1) CHECK WHERE YOUR CUSTOMERS ARE
Before you jump to any social networks, communities or other tools, find out
WHERE your customers are. And the best way is to search them in the Internet,
check LinkedIn, FaceBook, Twitter, Google and Yahoo Groups and find them one way or the other. And if you still have a good relationship with them, ASK.
2) SUBSCRIBE TO THE SOCIAL WEB
Once you know, subscribe to the sites and explore. Invest in your profile, put up a photo, let people know what you like and what not, show your inner self in a professional way. You can’t expect anybody to connect with a stranger. Once your profile is in good shape connect with your trusted friends, colleagues, partners, vendors, resellers and then of course customers you know. At that stage it’s just a connection.
3) UNDERSTAND YOUR NETWORK
Learn all about the people in your network learn what they do, what their interest is, what their skills are what their goal in life is – everything. You will build up a new asset of unparalleled value compared to what you have today – your rolodex or link list in LinkedIn or whatever. You will learn the people and their behavior their interests and their pain without asking a single question. At this point you haven’t contributed – you are just an observer.
What used to be the accepted status quo “Sales Process” (identifying targets in the market, separating leads from a mass of inquiries, and distilling them through some exploration of cold calls and negotiation) has changed forever.
Social media has become the most important marketing initiative today because it has actually changed (or adapted) the “Sales Process” into the “Buying Process”. With peers talking with peers sharing advice and comments about all of their purchases and experiences, this has created a buzz amongst prosumer’s, a confidence or empowerment, that is unstoppable.
To continue to be relevant in the marketplace and avoid extinction, the “New” Sales Funnel has had to yield to the Prosumer’s being in control, captaining the ship, if you will. This means the salesperson’s role is now one of guiding or being a well-educated navigator in the purchasing process. As Larry McClymonds said: “The new form of relationships selling isn’t about selling anymore, it’s about helping the customers buy.”
With this new openness provided by the “navigator”, the prosumer will now reciprocate that openness (at least over time), which will result in the old “Sales Process” of the tedious, opinionated, strong arm process of selling to consumers will eventually evaporate.
I have been getting a lot of DM’s about the earlier Consumer or Prosumer post. The consensus was, ok but “what do I do now if I see that I am old school’? and “How do I change it”? First, I commend you for your honesty (more business leaders needs more humility when it comes to examining their business model and accepting that changing to a social media system is going to be disruptive to the current one in place, but it is critical) and second, you ask very good questions.
As those of us who run businesses, we find ourselves in the most anxiety filled time in modern history; along with that, there are a couple of obstacles we have to acknowledge first before proceeding. Today’s climate is hard on us as business leaders, with uncertainty at every turn, the complexity of adjusting to new demands, increasingly shorter product lifecycles, competition, etc., there are the facts., which can lead some to succumb to the “eat or be eaten” mentality. Ahh – what to do??? Please step away from the ledge… slowly…. thank you. Here are just a few helpful suggestions, to see things from the Prosumer’s perspective that may help us tweak our operation and get us on the right path without having to do a lot of heavy lifting:
I’m happy to announce that Tim, our social media leader here at Perspective, will be attending SOMA Leadership Class this semester beginning January 23, 2009! He will be getting certified as an expert in the social media field and look forward to his input into exactly how to help business leaders understand the impact (and importance) of social media, how to develop and implement a real social media solution, building and launching an online community, and much, much more. Check out the very comprehensive curriculum here.
Congratulations Tim! We look forward to your blogging about what your learning and helping us all become even better equipped in this exploding segment. Tim has been dedicated to this area and is developing into one of the most sought after Social Media Experts in the nation. Here at Perspective, we to are expanding our services and focus onto social media consulting to meet the need of business who want to be more successful in this new era.
I attended a very education webinar today, put on by Xeequa. I found it to be very helpful. Axel Shultze, CEO, convincingly explained and showed how consumers have become increasingly resistant to traditional forms of advertising . For us as Internet Marketers we have to learn from this as well, that we can’t any longer ‘hope’ that we attract customers with something they are rejecting in the marketplace. (Thanks again Axel for your outstanding efforts in the area! When I grow up I want to be just like you.)
Today, all of us are getting educated through the Internet, actually the “Social Web” (whether people call it that or not), by reading blogs and IM from our mobile devices, checking our social networks, join forums, participate in groups and virtual communities and listen to the opinions and read the reviews of people we trust. An astonishingly increasing number of product or brand decisions are pretty much made before a sales process even starts, almost entirely before someone would enter a physical store or company. We all have done our research well before that time using our Social contacts via the web and what SM tools we have grown to rely on.