Your Secret Social Business Weapons

For years there was a popular cliché in business that everyone was in sales. This meant that everyone was a representative of the company, and as such needed to do your best to project the right image and support the customer.  

Now, I don’t want to take away from the whole sales thing, because in many ways it matters more than ever that you have happy customers. But instead of saying everyone is in sales I think today the customer support people need to be GREAT customer support people…. And the professional services folks need to be OUTSTANDING professional services folks….

And the product management types need to be REMARKABLE product management players, etc., etc. Because in the age of Social Business happy existing customers are the ones who will determine whether you will have future customers. And as any happy customer will tell you that’s a much bigger job than sales folks can deliver on their own.

But with the meteoric rise of Social Business I would say that today everyone is in Marketing…or at least supporting them. Why? Because every company is made up of individuals who each hold critical pieces to the puzzle of customer success (i.e. happy customers). That know-how needs to be on display socially. Sure the marketing folks can write snazzy copy, and create beautiful one page glossies, and even set up lovely half day customer events…and all that is important and valuable. But today, that’s just not gonna’ get the job done.

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Across your organization are really experienced, smart, capable specialists who have been doing their thing for years quietly accumulating a treasure trove of expertise that your customers would benefit from enormously. These are often the folks who operate behind the front lines. They are the ones who design your products, or help your customers implement your technology, or solve your customers’ technical challenges, or provide your company’s high-level technology direction, and lots more. 

And they are brilliant.  You know this because whenever you arrange a discussion between them and a customer, the customer walks away with a whole new appreciation for what you may be able to do for them. They turn on lights. They get the customer’s juices flowing. They help the customer begin to shape a vision and maybe identify a point on the horizon they should be moving towards. In short, they build credibility.

One of the reasons these folks are so credible is that none of them has the word “sales” on their business card. They are not trying to close a deal. They are simply sharing what they know and have seen. They are helping your customers choose the right paths to travel. They are steering them around landmines and they are giving them the roadmap to the promised land. And your customers rely heavily on them. They are trusted.

With Social Business being the new mechanism by which prospects educate themselves, it’s time to move these folks who used to come into play during an active sales cycle or even AFTER the sale was closed into a new position in the process. Now they need to start sharing and distributing what they know BEFORE any sales rep even knows they are looking for solutions. They still need to help gain credibility but now it’s done to prove you are the right company to even consider talking to. Their contribution will initiate the sales cycle. Your prospects must see that you have smart insights based on experience. They must see that you know where in their companies your solution can have the biggest impact. They need to see that there is real meat behind your marketing pieces, that your company is worthy of their short list.  

So does Marketing still have a role? Of course they do. You still need a website and marketing materials and press releases and customer events. But Marketing must also now lead the charge on how best to leverage the know-how silos within your organization. They need to put in place appropriate Social Business training for all their contributors. They need to coordinate the flow and quality of content and ensure messaging and positioning is consistent and timely, and lots more.

So, if you’re one of those folks (and you probably are) who knows your stuff and has a head full of expertise that would be helpful for your customers….welcome to the Marketing Department!

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