Can social media tools help real-life business relationships?

Those of us working in areas such as sales and business development are always watching how business strategy changes from the front line. Because we can see exactly what customers want to buy, we usually see trends and changes emerging before many others who are one step removed from the customer.

Social media has been one of those trends. It’s true that developing new business has always been about relationships and many assumed that social media would never replace the good old lunch with a prospective client, but social tools have allowed people to leverage on existing relationships.

Think about your existing clients. How often do you manage to actually go to those lunches? Perhaps every quarter or maybe a couple of times a year? It might be fixed and formalised or it might be fairly random depending on how well you interact personally.

But look at how a tool like Twitter can enhance that face-to-face time. In the months between meetings you can easily swap messages and chat about work as well as other pressing issues – like sport. Regardless of the topic, if you are interacting then it’s likely to be strengthening your relationship.

I was thinking about this when I saw a recent news article from Canada suggesting that social media jobs will soon be obsolete. Of course they will. Because what matters is your delivery to the customer, the service or product they are buying. If social media can help you to improve the relationship with your customer then that is great, but those skills need to be absorbed by the sales and customer service teams – it’s not a distinct function in the same way that you don’t have an assistant to operate your telephone.

What do you think? Should every team member who interacts with customers or prospects be online and available? Leave a comment on the blog here or tweet me on @matt_sims1

Disney Dining Under the Sea (Explored)

 

Photo by Joe Penniston licensed under Creative Commons

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