Saturday, August 20, 2016

Social selling for the healthcare vendor, if not now, when?

There is a fair amount of writing that goes on nowadays about the importance of inbound sales and social media selling.  The genesis of which is a dramatic change in the market from the sellers to a buyer's controlled matrix, and a new customer journey process to purchase. Oh, and it also doesn’t help the seller when one sees that providers and physicians are using the IoT and social media to find out who is a thought leader in their software or service space.

If the vendor is not actively present in social media and producing excellent thought leadership, and still focusing on selling features and benefits, then no wonder so many vendors are falling behind and missing the sales, revenue and growth target.

And no it’s not marketing’s sole responsibility.

Here is where I hear, I don’t have the time or the best one, “that’s marketing’s role.” No, it’s not marketing's job.  Social media selling is an organizational focus and participatory event.  Marketing does have a role, a critical role, but it’s not their sole responsibility to accomplish.

It’s really about a high degree of sales and marketing integration.

And that means sales and marketing are working together in a highly integrated fashion. Marketing can create the content, write and post the blogs, manage the Facebook and LinkedIn company page, Twitter account, Vimeo, YouTube, Google+, etc.  but that is only one portion. 

Success comes when marketing has been working closely with the sales team or client executive that identified what thought leadership content prospects and customer need, to provide a solution to their challenges. It’s about the having the right content at the right time shared by the client's executive to create trusted advisor status.

It’s not about marketing going into the sales executives LinkedIn page to post as a share.

That’s the easy way out for sales and an inefficient use of marketing resources and human capital.

So how is social selling done to gain credibility?

Social selling is every day. And it’s not that hard, especially with all is the sharing buttons available on websites that allow you to share on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook Goggle+ and a million other platforms. Less than 30 seconds to point, click, share.

Plus, it’s not asking the sales execs to do anything out of the ordinary either.  If a sales exec is not getting industry e-newsletters and not doing research to stay abreast of industry developments, well, then there is a bigger problem.

Marketing can do an awful lot in creating the toolbox of content, shortened links and create the 144 character tweets so sales can copy and paste. It makes it even easier when the company uses a social media crowdsource application like Thunderclap. Everyone in the organization signs up with a personal twitter account on the business’s page. And then, when the company tweets, it goes out automatically to all followers on their Twitter account.  No fuse, no mus. Marketing can also create a training program on how to do. Once you get started, not that hard. Not that hard at all.

In the end, it starts with sales identifying what social media their clients and prospects are using and following. It’s about connecting on LinkedIn, Twitter, and on whatever social media platforms they use.  It’s about reading client and prospects company blogs leaving relevant comments and sharing their blogs.  It’s about sharing your companies blog post and thought leadership. It’s about marketing running an inbound solution oriented marketing program that gives a reason for prospects to call and inquire.

Social selling takes effort, time, and patience. Never said it would be easy or not take any dedicated time or work.  But, it is how the successful competitors are beating you day in and day out.

Back to the question asked earlier, if not now, when?

Michael is a healthcare marketing business, marketing, and communications strategist and thought leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare marketing strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters receives over 20,000 page views a month.  He is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association and HubSpot Academy- Email Marketing, Inbound Marketing & Inbound Sales Certified.

For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join his group,  Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.

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