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Confessions, True Stories & Free Drinks: Social Media Session at the Chicago Sales 2.0 Conference

15 September 2009

After a long day of sessions covering Sales Lead Management 2.0, Customer Engagement Strategies,  and the Sales 2.0-Driven Sales Process,  we knew we had to wow the audience of 250 people to keep them engaged. Along with expert moderator David Thompson, CEO of Genius.com, my social media panel-mates, Kevin Popovic, President of Ideahaus, and Nigel Edelshain, CEO of Sales 2.0 LLC, and I  took to the stage last Thursday with beers and glasses of wine in hand.  David, who knows how to warm a crowd,  kicked off our session by announcing “the bar is open!” and set the stage with an overview on the incredible growth of social media (More than 275 million blogs! More than 300 million active Facebook users! ) Kevin, who looks the part of a social media guru (think blond California surf god) kicked off the panel with a staggering survey of all things social media and an introduction of his concept of Satellite Marketing (TM).   Part professor, part British comedy guy Nigel, who authored the popular e-book, “Don’t Cold Call. Social Call” spoke next and showed how prospect outreach + social media to research and personalize conversations produces greater than eight times better results than traditional prospecting (love those metrics!)

I started my presentation with a confession: “a  little over a year ago, I was a social media skeptic.”  Much to my surprise, I’m now considered enough of an expert in using social media and social networking in the sales process that I am invited to speak on the topic at events such as this.

How did this happen?!

Earlier this year, I was introduced to someone who became my company‘s largest client this year.  This may sound commonplace except for one thing: the introduction was made on Facebook. It was enough to make a convert out of me.  Given my own experience starting out with some serious doubts about the ROI of using new media in sales, I focused my talk on a live demo showing  three examples of success featuring real people in real companies generating real results. I told personal stories to show how social media and social networking are helping sales and marketing people generate qualified leads and revenue.

Example #1: Dell Computer’s DellOutlet Twitter team
Dell has generated $2million in revenue in 2 years by attracting over a million followers to its Twitter property, which promotes returned and refurbished products; $3million if you count the additional $1M in sales generated from new products purchased from its main dell.com site that originated from a link in Twitter. It took Dell 18 months to realize the first $1M from Twitter and only six months to generate its second million.

Example #2:Dan Harding, Regional Director of Sales at ConnectandSell

Dan claims 80% of his qualified leads are coming from referrals, social networking and social media, which he considers technologies that leverage his personal referral network.  I wrote about Dan’s use of LinkedIn, which includes using SlideShare and frequent updates to his status to stay front of mind with his contacts, in an earlier post, “Social Networking in Sales: Show Me the Money”. Every time I talk to Dan, who exemplifies a Sales 2.0 leader,  he has a new successful approach to report. He recently closed sales worth 50% of his monthly quota by using social networking to stay connected to customers who have changed jobs.  He learned of these customers’ job changes through LinkedIn Messages and then requested an introduction (via LinkedIn, of course) to the new company.  The new sales closed within 30 days. Dan also “social calls” by reading his customers’ blogs, blogs that are popular in the vertical industries he targets, and blogs that his customers read.  RSS feeds alert him when updates are available, which triggers new personalized customer contacts. Dan then weaves the blog content into his outreach message, letting prospects know he is following them, their industry, or their area of interest.

Example #3: Mark Hamilton, former VP of Marketing at newScale

Mark, who recently left newScale’s CMO post to found a stealth startup,  launched a mixed media campaign which included both traditional programs (press releases, email, webinars) as well as new media (blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn Groups) to announce a new product to a new market and offer a free trial.  The social media used content as the draw to the offer rather than a traditional product push. Within 30 days, $3million in incremental revenue was added to the sales pipeline, 2/3 of which came from social media and networking. 50% of the traditional sales opportunities were qualified opportunities. 90% of those coming from social programs were qualified. As a result, newScale is increasing its investments in social media.

Gerhard Gschwandtner, conference host and Publisher of Selling Power, concluded the session by letting us know he is a strong advocate of social media in sales.  Not only is he on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, among other social networks, he is also blogging once a day.  Check out his post on the Social Media panel for another perspective.

How are you using (or thinking of using) social media and social networking in your sales and marketing efforts? What results are you seeing?