By Ken Rosen
What is the role of social media as a sales channel to reach C-level executives and other corporate VPs? This is our Twitter chat topic for #UsGuysChat on Monday, May 16 at noon PDT, 3pm EDT.
I realize some will hate the very premise of the question. A vocal group asserts: Permission-based mediums don’t tolerate overt promotion. To build and keep your network, you need to offer value. Short-term self-interest doesn’t work. You must contribute, this group advises, and trust you will benefit in due time. In short, social media helps your business, BUT you can’t think of it as a sales channel.
Personally, I think the argument is more about using tools well or poorly. But suffice to say, we’re going to try to avoid that rathole for this one-hour discussion and assume PART of the reason you are active in social media is connecting your executive-oriented offering with potential senior-level customers.
Soooooo, are leading social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn) productive for selling to new executive customers? (By “selling,” we mean activities specifically intended to increase revenue by attracting new customers to a product of primary or exclusive interest to executives)
The first reaction by most blog readers is simple: “Of course.”
But for social media to support selling to executives, those executives—or their key influencers—have to use social media! And an observation by many of us with executive clients is hard to ignore: Few executives are active in applicable social media.
Before you shriek at how wrong this is, let’s exclude the basics:
- A static LinkedIn page
- A personally oriented Facebook page (i.e. an executive who does not accept “friends” simply because they work together)
- Occasional blog reading (usually when sent a link)
We’re left looking for executives…or key influencers…active in social media as they do their jobs: blogging and seeking out related blogs, engaging actively on Twitter or Facebook regarding business issues, active in Quora discussions, a regular on business bulletin boards or discussion groups, etc. And that is the heart of our Twitter chat. Follow #UsGuysChat on Monday, May 16 (your author and co-moderator’s birthday by the way) at noon, PT/3pm ET.
[Or if you're a CEO or CMO who doesn't use Twitter, but you want to discuss whether this question affects your business, give me a yell. Yes, that last part is promotion.]
Questions for #UsGuysChat Twitter chat:
- Are you seeing executives use social media consistently? In what ways?
- Among executives, which segments (e.g. role, geography, age) are most active?
- Is the subset of execs active in social media already worth SM-based sales focus (exclude other value SM offers)? Examples?
- Should one focus on influencers of execs instead? Is a focus on influencers more effective for certain types of influencer OR service?
- What specific techniques do you recommend for effective selling to executives?