Application Specific Blog: Channel and Sales Informal Communication

Boys will be boys: playing paddles on Tel Aviv beach. How do you explain to someone in New York a weekend on the beach in Tel Aviv? If you take the kids to the beach, is this a good way to show it? / © 2008

If you are a sales or marketing executive based in a company headquarters you know how hard it is to keep in touch with a global workforce. In direct sales and channel management (VAR, distribution, rep firms) there are global networks of workers that need motivation, support and more than ever understanding. There are language and cultural barriers. There are common experiences to relay. Most of all, there is the daily communication between people which makes for a shared experience. With faster and more mobile communication, 24/7 connectivity and global reach of sales organizations, the end-point sales rep can be left isolated. This is where direct blogging by executives from the headquarters as well as from the workers around the globe can be useful.

The use of “Application specific blogging” is an extension of newsletters, direct e-Mails and other form of business communication with the field. For the workers far away from global headquarters, who need to understand and explain differences blogging is also a great tool. For the most part, until recently, most business communication was one sided. Company managers train, guide and motivate field workers. In my experience for ten years, most sales and technical workers did not communicate with their colleagues on a regular basis. Informal communication, specially in technical organizations is even harder to stimulate. Here is where blogging and social networking can help. If you are a manager and want your far flung workers to communicate with each other take a proactive role. One way is to lead by writing and editing articles, tell your story, other will follow. In some companies where writing is not a strong point, audio and video clips are used. If you are more organized you can interview workers at a distance. In one technology company, sales managers gave iPods with microphones and audio editing programs so everyone can record reports. Than they started training people in screen casting: adding voice-over presentations on top of Power Point slides. At Cisco, the networking giant, management started video blogging. Today there are video clips for outside “blog readers”. Apparently internally there is even more of that going on.

“Application specific” use of blogging and social media does not have to be limited to technical and business topics. Two companies in the imaging and 3D fields hold a continuous photo blog and contest. In the imaging company 15% of the workers submitted photos, from family events to travel, from company gatherings to customer products. I would advise them to integrate images with blog writing and even use photos originally submitted for in-company publication with non-company sales channels. What is done with blogs can be easily said for social networks. While MySpace, FaceBook and Linked-In are great examples of public open social networking sites, many companies are starting to adopt private company social networking sites. Build one for your sales organizations and invite company internal and external reps, VARS and technical sales workers. With both business and personal communication, people from around the globe will have an easier time understanding and appreciating their co-workers half way around the globe. How about that for a good use of technology. Like any new way of communicating put some dedicated resources into the effort. Editors, writers and even videographers can get the whole effort started. In a past experience I saw a group of engineers taped their meetings and sent them to field engineers. Some of the engineers were camera shy so we brought in a professional videographer to tape them. Once the pro got started, they realized that a “I am just shy” excuse was not going to fly. We got them on tape and the results were great. The audio was re-edited and balanced, the board drawings were in-frame and in-focus. Whatever had to be re-shot was done quickly. Suddenly everyone was working in synch! How about that for managing your message and getting it out right?


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