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+Brad Farris What makes that especially nettlesome for companies is that you can still sell, but it just stretches out the sales cycle so much longer than what they are accustomed to. I want to do a study sometime that compares social engagement among public companies vs. private companies, given that the former have to meet quarterly Wall St. expectations - creating (maybe) an internal mindset that is somewhat contrary to long-term relationships with customers via social and otherwise.
Well, I understand what you are saying, but I usually try to sell a counterpoint.

When prospects have been drinking from your content marketing stream they come into the sales cycle much better educated about what you do, and the value you offer. They are more "ready to buy". So we see the sales cycle (from a lead "raising their hand" to closing the deal or no deal) shrink.

I don't work with any public companies, but the founder led companies I do work with are starting to see the sales role differently. A steady drip of teaching, and connecting (which is really marketing, right?) leading to leads that come in more "ready to buy" and with less competition. You have to measure sales efficiency differently; but they still have to meet their quota.
+Grant Hensel I can't say for sure, because Pivot and +Brian Solis do not seem to have published the actual research publicly, just the summary. However, the questions are quite different. ExactTarget asked where you'd prefer to see promotions, and social was 4-6%. The audience was Americans 15+ with an Internet connection. Pivot asked "social consumers" - thus a more savvy, self-selected, socially-oriented panel "when using social networks, what do you EXPECT to find there?" Special offers ranked first.
So, there are large differences in sample, and one question asks preference, while the other asks about expectations. I don't see this data as contradictory.
+Grant Hensel , +Brian Solis , +Jay Baer Everyone wants an exclusive deal that beats all other deals being offered elsewhere. I think social media can provide a lower cost of sales for companies and give them the financial opportunity/flexibility to pass on some savings to their customers.
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