How to Use Social Media to Drive Sales

By Marci Reynolds

There’s a lot of airplay right now about social media and whether salespeople should use it as a method to drive sales revenue. The answer: maybe. According to Marci Reynolds, Director of Operations at ACI Worldwide, and popular sales and service operations blogger, you need to consider whether or not social media aligns with your strategy, processes, and buyers’ behavior.

Salespeople should ask these five social-media selling questions:

  1. “Do my potential buyers use social media?” Depending on your product, service, or industry, the answer may be yes or no.
  2. “If my buyers do use social media, where do they spend their time?” On blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, or forums? You must ensure that you fish where your buyers swim.
  3. “Considering other sales tactics (email, trade shows, calls), will using social media produce an equal or better return on investment?” A salesperson’s time is extremely valuable, so you must spend time on the activities that will deliver the best results.
  4. “Do I have the skills and knowledge to leverage social media?” Selling is a process and has related best practices, as do blogging and tweeting. If you plan to use social media, you must understand “the how” first.
  5. “Am I ready to commit to using social media on an ongoing basis?” Tweeting once a month adds no value. Starting a blog, writing two posts, then not writing again for months can do more harm than good. It’s a good idea to observe social media before participating so you understand the investment requirements.

Sales leaders must ask themselves these additional questions:

  1. “Am I ready to create and enforce a social-media selling policy?” It is important for salespeople to understand the legal considerations and the do’s and don’ts. For example, what information is confidential or off-limits in social media? How must social-media activities align with an overall company-branding strategy?
  2. “How will I measure the success of social-media activities to ensure that the time invested does deliver the expected return?” What are the metrics? Where will you find the data?
  3. “Can I use technology like HubSpot to leverage the value of social media without a significant investment in time?” New technologies allow you to monitor customer and prospect activities on social media, then serve up this data in your existing CRM. This could make sense IF your buyers use social media (see questions 1 and 2).

For the right products, services, and industries, social media for sales can deliver a significant return on investment. These eight social-media selling questions can help you diagnose the situation and determine if social-media selling makes sense for your business.