I think a lot about social media monitoring and the value that monitoring brings to daily business activity and short-term and long-term strategy and planning. I’ll get to some of those benefits a bit later but first, I want to talk about the sales and buying process for social media monitoring tools.
Mostly, it stinks.
I say mostly because every once in a while, someone surprises me. I’m not into naming names because everyone has a different starting point, different needs, and a different way of learning. So, I don’t want to impose my stuff on you – you should probably give everyone a chance to tell his (or her – but mostly his) story.
I’m happy with the primary tool we license. I’ve been using it for several years and consider myself a super-user. I find it to be incredibly flexible and adaptable to help us bring in extraordinarily specific data and then look at it in a multitude of creative ways (some I think I may have invented) to inform the challenge at hand.
We do license other tools, and I work on some rocking tools that some of our clients license, so I don’t believe I’m in a ‘love what you know’ bubble. I know and use a lot of tools in an in-depth way.
I believe this makes me uniquely positioned to evaluate tools.
I’m sure you get as many meeting and demo requests as I do – whether it’s in this space or another. I get a lot.
I typically respond with “I’m extremely happy with my current tools and am a terrible prospect for you. Thank you for your interest and have a great week.”
And what I get back is no surprise. Thank you for your frankness, but if you could spare15 minutes (or 20 or 30) I think you’ll be very surprised/amazed/overjoyed with the XXX tool. Please?
If it’s a tool I’ve never used, I’ll accept with a reminder that I’m not looking to switch. If he still wants to invest time so I can be up-to-date on all the new tool updates, I’m good with that.
What happens next is where the breakdown occurs. Or maybe instead, I’ll tell you about the one where the breakdown did not occur first.
Earlier this week, I had a demo for a tool I’d never seen before. The salesperson started the call with: I know you have a tremendous knowledge base in the category so I’m going to skip all the reasons why you should do social media monitoring. I’m going to skip to what is special about my tool. But first, what is the best thing and the worst thing about the tool you use – and plan to continue using?
Now I’m sure he learned to do that in training, but it was good. He didn’t ask my for my monitoring philosophy, to learn more about my strategies, to go on and on so he could find a hook. It was simple. Give me 2 things and I’ll move on.
And then, he showed me how his tool could do those 2 things. And was there anything else I’d like to see or do I have any questions? I did have a few. And then it was over. He sent a follow up email with a deck and the answers to the questions he didn’t have top of mind when we spoke.
I’m not switching. But what I learned makes his tool a great option for some colleagues that come to me looking for advice. The price point for a small business is fair and the capabilities are more sophisticated than other tools at that price.
So that was a good one.
But, I’ve been on calls where I started the same way via email. But then, I end up on a call that starts with a primer on why a company should monitor social media. “Conversations are happening everywhere. You need to know…” Seriously, Dude? Can we skip to the tool? I’m in the social media research business. I know. And not to sound totally superior, I know more than you do, so please get to the meat of what you’re selling. (If you know me, you know I’d never actually say that. At least not like that.)
I have actually had salespeople tell me:
• People write about products on social media (wow, this one rocked my world)
• Monitoring your brand name will show you what people are saying about your brand
• what Twitter is
• what Klout scores are
• what keywords are in search
• what it means when you exclude a word in search
• the sentiment (automated) is nearly perfect (LOL)
• set up takes no time at all – it’s simple and takes no maintenance (ha – unless you have a complex query or concept to monitor, or want clean data)
• how you can look smart if you share these results with your executive team
• choose influencers by top authors (my note: there’s more to it .trust me.)
• more about what to do with this info and charts and what they mean and can lead to. Some has been okay (from Captain Obvious) but some / most doesn’t take into account thinking and strategy and the specific needs for a project. Trust me I don’t need a salesperson telling me this. I’m looking for tools to support thinking, not thinking how to use tools. That said there are sometimes capabilities that open new opportunities sometimes. Just show me what it does I can take it form there.