Social Media — A New Sales Imperative

Our recent report on Social Sourcing reviewed how companies today are using social media in locating and engaging candidates. Current research we are conducting on employment branding reviews how social media is used in the branding process.   But let’s think about social media in the selling process – how it relates to the sales of whatever goods and services your company provides.

A recent article in the Harvard Business Review (Tweet Me, Friend Me, Make Me Buy – July-August 2012) discusses the key roles social media can play in prospecting.  It reports that the 2011 CSO Insights Sales Performance Optimization study found that sales reps spend a quarter of their time researching prospects – a job that can be make much shorter through social media use (consider a quick sales response to a Yelp ( a customer complaint forum) or a question posted in a LinkedIn or association community.

But I am in HR—does that concern me?  It well might. Likely many of your employees are present on Facebook and LinkedIn, and perhaps are Tweeting regularly.  HBR reports that prospects regularly check the profiles of company representatives that contact them or whose Tweets they see – whether they are in sales, consulting, customer service or other parts of the organization.  Have you looked at any of your employee’s social profiles?  Do they (especially those on LinkedIn, which is more widely frequented by professionals) represent your company in the way you want to be represented? 

If your company, like many, follows the mantra that “everyone sells” – whether it is a product, good will, or community understanding, you may want to help employees learn how to reflect  the culture of your organization or relay information about the company in their profiles.  Of course you cannot dictate social content – employee on-line profiles belong to them – but you can help willing employees portray themselves in the most positive way to their profile site visitors—especially prospects reviewing your sales team on line.

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