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Lee Odden

Building Trust & Credibility In 7 Steps

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013

Interest in scaling social media sales has increased significantly over the past year and in 2013 it be even more so. Organizations of all types and sizes are coming to terms with the need to better monetize their investments and one of the most compelling opportunities to do so is through helping sales leadership develop their personal brands online.

It’s understandable why: A recent study reported on by eMarketer indicates that 67% of BtoC marketers and 44% of B2B marketers saw leads generated through social media channels.

Many companies are investing in social media listening for things like buying signal keywords to engage with prospects and creating content specifically to address the kinds of questions that lead to inquiries. However, there’s only so much a community manager or social media strategist can do.

In situations where organizations have sales teams that are not kept entirely busy by the marketing department, (shame on you!) some of the more enterprising sales and account executives will create social profiles and even blog.

Establishing an online presence to build their personal brand amongst a community of prospective customers can help them stand out and attract new business. For the right kind of sales person, building up individual brand can be instrumental for creating awareness that lowers barriers and facilitates reputation, credibility, trust that result in shorter sales cycles and an increase in inbound inquiries.

When sales organizations can facilitate this activity so that it helps individual sales executives build their online footprint at the same time as building trust in the overall brand, then it’s a win all around. People buy because they like you and what better way to communicate personality and “likeability” than through useful social media engagement?

As our agency works more and more with companies on content marketing strategy that impacts revenue, interest in helping sales executives undertand how content and social media can increase individual sales has become increasingly important. Here are a few steps to consider for doing that.

Understand the importance of a social presence in your industry – Leverage social media monitoring, customer surveys and industry research to get a broad view of what role social media plays in the brand and prospect relationship. Talk to social savvy sales people to get their first hand perspectives and identify what’s working.

Conduct a self-assessment – While marketing should have a benchmark for the overall brand, it’s also important for the sales organization to determine the current social and online content participation of individuals. Who has profiles and how are they using them?

Embrace a model to attract, engage and convert – Provide sales teams with the “why” of using social media and content. Set expectations for time investment and time to see a return. A model that shows a path for social sales development and what that means for individuals will be instrumental for identifying training and successful implementation.

Identify tools – Efficiency and scale are essential for effective social selling, so identifying tools like blog publishing platforms, social media monitoring and promotions will be important.

Understand social audiences – Social listening and community participation will provide insights but helping sales executives see both short term engagement opportunities as well as long term nurturing will help avoid scenes like the biscuit in Tommy Boy.

Being useful is the most valuable sales tactic on the social web, not explicit sales pitches. By figuring out how your target audience discovers, consumes and acts on information through the social web, you’ll be able to connect and build trust more quickly. This kind of connection is about being genuine, relevant and timely to build trust.

Create a personal brand content plan – With an understanding of why and what, the how for building a personal brand online is an important next step. Think about what you stand for. That’s your brand promise. Then follow through on that promise with useful, relevant and timely content. Doing so will build trust that’s contagious

Practically, the hub and spoke model works as well for individuals as it does for companies overall and making a connection between personal brand building and that of the overall organization is key. This plan covers topics, keywords, types of content, social networks, promotions and engagement tactics. It also identifies the content that the brand can create to be repurposed by sales teams for congruent messaging and efficient content marketing.

Monitor success and optimize performance - Leveraging social media monitoring tools, web analytics and the sales performance data that comes from marketing automation services can all provide crucial feedback for social sales performance optimization. It boils down to: knowing your target audience interests/pain points/goals that are solved by the solution you’re selling.

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About the Author:
Lee Odden is the CEO of TopRank Online Marketing, a provider of innovative Internet marketing consulting for progressive B2B companies ranging from Marketo to PRWeb to McKesson. Odden has been recognized for his expertise with enterprise social media, SEO and content marketing strategies by The Economist, Advertising Age and Mashable. He writes a monthly column called Social Media Smarts for ClickZ and his blog at TopRankBlog.com has an active community with over 46,000 subscribers, 12,000 Facebook Fans and has been rated the #1 Content Marketing blog 3 times by Junta42. He is also the Author of "Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customers by Integrating SEO, Social Media and Content Marketing" published by Wiley.
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