My Social Media Tool Kit

September 27, 2010 at 8:50 pm | Posted in Networking, Social Media | Leave a comment
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Here are a few resources that I use and recommend:

Mobile

I’m a Blackberry user. Not that I prefer it to iPhone as there are advantages to both. I still drive a lot of email. Here’s some of the social apps that I use:

  • Twitter for Blackberry – I’m a reformed UberTwitter user
  • Facebook app – pretty basic
  • Foursqaure – self-explanatory
  • Google Maps – ditto
  • ScoreMobile – best sports scores/news app there is
  • Bolt – a decent (free) browser

Desk Top

  • New Twitter – great upgrade, still getting used to it
  • Twitter Counter – nice way to benchmark growth (or lack there of…)
  • Sports Fan Graph – essential sports/social media ranking tool
  • HootSuite – my favorite social media dashboard
  • Facebook – my dummy account to track teams/brands & test things
  • Linkedin – a must… my social CRM
  • Raportive – social profiles integrated into Gmail

If you use/like/don’t like any of these? Use something not mentioned here? Let me know…

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6 Questions for Jay Feaster

April 6, 2010 at 10:42 am | Posted in Blogging, Linkedin, NHL, Social Media, Sports Marketing | 1 Comment
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I recently connected with Jay Feaster (NHL Insider on NHL Radio, Blogger for The Hockey News and EVP and GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning, 2002-2008) and asked him the following questions about social media, sales and sports:

1. What impact does social media have on your  bi-weeky blog on the The Hockey News (or your work with NHL Live)?

Social media really doesn’t impact my bi-weekly blog for THN.com. I am not a Facebook person and I don’t use Twitter or follow anyone on those social media outlets. I read the newspapers and beat writer blogs from around the NHL, I always check TSN.com, I try to keep up on what Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun  and E.J. Hradek write on ESPN.com and I often read HockeyBuzz.com; however, I don’t use the social media sites. I also watch as many games as possible every night and I make it a point to catch NHL on the Fly on NHL Network.

2. From your perspective at the Executive level – what do you most dislike about sales people?

I dislike sales people who don’t understand the product and those who don’t respect the product. I believe the Hockey Operations Dept and the Sales Staff must work together in order for an organization to be successful. However, it is important that the sales staff understands the demands on the players and respects the chain of command. It is also frustrating when the sales personnel treat everyone in the same manner. B/c the demands on the players are so great we need to make sure that it is our VERY BEST customers we are “rewarding” with the special perks of a player’s time, travel with the team, etc. Just as in Las Vegas you won’t see a casino comping the once-in-while customer who gambles a couple hundred dollars, but rather takes care of the true “high rollers,” it needs to be the same in our business. We need to truly reward the very big spenders!

3. What qualities/skills or attributes do you think are required to make a good sales person?

I want our sales people within the organization to be hard-working, honest, bright, knowledgeable, personable, and able to relate to our potential customers. You need to be driven and you need to have a passion for what you are doing.

4. In your day-to-day work as a GM and/or EVP, did social media factor into your work?

It didn’t factor in all that much in Hockey Operations; however, it would be a much bigger factor now than it was prior to my departing the team in July of 2008. The organization needs to use the various social media outlets to its advantage, and were I managing a team now I would certainly utilize the technology. (I would look to Ted Leonsis and the Washington Capitals for the blueprint or road map on how to do it best b/c I really believe Mr. Leonsis has the Caps at the cutting edge of the social media phenomenon.)

5. Are you a regular linkedin user? What does linkedin do for you?

I enjoy linkdedin and I use it on a regular basis. I like to see what my former colleagues are doing and the various groups they have joined. It is a great way to keep in touch with people and network at your own pace and pleasure.

6. What gets you interested or excited about the NHL or member clubs use themselves regarding social media?

Again, I think we can all learn a great deal from the Washington Capitals and how they have made use of the various social media forums. There are so many uses an organization can make and it’s clear that player agents are aware of the value such sites have for their clients. We live in an information age, and it is great to be able to get critical information to our fans quickly and, in many cases, in real time. Without a doubt, in the event I am fortunate enough to land another job managing an NHL Club, I would make extensive use of social media as a way to stay in touch with and inform fans. The more we can do to make fans feel like “insiders” the better our chances of retaining those fans for life, and social media helps make that possible.


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My Interview on 1to1Media.com

April 1, 2010 at 12:52 am | Posted in Business Development, CRM, Linkedin, Sales Methodologies, Sales Tips, Social Media | 3 Comments
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I was recently interviewed by Liz Glagowski of 1to1media.com regarding social media and sales.

Here is a link to the interview, but I have also included the text below as the site requests that you register to view it (which readers may not want to do here)…

Will Social Media Be the End of the Cold Call?

As social media’s adoption continues to grow in the consumer market, B2B companies are also now incorporating Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, wikis, and other collaboration tools into their business.

Social media tools for business started primarily in the marketing department for promotions and customer communications. Then companies like Comcast, Dell, and others began to use social media as a customer service tool, with positive results. The next logical step is to extend social media tools into the sales organization.

A recent study of more than 1,500 consumers by market research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey and iModerate Research Technologies found that 51 percent of Facebook fans and 67 percent of Twitter followers are more likely to buy the brands they follow or are a fan of.  “While social media is not the magic bullet that some pundits claim it to be, it is an extremely important and relatively low cost touchpoint that has a direct impact on sales and positive word of mouth,” says Josh Mendelsohn, vice president at Chadwick Martin Bailey.

As consumers adopt social media in their personal lives, their expectations extend to their professional lives as well. Many expect a salesperson to deliver a relevant message by doing some research to understand their wants and needs before calling. And much of that information lives on social media sites.

The current state of social media within the sales organization, however, is generally one of cautious optimism, with very limited implementation. For sales professionals, social media usually means one of four things:

1. A place to build a trust-based relationship with prospects and clients

2. A collaborative platform for internal sharing

3. Something marketing does

4. A distraction from getting real work done

“Many companies perceive social networks as ‘distractions’ or activities that take away from a sales force’s ability to sell,” says Carson McKee, owner of social media consulting company Direct Contact. “Many sales leaders think social media is about ‘friends’ and does not hold much value for business. But this is changing quickly…especially among companies whose industries are technology-based. These are places where the market is; sellers need to be there too.”

Social media is quickly becoming a business platform. A new Altimeter Group research report, Social CRM: The New Rules of Relationship Management, highlights 18 use cases for social CRM. Three of them pertain specifically to sales: social sales insights, rapid social sales response, and proactive social lead generation. According to authors Ray Wang and Jeremiah Owyang, these efforts involve ranking social media platforms based on their influence with sales prospects; targeting sales efforts based on potential sales triggers with helpful conversation; and using the peer-to-peer advantages of social media tools to reach customers and potential customers who would like to be educated by the organization or its ambassadors.

Sites like LinkedIn and Ning, designed specifically for the business community, are perfect places for sales professionals to make connections, join networks, share their insight, and learn from others about what business challenges need solving.

“The benefit of using social media for sales is that it’s practically free mind reading,” says Chris Brogan, social media strategist and coauthor of Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust. “Prospects talk about their day, about what’s on their mind, about what matters to them inside and outside of work. If you’re a salesperson who can’t use that information, what’s your value?

“The challenge to using social media for sales is that not everyone wants to mix their social tools with their business interests,” he adds. “Salespeople have to tread gently, work from the relationship paradigm, and remember to be human and two-way.”

Collaboration, not just fans
One sales expert thinks of social media in a different way. John Aiello, CEO of Savo, says sales professionals should use social media as internal collaboration tools to bring together sales with subject matter experts at relevant points in the sales cycle. “The term social media implies the concept of Facebook, Twitter, and others,” he says. “I think it’s about socially enabling the organization to make sure its best resources are being presented in every single selling conversation.” This means sharing information throughout the organization. Savo’s tools, along with others such as salesforce.com’s Chatter and Google Wave, are helping to put that concept into practice. “In the future, I think you will see CRM systems operating more like social networking sites do,” adds McKee of Direct Contact.

Brogan agrees. “I think learning how to wire the social tools much deeper into organizational execution is what will really change the game,” he says.

What the experts also agree on is that there is no one right or wrong way to approach social media strategy. “I believe that companies should evaluate and determine what kind of social media presence they want to have — what are the goals and what are the platforms they will use? This is important from an organizational strategy… Ideally, sales efforts would fit into this over-arching strategy,” McKee says.

The bottom line: What’s the ROI?
Social media’s benefits as a sales tool are numerous, but so are the challenges. The biggest challenge to the sales function is that it hasn’t been proven a revenue generator, and salespeople don’t want to waste time on fruitless efforts. “I don’t see tons of companies doing it, but I see that they’re picking it up,” says Brogan. “Small businesses are getting there faster. Enterprises are still wondering how to tip toe into the water.”

Most sales success stories currently come as a by-product of successful social media marketing initiatives. For example, Forrester Research recently published a case study about financial services company USAA, which posted customer ratings and reviews on its site. Requests for auto loan quotes jumped from 28 percent to 30 percent after the company launched the social tool, and led to 15,978 additional products and policies sold across its five main product lines in the first year. Other companies have seen higher website conversion rates and purchases from inbound marketing and brand-building activities done through social media, as well.

“Every large company is exploring social strategy to go where customers already are,” says Al Falcione, senior director of product marketing at salesforce.com. “We’re in the early adoption part of the cycle. Companies are listening to what customers are saying in real-time and joining the conversation.”

Brogan echoes the importance of just listening. “I think listening tools are the first and most important part of it all.”

McKee goes one step further, recommending all sales professionals join LinkedIn to start, and then operationalize a social media strategy. “No matter who you are or what you sell, you need to be on LinkedIn at the very least,” he says. “Adding a social media business development strategy to your sales process is not important — I believe it is essential.”

Linkedin and Selling the Social Space

March 10, 2010 at 5:39 pm | Posted in Linkedin, Sales Tips, Social Media, Sponsorship, Sports Marketing | 2 Comments
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As sales teams look to incorporate social media space into their inventory, I think its time to focus for  a minute on Linkedin.

Many people call Linkedin the “Facebook for business”. I’m not 100% in agreement with that statement, but Linkedin certainly is a powerful and important social network. Personally, Linkedin has been vital in my own experience having been the stating point for projects, clients and even full time jobs. I consider being on Linkedin a must.

As sports sales teams are out there looking to increase their sponsor business – and for many accounts, this means the incorporation of social spaces, I think it makes sense for sales departments and marketing teams to spend some time ensuring their presence on Linkedin is strong.

Here’s how:

  • Update your “Company” profile – Marketing should have a look at this; be consistent with other messages
  • Ensure that all sales people have profiles – using Linkedin as a business development tool is essential in this space…
    • Reach out/connect with sponsors/contacts = Re-enforce existing relationships
    • Continue to build out networks and contacts
  • Is the Executive/Management team represented? This lends to credibility…
  • Consider starting a business networking group for your teams’ fans
  • Link to other social media platforms

If you are selling the social space, you need to be on Linkedin. It just makes sense.

More about using Linkedin as a business development tool by clicking here.

Information is Free

May 20, 2009 at 12:12 pm | Posted in Blogging, Business Tips, Facebook, Linkedin, Networking, Sales Tips, Social Media, Twitter | 6 Comments
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FreeBeware of sales resources that charge for information on social media.

Tools like Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook are free and hardly new. There is a great deal of information about their use and value for sellers available on the Internet. Charging hundreds of dollars for seminars and using terms like…

By this time next year, the gold rush to social media marketing will be near complete.”

… are misleading and false.

In addition, announcements like this one (eNewsletter focused on sales and social media) use sales techniques that are just plain cheesy and a turn off for many buyers. It just rubs me the wrong way and reinforces the sales stigma that I try to combat in my own training.

My Method

I freely share information to sellers, marketers or interested persons on what social media tools can do for them through this blog. My way is to share information that people may value and continue to follow. I appreciate this and their ideas/comments. Sometimes, those conversations turn into opportunities or projects – things that I do charge for, but only when it is for my direct services – not for information that is free to all.

Charging for such info flies in the face of what social media marketing is all about.

Google Profiles vs. Linkedin

April 22, 2009 at 2:05 pm | Posted in Business Tips, Google, Linkedin, Networking, Social Media | Leave a comment
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There have been some interesting developments in the professional/business social networking landscape as Google is now positioning Google Profiles in a major way by featuring them in Google searches…

Unfortunately, this is not currently available in Canada as of yet (shame) so I cannot provide a detailed post. By the time it is available here, it will be too far past the fact. I feel this is an important development and I wanted to make my readers aware…

Here is a post from TechCrunch that tells the story – bottom line, you had better get your Google Profile together now.

Here is my Google Profile.

Ticket Sales and Sponsorship via Social Networks

March 31, 2009 at 10:46 am | Posted in Facebook, Linkedin, Marketing, Networking, Social Media, Sponsorship, Sports Marketing, Twitter | Leave a comment
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If you are in ticket sales or corporate sponsorship sales, here are some tips for marketers and sellers alike…

facebook2

Facebook is a great tool for “soft” networking with friends and family. The idea behind using Facebook as a sales tool is not to use it to sell, but participate in communities, monitor activities, and leverage the PR factor of Friend networks.

  • Build your network:
    • Friends
    • Family
    • Coworkers (past  & present)
    • Alumni
    • Make it known that you sell tickets
  • Join local Facebook networks (your city)
  • Join your teams’ Facebook fan page
    • Drive your network to it
    • Reference it  in your status updates
  • Join your sponsor’s Facebook pages
    • Monitor their use
    • Keep up to date on their activities
    • Discuss their strategies with them
  • Keep your profile professional

twitter-logo1

The primary goal of using Twitter for sports marketing is to allow fans to get “closer” to their team and reward them with offers and real time info they cannot get elsewhere. Once your follower base grows, you can look to leverage targeted sponsorship activation.

  • Release unclaimed reserved game tickets offers via Twitter
    • Include links to purchase them
  • Follow key brands, see how they use it
  • Follow your team and other teams Twitter feeds
  • Share relevant information and links with your followers
  • Build followers from your other networks

linkedin-logo1

Linkedin’s best fit is for sponsor and corporate partner networking. There are apps to leverage here, like the ability to share documents or slide shows. Networking is all about what you can do for other people, so actively look to help out and connect your contacts. Give referrals to your contacts, and share information with them that can make a difference in their day. Don’t sell here – be informative and available.

  • Building and strengthen existing contact relationships
    • Connect with clients (previous as well)
    • Search for existing prospects/contacts
    • Build credibility through Recommendations
  • Search out contacts, but do not sell to them
      • Build relationships, look to understand their goals and ideas
  • Share information with your contacts
    • Give them relevant info that matters to them
    • Keep them informed
    • Ask how you can help them

Fans, sponsors, brands are all participating in social media communities right now. These are places you need to be representing your organization as well. The approach here is not to sell or to pitch, but to be available, involved and participatory. Building your network and strengthening your relationships is what will provide you the opportunity to sell.

3 Levels for Sales and Social Networking

March 23, 2009 at 9:41 pm | Posted in Blogging, Branding, Entrepreneurs, Facebook, Networking, Personal Brand, Sales Tips, Social Media | 10 Comments
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social_network_diagrams2bThere are 3 stages that sellers need to go through in order to use the tools of social networks to their fullest. It doesn’t matter if you are starting out, or are already on the path – social media networks are vital in sales today:

  1. Begin with a Profile
  2. Leverage your Presence
  3. Work as a Hub

Begin with a Profile

There are countless people who build a profile and then let it sit… this passive approach won’t work. Just like your phone doesn’t ring, you won’t get much out of building a profile and leaving it alone. A few thoughts on profile building:

  • Use a good picture - pics are standard now, and not having one reads as absence – especially in sales.
  • Be in the Right Networks - Consider your use of Linkedin (no brainer), Facebook, Twitter… you need to be where your market already is. Do some searching around to find your spot(s).
  • Be Active – Update, post, use, build and change your profile; make yourself visible and interesting (and professional).
  • Keep it 1st Person – Avoid the 3rd person narrative of “Carson is a dedicated…”, Use ‘I’ and ‘my’.

Leverage Your Presence

Now that you have a profile, you need to actively build out your network. As I have said before, with Sales2.0, there is no prospecting – it is simply networking:

  • Search for and connect with all your customers on social media platforms
  • Search for and connect with your top prospects
  • Business Development: Seek new contacts by profile searching for your ideal contact, reach out with a simple message – not a pitch
  • Join appropriate groups to expand your network and connect with target industry professionals
  • Use RSS feeds to share information with your network

Work as a Hub

5265503___networkOnce you have been actively operating on social media platforms, the next level is to operate as a hub or central node of your network. What it means to be a “hub” depends on your business and your role as a seller within it.

  • For a sales force rep- operating as a hub is more of a central network node – someone who is well connected, someone with information to share and is considered a source or a conduit.
  • For a business owner or solo entrepreneur – working as a hub means to build a core – like a blog, or a group or a specific network, a virtual place or destination for people when they are online to access what you know and share what they have.

These are the 3 main concepts behind sales and social networking – which level are you currently operating from?

Coming Soon: New LinkedIn Contact “Tags”

January 29, 2009 at 12:30 pm | Posted in Linkedin, Networking, Productivity | 2 Comments
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Linkedin invited me to try a beta feature which allows users to group their contacts with tags.

Tags like “Colleagues”, “Friends”, “Partners” and such… and it also allows you to create and manage your own tags as well. It’s a pretty self explanatory system and one that I think improves usability.

The heavy lifting comes upfront when you starting organizing and assigning tags to your contacts. For most, this in’t too painful and can serve as some much needed housekeeping. Unless of course you are a LION, and it will take you weeks to tag your 30,000 connections – wait – no… you can simply create a tag for “People I Don’t Know” and mass assign them.

All kidding aside, I’m looking forward to this new feature and to seeing how it integrates into the rest of Linkedin’s functions.

3 Social Media Tools for B2B Sales

January 28, 2009 at 1:24 pm | Posted in Business Development, Linkedin, Networking, Productivity, Sales Methodologies, Sales Tips, Social Media | 2 Comments
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Here are 3 great social media tools for B2B sellers:

  1. Linkedin
  2. Brightkite
  3. RSS

Linkedin

Ok – no real need for a deep analysis here – Linkedin is a place you need to be if you are engaged in social networking for business. If you use nothing else – use this. Some tips for use:

  • Use your LI profile as your core – drive your network here
  • Get a good photo of yourself
  • Get some recommendations up there from both colleagues and clients
  • Connect with all your top prospects and current customers
  • Don’t “sell” through your profile

If you concentrate on building a powerful network (that means your contacts are active and that they know you), and focus on positioning yourself as someone who brings value to their network and who provides expertise in their field – buyers will seek you out. At the same time, you are always available and reaching out…

BrightKite

Brightkite allows you to “check in” or post your position on a map so your network (or Sales Manager!) will be able to see where you are at any given moment. If a contact can see that you are out on the road – they may reach out to you to leverage your proximity. If your network is using Brightkite, you will be able to see what they are up to as well on any given day which can allow you to meet up. All this is done via your handheld/mobile device. Brightkite increases and promotes your visibility, it helps people find you if they want/need to. Who knows who may be at the same baseball game, or conference, or stuck in traffic…

You can also benefit from using Brightkite with internal resources as well.

RSS

Nothing could be easier and bring more value to your network than RSS feeds. What is RSS? Click here to see a brief explanation of what RSS is and does.

Get yourself a Reader (I use Google) and start subscribing to feeds – things that your network will care about. Things like their industry or your industry, things about their company or your company, things that are important to you in your role. Beyond providing some great background and building your knowledge – you can share this info with your network. Don’t sell… provide something that your network will care about – give them something they can actually use.

You can further leverage your RSS feeds by using other tools like Twitter, Facebook or Delicious to promote and share info with your network. No matter what the platform is – keep finding interesting, informative and valuable information to push out.

In Closing…

In the world of Sales 2.0 there is no “Prospecting” or “Following Up” – it is simply networking. In the Sales 1.0 world there was your “network” – a group of people who gave you tips and referrals and there was your “prospects/customers” – the group of people you sold to and who bought from you. It doesn’t work like that anymore…

Now – there is just 1 network. Some are people who will buy from you, some never will. Some will refer you business, others will receive your referrals. Some are your friends and family. Some are on multiple platforms (like Facebook or Twitter). Some are colleagues and some are clients.

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