At this point it’s an old story that companies need to listen to their customers. We all acknowledge it, but the listening deficit remains: marketing and sales have always been geared toward “getting the message out,” and trying to get a multitude of messages back in can feel like driving the wrong way down a one-way street.
In a sales call, good salespeople understand that one characteristic of a successful meeting is that the buyer talks more than the seller. The SPIN model at its simplest is just a technique for asking questions that allow the buyer to articulate needs; careful listening gives the seller the cues for how they can help.
But in social channels, buyers, prospects and influencers are talking without any sort of seller-provided framework. They’re likely to be talking about a vendor long before they ever talk to the vendor. This magnifies the “listen to the customer” challenge, and requires a commitment that goes beyond the efforts of individual salespeople.
What is required, says a MarketingTech article, is a “social listening system.” They define social listening as “the process of monitoring social streams for content and comments relative to a specific topic of interest.” The key word here is “monitoring”—it may be an automated tool, rather than a person, who is doing much of the “listening.”
Marketing Tech points to a Satmetrix study that suggests that 75 percent of B2B companies “do not measure or quantify social media,” and of those who do, more than half limit their efforts to counting comments and followers. (This study dates back to May of 2012; and the needle may have moved since then.)
Marketing Tech suggests that one way to identify new opportunities is to monitor mentions of your company name in conjunction with a competitor’s name. That can be a tip-off that someone is evaluating solutions.
Finally, check out Marketing Tech’s link to a MediaPost News article on “listening platforms” like Radian6 and Attensity.