Posted on 15 November 2011.
Social media has transformed the way and medium of communication by providing opportunities to have interactive dialogues without the need for physical proximity. This virtual social interaction has become the preferred technique for communication, giving businesses in this field, opportunities to grow and expand while also innovating and improving. Experts believe that social media is now set to achieve critical mass. Critical mass is a crucial stage in the development of a company when the business can become self sustainable. At this point no more capital needs to be invested and the business is economically viable.
Social media as a business has reached that stage when it can achieve critical mass. A business introducing a new technology is said to achieve critical mass when approximately fifteen percent of households adopt it. The same principle can be applied to social media which has the potential to exceed the fifteen percent barrier, if all social media networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace and others are included. Newer technologies being included are social gaming, ecommerce and micro-blogging.
Critical mass can be achieved when 15% of a target clientele can be captured. This number has been verified and found to be repeatedly accurate in all applications pertaining to critical mass in social media. The goal all social media networks then is to hit this percentage.
Ways to achieve social media critical mass
- Increase frequency of interaction by creating special groups- One way social media can achieve critical mass is by leveraging the present relationships and networks among members. People who are closer can be made to form a special group which will see more frequent exchanges and communication on diverse topics, experiences and desire to spend time together in the virtual world. Strong relationships thus will be sustained and these will provide the frequency needed to reach the critical mass level. This is because the level of confidence in introducing a product or service in the group is higher in terms of acceptance, and probability of its success becomes higher.
- Focus on value provided to the world- Social media needs to highlight the value it provides to its members, and how they benefit from this ‘service’. As word about the benefits and value spreads the membership figures will surge ahead and competition will increase. The more existing members show off their shared platforms and how they have benefitted from them, more and more people will join.
- Growth and expansion is important- Growth and expansion alone will make room for reaching critical mass levels. The Facebook story is an example that explains this. Facebook reached its full capacity when limited to Harvard, but it was at this point that it opened its doors to other universities and eventually became a worldwide phenomenon. As it grew in size by widening its domain, more members joined, helping it stay at the critical mass level of over 15%. The same holds true for Groupon, which started with daily deals in one city and expanded city by city to achieve its critical mass.
- Quality must be monitored- The bottom line for success is always good quality. Quality content is expected when people join social media, knowing it is safe and reliable. Unique content must be added to keep up member involvement and have them evince interest, since this will invite more content of similar quality.
Thus achieving social media critical mass is a challenge that all networks are striving to achieve.
Posted in Sales Management Tips, Sales Strategy
Posted on 01 November 2011.
Cold calling is a proven marketing technique but one that is not appealing, both for the receiver and the caller. It can be de-motivating for the caller and quite an irritant for the receiver, wasting time for both sides. With unpredictable success rates and time spent per call not justifying the results achieved, most businesses seek more viable options and alternatives to cold calling. Since the end result sought, is the same, it is important to use those techniques which promise higher success rates per hour spent.
- Referrals – Getting referrals from existing customers is a better alternative to cold calling. Firstly, the receiver will be more positively inclined towards a sales pitch if it comes from a known person, and chances of a sale increase when a peer group uses the same product. Tapping relationships now holds the key to better sales success.
- Contacting old customers- Customers at some point in the past, but lost along the way, can be contacted to familiarize them with new products and services. Their past experiences with the brand will perhaps tempt them to consider buying. Once satisfied, they will even recommend other prospective customers.
- Using social media networks- Social media networks are the best places to contact thousands of customers, getting to know their tastes and preferences and establish an online rapport with them. This is also a good way to show expertise in a field and have people turn to you for advice. A sales pitch subsequently will be received better than a sales call.
- Internet marketing- Internet marketing is the latest marketing tool used by large and small businesses. With millions of potential clients worldwide, chances of success are much higher and time saving, since the same amount of effort is needed for small and large groups.
- Using prospects- A prospect refers to a prospective customer, someone who has expressed interest in the products being offered and the possibility of selling to him are higher. Prospects can be filtered through customer visits, online searches or calls.
- Customer testimonials- Using current customers to share their experiences on blogs, the company website or in advertisements, is the best business promotion tool, which will woo potential customers more than anything else.
- Networking with customer groups- customer groups can be joined to get a feel of what they look for and what they need, and addressing their needs will help in moving closer to a sale.
Cold calling is only one of the many ways to fill the sales pipeline, but there are other more effective ways of getting customers. The secret lies in being proactive, using networking skills, and being constantly on the lookout for an opportunity to make a sales pitch. Addressing groups is often more beneficial in generating more than a single lead unlike cold calling which is most often a one-on-one interaction. With millions of prospective customers available on the world wide web, online marketing may prove to be the most effective.
Posted in Sales Tips
Posted on 17 August 2011.
Facebook is the world’s top social networking site with over 500 million active members and thousands joining each day. With even a small section of this number as customers businesses can make a lot of money. While there are a number of ways of creating a presence on Facebook, one of the easiest ways to sell a business is through advertisements on this networking site. Advertising on Facebook is different from advertising in the real world, since this offers a lot more control and advertisers can select their goals and budgets at the outset.
Facebook requires that businesses first understand the site’s policies and rules, and take approval from the Facebook team. It offers two types of ads:
- Premium ads that have to be routed through the site’s sales team
- Marketplace –these ads can utilize the self serve tool.
Marketplace ads are the most common ones used by most businesses. Any event or page created on Facebook can be promoted and endorsed in the ad, and thus make it more personalized and appealing.
Steps for Creating Ads
- The first step about ad creation is, first understanding the end target to be achieved through it. These could be increasing sales, creating brand or product awareness, get a larger following or promoting specific events. Sales can increase only if people know about your product, see it endorsed by others and your business has a Facebook page already where they get updates, information and offers. Brands need to be popularized through campaigns and getting more and more people to rate products which others can see, and brands need to be highly visible as well. While it is possible to have multiple goals, the best results come from adopting and pursing one goal at a time.
- The next step for creating an advertisement is getting to know the audience, that is, the people who shop online through your website, their location, preferences, age group and so on. This is important since it helps to then create ads that will appeal to the target audience. In fact knowing the audience helps to develop ads accordingly.
- Ad design is the next step. This is time consuming, requires artistic talent and awareness about how to get a message across. Specialists may need to be roped in who can make an ad aesthetically appealing and eye catching. The ad campaign has to have a catchy name and a suitable price can be set. It may be a good idea to take advice from known people and seek their comments on a preview, before submitting it. The advertising button appears at the bottom of the page, and when clicked, it displays a “create your ad” button with various options to choose from. The next step is to click on the link “I Want to Advertise Something I have on Facebook”. The next click has to be on the internal destination, followed by the target options. The title text box will need a heading or title for the ad, followed by the body and the image to be loaded. The ad can be localized to a country, age, gender and these can be typed in the appropriate boxes. Numerous other options follow and can be filled with ease, and the ad is then ready for submission.
Facebook offers advice and tips and has a team of people to assist those who are unable to accomplish ad creation on their own.
Posted in Sales Strategy
Posted on 09 August 2011.
Facebook is a social networking site with millions of members worldwide and more joining every day. An opportunity to reach out to even a fraction of them would give businesses the perfect opportunity to sell their products. Its reach today extends beyond personal networking to business related relationship building. It offers advantages beyond the cost angle since Facebook membership is free and open to everyone to start pages, have a fan club, form groups and so on.
Why businesses need a Facebook page can hardly be stressed enough, since track records of businesses establish the role of Facebook and an increasing number of members look for Facebook pages of the business that the product they are buying belongs to. Some reasons explaining the rationale behind businesses needing a Facebook page include:
- Similar to a website but visible to more members- A Facebook page is similar to having a website but far more effective since it is visible to Facebook members logging in. Customers are unlikely to visit the business website every day, but will see the Facebook page each time they log in.
- Customers connect- Businesses having a Facebook page will soon have their customers connecting and sharing the page through the “like” button with their friends. This proves to be the best advertisement for the business whose page circulates in their groups and connections.
- Ideal way to share all business related information- A Facebook page is the ideal public page where all the latest news and information can be posted. Content shared on the page reaches customers and prospects immediately and they see it as soon as they log in.
- Increases search engine visibility- Search engines love pages that have regular and frequent updates and give them higher rankings. This perhaps explains the reason why Google loves Facebook.
- A viral marketing tool- Businesses can share valuable content through their Facebook pages which will appear on their fans’ news feed and those who find it interesting will pass it on and share by ‘liking’ it, which will place this link on each of their friends’ news feeds. This leads to a viral effect and within minutes the content has spread across borders to thousands of people.
- For customer surveys- Businesses can use the ‘Questions’ tool to ask their fans anything and use it for surveys by posting questions and getting candid replies. Customers love to feel that their opinion matters and this makes them more loyal.
- Event promotion- Facebook allows its members including businesses to create an event and ask people who will be attending it-this helps to gather a much larger presence for an exhibition or sale than would otherwise be humanly possible.
The list of benefits of Facebook is long but businesses need to know that Facebook is the second most visited internet site has over 500 million active users, and half of them log in at least once a day. This makes the chances of the business becoming highly conspicuous very high, and success with customers will logically follow.
Posted in Sales Strategy
Posted on 09 August 2011.
LinkedIn is a social network for businesses that links people professionally and helps them engage with others to share knowledge and take advantage of available opportunities. As a valuable networking tool, LinkedIn helps not only businesses but also helps to establish the credibility of its sales staff who must be encouraged to create their own LinkedIn profiles. This is not just to use social media for business benefits but also because social media uses all its members in numerous ways.
Sales staff may feel that a LinkedIn profile is an unnecessary waste of time, but the need can be explained with the following points:
- The LinkedIn brand is important- It has become common practice to search for the profile of people we meet. This is a way to establish trust and reliability. When sales people create a LinkedIn profile they reveal information about themselves and your business, which can work to the advantage of both.
- LinkedIn helps to create a professional identity- in the highly populated real world, every individual is an anonymous drop in the ocean, but in the virtual world, LinkedIn helps to give him a visible online identity that is easily traceable.
- LinkedIn is a way of engaging- With sales tricks like cold calling dying out and public being resentful of encroachment of personal space, LinkedIn can help to reach out to the highly targeted customer group, and save time, effort and energy, while also seeing a higher success rate.
- Joining sales groups helps- LinkedIn has numerous sales groups which sales teams from other businesses join. This helps them share information, learn from experiences and network beyond the confines of their business.
- Sales staff can improve performance- For the highly motivated sales staff driven by numbers to achieve targets, LinkedIn can help him use it to post information, updates and relevant content and reach out to more people, many of whom may become customers.
- LinkedIn adds credibility and brings respect- Sales teams may never be asked about their track record, positions and successes, but a LinkedIn profile will show customers, their past impressive record, accomplishments, awards and accolades. This enhances the standing of the sales personnel and brings a new kind of respect from customers which eventually ends up convincing them to buy.
- >LinkedIn profiles show the business united in outlook and perspectives- When a sales team has LinkedIn profiles with the same keywords used as the business, it reveals the united front and similarity in perspective helps customers see the business in a positive light.
- LinkedIn to build lists and tag contacts- Sales staff can build lists of contacts and then tag them to send targeted emails messages that may be of interest, besides events and promotions.
- LinkedIn is part of digital sales strategies- When real world sales take more time and effort, digital sales show promise since they are faster and place more resources at the disposal of the sales staff.
Thus LinkedIn is not for businesses alone. It makes perfect sense to have sales staff join this network too, and create a profile that will further their own interests and that of their business.
Posted in Sales Strategy