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Social Networking: The Next Frontier in Selling By Paul Kidston

The internet has revolutionized social networking. It has expanded our reach beyond the typical “grab and greets” to an interactive online world of real time relationships. Blogs are changing the way we define and manage our personal relationships. Is this revolution changing the way we do business with our clients? More specifically, will it change the way we sell in the future?

Most of us have seen news stories describing a disgruntled customer that slays a corporate giant on the alter of the internet. The weapon of choice: A Blog. Images of an Apple Computer demolished by a ticked-off customer resonate in our minds. An audience of over 12 million watches and a corporate giant bends its knees to meet the service demands of its customer. Clearly, blogs have provided a customer voice.

As sales representatives, we must be aware of the “instant information” challenge, and the impact to the bottom-line. Beyond blogs, product and service quality are measured by rating sites throughout the internet. As customers seek value, they seek information. If you are looking for a hotel room, you can find candid comments by previous patrons with a quick search on Google. This is true of almost all products and services. Twenty years ago, I was taught that a happy customer will tell 3 other people, and an unhappy one will tell 11. Today, an unhappy customer may tell 12 million people!

As sales professionals, we are accountable to our clients. The internet has brought us closer to them. These relationships are more real. Customer satisfaction has become more than a statistic. Unfortunately, customers are likely to write negative stories out of frustration. They write far fewer positive stories by comparison. Fixing service issues before they are scribed to the internet is preferable. Erasing or changing a story created by a disgruntled customer is difficult and maybe impossible.

Social networking, through the internet, has changed the way we do business. Sales professionals must take a more active role with their sales support teams. Whether you are a hunter or gatherer, you have a vested interest in the service your company provides. Be an ambassador for your customer. Provide feedback to your internal support team. Help management understand the important and recurring customer issues you have everyday. Use your skills of persuasion to help shape the customer satisfaction curve in your company.
Paul Kidston is the President and owner of Sales Training Experts. Sales Training Experts provides sales and sales management services in the areas of training, coaching, hiring assessments and sales force automation. Visit SalesTrainingExperts.ca.

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