Is Social Media a Distraction or a Powerful Sales Tool?

by Matthew O'Brien on July 3, 2008

According to the June 23, 2008 issue of Businessweek, “the average knowledge worker has the attention span of a sparrow,” reports Maggie Jackson, author of Distraction. It gets worse…28% of the average U.S. worker’s day is lost to interruptions. This amounts to $650 billion in lost productivity. Can we blame this all on social media? Some say yes, but some say these workers are not leveraging this powerful online marketing force for their business, more for self serving needs. Here is why.

If you are in sales your number one goal is to bring in new business. Therefore, as a sales person, what are you doing to close new business. The options are:

1. Make cold calls (we all know this is the hard way and the long route to landing new business)

2. Networking – going to local events, meeting people, passing out business cards and giving your elevator pitch hoping you are presenting to a decision maker or someone that can get you in front of the decision maker.

3. Marketing – sending our newsletters (online and offline), promoting your services in ads (online and offline), direct mail, etc.

4. Referrals – hitting up who you know, customers and prospects to get warm leads (now we are getting close)

5. Social Networking through social media – this leverages all of the above and turns #1 from cold calls into warm leads…here is why.

People buy from who they know and trust and most often from people who they have gotten a referral from. Social media and specifically, social networking sites gives users the ability to leverage the connections and contacts of the people they know to:

1. Create warm leads

2. Establish trust quickly due to the introduction or connection from their extended network

3. Qualify prospects into customers faster than any other means of new business generation.

When you get a referral through a trusted connection, you immediately get past the who are you stage and immediately go to, can you help me grow my business, save me money or make my life easier from what you have to sell. This all makes sense but what does this have to do which social media killing our attention span? Simple, in this example of the sales person, they can use social media to connect with friends to reminisce about old times or leverage their friendship and the connections in their combined network to generate warm leads and eventually new business. Then, when the interruptions come in from social media, they can spiral one of two ways; in the right direction to generate new sales or alternatively add to the 28% of the work force being unproductive.

Social networks for sellingLet’s go one step further, social media has made it so that virtually anyone from the CEO on down is accessible. Case in point, yesterday I got a call from Michael Goodman of the AZ Sales Pros thanking me for filling in as a speaker on July 9th. As we continued talking he asked me a question about on how he could use it for setting up a group to market and manage AZ Sales Pros network online. I was not sure of the answer so I used Fast Pitch’s instant messaging (IM) tool to contact Bill Jula, the CEO of Fast Pitch to get the answer. Not only did Bill respond but he and I engaged in a 15 minute IM session and I learned that their tool is a fit for what Michael is looking for and that there are discounts and additional benefits for associations like Michael’s group. I also got a chance to plug The World Webinar Network, a social marketing webinar company I helped start and that Bill (or someone from Fast Pitch) offered to be a speaker in one of our webinars. This all happened within 2 hours of Michael giving me a call…a social media distraction or a powerful sales and marketing tool for online businesses?

Oh, by the way, I have gotten two new customers in the last two months through Fast Pitch Networking from using their IM tool and these customers were inbound connection requests to learn more about my company.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Rich Swier July 5, 2008 at 8:20 am

Great article….there is a lot of innovation yet to be delivered in this space, but I think its going in the right direction. I think people will start to realize that social networks / media services will be a critical part of their marketing strategy, and more effective than most other forms of networking/marketing.

The critical step for someone is to really “learn” how to use these systems and their features… many people get on these services, create a basic profile, and wonder why they aren’t getting any business.

Social Networking is the same online as it is offline… you need to build relationships, show value and share content so your network can open new doors and opportunities. Once people realize this, the networks will thrive and everyone benefits


Gina July 7, 2008 at 8:56 am

Some social media sites can be a distraction, but if it’s done right, it can REALLY benefit a small business. Myspace is a bit of a waste of time for me, but sites like Biznik, LinkedIn, Fast Pitch, and Recession Crusher have been extremely helpful ways to gain new clients. I’ve only been utilizing social media/networking for business for about a couple of months and am happy to say that it has really changed things for the better.

Fast Pitch is a very powerful sales tool (I use it daily along with some other sites like LinkedIn and Biznik), but another great site for gaining warm (and quality) leads is Salesconx. It’s an online marketplace for business referrals (think LinkedIn meets Ebay) and has helped many people make their networks more powerful. Although we’re not as “social” as the sites I mentioned above, we do assist with making networks stronger and more profitable for all of our users.

I’m sure I’ll see you on some networking sites in the near future!

Marketing Manager


Dori July 7, 2008 at 9:36 am

On-line networking is fast becoming on of the best and most economical ways to create a powerful network of strong business people. As I navigate through the different features and capabilities and teleseminars/webcasts that are available, I learn more and more about how little I know and how vast the capabilities are!

I agree that Fast Pitch is a wonderful tool in expanding your business connections and network and they constantly update their features to assist you in making the most of your membership.

I have also found that is working very hard to create an online presence that is professional and easy to work with. Twitter, LindedIn, Facebook, and other sites give you the opportunity to network, add features to your blog and gain general knowledge as to how to make networking really work!

It is an interesting time in networking!
Until we meet online again…
S1 Safety Bags – Clear Book Bags


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