Salespeople Marketing, We’ve Stopped Listening

Dear Marketing, We’ve Stopped Listening

In a recent article Lee Oden, of TopRank Marketing, made the case that trust in Marketing is at risk. Now, this seems to come as a shock ONLY to Marketers. The rest of us have been questioning marketing claims since the fast talking “experts” were selling snake oil off the back of covered wagons. No offense.

It’s only natural. When someone’s job is to sell you something, there is a necessary defense mechanism that kicks in, and we become skeptical of claims, statistics, and even success stories. We are living in the age of spin, hype, and most recently fake news. So at the end of the day, if you have something to gain by someone’s decision, your information (rightly or wrongly) is suspect.

Even industry analysts have been effected. Long considered “independent” third parties, I’ve heard increasing numbers of prospects question just how unbiased these opinions are, with thinly veiled suggestions that the largest vendors have influence over what even the most well-known industry analysts say.

So how do we right the ship here? Who can bail us out of this horrible predicament where even our most persuasive marketing pieces are repelled like water off a duck’s back? Enter the unlikely hero – the salesperson! Yes….the salesperson!

There is a new age dawning for salespeople. Studies show conclusively that buyers are now getting the information they need about sought after products or services from social media. They are being influenced by customer reviews, blog posts, thought leaders, industry journalists, and others who have the aura of credibility.

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They rely less and less on vendor generated materials and marketing pieces. These have limited value to them as they are rightly seen as biased. Though they may be helpful from a feature/function perspective they lack the ring of truth when they are seeking to compare option A to option B. They are necessarily slanted in the vendor’s favor.

“Stop being a salesperson and start being an ally.”

“But adding salespeople into the mix will only make matters worse, won’t it?” you may ask. Not if the salespeople you are working with understand how to sell using social media. Their role needs to change in some fundamental ways. Salespeople need to stop pushing their wares and shift to helping their prospects (especially long term prospects) and others achieve their goals. Stop being a salesperson and start being an ally. Start finding those individuals who you need to know, and who would benefit from knowing you and connect with them via social media. Then, periodically offer them helpful articles, videos, or websites which would be of great use to them but are NOT content from your marketing team, with a brief note, “Saw this and thought you would find it useful”. Or, if you’ve been in the industry for several years and know what you’re doing, write some articles yourself. You may just discover you know quite a lot about things and can raise your standing with your peers by making that known.

In short, you want to start being that source of helpful information (we now all call content) that important folks in your industry begin to count on. You will gain credibility and standing rather than just being another buzzing gnat, sending a noisy stream of digital marketing glossies and success stories.  Engage these new connections, reading their posts and liking the ones that authentically resonate with you. Thank them if they like to share one of your posts. Build a digital relationship. Follow their activity and see what’s of interest to them and send along helpful pieces as you find them.

“Learn to be a good social citizen, not a digital stalker.”

Find a few good sources of info from trusted sites or experts and follow them. Share their wisdom generously and give them credit when you do. Learn to be a good social citizen, not a digital stalker. And eventually those folks you’ve been helping will reach out and ask for information on your products and services because they see you as someone with some real standing in their industry. That’s when those marketing glossies start to come in handy again. Only now they may actually get read.

And Marketing, if you’re listening, encourage your salesforce to start building these networks and relationships. Encourage them to learn how to sell in the world of social media. And make sure they know that doesn’t just mean forwarding your glossies to the folks in their pipeline.

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