6 Steps to Social Media Sponsorship Sales

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2010 will be the year that social media earns its rightful place along side other traditional marketing media. Many teams have managed to grow a toe hold into a solid foot in the door and with that comes the inevitable ROI question.

If you are looking to layer social media as part of your sponsorship inventory, here are a few ideas/tips on how to get started:

1. Profile Your Base

If you have 100 or so brands that you work with, you should start by profiling your account base. By that, I mean to map out commonalities in the industries (retail, beverage, financial, etc…) and get a picture of what kinds of businesses you are working with. Finding similarities can provide the path of common strategies and approaches to speak the language of your customer. Profiling your base will give you a deeper understanding of what you have to work with.

2. Build a Social Media Matrix

Take those 100 brands and determine which ones are already active in social media. Do they have a Facebook Page or a Twitter feed? Are they active in this space? This is your “A” list.

The next group would be the “me too” brands that are emerging social media marketers. Small followers and small fans, less than consistent content and engagement. This is your “B” list.

The remaining group of brands are your “C” list – brands that are not yet active in social media or not interested.

3. Engage Your “A” List

Time to become a fan and follow your “A” list. You might consider building an alias profile to do this. The idea here is to understand how the brand operates within these platforms and get a real feeling for what the brand is about and how their social media strategy is playing out. Spend a bit of time on this as the information and insight you gain will be very valuable down the road when it is time to talk about alignment.

By alignment, I mean that you will be looking for brands that would be interested to partner with/leverage the online brand that your team represents in the same social media spaces.

4. Collaborate with Your “A” List

Request to meet with your partners to discuss their social media strategies. Find out what their goals are – what their challenges are – what their successes have been. Successful social media sponsorships are built collaboratively with the sponsor and are unique and custom in their approach. Creative teams, web teams and marketing teams need to be in communication to pull ideas together into promotions and campaigns. It’s all about working together, not about just another piece of inventory to sell.

5. Farm the “B” List

Meanwhile, your “B” list may see the opportunity to work with you as a chance to establish their social media presence. Keep going back to this group who may consider you a thought leader and look to find ways to leverage your presence and market. Your “B”s want to be here, and they see you as being in a position to help them. Stay close to them, but spend your time preaching to the converted with your “A” list.

6. Wait for the “C” List to Catch Up

Sponsorship sales can be difficult enough – you shouldn’t be spending your time and energy educating on social media benefits and strategies. These brands will catch up if they feel the need or simply continue on with current marketing efforts outside of the social media sphere. This isn’t a criticism, just the highest and best way to spend your time when social space sales are on the table.

I hope this gives you some ideas and plans on how to approach your base. Remember these are not off the shelf deals – this is not about dropping a link into your Twitter stream or posting a sponsored status update. There is a great deal more at stake in the social space for teams, brands and fans – engagement and collaboration is the key and there must be something in it for everyone.

Networking and Sales

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networkYour network used to be the people you knew, the people who referred you, the people you had some degree of trust with. Then there was the rest of the world – your customers, your prospects and the people who will or would buy from you. These are the people you “followed up” with.

Communicating with the people you know = networking

Communicating with the people you don’t know = selling

This is old school thinking.

If there is one thing that most sellers are genuinely poor at – it is following up. Most follow up opening statements go something like this:

“Hi, it’s Carson from Direct Contact calling – it’s been a few months since we last spoke so I thought I would give you a call today.”

This kind of follow up has absolutely no value for the buyer. It is simply asking/stating that “It has been at least 3 months since you bought something or last said no to me – are you ready to buy something now?” All this kind of salesy talk does is reinforce stigmas and frustrate buyers.

In the paradigm of Sales2.0, this kind of separation no longer exists. Effective sellers do not follow up with but network with their prospects and customers. Who exactly is in your network today? Everybody is. Your customers, your prospects, your friends, your contacts… etc… Sellers are connecting with business people daily – surely there are referral opportunities between prospects and customers in your pipeline right now.

So how do you do that exactly?

Give people something they value – information.

There are a couple of very easy ways to do this. RSS feeds are a great example.If you don’t know what an RSS feed is – click here – and then come back to this post.

Using RSS (or Google Alerts) to collect information to share with your market is an effective way of staying in touch and providing value at the same time. Include the article link in an email with a brief statement such as:

“I came across this and thought of you today – hope things are going well. Let me know if there is anything I can do for you and keep in touch.”

Pretty simple. To the point, No selling allowed.

Stop following up and start networking.

Why Math is Like Sales (And Why it’s Not)

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Sales is a numbers game – how many times have you heard that?

Managing sales by numbers is part of it, but these metrics are more applicable to early sales process functions like business development activities.

X number of calls – Y number of appointments – Z number of meetings

It makes a lot of sense to track these ratios as they will indicate strengths, gaps and required efforts to keep a sales funnel on track. Later sales process management by numbers is focused on average sale value, closing ratio and funnel management.

Here is where I am going with this… Sellers have a direct impact on their numbers early in the sales process, and their ability to control and affect the sale decreases as it moves along… Sellers have direct control over their own production, but buyers have control over the dollars (by and large). Too many sellers try to take back that control far too late in the process – at the close.

equationsThe Math Analogy

Closing is simply like the “=” in sales. It is a function – a result. Mathematics does not happen at the point of “=”, it is a process that results in a value and the same goes for sales. In order to achieve the correct value in math, the process needs to be completed by following the rules and doing them in the right order. The calculations are similar to qualifying in sales – I have said many times that in order to be a better closer, you need to be a better qualifier – either way – if you rush through the calculations or the qualifications, you will get a result, but likely not the correct one. Sellers who focus too much attention on the “=” are missing the point of sales as  it has already happened; the “work” of sales is complete, closing is simply the result of a competent sales process.

This math process analogy can help sellers envision what closing is all about. Math is like sales in a vacuum – a repeatable process. In the real world, sellers are using psychology, presentation skills and benefiting from good timing.

Sales Training and Social Media

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How has social media changed my approach to sales training?

I consider social networks an essential sales tool. Many sales people wish that social media will make cold calling go away – it won’t, but effective social networking skills are increasingly important. Here is why…

Reason #1: Voicemail

  • Sellers have made the telephone a tough way to accomplish business development efforts. Too many calls from too many sellers.
  • Buyers have turned their phones off (more or less) and allowed voicemail to act as their gatekeeper. Many sellers have not adapted to this yet – and continue to pound the phones looking for the needle in the haystack.
  • Sellers need to incorporate a voicemail marketing strategy. Embrace vm, it is not going away and will not be overcome by endless calling.

Reason #2: The Internet

The role of the seller has changed because buyers can leverage the Internet to find out much of what they need about a vendor, product or service without speaking to a rep. Therefore…

  • Sellers who focus on product will struggle vs. sellers who focus on business requirements.
  • Product knowlege is important, but consulting skills are what is needed to get the job done nowadays.
  • Sellers are valued by buyers when they help find better, unanticipated answers to challenges – better than buyers would have arrived at on their own.

Sellers Need Social Networks

The phones won’t get the job done like they used to and your market initiates buying cycles through information available via the internet – so sellers need to be online too. Sellers need to be available and able to respond when a buyer reaches out.

Your market is already there online – this is the point I reiterate with brands as well. Just like any brand, sellers need to be participating, observing and engaging in these communities. The role of the Seller has changed – from product focus to business analyst. Similarly, sellers need to change their business development activities – from prospecting to networking.

Here’s How:

Voicemail Marketing

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Sellers are continually frustrated by voicemail.

It’s one of the main reasons why sales people dislike cold calling. Call – voicemail – hang up… Call – voicemail – hang up…

Cold calling is essentially marketing – and sellers should embrace VM as a marketing tool. We readily accept direct mail as a viable marketing strategy and the results of which are very comparable to cold calling – around a 1% or 2% response rate. So why should VM be any different? VM Marketing has many advantages over direct mail:

  • It’s very inexpensive
  • It’s results are easily measurable
  • You can launch a campaign any time, any day
  • The returns immediate/short term

Build a VM Marketing Strategy in 3 Steps

  1. Create Attention – Craft a brief message, 10-15 seconds. Make sure to leave a strong value prop that addresses a specific target market and need (EG: “Small businesses in a recession need…”)
  2. Set Expectations – Plan VM Marketing for a determined amount of time, perhaps 1 hour. Expect to leave a VM on every call, but be ready for a live person to pick up too…
  3. Measure and Adapt – If you do not receive a call back, adjust your message… Reconsider your target market… Try another value prop. Track your call backs.

Today, voicemail is the real gatekeeper. It has to be – especially in the current economy, there often just aren’t resources available for businesses to answer phones and keep sellers away. But with voicemail, sellers need to consider that every voicemail presents an opportunity to deliver a message; it is  a marketing opportunity. A seller can spend hours cold calling with nothing to show for it – but if the seller takes advantage of the opportunity to view VM as a marketing opportunity, there is the possibility for engagement.

So don’t call it cold calling – this is VM Marketing. Launch a campaign, measure it and adjust it. Try it again. Change it again. Stick with what works. VM is not going away anytime soon, so it’s time to stop complaining about it and leveraging it for what it can do for you.

Final Thoughts on the Commodity Sale (for now…)

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There’s been some great discussion and debate about selling on price vs. value.

You can see the Q&A from Linkedin here.

It’s interesting that my repositioning on Price was perceived as selling “cheap”, and that selling “value” was important than ever. One of the main take-aways here is that there are industry and product/service specific factors. Blanket statements cannot solve these issues, but can generate some ideas and discussion that can result in solid strategies.

While I would never suggest that value is no longer important – consider the following:

A rep for a professional sports organization selling luxury box suites can stand on the “value” of these seats on a vareity of  customer loyalty and engagement perspectives. But the client has it’s marketing budget cut in half – and right now, “valuable” seats will simply not get approval. An empty stadium of “value” will not drive revenue for the sports team and they will lose any concession or related merchandise sales as well.

A rep attempting to sell “value” through a total solution approach may miss the opportunity to grow future business from a potential client because they were unable/unwilling to fulfill the simple need quickly. Not filling the simple need now may cost even larger in the long run when times get better and the client’s growth plans come along.

Value isn’t going away, but price seemed to be a dirty word in sales for some time. Let’s embrace it, and recognize that it is a strategy that we can employ and layer value on over time. Right now, we need to keep moving, keep talking, keep rolling.


More Thoughts on the Commodity Sale

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Back in September, I wrote about the commodity sale.

When I originally positioned the commodity sale and shift away from the consultative process, I received a lot of feedback that I was way off base.

The consultative sales process brings some key elements that should not be abandoned, but have become less important when facing the current economic realities that we are today. At that time, we were on the brink of a recession. Now, selling on price has become a recessionary sales strategy – brands are positioning on price alone.

So much focus has previously placed on the concepts of value – I think many sellers have stopped listening, and their customers have stopped caring. The subjective concept of value is of course important, but let’s also be clear that the pure dollars that any solution costs has value as well. Some how, this became lost in the quest for value.

As I look to the current economy for some positives, or for some ideas on how to provide strategies for sellers to succeed – perhaps we should come to re-embrace the commodity sale in its simplicity. Good sales people will layer on elements of the consultative process, but back at the core – the hard realities of the current economy dictate a return to price driven sales.

How bad can that be?