Sunday, August 8, 2010

It’s Not Them, It’s You: Selling Social Media to the C-Suite

A couple of weeks ago, my colleague, Andy Sullivan, and I were in my office talking about – what else? – social media. At one point, after seeing a third or fourth college intern walk by outside I interrupted: “You know, to those guys, hearing us talk about social media is like us overhearing Dan Pinger and Charlie Powers talk about the phone.”

See? I can dial a specific number and communicate one-to-one with almost anybody anywhere in the world!

With early adopters and edgier brands it’s easier to convince senior management to take the plunge and invest in a social media program. At least one that goes beyond slapping corporate videos and product releases on Facebook. But at other companies, getting the go ahead to do what in your heart you know is right can take a little convincing.

We’ve heard the cries (is whine too strong?) from friends and colleagues: Management just doesn’t get it.

Not every CEO is cautious by nature. Many of them, in fact, see themselves more or less as mavericks. So why are some so reluctant to move past broadcasting and into actual engagement?

Sorry, it’s not them. It’s you.

When you’re telling them all the things this wonderful technology called “social media” can do for them, you’re not speaking their language. You may be selling features instead of benefits.

She doesn’t live in your world. That why she’s the CEO and you, well, you’re you. That’s not a value judgment, just a fact. There are lots of things the folks in the C-suite count on you to know for them. If you’re in the marketing department … or PR, CorpComm, ER, HR, Customer Service … new technology ain’t one of them.

Here are manymany things the guy or gal in the big chair knows that you do not. There even more that he or she knows whether you agree with it or not.

If you want to sell a new technology, have at. But if you want to introduce a new channel for achieving business objectives: things like making money, saving money, doing things faster … open with that and you’re likely to have a much more receptive audience.

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