With the exponential proliferation and use of high-tech social media marketing tools like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, sales executives are now racing to develop and implement comprehensive, strategic business development plans for their sales teams that are relevant, realistic, and tactically results-oriented. The new buzz-word of the day for the integration of social media capabilities with sales is “Sales 2.0” (Have we really been using version 1.0 since the Stone Age?)

Anyway, it’s clear the old adage “you can’t manage what you can’t measure” presents itself as a unique challenge when a sales force begins to adopt and leverage social media tools to research, prospect, qualify, and drive their sales opportunities to closure. So where does one begin? Answer: With the end in mind.

In order to ensure that the time allotted to use Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn during business hours isn’t going to be misappropriated, a company’s business development and sales personnel should be expected to adhere to internal social media policies and to follow a marketing strategy that can connect to old-school metrics – the number of meetings or relevant encounters that were attained.  One of most difficult things to witness in a sales organization is the adoption of high-tech tools and methodologies without them being coupled to robust, systemic, high-touch follow-up. It’s akin to watching a modern-day Greek tragedy where the Achilles heel of a great entity is that it behaves as if virtual interactions and real world encounters are one in the same. Reality check: clients are not the .jpg image in that little box, and they don’t communicate in 140 characters or less in real life.

Now the obvious question is: when are Web 2.0 technologies coupled with social media capabilities successful without a high-touch component? Usually when the sales model is high volume and transactional in nature (typicallyanchored by a low cost, commoditized product or service.)However, if there is a complex buying process and the objective is to establish long-term collaborative relationships that result in large transactions, there’s simply no substitute for being able to shake a hand, read body language, have a conversation, and sit across from a client eyeball-to-eyeball, knee cap-to-knee cap to accelerate the speed of trust.

The awesome part about this sales era, is that we have a buffet of options and really great tools available to us as business development sales professionals. High-tech, for high-touch? Perhaps.