Social Media: No Magic Talisman for Sales Success

I read a terrific blog today by Shoba entitled, ”The Challenge of Social Media—Keep Realistic Expectations” (http://bit.ly/qrS4Vs).  It offers a perspective on the concerns by many businesses to attempt to qualify and quantify sales successes attributable to social media.

Indeed there are many self-proclaimed “experts” on the topic, but those who have read my blogs in the past know what I think of those claiming such status in a field that is constantly changing, and therefore allowing no one to call themselves that.

Indeed, Shoba is correct that social media must be part of a bigger picture.  As a sales and marketing professional accustomed to linking the two areas and having to justify expenses in both, there is never a clear cut equation that $X marketing + $Y sales = enormous increased revenue.  There are just too many variables and individual human characteristics and behaviors that contribute to success.  If you are lucky, your x + y is exponential in terms of generated results.

And that’s the rub.  Finance types (no disrespect intended) need and want the clarity of an equation.  An investment of $X = ROI of Y.  But that just isn’t going to happen.

With social media, like all forms of marketing, public relations and sales initiatives, it is one piece of a much larger whole.  Assuming you have a plan and are professional, activity in social media can help you and your company gain credibility, improve SEO, provide better word-of-mouth recognition, and keep you top of mind with your target audience.

Importantly, many people lose sight of the integration—and collaboration—aspect.  Neither marketing (and public relations as a part of it) nor sales alone can attain the rate of success that they can together.  As a matter of fact, one of my main career tasks has been aligning marketing with sales.  Marketing materials and messaging needs to reflect what potential and existing customers want, and sales, in turn, must consistently communicate to marketing what they hear in the field.  Two often, without input, salespeople leave material provided by marketing in their offices because they know this information misses the boat in terms of what customers want and need.

My favorite point is the one that remains tried and true for most business ventures: it is a long-term strategy.  Expecting some magic talisman to increase sales has never worked, and social media is no exception.

You can subscribe to the Good Growth blog, join our LinkedIn group Sales Effectiveness (http://linkd.in/ql6C81) and follow Opus Partners on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook (http://on.fb.me/qAFrPj). 

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