Social networking isn’t the 21rst century equivalent of the portal.
You recall that strategy, create your own private Yahoo, complete with sports scores, weather, stocks, et.al. Many were told that this was the way to achieve success with their online strategies. There are those companies translating portal-like mindsets to social networking when trust is all that really matters. For an excellent assessment of this mindset see Why Social Marketing Nirvana Escapes our Reach by Sean Carlton, contributing to the ClickZ Network. His post is definitely worth reading and follow the links in it as well.
Complex selling has for too long been dominated by the high priests of product specifications, when their relevancy to gaining customers has long been lost. I won’t belabor the concept of solution selling, that’s not the intent of this blog post.
What is the point is that only by dismantling the ugly, difficult and complex problems that force companies to procrastinate on solving them will anyone selling complex products hope to stay relevant. From this standpoint you can see that being a high priest of product specifications is an arcane science at best and totally irrelevant at worst.
Companies staying relevant in complex selling focus on generating knowledge and sharing it, not creating their own personal Yahoos, this time on social networking platforms, yet instead opting to get on Twitter, Facebook and open up comments on their blogs to learn how their customers want to be interacted with.
Paradoxically however more and more private Yahoos are going up, this time on white label social networking platforms. This actually gets more in the way of connecting with customers than actually listening to them. You can find out more about how Twitter can assist you learn how your customers want to talk with you from my blog entry earlier today at Twitter and Customer Relationships: Made For Each Other on The Perfect Customer Experience Blog.
Plugging into these new approaches to connecting with customers needs to be the foundation of creating trust with customers, especially where solving complex, ugly and difficult problems your customers are procrastinating how to solve.