Social media is changing the marketing profession in remarkable ways. According to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), the social media analytics market is expected to grow from $1.6 billion last year to over $5 billion in 2020, because many brands recognize its value on driving sales.
However, too many new generation marketers believe social media is making the face-to-face sales profession obsolete. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, Bailey Roy, the Senior Project Manager of Ketchum, writes that there are many instances where social media falls short.
“When we rely on social media to replace traditional media in scenarios where budgets are tighter or turnaround is shorter, it seems like an unjustified decision. There are places where social media cannot replace traditional — such as developing strategy for regions without strong online presences, or when self-reported demographic data will not suffice.”
Marketers need to stop debating whether social media is better than the traditional approach to sales. The best marketing campaigns integrate both. Social media marketers need to view salespeople as their allies, rather than obsolete and less tech-savvy versions of themselves.
How can brands merge their social media marketing and traditional sales campaigns? Here are some general guidelines.
Social media can be a great medium to attract potential leads. However, in some industries, it can be very difficult to convert online leads into paying customers. This is especially true for me to B2B companies, brands in industries where trust is limited and brands promoting high ticket items.
The sales funnel may begin on social media, but it will require a talented sales team to close the deal. Ryan Kh, a business strategist with Catalyst for Business, states that even many online businesses need a traditional sales team.
“In some industries, customers are nervous about making a deposit, they know there’s a lot of fraud,” says Kh. “I encourage clients like Bonus Code to have a direct sales team that establishes trust with customers. That is trust that can’t be built with social media alone.”
Social media marketers can be great at getting their message out. The problem is they don't always have the right message to begin with.
Social media professionals usually have very limited interaction with customers. They don't know what customers’ real concerns are, so they often create social media campaigns that don't resonate with them. Luke Brynley-Jones wrote about this phenomenon in a post titled “It’s Official: Companies Don’t Understand Why Consumers Use Social Media.”
Brynley-Jones points out that companies generally believe that customers follow them on social media to learn more about products. However, most customers really follow them on social media to make purchases and find discounts.
Social media professionals probably make a lot of other mistakes too, such as making inaccurate assumptions about customers’ reasons for making purchases.
Social media marketers should listen to their counterparts on the sales floor. Sales professionals spend their entire day listening to customers. They know what drives customers to make a purchase. Social media professionals should listen carefully to the sales team, because they can help them create a better campaign.
Social media professionals often recommend new promotional ideas to their employers. For example, Jordan's Creamery in Belmont, New Hampshire offers ice cream discounts to customers that follow them on Facebook. Auto repair centers often offer a free oil changes to customers that participate in their social media contests.
These promotions aren't always passed on from the management. They may be blindsided and tell a customer a promotion doesn't exist, even though it's listed on all of the company's social media profiles.
Sales professionals need to monitor the brand's social media profiles themselves, so they can answer any questions customers have about any ongoing promotions they may not have heard about.