Social Media is here and has been for quite some time. Almost everyone has a profile on one site or another and, in the business world, professionals are generating some powerful results. The business application can be astounding with some companies generating a strong customer base even before launching. More importantly, the sales department of the businesses that are willing to invest the time and funds into social media are seeing the potential a well formed strategy can have on the numbers. By bypassing the gate keepers, the sales force has an opportunity to communicate directly with the once untouchable decision makers. In addition, social media has opened up the lines of communication directly to the customer; resulting in a stronger customer service program and improved results. Even with all of the advances social media has led to in the professional world, the number one question still remains, “How do I measure the effect of social media marketing on business?”
There are two main reasons:
- Lack of planning. There is no strategy, there is no plan. Like anything else in a business you must plan and strategize.
- Lack of a sales process. Social media is a great place to build a brand, to increase awareness, and even build relationships. However, just like anything else it is very difficult to sell online. In today’s society, trust is a primary factor. Businesses must be able to have a process that allows them to transition an online relationship to an offline relationship and then from a suspect to prospect and a prospect to a customer.
How do you overcome these problems?
It might be simpler than you think. Businesses must invest time into research and planning for their particular business and industry. Narrowing down the ideal clients/customers can include demographics such as age, income, and in some circumstances the industry & positions that they hold within a company. Knowing which sites are the best for your business is a key component of successful social media prospecting. Facebook may not be a good outlet for a Software Company that sells to large manufactures, but it is a perfect medium for a cupcake shop that sells to the public. Not only is knowing what sites make sense for your particular business, but also having a content schedule is important. What is the message your business is trying to communicate? Is the tone of your business professional or casual? What type of value does your business offer it’s connections and followers? Once you have defined your message and the content that is going to be distributed, how frequent is the message going to be communicated? For a business trying to build a brand through LinkedIn, frequency may not be as significant as it may be with activity on Facebook or Twitter. Before you invest hours of your time in creating a strategy and implantation plan, look into a professional who will guide your business to success.
A lack of an effective sales process, when using social media to generate new business, can cause a very costly problem. In the current process, the business might be able to handle one to two new leads per week. What happens when your Social Media Marketing pays off and the leads jump to six to seven per week? Is your process strong enough for fast growth? Do you have a pipeline of qualified sales people to hire if you are overwhelmed? Having too much business is a great problem to have, however it is still a problem. The best way to overcome that problem is to have a process established in the likely hood that it will happen. What will happen if you have an increase in leads and you do not close the deals? Most people will blame the quality of the leads. When in reality it is not the quality of the prospects, it is the lack of a strong sales process. The best way to be completely confident is to hire a trained sales consultant or coach to develop a process for you.
The sales process is the key to your success because in most cases you must take the relationship from online to offline to make create a new customer or client. Social Media has done so much for the way we do business now and it has empowered consumers to be much more educated than they have ever been before. Even with the knowledge that we can provide to the public, knowledge still lacks the ability to close the deal. Relationships are and will always be the key to successful sales. Set your business up for success by having a plan.