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You know that I’m big on social listening, and have been from the start. We have this incredible, unprecedented resource for learning more about our clients, customers and connections, but we have to listen to make it work. So I’ve been very pleased to see that social listening is (finally) getting some play in the marketing and sales arena.

The thing about listening is that it’s not hard to do, but there are no shortcuts. It takes time, attentiveness and a willingness to engage. Make social a true two-way street, and your Return on Relationship will be much stronger for it.

Social Listening and the New Sales Model

Look at it this way: a one-sided conversation isn’t very social, regardless of context. Jill Rowley recently gave a great talk for Salesforce on the intersection between sales, marketing and the customer experience. If you watch her presentation, one of the first things you’ll notice is that her Twitter handle is featured on nearly every slide—an invitation to continue the conversation and direction on where to do so.

During her talk, Rowley touches on the new sales model—connect through social, educate, and engage. Social listening has benefits throughout your business, but ultimately it’s all about engagement. Build relationships, demonstrate expertise, anticipate the needs of your customers, and both of you win.

Social is a Learning Tool for You and Your Customers

Basically, you should always be thinking about how you can use social to serve your audience. Even when you aren’t able to engage directly, social listening is a great learning tool. Find out what people are saying about your brand—the positive and the negative—and use it to improve your business.

The big challenge for larger organizations is streamlining what you learn from listening, and putting it to work. Marketing, sales and customer service all need to be working from the same set of data. It takes a real commitment, but it’s more than worth the effort.

Listening Works on Every Channel

Listening, in general, is an underrated skill. Too often, however, listening is the first thing to go when we’re pressed for time. Keep creating great content, but balance it out by staying involved in the conversation around your business. Listen and adjust your message to make it relevant to your consumer and employees. Brand loyalty declines due to lack of relevance… a direct result of not listening. Number one is always try to understand who your customer is and pay attention.

Now that social listening is getting some spotlight, the next big challenge is taking it organization-wide. The customer journey is increasingly complex, and an integrated approach to listening is the best way to help them navigate it. Your CRM should be a go-to resource for your sales and marketing teams, but you can only populate it with the most valuable data for CXM by listening to your customers.

Originally posted at The Future of Customer Engagement and Commerce, February 16th, 2016 

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