The Answers to 4 Social Media Questions You Were Always Afraid to Ask

As a social media professional, my days are often spent creating compelling content, engaging with our community, or strategizing about whether that hot new social network is actually relevant for our business.

But when a colleague recently asked me whether or not it was okay to like her own Instagram photo, it made me think — what are other questions about social media etiquette that everyone is thinking, but nobody is asking? Here I’ll share my take on some of these not-so-dumb questions.

Whether you’re looking to build up your own personal brand via social channels, or manage social media on behalf of a company, here’s some practical advice from the Salesforce social team.

1. When is it okay to like your own social media posts or photos?

I’d argue that it never is, but to each their own. If you decide something is worth sharing to your social media accounts, by default you already ‘like’ it! No need to hit that like button again.

While brands may be tempted to do this because they think it may increase their reach, it’s better to let your followers make the call and show you their affinity.

2. Is it a selfie if other people are in it?

The term “selfie” is now a staple of social media activity. In 2014, Merriam-Webster officially added it to the dictionary — by definition, it is a photo that you take of yourself. Whether you use an outstretched arm, selfie stick, or mirror, if you’re in it and you’re also the one taking the photo, it counts.

And if it’s you taking the photo with 10 of your closest friends behind you? Not a selfie — though some might argue that it is for you, but not for them. But please don’t start calling it an “usie” either.

3. How about if someone else takes a photo of just you? Can that be a selfie?

Nope. Again, a selfie by definition is a photo that one has taken of oneself. While the photos from your latest vacation of you standing in front of various scenic backdrops might get you a ton of likes, they’re not selfies.

4. Why do people use super-long hashtags that clearly have no purpose?

More than likely, the poster is just trying to be funny! These hashtags don’t really have a functional purpose, like adding to relevant conversations or making the post discoverable by more like-minded people, and they are more an attempt to be clever.

For example, adding #custserv to posts about how millennials are shaking up how companies should approach customer care may get your post seen by more service professionals, but #idontgetthepointofhashtagsanyway clearly won’t (though it may get you a chuckle from your followers).

Have a social media question you were always afraid to ask? Tell us @Salesforce

Continue reading

Investing in Customer Success: A Venture Capital Perspective

From consumer studies to morning television, we see example after example of how customer success impacts today’s businesses. We know that unhappy customers will not only take their business elsewhere, they will share bad experiences with friends, family, and colleagues, on social media and with anyone else who will listen.

Do you know who else is listening? Venture capitalists. Investors take customer success seriously when assigning value to your business. NewVoiceMedia recently interviewed some VCs about their perspectives on this topic during our inaugural CloudFest for Service event in San Francisco. Anna Khan, an investor at Bessemer Venture Partners, and Scott Kirk, Vice President at Technology Crossover Ventures, shared their thoughts on how customer success factors in when they evaluate investments. Here’s what we learned.

Numbers are only one part of the narrative

Investors run a robust diligence process when evaluating an investment, Kahn says, and that includes hours of interviews with customers about product quality as well as service quality. That qualitative data helps tell the story of the metrics.  

“What we focus on is product superiority, and it really comes out through customer dialogue and conversations,” Kirk says. “The first thing I ask for when [evaluating] a company is the customer database. I want to understand customer spend over time. And we try to map a narrative that brings together what you hear in customer calls and that quantitative data.”

Instead of asking for customer service metrics outright, Kahn says it’s more important to see which KPIs the company is already tracking on a daily basis. She simply requests log-in information for company dashboards.

“If it’s a software company that has no idea if customers are churning, and it doesn’t track that KPI without me asking, it’s probably not a good sign,” she says.  

Success is also about mistakes

“True customer success is how you react when you make a mistake,” Kirk says.

To illustrate this point, he recalled the summer of 2011, when Netflix decoupled its DVD business and its streaming business while, at the same time, increasing the price of its subscriptions. Subscribers left and stocks went down.

But Netflix CEO Reed Hastings wrote an apologetic letter to subscribers explaining the rationale and promising to make it right. Owning up to the problem was key to righting the ship, Kirk says.  

Kahn added that it is essential for companies to prove to investors that they can learn from failures, and suggested performing regular “customer autopsies.”

“When I have a board meeting and we’re told [our investment company] lost a big customer, five smaller customers, and then we just move on to the next slide in the presentation, that’s not good enough,” she says. “We want to know who called the customer after they said they were going to leave. What product is the customer going to use instead? Was it a price issue or a technical problem? You need to know all of those things and, on the next slide, tell me how those things are going to be fixed.”

Creating a customer-centric culture

As Kirk points out, customer success is not new, but customer success in today’s world is very different.

“The means in which you retain and upsell customers and customer expectations are very different than 10, 15 years ago,” he says, adding that it’s important to have the right talent in place to create effective and adaptive customer success strategies.

For example, rather than picking a customer service KPI and telling your team it needs to be higher, look at the big picture around customer success when setting priorities, and make sure you have the talent – and leadership buy-in – to execute on your goals.    

For more VC insights on customer success, check out our videos from CloudFest for Service.

Scott Sampson has global responsibility for NewVoiceMedia’s sales and marketing functions. He joined in 2016, bringing over 25 years’ industry experience to the business, previously serving at IBM Corporation where he held the role of Worldwide VP of Sales for the IBM Analytics Platform, leading a globally-distributed team of several thousand customer-facing sellers responsible for billions of dollars of on-premise and cloud revenue.

Continue reading

8 Secrets for Reaching and Engaging with Senior Executives Successfully

Managing a team of sales professionals who are focused on selling to senior executives isn’t easy. You want to give your reps all the tools necessary to achieve their sales targets. It’s your job to make sure they bring home fat commission checks … and you do too.

The problem is, the top executives with whom your reps need to talk with are pulled in all directions. They don’t have a minute to spare. But if you can’t coach your sales people on how to get through to them, you’ll fail. And so will they.

So what are the secrets of reaching and engaging these highly sought after executives?

Here are a few to try. Once you put these tips into practice, you’ll not only discover your reps are engaging with more prospects every day, but also your sales conversions will increase.

1. Discover the Door Opener

A study by Objective Management Group showed only 1% of new salespeople could reach decision makers. Much of the problem is those pesky gatekeepers — the administrators who screen their bosses’ calls and decide who to put through. Reps commonly see them as an obstacle to avoid or get around as quickly as possible.  

It’s time to reframe that thinking. Your reps should not look at them as people they want to avoid. Instead, they should consider them as VIPs who can graciously open doors to opportunities. Treat them as such. Give them every bit of respect you would offer to the executive for whom they work. Get to know them. Make friends. Gain their trust.

2. Avoid the Meeting Mania

The day-in-the-life of a senior executive is strewn with meetings. So if you want to get through to them, think about when they are most likely to be available.

Often, they’ll come into the office early to get work done before the onslaught begins. Sometimes they’ll stay late. Place calls early in the morning and after five.

Also, take advantage of meeting breaks by calling during the window of two minutes before and after the hour.

3. Send Click-Free Emails

Senior execs don’t have time for clicking here and there. Plus, due to security risks, they’re averse to opening email attachments. So if reps have something to share with them, they should put it in their emails and refrain from using attachments and links as much as possible.

4. Create Anytime, Anywhere Emails

Executives are on the go. They’re moving from one meeting to the next and often traveling around the country and the world.

In all likelihood, they will not be at their desks if and when they choose to open your reps’ emails. That means your salespeople must write emails that are easy to read on smartphones.

5. Ban Jargon

All industries and companies develop a verbal shorthand for the things they talk about every day. It’s called jargon. One of Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary’s definition of jargon is “obscure and often pretentious language marked by circumlocutions and long words.”

Who wants that? No one. And yet many salespeople bombard decision makers with taxing words and an alphabet soup of acronyms.  

Before using such words, salespeople should ask themselves whether they were familiar with them before they entered their industry, profession or company. If not, they should question whether their prospects would be familiar with them. If in doubt, they should find another way to explain the concept in laymen’s terms.

6. Look Good on LinkedIn

Most senior executives don’t spend a lot of time on LinkedIn. The door-openers, however, who are equally important, check the site to decide who is worthy of their managers’ time. As a result, you must ensure your reps’ profiles present them as highly-qualified professionals.

7. Let Relationships Lead the Way

If you’ve ever had a referral, you know it gives you instant credibility. So take advantage of any relationships you have within an organization. Use them as steps up the ladder to the C-suite.

To do this, look through LinkedIn to determine if you have any connections in common with the executive you’re trying to reach. Then see if they are willing to connect you to them via email or whether you can use their name when communicating with your target prospect.

8. Call Frequently

Here’s the advice that your salespeople likely won’t want to hear. They may need to make 10 or even 20 attempts to reach an executive.

Because salespeople are goal oriented, they may feel like they’re wasting their time when they don’t make contact. They’re not. Whether or not they speak with the executive, it’s up to them to get something out of each call.

Each time they fail to connect with an executive, they’ll either reach the door-opener or voicemail.  

The first is an opportunity to build a relationship with the person who may pave the way to talking with the prospect. Reps can also ask questions that give them a better understanding of the account.

If they reach voicemail, they should leave a carefully crafted message. It’s a branding opportunity. Of course, they need to change the message with every call. Each time, it should contain one more bite of information that arouses curiosity and raises the chance that the executive will want to talk with the rep.

The same is true of emails. Even if they don’t elicit a response, the executive might open them. That’s something you can track. If they do open them, your message is being delivered.

If your reps internalize these tips to the point where they become habits, they’ll be well on their way to substantial increases in the number of executives they talk with and ultimately convert to customers. Then you can go home at night knowing you’ve fueled the flames of sales success and your sales bonus will expand accordingly!

Sabrina Ferraioli is Co-Founder and VP of Global Sales for 3D2B, a global business-to-business telemarketing company that bridges the divide between marketing and sales. She builds and manages 3D2B’s multi-national sales organization and is passionate about building strong business relationships through professional phone conversations.

Continue reading