. Steer them back on course when necessary, yet let them vent and create an authentic dialogue. It is actually good to make mistakes, it gives you a chance to prove you will do the right thing and give confidence to your customers within your social network. I have always felt that the way you handle problems gives you a better chance at developing a long term relationship than not having any problems at all.
We create social networks designed simply around your circles and engage your customers in viral loops. Your customers become your sales force and your marketing becomes the content in your social network. We focus the content on as many elements of social media as possible to encourage the conversation – audio, video, blog, forums, document libraries, group blogs, micro-blogs, day in the life, etc. Yet, the functionality has a purpose and the circle controls that purpose. The site has a call to action (to engage your customers as your sales force and marketing team). The message can be better managed with your participation than your commercial on NBC or YouTube. The experience is part of your service or product and often is the differentiator from your competitors as more and more things become commoditized. We take the approach that less is more. We create functional sites with simple forms. In our first phone conversation, we will share all these types of media and give you the pros and cons of each. Simple does not always mean basic nor eliminate functionality. It means smart, common sense or your Grandma could use it. We build very complex software that is simple for the user. We go to a great length to eliminate choice, yet allowing social networks to be defined and customizable by the community itself. Their likes, dislikes, preferences and attitudes can be expressed clearly with a social network that communicates openly and honestly through circles and loops. Something that we know encourages relationships online and offline.
In sales, all you have is relationships. In sales we also know (Relationships = Revenue).
When you want to hit your goal, you know you can count on your relationships, not on selling a new account or expanding the pipeline. Imagine if you could grow your pipeline 10 fold and reduce your sales force by 10, meaning a 100 times gain in productivity. This is the power of developing a social network around your business. Now don’t get me wrong, this is not full proof nor the holy grail of sales and marketing. There are lots of rules to be successful, we learn and adapt everyday to this changing game every day. Social Networks create a way for your sales and marketing team to learn from the behaviors of your customers. Amazing thing, not everyone has to buy to benefit you. Malcolm Gladwell identified connectors, mavens and salespeople, which clutter up and influence every network, soon they will be talking about you.
Here are some of the activities in Social Networks:
So as you can see, there are a lot of activities within social networks and the future is looking at profiles, posting and updating their profiles, searching for people, emailing someone and basically engaging with others about a specific subject. This is what we create, we create the conversation for your team to engage with your customers. We create it on their terms and for their reasons, yet it will benefit you. With this, you must work hard to create a good experience and do the right things when problems arise. Your credibility will be on display at all times.
All of these changes create a lot of instability within traditional recruiting, sales and marketing departments. The winners will clearly embrace social networks. Here are a few things to consider when building your social network around your business. When you design your network, remember that you cannot manage it, you can only lead it. Anything you do within your social network needs to be transparent. If we fast-forward 10 years, sales people will be hired based on the size and influence of their network. Your network will grow from the ability to amplify or create viral loops around content and connections. This is important as it is not the size of your network, but what you can get out of it. The importance of designing a social network is to have a purpose, to create specific calls to action. Future sales forces can be one person with the right network. Companies will become service organizations managing the growth from the viral loop that interacts with your brand, people, service and product. Your customers voice will be amplified across the web with social media and the web 2.0 technologies that allow your customers to share on the 100’s of growing social networking applications. This makes service more and more important and taking all feedback seriously. You can either create your own social network and lead it or be at the mercy of the many social networks out there that your competitors may be leading. So take control of your future with a social network application filled with rich social media about your brand, people, products and service.
Now you have a glimpse into the future, if you were participating in a social network, education is the first step. The call to action and the execution of your mission, vision and purpose is what really matters. So the bottom line is it all comes back to execution. What you do with information is the execution. It is all worthless if the call to actions and the people on your team are not aligned with the goal of the social network. Execution is ever-changing on a social network, so adaptability and flexibility are keys to the performance of a social network. We create metrics that foster marketing and sales participation and give you instant feedback on the success of your new online world. Much like your potential customers, you may need to learn more about social networks, so we encourage you to sign up at www.buzzgroups.com to learn from the experts on social networking and learn what others are doing with social networks around their businesses. So now you know, recruiting, sales and marketing are changing from the social networks forming around your competitor’s business. What are you going to do about it? If you wait another 10 years to engage in this conversation, I would bet you will not be a leader in your industry if you are even in business at all. I hope you execute on the most effective way to reduce cost and improve results. So for Sales and Marketing Professionals, be the first to bring this up to your boss as your job is about to change dramatically. I’m sure you expense account has already been cut and the marketing budget is not shrinking. Share a new way to execute and create a big win for the sustainability of your business and your career. The future is really bright for the companies that embrace the new technologies to assist with recruiting, sales and marketing.
BuzzGroups are changing the way recruiting, sales and marketing happen through our innovative customized social networking platform.