As our buyers became more savvy, more informed, and more powerful with the growth of SaaS and the flexibility to shift suppliers almost instantly our sales professional realised the need to mature their way of generating leads and winning more business. Gone was the days of sitting on the phone cold-calling prospect after prospect after prospect, gone was the days of an average of 3 calls to reach an executive to set a meeting with it nearer 10 now (if you were lucky). The need to utilise social media to find, engage and understand our buyers was created.
The same logic applies to Customer Success Managers: our stakeholders and contacts are more savvy, more informed and more powerful with the growth of SaaS and the flexibility to shift suppliers almost instantly. Sound familiar? So, as a Customer Success professional what are we doing about it? Everyone’s life is busier now, time is more valuable than ever. I used to joke about the value of the “tea & biscuit” meetings – those meetings with your contacts where there was no agenda, no desired outcome but just the opportunity to catch up over a cup of tea and a chocolate digestive. Like the cold-calling, these are becoming a thing of the past so how else can we keep at the forefront of our customer’s mind?
One of the most critical and arguably easiest, yet still unfathomably under-utilised methods is social media. Over the last 5 years I have worked with several Customer Success professionals at all levels from executive to mid-level to junior and I am surprised at the resistance, the unwillingness and more worryingly the naivety of the growing importance of an active social media presence. I am not saying you need to start liking, retweeting, pinning, posting, insta-gramming every element of your working life but having an opinion, having the willingness to share knowledge, having the ability to interact with your customers, new and old is and can be very powerful and very fruitful.
So where do you start? My advice is to limit your initial foray into social media to one or two networks – my networks of choice are LinkedIn and Twitter. But before you jump in, try and understand what you really want to achieve, who is your desired audience, where do they “play” when it comes to social media? The more artistic industries may choose Pinterest over Twitter, or Instagram over LinkedIn but if it’s a decision-maker at your leading corporate customer the chances are it will be LinkedIn supplemented by some Twitter-action. There are several articles, blogs and posts explaining the demographic of each social media network so take some time to understand that before you build that first profile.
Once you have your social media network selected it comes to the time to start building your profile. This is where it really becomes important to think about the message you want to convey and the type of people you want to attract to follow you. Most social media networks give you the option of adding a photo – I will never understand the unwillingness to add a photo. Select a photo, one that represents you well, one that represents your company and industry well, and one that is a fair and accurate representation of you today – a photo from 20 years ago when you had hair and 8 inches less around your waist is not! Apart from the photo you want a succinct introduction to you and your role, your company & potentially a disclaimer that your opinions are not that of your employer, partner or anyone else who may not agree with your post or comment!
Right, you have a social media network, you have your social media profile and now it is the time to start thinking about who you want to follow, whether that is people, companies, trade associations or competitors. Following the right people and organisations gives you a great insight into company news, opinions and comments from thought-leaders, trade and industry trends and behaviours. Start liking their posts, retweeting and reposting them, but ideally start to comment on them, challenge them and get involved – don’t just be a voyeur! There is a steady flow of articles that will get recycled but your value comes from your personal comment, observation and opinion. As I read just today, arguably you are not doing something well if at least one person doesn’t hate or disagree with you.
Engaging with your customers on social media is a great method of advocacy and involves little investment in time from your customer’s perspective. Often the barrier to success stories and case studies will be time but if you can use Twitter or LinkedIn to get your customer commenting, praising, and selling your solution or service you get a succinct, honest and permanent appraisal for all to see.
Supporting all of this is research by the IDC who observed that:
- 91% of B2B buyers are now active and involved in social media
- 84% of senior executives use social media to support purchase decisions
- 75% of B2B buyers are significantly influenced by social media
So, if those numbers don’t get you thinking about social media and the need to have a presence then nothing will.
While the art of social selling is proven to allow the best sales people to be more successful, to allow them to be more knowledgeable about their prospects and to understand their target market better, however the art and proven value of using social media in the customer success industry isn’t there yet. And it won’t be until we can accept that there is a real need for every customer success professional to have some form of active social media presence.
Without one, well isn’t that just socially unacceptable?