One of the challenges in measuring the ROI of social media marketing is that the use of social networking and social sharing tools isn’t confined to the marketing group. Social media is being used in multiple functions across the enterprise, from product development (e.g. through co-creation and crowdsourcing) and customer service (Best Buy and Comcast for example) to human resources (outstanding HR tweeps: Sharlyn Lauby and Alicia Arenas) and sales groups. Although the efforts may be separate, success (or failure) in one area can certainly impact the effectiveness of social media efforts in other areas; for example, developing a reputation for delivering reliable customer service through social media channels will almost certainly help make social media marketing and sales efforts more rewarding.
In terms of revenue generation, the effective use of social media by both sales and marketing teams is critical. It may be even more important in sales, as sales professionals deal with prospects as individuals (the level where social media can be most impactful) while marketers still for the most part deal with prospects in groups. The opportunities to use social media in the sales process are limited only by the creativity of sales pros, but three critical areas stand out.
The first is for the sales team to understand what their own company is doing with social media, and how customers and key influencers are responding. This means working closely with marketing to understand both what messages are being communicated and how the market is reacting. If customers are praising the company’s service through social media channels, that is a strength the sales person can play to. If they are pointing out quality issues with a specific product, that’s an issue that members of the sales team need to be prepared to address. Sales professionals will be more productive with a solid understanding of the social media monitoring, interaction and promotion activities being conducted by the marketing group.
For more information on essential tactics for social media use by sales pros, see my recent guest post on the Your Sales Management Guru blog.