Social Media is a 'new' way to sell. Selling is, after all, about relationships. People do business with people that they "LIKE" and merely having a website, literature, advertising,etc. isn't going to generate revenue.
What Social Media is doing is creating a new paradigm. I know that that sounds cliché. But I believe that it's creating a new "type" of business. Traditional marketing adapted, very successfully in the 1980's thru 1990's, to creating websites after they had experience in graphics, advert buys, copywriting and literature development. It was a natural evolution.
However, Social Media has created an environment where front line sales and front line customer service people are directly affected. Frankly, the people who tend to "get it" are the folks in the sales and CRM areas: It makes sense to them. It's about one-on-one relationships. It's what they already do.
I've spoken to a great deal of sales people who have expressed concerns about their "marketing" departments not "getting it" Not that that "disconnect" is a new phenomenon, but now they are seeing how it can directly affect their income.... and they want more control so they can make more money, have better relationships and sell more.
I read an article over twenty years ago that said "Small companies spend years trying to become big companies and big companies are constantly trying to figure out ways to become as responsive, nimble, and aggressive as small companies." The reality is that the people who are the best salespeople don't always make the best managers and the best managers are not generally the best salespeople (Yes, there are always exceptions.)
As companies get bigger they create marketing, customer service and sales departments. Marketing management consults sales management and, in good faith, creates tools for the field.
Sometimes they get it right. Sometimes they don't. Sometimes sales management doesn't always "get what the sales people need." In the new Social Media paradigm, marketing will work more closely with sales and customer service. Marketing will create the tools and sales and customer service will USE them with an insight role from marketing. Note, I said "insight" and not "oversight". That loss of control could take some getting used to, but THAT is what is going to drive ROI.
A Blending of Roles
So, I suspect we are going to see a "blending" of sales PR, CRM and marketing functions. I also think we are going to see new leaders sprout up within this new paradigm. Their backgrounds could be in marketing, customer service and/or sales. Social Media converges these traditionally separated business units and skill sets.
I have spoken to a number of traditional marketing people who have approached me to ask a variety of questions about social media. More often than not I find that there is a certain level of discomfort:
"I don't know these products"
"I don't know these services in that level of detail"
In fact, I sat in on a marketing webinar recently and listened to the moderator say "We're getting a lot of comments about how people are uncomfortable talking about budgets and ROI. If you're not comfortable talking about budgets you should take a sales class, we can't help you with that" The marketing folks that "get" selling and understand that something has to be sold in the new paradigm will be successful.
Certainly delivering "analytics" is valuable, but when it comes down to the brass tacks someone has to sell something and there has to be a demonstrated ROI for social media. You can't just come in, build it, create graphics and say "Here's how you measure it". You have to "DO IT" and/or .... you have to train.
Unlike traditional marketing that would create a website and great landing pages, now marketing has to either become much more intimate with the products or service, that is, they have to know how to "sell," or they need to know how to "train" people how to use the new sales tools... and it is my belief that THAT is what Social Media tools are: Sales Tools. Marketing need not learn the product or service nuances, they need to teach the right people how to use them...
"A man's got to know his limitations." - Lieutenant Briggs
As a result of Social Media I think we will see marketing, sales, and customer service arrive in the space together, each bringing a "piece" of what they are good at to create something new. I think the tool has finally arrived that can make everyone more responsive, nimble, and aggressive. Now the trick is to get the tools in the right hands and the right leadership in place.
Here’s a link to several articles on the same subject: