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New Business Bites: Integration, the key to social selling

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The Drum Network’s new business bites series aims to divulge bite sized pieces of wisdom for agencies in gaining new business. New business is always at the top of the agenda for most of the 30,000 agencies in the UK, but is there enough new business for all of them? New Business Bites is here for small to medium sized agencies to gain some tips in winning new clients and building their pipeline. Bites are provided by new business connoisseurs. This week, Katie King, managing director of Zoodikers, talks about how we need to keep up with the social pace of change within the industry to stay on top of new business.

Katie King, Zoodikers

In the past decade, change has accelerated at dizzying proportions. We are in a constant state of disruption. Just when we think we’re getting to grips with the new, it gets really old.

The most significant change in our world is that digital connectivity has put power in the hands of the customer. Instead of being passively influenced by marketing and sales, they actively search, research and compare.

Historically, your marketing team created awareness around your product, through paid for advertising, press releases, sponsorship, trade fairs. It was a one-way street of communication. Meanwhile your sales team, working separately, might have been knocking on doors, hitting the phones or following up leads to arouse interest. There was little, if any, communication between the teams, apart from the bottom line.

How can that process possibly work in a world where 75% of purchases now start with an online search by the buyer? A world where prospects can compare your product or service to everything like it and buy from the competition without you even knowing they exist.

Things have changed immeasurably. Which is why you need to change the way you work. You need prospects to find you and to like you. Then they might just buy from you.

Social media is no longer the exclusive domain of marketers. It’s not about pushing messaging. It’s about conversations. It’s about connecting and engaging. It needs to be integrated into the very DNA of your business.

It therefore starts at the top. If your C-level executives are suspicious about social media – if they only see risk - and potential PR disasters from gung-ho staff and damaging customer complaints going viral – they’ll draw down the shutters and cut off all that opportunity.

If, on the other hand, they are social media savvy, they’ll be prepared to invest in training to optimise its potential and reduce risk, to reconfigure operations so that departments work together digitally, not in silos.

Similarly, the sales team trained in social media will be listening to the market digitally. LinkedIn, for example, can help pinpoint the individuals you need to be connecting with and identify sales prospects you never knew existed.

This is still not the time, however, to go for a hard sell. All your work will be undone if you go for the jugular now. Integration is key. All your departments need to be working towards the same goal so that wherever your prospect looks for information, they find you and they like you.

Katie King will be speaking at The Drum's Brief Encounters event on October 20th. Click here to find out more about the excellent line up of speakers and sessions.