IBM, the world’s largest IT services and consulting firm has managed to convert its sales staff into social media savvy professionals! Technology is best discovered online! Over the past few years there has been a steady rise in IT professionals using social media for product research. And with that in mind, IBM wanted to tap into the professional IT community via social media channels to support sales of its cloud services.
IBM selected cloud computing product division for launching social selling pilot. The objective was simple to find out the trends and issues being discussed in cloud computing. IBM roped in global digital marketing agency Mason Zimbler to handle their social media engagement. To begin with an empowering social media programme was developed to train the sales representatives to use LinkedIn and Twitter intelligently and effectively. At its core, the programme adopted a listen and respond model.
Listening is the biggest tool for starting a conversation. And like so in the virtual world, only those sales reps will make inroads who have good listening and observation skills. It also involved identifying the prospects and following their topics, queries and posts. IBM also developed the social media toolkit that empowered every sales rep to join online discussions, answer queries, and make informed recommendations that went beyond their sale-led activities. IBM, of course, drew on its own resource pool to generate ideas and content that was cutting edge and in sync with what the prospects wanted. Reps were further trained to engage potential clients and communities with real and genuine conversations. The content calendar (usually a marketing responsibility) was shared with the reps and they were trained on how to use that for online conversations. Each representative was further equipped with a personalised digital page. Much like a personal meeting room, this allowed the rep to offer appropriate solutions.
Six months after the launch: