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Sales people blogging comes up when talking to companies about ways to involve more sales and marketing alignment programs. I was reading Dave Brock’s recent post on the same subject and he explains that companies are “dead wrong” from a business point of view if they have sales bloggers. There could be some healthy discussion around this being a valuable use of time for short term gains but it’s getting much more clear as time goes on that content is king. Having a social and transparent company drives customer loyalty and generates new business. I think that companies that empower their sales people to use social media tools like blogs can exponentially increase awareness and drive lead generation and revenue for a company. I’m not the only one that thinks this. IBM has the same idea. [tweetmeme source= “insideview” only_single=false]

How successful can a B2B business be using social media? Fairly successful, at least in the case of IBM. We recently chatted with Ed Linde II, whose team is responsible for building Web assets to support the IBM.com sales channel and organic Web visitors, about IBM’s social media efforts and successes. He spoke about their Listening for Leads program, which he says has “uncovered millions of dollars worth of sales leads” so far, and is expected grow even more. Here’s a clip from the full interview available on eMarketer Total Access.

Mr. Linde II: Within IBM we have a number of people in the brand areas who are blogging and doing things in the social media space relative to topics like cloud computing.

In B2B we have a number of Websites that we built for our sales reps where we’ve enabled the reps to have a blog with RSS feeds that are connected to LinkedIn and Twitter. Their customers can follow them where they have an individual relationship.

Some of our reps have Facebook pages also. We also have a program called Listening for Leads, where we have people we call “seekers” who on a voluntary basis go to particular social media sites where they listen to conversations and determine whether there’s a potential sales opportunity.

eMarketer: How is IBM using Twitter?

Mr. Linde II: We promote our customer events on Twitter. When I say customer events, they could be Webinars, podcasts, virtual trade shows or physical trade shows. We advertise some of our promotions via Twitter. And our individual reps use Twitter to keep their customers updated about interesting news, events and things of that nature. Each rep has their own Twitter account. We also have the handle @IBMpcs because we sell refurbished PCs .

eMarketer: How are you tracking and measuring your social initiatives? You mentioned that you’ve identified millions of sales leads.

Mr. Linde II: We measure against number of sales leads identified. And we rate the lead value from those leads. Then the win revenue and win rate. So there are four key metrics—number of leads created, lead value, win revenue and win rate.

The purpose of the blog is to drive sales. Giving sales people a resource like their own blog or the ability to create content for the company blog is a valuable asset that businesses should not overlook. Marketing shouldn’t control the blog with an iron fist, most marketing people I know are constantly looking for new content to drive traffic and leads so it just makes sense to use internal talent to make this happen.

Take a look at your sales team, find out which of them can write well and articulate the sales landscape they are working in. With a little sales 2.0 training, they should be able to dedicate a couple hours a week to writing a post for the company. One blog post can go a long way, we are still getting leads from blog posts from almost a year ago written by members of our sales and support teams.

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