Are your sales people breaking the rules or breaking new ground when using social media to promote product? Understanding the pitfalls of using social media groups as a prospecting tool will improve your sales performance and result in more sustainable product success.
Email is still a great sales tool
Using social media to sell a product is challenging. The biggest blunder is using Linked in, Meetup or other social media sharing forums to send overt sales emails to people who are in a group to share information but did not sign up to receive sales pitches. Although email is still an important part of the marketing mix, it is absolutely essential to have an opt-in and opt out mechanism and send your message to those who will be receptive to it. Note that the key word is “receptive”! People will be more receptive to your message if you are perceived as adding value and are credible. Make sure any emails are valuable to the recipient not just a sales pitch for you!
The reason sending unsolicited emails or messages directly to fellow members of LinkedIn groups is a social media mistake is that most people are polite and won’t tell the offender that their unsolicited sales pitch was not welcome. Instead – they will tell 10 friends about the spam they received from Company X! And you may never know that you made a tactical error.
Is the Contact Engaging or Annoying?
Another error is when over-eager sales people become members of social media sites like Meetup just to send promotional emails to organizers. If the sales person has no intention of joining the group or the conversation – and just want to sell their services – it’s spam. Directing efforts at members of groups – like Linked In or Meetup – without engaging in a conversation first, breaks simple sales rules. Experienced sales reps know that cold calling to an untargeted list has a low take up rate, yet some sales reps continue to contact people found on social media groups who have not expressed interest in their offerings or asked for their information.
The problem usually exists in smaller firms that may not have professional management consulting or marketing direction. Often keen sales people are jumping into industry forums without thinking through how they intend to interact with potential prospects. And that is what group members are – POTENTIAL prospects not a qualified email list.
Check your Settings…
To avoid the problem, Linked in group members can change their settings so other members can’t contact them directly – though says this is contrary to the concept of social media. It is the ability to contact and communicate with other group members that makes social media so powerful yet it also leaves us all open to sales spam. With Meetup, anyone can contact the organizer. If you are the recipient of spam selling email – forward the email to abuse(at)meetup(dot)com.
Part of the solution is to participate on forums where there is strong moderation by a community manager, and a clear, written message that overt selling will not be tolerated.
Social media is a tremendous medium to promote a product and interact with a brand – though companies of all sizes need to plan how they will use the tools.
About Front Porch Perspectives Ltd.
Terry Rachwalski is President of Front Porch Perspectives in Victoria, BC, Canada, a consulting practice that focuses on business development and bringing new technology to market using traditional and social media techniques. Rachwalski holds an MBA and is a Certified Management Consultant (CMC).