Category Archives: sales

A Brutally Honest Discussion About the Responsibilities of Sales and Marketing

sales and marketing

How integrated are sales and marketing? They should be tightly integrated because marketing should tee up sales – right? What are the performance objectives for sales executives? Marketing executives? Well for sales executives, that is pretty easy – sales and margin. For marketing executives, that is not quite an easy answer. We could say brand awareness, lead generation, loyalty, and advocacy. But at the end of the day (or quarter) most CEOs judge their marketing executives’ performance on sales.

Now on one hand this makes sense. A company survives on profit from sales. All marketing efforts, if successful, should result in sales. But here is the rub … the functions of marketing are different than sales. And more importantly, customers and clients do not want to be blatantly sold to. They want to develop trust and relationships with the brands they purchase.

So let’s go back to sales objectives and marketing objectives. The sales executive has one simple job function – close the sale. Marketers’ job functions are different. They need to build awareness, interest, buzz, reputation, and overall an awesome customer/client experience with the brand. If we agree that marketers need to build trust and win over customers to build solid relationships, can’t that relationship be hurt if the target audience feels like they are being sold to? And if at the end of the day the marketer’s success and future with their company is going to be judged by sales, are we not creating a dilemma? Not just a dilemma for the marketer, but a potential problem for the customer as well?

As I said, this is an honest discussion with no simple answer. But I suggest that we need to change the objectives of marketers. My suggestion is not driven by a desire to ease the responsibilities of marketers, but is driven by the target audience behavior that marketers serve. The audience does not want to be sold to and at the same time they want to believe in the brands they purchase. And from the company perspective they need sales to survive.

If we look at the sales marketing funnel, most consumers traverse from awareness to consideration to sale to post-sale loyalty and then advocacy. Can we agree that the four phases besides sales (awareness, consideration, loyalty, and advocacy) tee up sales? If so, let a marketer’s function and responsibility be teeing up sales and a sales executive be responsible for closing the sale. Measure marketers on awareness consideration, loyalty, and advocacy and not hold them responsible for sales. Is this distinction possible?

I believe the digital world has put much power in the hands of consumers and clients. They can get more information then ever before. They can share their opinion to a large audience and their news travels fast. Behaviors as a result of digital technologies create the case for truly separating marketing and sales objectives.

Here is an interesting analog … For a long time, The New York Yankees were blessed with having Mariano Rivera as the relief pitcher that would be put in at the end of a game to seal a win for the team. It did not matter if the starting pitcher was having an amazing outing. If the starting pitcher had a big lead. The Yankees’ manager would put Rivera in to close the deal. The Yankees had great “tee-er-uppers” and a superb closer. Metaphorically speaking, marketers are starting pitchers. They get momentum and set up the win for the closer. Sales executives come in in the late innings and seal the deal/win.

Yes, I know sales/marketing objectives are a complicated issue, but I think I have rationalized the need for change now. Many have talked about this for many years. Social and digital technologies have really created the customer/client behavior to drive a need for change now. Please add your voice and opinion to this vital topic.

Make It Happen!
Social Steve

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Filed under marketing, sales, Social Steve, SocialSteve

Why You Need a Chief Engagement Officer

Who is the most important person in your business? I hope you answered the customer or client? That’s right … you can take anyone out of your company and you will survive, but if the customer(s) is not there, you have a hobby, not a business.

So if the customer is the most important person, why aren’t you forming an organization around their wants, needs, and desires? Why don’t you have a point person responsible for all interactions with that imperative individual(s)? A person who is responsible for attracting them, building trust with them, selling to them, developing brand loyalty, and building a relation so rich that your customers will both rally for and defend your brand.

That is the role of the Chief Engagement Officer. Think of all the touch points that potential and existing customers have with your company. If we look at your organization today, the role and the responsibility of a Chief Engagement Officer is part marketing, sales, billing, and customer service.

Time for Chief Engagement OfficerNow you can say all the touch points I have defined and all the areas of responsibility I have listed have been in place for 100 years. So why do we need a Chief Engagement Officer now? The answer is simple. There has been one dramatic aspect that has changed the way business is done. That is the evolution and now ubiquitous nature of our digital world.

Digital technologies and cultural adoption uses have flipped the playing field completely whether you like it or not. The customer has far greater control of a brand position and reputation than the company behind the brand. There is no more making pretend this is not so and denying it. If you are, your business will soon be dead.

I recently read through an excellent presentation by David Meerman Scott titled, “The New Rules of Selling.” David details how buying behavior and actual purchasing has changed. Before they go into the car dealer, for example, they already have researched and have decided what they want to purchase. From my perspective, this means that engagement and proliferation of valuable information are paramount. The Chief Engagement Officer needs to manage all aspects of content, communication, customer service, and motivating loyal customers to advocate on behalf of the brand. I have come to the conclusion that marketing is the new sales. At bit confusing, yes, but think about it. You need to put valued information in front of your target audience to help them make buying decisions. This information and stories come from both your company and your existing audience.

As I mentioned in the beginning, “There has been one dramatic element that has changed the way business is done.” Similarly, Meerman Scott rightfully declares, “Now BUYERS are in charge of relationships they choose to do business with.” And given this reality, companies don’t require a head of sales, marketing, and customer support. They must have a Chief Engagement Officer that covers the entire gamut.

Now I know you can look me up on LinkedIn or see my bio here on my blog and see that I am the Chief Engagement Officer at Social Steve Consulting. Sure, you can easily say, “Oh Social Steve, that is so self serving to write an article covering Why You Need a Chief Engagement Officer.” But think about this … I have been a marketing executive for 20 years. I have my own consulting practice. I could have given myself any title. But I am a Chief Engagement Officer because the responsibilities that go with that title are driven by the needs of brands through out the world. Customer behavior and current business environment dictate needs to change organizational leadership structure. And organizations require a new type of leader if they really want to win customers and spawn word of mouth marketing. How much longer can brands continue to be stagnant and avoid organizational changes that must happen to drive success?

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under behavior, brand communication, brands, change management, company organization, customer service, marketing, sales, Social Steve, SocialSteve

The Greatest Hits on The SocialSteve Blog – 2013

Thanks for being a reader of The SocialSteve Blog (named one of the Top 50 Global Influential Marketing Blogs). Here are the articles that were the greatest hits on The SocialSteve Blog in 2013 …

SocialSteve Greatest Hits

#10) Why PR Agencies Should be Great at Social Marketing, But So Few Are

#9) A Facebook Page Every Marketer Should Learn From

#8) How Often Should You Post?

#7) 2013 – The Year Social Media Will Be Measured Correctly

#6) Activation Marketing via Social Media

#5) Social Media Highlights the Important Difference Between Marketing and Sales

#4) Know Your “Ps” When It Comes to Content and Social Marketing

#3) The Successful Social Marketing Framework

#2) What is Social Marketing? (Make Sure You Really Know)

#1) Why Are We Doing Social Marketing Anyway?

Strive for social marketing excellence.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brands, content marketing, digital media, Facebook, marketing, marketing plan, PR, sales, sales conversion, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, social media ROI, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Uncategorized, website, Word of Mouth Marketing

Social Media Marketing and Its Relevance to Sales

social salesWhat is social media marketing’s role in sales? This is the real question company leaders want answered. Last week I wrote an article, “Why Are We Doing Social Marketing Anyway” which touched on the subject of social marketing’s relationship to sales. Judged by the amount of discussion and misinformation generated, especially on the LinkedIn CMO Network Group, it is necessary to take on questions of social marketing and relevance to sales directly.

First, let me state that it is pretty much impossible to measure direct results of social marketing on sales. That is because most of the channels used for socializing a brand are not owned by the brand. If I post something on my Facebook page, or tweet something on my Twitter page, and it states something like “love my new ‘brand-name’,” that post can be monitored, but not pixelated or cookied to capture further actions. Yes, there are quantitative marketing mix models that attempt to isolate marketing channels to assess product sales lift, but most of the accurate models are cost prohibitive to use.

If you really want to understand the relationship of social marketing and sales, you must be more of a psychologist than a marketer. Human behavior … that is what needs to be evaluated. How does the audience react to brand posts and socialization? There is a direct correlation to continuous active following and future sales.

So let me give you an example. A while back, I did some social marketing for a well-known women’s magazine. The sales department “packaged in” a Facebook post from a deodorant company that simply said “keep dryer …” The audience went ballistic. They were appalled at blatant advertisement and selling on a social channel. Direct selling on social channels often produces the exact opposite of the marketers’ objectives. It turns off people.

But smart marketers know how to subtly sell on social channels. Think of it this way … use social to sell a customer experience. A customer experience that delivers value to the target audience. And when you consistently deliver value over time, you do not win a sale; you win a loyal customer that often becomes your advocate as well.

In the past, I have defined that social marketing should NOT be measured in sales or conversion. It is measured in awareness, consideration, loyalty and advocacy. Awareness and consideration as pre-sale attributes. But the post sales attributes of loyalty and advocacy are much more important for long-term sustainable business. And this is the true power of social marketing.

So here are some takeaways on social marketing relevance to sales:

1) You cannot measure direct sales effectively.
2) In most cases, consumers are turned off by blatant advertisement postings on social channels. (Yes, there are some exceptions and brands can run promotions and coupons in limitation.)
3) Social marketing yields strong results of pre-sales awareness and consideration and post-sales loyalty and advocacy. These four attributes tee up sales. Social has a strong value in sales, but not necessarily direct sales.

True – social is not a great vehicle to deliver immediate sales. But well executed social marketing delivers long-term sustainable sales. Social marketing yields brand preference. Brand preference produces repeatable sales and word of mouth marketing and referrals. Thus social marketing manufactures consumer conviction and sales.

It is difficult to correlate social activities to sales figures. But if you see empirical data that demonstrates brand increase in awareness, consideration, loyalty, and advocacy, does it not make sense that an increase sales will be the residual affect?

Far too often companies are driven by quarter-to-quarter results to the detriment of long-term sustainability and growth. Social marketing is definitely a long-term commitment and rarely produces immediate results. But does every company want committed customers and brand champions? Wanting and executing do not go hand in hand. Are you committed to long lasting success or just worried about the next quarter? The answer to this question largely defines expected social marketing success to drive long lasting sales.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brands, sales, sales conversion, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

You Talking Product or Lifestyle on Your Brand’s Social Media Presence?

Have you ever have had a conversation with someone where all they do is just talk about themselves? How many friends do you have like that? Probably not many. No one likes to be on the receiving end of blatant over self-absorption and indulgence. Could your brand possibly be socializing like that?

Stop to think about how your brand is socializing? Does the brand constantly talk about its product? Are you using Facebook, Twitter, or other social channels as an excessive advertorial, promotion, and product dumping ground? If this is the case you are turning off your friends and target audience.

Let’s start by stating the obvious … I know … You want your product to have strong sales success. It pays your salary. But far too many brands are taking this mentality and lure to their social media channels.

lifestyle

I always tell people that social media should be the marketing of a lifestyle. What does the your brand stand for? What are the stories you want to tell that resonate with your target audience? Think about drawing your audience in, keeping them interested, and engaging with them.

So how might you go about this? Let me start by asking a simple question … What is the personality of your brand? (For that matter, does your brand have a personality?). I usually put this in the category of message strategy. The personality of a brand comes out in the message strategy, or is it that the message strategy comes out from the brand personality? In any event, you need a voice, tone, persona, and overall feel for your brand that resonates with your audience. You see, the brand personality should not just be a reflection of your corporate culture, but also have depth in what your audience wants. And that is a big difference between personal socializing and brand socializing … In professional marketing you should be willing to change your brand’s personality and manufacture talking points to please your audience. Case in point – a pinnacle example is Coca-Cola’s digital presence. Look at their digital presence. (homepage, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, flickr, Pinterest, Tumblr)

Brands need to change. Social channels should not be viewed as selling channels. Too many companies are lured into a sales mentality and throw too much product material on their social posts. Brands need more of a story-telling, lifestyle, entertaining, and/or expertise of media mentality, presence and engagement on their social channels. If you take this approach, your social presence will help you sell. Down the road. With greater conviction. With greater help selling to an extended audience via referral and advocacy. That is if you take time, patience, and investment to become a producer of media and engagement as opposed to being an advertising exec on your social endeavors.

Now I am not saying you cannot or should not mention your product or run a promotion on social channels. Certainly you can and should, but some words of caution … Do it in the context of social engagement. Not “down your throat advertising.” Integrate promotion and sweepstakes in the look and feel of the set brand personality. And limit social channels for product speak. The number of times you mention your products in posts really depends on the vertical you serve. But I would limit it to no more than 15%, 20% of the time, max.

If you follow steps to think like a media producer and media director as opposed to an advertising exec when utilizing your social channels, you will see much greater empirical results. Use social the way the audience values brands on social. The audience is not looking for another advertising channel. They are looking for digital presence that reinforces their lifestyle and aspirational desires. Can you present your brand personality in this manner?

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under ads, brand communication, brand marketing, content marketing, digital media, marketing, sales, sales conversion, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

Social Media: Are Twitter and Facebook Best?

Twitter and Facebook … most often the first two words after social media. Just about every executive initiative related to social media starts with, “We need to be on Facebook and Twitter.” But are these two high visible platforms really the best channels to rally potential and existing buyers?

Last week, data was released that stated your Facebook fans and Twitters followers are twice as likely to purchase your product or service. “The survey by Chadwick Martin Bailey and iModerate Research found that 51 per cent of fans of pages on Facebook and 67 per cent of brand followers on Twitter say they are more prone to making purchases from the companies they track.”

Pretty compelling information. But wait. What came first? The chicken or the egg? Do you purchase from a brand first, and then decide to join the brand’s Facebook fan page and follow them on Twitter, or does the social media connection happen before a purchase? We’ll debate that one for a while … at least until there is some empirical data to determine this.

While this debate continues, let me offer an alternative strategy. I am not going to suggest a substitute, but rather something more compelling that should be integrated into your (presumed) existing Twitter and Facebook activities.

If you want to develop relationships with your target audience (this is what social media is REALLY all about), go where they are hanging out as opposed to expecting them to come over to your place. Find the existing communities where they are already participating. (I am sure there are many!) Simply search blogs, portal, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. to find the existing groups. Join these communities. Start by listening to the discussions there. Then join the conversations focusing on providing information that delivers to the communities’ needs (not yours). Continue to position yourself as a subject matter expert. Over the course of time, you will build relationships. Then you can invite them to your community (Facebook fan page) or to follow you (Twitter). But do this slowly and be sincere about the relationships you look to build. DO NOT SELL!!!

Mitch Joel (one of my favorite social media thought leaders out there) suggests, “spend(ing) ten times as much time adding value to the five or ten existing communities where (your) potential members might be hanging out, reading and connecting” in his article “The One Thing About Building A Community.” This is the integrated approach I suggested in the beginning. You will have your community where your existing customers will come (Twitter and Facebook – and others). Your community is an opportunity for you to build loyal customers and advocates. Your community will also attract people who might be considering purchase of your brand. But if you proactively want to rally your target audience, build relationships to new potential customers and over time turn them into your audience, go to their existing communities and play there.

Make It Happen!
Social Steve

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Filed under brand marketing, brands, Facebook, marketing, sales, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Twitter, Uncategorized

Social Media: How To Go About It Video Series – Part 1 of 7

Want to get in the social media game? Many want to, but still feel social media is a foreign language. Social media can be demystified. I thought it would be beneficial to splice up a video of one of my recent presentations into 3 to 4 minute segments to convey simple approaches and principles for social media.

The series is titled “Social Media: How To Go About It” and consists of the following 7 parts:

Part 1 – The Marketing Funnel
Part 2 – LCR – Listen, Conversations, Relationships
Part 3 – Define Position Before Starting Social Media
Part 4 – Define Objectives Before Starting Social Media
Part 5 – Importance of Value with Social Media
Part 6 – Traversing the Crowd through the Social Media “A-Path”
Part 7 – Social Media – Where Do You Start

I will post two parts a week for the next few weeks. You can find the clips both here on my blog and at YouTube. I hope you find these useful and I would love to hear back from you.

Here is the Part 1 – The Marketing Funnel …

(Also see “Social Media Conversion and the Social Media Marketing Funnel”)

Best,
Social Steve

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Filed under marketing, marketing plan, sales, sales conversion, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Uncategorized