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Social Media Sales Hero – Geoffrey Cooling, Widex Ireland

To those without hearing aids, the sector is largely invisible, when compared say to optometrists who have very visible premises on the high street. That said, audiology is big business, and is highly competitive, with several players fighting aggressively for market share. It is against this backdrop that Geoffrey has demonstrated real excellence in using social media to keep a highly visible profile.

Tell us a bit about yourself…

I am 42, a father and grandfather; I started early! I have had the great pleasure of working for Widex for several years. Before that I worked as a hearing aid dispenser in a national company for several years. Believe it or not before that I worked in the private intelligence world for a couple of corporates. So I have a varied work background.

When I began to work for Widex I quickly became of the opinion that in order to really grow our market share in a virgin territory we needed to be different. We decided to offer real added value services to help us attain market share. We offered commercial strategy assistance and business development strategy.

As part of that I quickly became involved in experimentation around online marketing channels in order that we could offer advice and ideas around what was an emerging phenomenon.

Every time I visit Linked-in, I see a comment or link posted by you – amazing! Where do you get the energy from??!!

A few people have said that to me, in fact I wrote a blog post about it. We had a very deep family tragedy at New Years, the outcome of which is that I try to spend as much time as possible with my family.

So believe me when I say It’s actually not necessarily time intensive. I use several software tools that dramatically reduce time investment. I use Google Alerts and Google Reader to capture information from news outlets and sites I wish to monitor. I then use Hootsuite and another great program called Buffer to schedule posts to my differing online media channels. This probably takes twenty minutes of my morning.

As for my blog, I write notes when I get an idea and then at night I will write up a blog post. I don’t watch a lot of TV so sitting in the TV room with a laptop writing a post isn’t much of an imposition. In fact I once told somebody it was exorcism by writing. A soother for the tortured brain.

You clearly believe in social media: Why do you think other sales professionals should invest time in it?

The reasoning behind the use of social media is complex and multi-faceted.

I think that social media allows you to engage with your target market in an in-formal manner. It also allows you to build brand and product awareness without aggressive marketing. It just comes as a natural consequence of continuing engagement.

From an online marketing strategy point of view, social media engagement can be used to strongly leverage your content marketing strategy. The use of social media allows you to drive traffic to your main online marketing channel, your website. It also assists with your SEO strategy, driving your website to the top of the organic search rankings.

Another key reason is brand reputation management, more and more consumers are using social media to complain about products and services, you need to be actively monitoring these channels in order to be afforded the opportunity to protect your brand.

Some managers are fearful of their sales team getting involved with social media, thinking it could lead to hours on Facebook with no results. What would be your main advice to allay their fears? 

I think that if you hire people as part of a sales team you have entrusted them to represent you and your company. Social media involvement is an extension of this representation. However, you need to lay down set policies and procedures for the use of social media for a company.

I also think that the Sales team is not necessarily the ideal driver of social media involvement. I think if you are going to be serious about your involvement in social media you need a multi-disciplinary team. Somebody from Marketing, somebody from Technical and somebody from Sales.

This type of approach will enable you to leverage the knowledge base of your entire organisation for your content marketing and social media strategy.

Some same that social media is the next “dot.com bubble” and will crash soon. What is your opinion?

That concept may well be driven by Facebook’s recent rather disastrous public offering. However I think that the question you have asked me actually has two answers.

I think that an intrinsic part of the human condition is the need to connect. The need to be part of something bigger than ourselves. I think we all feel this almost primitive urge.

I also feel that changes both in society and our working lives have weakened our sense of belonging, of community. I think that these factors have played a large part in the success of social media.

So I feel that individual companies may come and go, social network platforms themselves may come and go. However, I feel that social media as a concept in one form or other will continue to exist from now forwards.

It has been established as a valid form of not just communication but of expression. How many forms of communication do you know that have ceased to exist? Even I am sometimes known to write letters.

What are your ambitions in the future for use of social media?

I firmly believe that our Customers’ success is our success, so everything that we can do to increase their success is effort well invested.

I would like to help our customers to design and achieve almost nil cost online marketing strategies that will drive real business growth in their Practices.

I think modern online marketing strategy including social media will allow us to achieve this goal.

We say….

In the space of a year, social media has gone from an interesting and explosive growth area, to a firmly entrenched sales arena. So much so, that is is now comprehensively covered in Selling Interactions latest revision of its diagnostic product, the sales systems analysis.

The space is already being fought over by many firms, so to not play the game is taking a big risk of losing influence. The beauty of social media from a sales point of view is that it is possible to get results today, with minimum effort. Selling Interactions run both training courses for social media in sales and consultancy to help define a strategy. So why wait??!!




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