Are You A Marketer?

welding sparks
The spark of a new idea
I write for a somewhat limited, or should I say targeted, segment of the business world. Technical sales firms and professionals conduct their business with a high level of personal contact. The products sold by these professionals generally require consultation between buyer and seller to establish the suitability of the product for its intended purpose. Technical sales is strictly a B2B endeavor, with customers relying on recommendations and expertise that the sales rep brings to the relationship. I write for them, to build their comprehension of modern social media marketing activities and how their business can benefit from thoughtful application of these techniques.
Are you a salesperson, or are you a marketer?
How would you answer this question? Your job title probably implies that you are a salesperson. When hired, the job description likely focused on bringing in business, getting purchase orders. Your performance is quantified in terms directly related to revenue generation. You may feel that marketing is an admin or office function, while you are the one in the field making the personal contact necessary to secure an order. So, are you a salesperson, or are you a marketer?
The answer to the question is .... Yes.
You, as a technical sales rep, are responsible for securing business for your company. You are also an integral part of two brands; one of the firm that employs you and the other of the company represented by your firm. Everything you do creates an impression on someone that relates back to those two brands. That is what makes you a marketer, too.

Keeping your marketing function in mind, capitalizing on it, will help you boost your personal and company presence in the minds of your customers. The goal of your marketing efforts is to have your customer base associate and think of you whenever they think of the types of products you sell. To the extent that you build and nurture that association throughout your customer base, you will succeed. Ever hear the adage "It's not what you know, it's who you know"? Remember this....
It's not what you know or who you know, it's who knows you.
Certainly, if your products are poor quality or do not meet customer needs, you are not going to do well. The reality, though, is that most products are of adequate quality and do fulfill the needs of their targeted customer. As a product specialist, you should be adept at matching your product offering to your customer's application, also at differentiating your products and their attributes from those of your competitors. That is tech sales 101, and there is one significant limitation to that activity. It relies upon the timely connection of the sales rep and the customer, and it is difficult to impossible for the sales rep to know when the time is right and to get an opportunity to make the connection with the customer.
What makes the difference between getting the order and not getting the order?
 And the answer is....being known, at least being discoverable. This is where your marketing efforts, especially those on social media, serve to directly boost your revenue generation. Conduct social media activities that make you visible and showcase your professional skill, knowledge, and interest in your industry. Serious customers want to deal with serious sales reps. Be persistent in your promotional activities because the impact of a single activity can fade quickly. Make social media marketing a part of your personal business plan, or your firm's plan, to increase sales performance. Here are some points to start you thinking about your own plan.
  • If you do not have a social media presence, make one. Start with Twitter (What You Should Be Doing With Your Twitter Account EverydayMaking Twitter Part of Your Success - You Gotta Do It ), then expand to LinkedIn (LinkedIn - The Value You May Not Realize), Facebook, and others you select on your own.
  • Produce or find content (articles, books, pictures, videos, and more) that are interesting and useful to your customer base. Whether your customers may have already seen the article is not important.  That they associate your name with interesting and useful content is.
  • Be consistent in your posting. You want your customers to see what you are doing, so you need to post well and post often.
  • Follow other social media sites and personalities that are relevant to your industry. It is a good way to see examples of valuable content, but be sure to seek out some unique sources of your own.
  • Find and follow customers with whom you have a justifiable business relationship. Be aware that on some sites, like Twitter, it's generally acceptable to follow anyone and you do not need their permission to do so. Other sites may require the permission of the other party to create a connection and you may be looked upon unfavorably for your exuberant efforts to connect with people who do not recognize you.
  • Mention some aspect of your social media presence to your customers when you speak with them. If you want to send them a useful article that was mentioned in a conversation, send a link to your Twitter or other post that contains the article. Your goal is to build connections with potential customers that will expose them to your posts, building your stature as an industry professional.
We are always in search of ways to turn the slope of our sales revenue line upward. Being the tech rep that is contacted to help solve a problem or participate in planning an upcoming expansion is what we all crave. Incorporating an effective social media strategy into your personal business plan has a high probability of getting you known and keeping you top of mind, producing increasing returns for you over an extended time. You are a salesperson. You are a marketer.

Follow, comment, contact me with your questions. I can be contacted directly at CMS4i by putting @TomO in the message section. At CMS4i, we help small companies build their brand and web presence, so contact us anytime.

Work Your Company's Social Media To Make It Work For You

clock with logo time for social media on the face
Let me set the stage for this article. This post, while generally applicable for all interested in social media marketing, is mostly for smaller firms engaging in technical sales. My definition of technical sales...
Technical sales is the art and practice of promoting products requiring consultation between buyer and seller to assure that the delivered product or service will meet the requirements and expectations of the buyer.
If you are a technical sales practitioner, you speak with your customers directly about their challenges and work toward a solution that matches specific products to each application challenge. Your challenge, as a sales professional, is to be known, be the person that gets called to help develop a solution.

Social media can repeatedly reach out and touch your potential customers with a level of efficiency you, as a breathing entity, cannot even hope to achieve. It will put your company's name and brand in front of your customer base, reinforcing your presence and keeping you top of mind when the time comes for your customer to reach out for assistance. Sounds good, right? There is a catch though.
You, technical sales rep, must promote your company's social media presence in order to get the most personal benefit from it.
If you are a tech sales rep for a company, you are a stakeholder in that company's social media marketing program. Increases in recognition of the company brand, products, and capabilities will translate into more opportunities for you to ply your craft directly with potential customers. A successful social media effort requires nurturing on a continuous basis to keep it visible, relevant, and useful. Here are some activities that you can (and should) do:

  • Be a registered follower of every company media site. Your marketing coordinator will gladly provide you with a list of links to every one.
  • Once a follower, start liking and/or commenting on company posts. Your comments should add something interesting or useful to the post.
  • Follow all of the manufacturers and suppliers your company represents.
  • Follow trade groups and other accounts that post content that is relevant to your industry.
  • Find and share good content on your company's social media accounts. You will likely need to coordinate with marketing folks to do this, but the recognition you will receive will be worth it.
  • Mention the company's social media presence to your contacts and encourage them to follow one or more accounts. There is an art to doing this without being boorish. Start small and develop a useful delivery. Keep in mind that your contacts are more likely to follow your recommendation if it provides something of value. The value will likely reside in the content you recommend, so make it useful or interesting.
  • Mention the company's social media presence....I said that already. Do it twice as often as you think you should. It is the most important part of expanding the reach of your company's social media presence.
None of this is difficult, but it takes discipline to incorporate these tasks into your baseline activities every day. If done well, your efforts will win recognition from your employer, as well as your contacts. You can become a go-to source for industry and product news, with your contacts recommending you to others. 
Don't overthink this, just do it. It will work.

Follow, comment, contact me with your questions. I can be contacted directly at CMS4i by putting @TomO in the message section. At CMS4i, we help small companies build their brand and web presence, so contact us anytime.