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Welcome to the “Sales 2.0” era, say Joan C. Curtis and Barbara Giamanco, authors of The New Handshake: Sales Meets Social Media.
Just as Web 2.0 put the Internet in the hands of the people, Sales 2.0 puts the buying process in the hands of customers. Today’s customers dictate how and when you will communicate with them. And if they do show interest in your products and services, they expect a relevant and valuable offer that is tailored to their specific needs. Generic sales pitches are so 2008.
In order to compete at this level, most businesses are rushing to incorporate social media into their sales and marketing strategies. Your Twitter name is becoming just as important as a phone number to engage customers and prospects.
“The most important question that will be put to bed in 2011 is, ‘Should my company be active in social media?’ Every company will have to be social eventually, whether they like it or not,” says Jay Baer, a social media strategy consultant and blogger. “Customers will demand that they be allowed to interact with businesses in this way -- the same way they demanded that we connect via websites and e-mail. The new question will be ‘How do I know what resources to devote to social media?’ That’s a sign of real progress.”
One resource that can help you gauge where you and your company stand compared to others in terms of social media engagement is the “Social Business Report,” a comprehensive look at the use of social media by businesspeople across the U.S. The report was released in September by NetProspex, a business-to-business prospecting company.
NetProspex used a scoring system to rank businesses’ social media use by industry, geographic regions and job functions. It also updated its Social 50, which shows the most social corporations in the U.S.
Not surprisingly, search engine companies and online portal businesses ranked as the most social media savvy industries in the U.S. The industry’s average NetProspex Social Index (NPSI) rating was 98.74, nearly one-third higher than the second-place finisher, advertising and marketing (63.93). Banking (63.44), traditional media (55.11) and toys and games (52.83) round out the top five.
What’s the significance of low-scoring industries? A major differentiation opportunity exists for emerging brands operating in industries that are not yet socially savvy.
For example, industries related to medical care did not make the Top 50 list at all. Hospitals and clinics had an average social rating of 6.97, almost half the amount of the lowest-ranked industry in the Top 50 list. The veterinary care industry, meanwhile, had an average social rating of 3.59.
These are two service industries whose customers are starving for information and dialogue from their providers -- exactly the thing that social media accomplishes. Imagine the relationships that could be built, and the business that could be won over, from first-movers in the categories.
Meanwhile, only one blue-collar industry made the Social 50 list -- trucking, moving and storage -- which finished in the 48th spot. Mining, automotive repair and collision service, and wood production are a few blue-collar industries that did not make the list.
Which jobs are the most social? Marketing/chief marketing officer ranked highest (68.29 NPSI), followed by human resources and recruiting (67.44). There was a significant drop-off in NPSI scores after the top two spots. Rounding out the top five categories was communications/public relations (39.26), information technology (31.69) and sales (30.50).
The most interesting trend emerging from the job title rankings was the discovery that C-level positions are lagging behind in terms of social media savvy. Only two C-level positions finished in the top 10 on the list (chief marketing officers at No. 1 and chief information officers at No. 6).
Clearly, upper management needs to wake up to the value of participating in the social world. The study indicates that customers have a better chance of engaging with an office manager or a customer service representative than they do with the CEO.
As Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn stated in a recent Harvard Business Review article on how he learned to love social media: “You’d be amazed at the number of people I talk to -- people who run big businesses around the world -- who think social networking is just a fad, or that what you see on Twitter and Facebook is simply clutter. It’s not. If a company, or even its chief executive, doesn’t have a presence on social networks today, that company risks not being in the conversation at all. Over time, I believe, that can be fatal to a business.”
Paul Nolan is editor of SalesForceXP magazine, a bimonthly publication that provides sales managers with insights for getting “Xtra Performance” from their sales teams.
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