I was listening to a B2B Blogging Lessons Learned podcast today with Kip Bodnar over at Social Media B2B. Toward the end of the podcast there was a discussion of the use of Social Media CRM for sales people, and what the rise of information on the web about your customers means. One of their points was that all of the personal information about you online can deepen the relationships salespeople have with their prospects and clients. I have an excellent personal experience where this has happened to me.
OptiJob’s Doug Kerken Sold Me then Followed Me on Twitter
I went through an extensive vendor evaluation at the end of 2008 to choose an SEO/career site portal provider. I received quotes from a variety of providers at my request, and by the recommendation of our recruitment ad agency. One provider was Optijob, and the salesperson was Doug Kerken. Long story short, Doug won the business based on an excellent product, a fair price, and an extremely flexible attitude to customize the product to meet Hudson’s career site needs.
Somewhere during the sales cycle Doug (@DKerken) connected with me on Twitter. Not LinkedIn (til later), not Facebook…Twitter. By doing so, Doug opened up a whole different line of communication. First off, Doug and I have never met in person. Yet, by following his personal Twitter account where he mixes business and pleasure tweets, I get to know him much better. Yes, Doug is a sales guy through and through. He is cool to chat with on phone calls, and he makes a lot of promises about the product, that some other poor schlep has to implement because Doug promised it. BUT, Doug is also keeping me very positive about his company. He’s keeping the relationship warm, and he doesn’t need to take me out to lunch bother me with “just catching up” calls to do it. He simply reacts to a tweet of mine every once in a while and that’s enough to keep him top of mind.
Positive Customer Service and Accountability
If we have a service issue with OptiJob I can reach out to him on Twitter, both of us knowing that a public slam would be bad for the company’s reputation. This keeps him accountable to service our account. Better yet though, I know that Doug is monitoring my Twitter stream and anticipating our needs. That’s good consultative selling, and he didn’t have to do a thing.
What’s the Moral of This Story?
The lesson for all salespeople is not to think of social media in terms of will it get me a lead this afternoon. Think of it as another way to interact with and listen to customers and prospects on a personal and professional level. For every salesperson I hear from who says they don’t have time to understand social media, I only need to point them to people like Doug who build successful, positive business relationships through the channel. Next time you decide to spend another 2 hour lunch with one prospect, think of how much more scalable you are by keeping 20 prospects interested through Twitter. I’m just sayin…