Mini Case #4: Social Media and SalesJanuary 16, 2009
Social media is a new channel. Through real time social media techniques, like blogging, twitter or online chat, a channel of support or assistance can be focused on a particular topic. It offers an opportunity to interact with a person in a non-threatening manner moving from B2B to P2P – person to person.
As an example, using its social chat capability, IBM increased its leads, improved customer satisfaction, and drove up sales productivity. From their ibm.com/soa web site, IBM leverages a set of pre-determined “qualifications” to pop up an online chat. In just the first 3 months of operation, IBM has seen over 2,845 chats with new customers, resulting in 182 validated leads and is now extending the online chat to Germany, China and Japan.
In addition, Dell Outlet came up with the idea that Twitter may be a solution to the challenges presented, by offering Twitter-specific promotions and featured products. The goals were: 1. To drive increased traffic, and thus increased demand for particular products for which Dell Outlet has inventory greater than desired levels and 2. To grow the pool of Dell Outlet’s Twitter followers to the point where it is sizable enough to have an impact on specific demand-generation postings.
Dell Outlet’s Twitter strategy revolves around regularly posting Twitter-only offers. When a new tweet is posted, it generally provides followers a coupon code to obtain a discount on that particular model in the Dell Outlet. Typically, this coupon is exclusive to Twitter, so they are able to measure the redemptions and know that it was due to being posted on Twitter. Twitter followers may share coupons easily with Twitter friends in a viral fashion
For Dell, Twitter represented a new way to reach customers. Ricardo Guerrero, a key visionary for this work at Dell, claims that per their latest surveys, a significant portion of people who bought through Twitter were not aware of the Dell Outlet before Twitter. And by tracking the coupon code, in the first year utilizing Twitter as a promotional tool, Dell Outlet generated over $500,000 in revenue in sales of refurbished systems.
The social media channel provides a way to respond “just in time”, not waiting in a reactive mode. In fact, it allows a pre qualification process for new customers. It gives you the ability to have a conversation with your prospects when they’re most receptive — while they are on your website or on your Twitter Channel actively gathering information.
- Skills matter. The presence in front of prospects is very important, so you want your best and brightest reps doing the real time chats. They need to be very knowledgeable about the products and services not simply communicating at a high level.
- Your mom taught you etiquette! Use it online! There is online etiquette for inviting people to chats, and for chatting with them once they accept. For example, don’t immediately pop up an invitation within the first 30 seconds that a person is on your site — it’s pushy.
I’d love your comments on your best practices with Social Media and to see your thoughts on the online portions of the book! See it in action – don’t just read the words!