Should Sales People Be Blogging?
I’ve been reading a lot of opinions about sales people blogging–many favoring this. Frankly, I think this is dead wrong, from a business point of view, I’m not certain that sales people blogging is an efficient or effective use of their time. Don’t get me wrong, I think all sales professionals should be actively participating and leveraging social media, but I don’t see a whole lot of value in having sales people blogging–at least regularly.
What do we want sales people to blog about? Perhaps they could “pitch our products,” they could write about our products, features, functions, feeds and speeds. If I were a sales executive, it would seem like a tremendous waste of time, duplication of effort, creates great exposure for our overall messaging, and reinforces behaviors we should be trying to avoid. Think about it, isn’t that the function of our marketing organizations? Don’t we want them to create a whole stream of communications–correctly positioning our products and solutions, tailoring the messages to specific customer problems, creating a stream of customer experiences and interactions? Why do we need sales people jumping in and doing what they think best, as well? If I have 10 sales people, why do we need them each expressing their opinions about the latest greatest widget we announced? What’s the purpose of 10 views of the product spec sheet? Just when I’m trying to get sales people to engage customers in a conversation and not just regurgitate the latest PowerPoint presentation, why do I want to have 10 people spending their time reinventing the wheel–and probably not doing it as well as our marketing people?
Some might say, “Dave, you have it all wrong, the sales people should be writing about issues and problems, nurturing the customer through their buying process.” Well, I don’t get it, I think that’s an important function, but isn’t that part of the nurturing strategy our marketing organizations should be implementing (with the support of sales). Plus, who is the sales person nurturing in this process? Do I have a sales person with a territory in Southern California nurturing our German customers? Then as that German customer starts to need a sales person, do I have that Southern California sales person jump on the plane to visit the German customer? Then I multiply it by 10–for my 10 person sales organization. How do I manage their productivity? What do I make them accountable for? How do we build deep customer relationships?
Should sales people be blogging about their customers perhaps? Don’t we want our sales people focusing on the customer–focusing on their specific needs and priorities, focusing helping them address new opportunities? Where does the sales person’s blog fit into this?
Blogging is an effective way to reach a large number of people, to start to communicate, to start a conversation, to start the engagement process. But sales people focus on specifics–they identify companies and organizations, they identify individuals within those organizations, they work one to one. It doesn’t seem to me that blogging is an effective tool or method for sales people to be leveraging for those purposes. Every way I look at it, I think requiring our sales people to blog is just wrong.
Blogging is important. Every organization needs to incorporate blogging into their socia media, marketing, and selling strategies. But blogging is just one channel for social media/selling and needs to be leveraged heavily and in concert with the other tools and channels we are leveraging to inform and engage customers and prospects. We need to make sure our marketing organizations are leveraging blogging to the utmost, creating strong, consistent messages for our markets, customers and prospects.
Sales people need to be actively engaged in social media and social selling—but this is far broader than blogging. State differently, too many people think Social Media = Blogging. This is dead wrong. Blogging is simply one component of social media and social selling. We need sales people to be reading, listening, and engaging in the social media world–but not exclusively through the social media world. Sales people should be leveraging social media to understand their customers–broadly and specifically. They need to be listening, learning, engaging–reading their customers’ blogs and websites, reading the competitions’ blogs and website, learning about the markets. They need to be engaging, writing thoughtful responses and comments on blogs, participating in online discussions or forums. meeting their customers in the virtual markets as well as the physical markets.
Much of sales people’s communications with customers will be through social channels, but I don’t think sales people blogging is an effective channel.
If a sales person wants to blog, personally, that’s terrific. I know many sales professionals who blog–not on behalf of their company trying to engage customers and drive business, but they do it because it satisfies personal goals they have. Blogging is a wonderful release and a powerful means of expression. I encourage any sales person who wants to to do it–but on your own time, representing primarily your own interests, not as a principal communication channel for the company.
Sure there are always exceptions to this. In small companies sales people may wear multiple hats, they may have some sales and some marketing responsibility–blogging is an important component of the marketing communications strategies. If you are a solopreneur, you wear all the hats in your company, so blogging is important, as is everything else. Some sales executives may find business reason to blog—though I’d be more happy if the marketing organization did that, or if it was a part of an overall plan for executive level engagement.
I’m sure I’ll get many comments and articles that say I’m dead wrong. I’m actually looking forward to reading them and learning. But my belief is we want sales people to be engaged with customers in understanding and solving problems. We want to move sales people away from regurgitating standard pitches to translating how our solutions address their specific problems. Blogging just isn’t the tool for doing this.
What do you think?
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