Social business within professional sales teams
In this fast-paced conversation economy, sales and business development professionals are looking for a competitive advantage in discovering and converting prospects that are happening in real time on the Social Web.
Assessments are being made, new social business models are forming and people are looking towards Social Business Software (SBS) as a way to deliver against requirements that they have identified:
- Automatically discover and introduce criteria-based social prospects into the sales pipeline – manual web monitoring is impractical and time consuming.
- Improve customer relations – good customer relations leads to cross-sell and up-sell opportunities, but is not a 100% guarantee with increased competitor pressure.
- New opportunities need to be quickly assigned to appropriate expertise for evaluation and assessment – inaccuracies can lead to dead ends or opportunities lost.
- A rapid engagement approach to prospects with early probability – any delay results in leads turning cold or gives a competitor an advantage.
- Collective knowledge and information assets need to be readily available for bid preparation – information living in isolation at best is difficult to find or worse lost to the sales team entirely.
A Fundamental Shift in Lead Generation
While purchasing portals, tender notifications and RFQs migrated to digital some time ago, it is only recently – thanks to social networks – that ‘word of mouth’ opportunities have begun to widely propagate in this domain.
In the current economic climate, sales focus is being placed firmly on discovering new business. Leads generated via e-mail notifications or discovered through basic search engine queries are just not enough. Social media brings a much wider opportunity and businesses need to be equipped for identifying prospects within these real time social conversations.
Manually gathering intelligence within these social interactions is not practical, so companies who use social business software let the solution do the ‘heavy lifting’. Qualified leads can be aggregated, shared and discussed internally, forming the basis of new marketing programs and sales opportunities.
Customers Are Demanding To Be Heard
A phone call or occasional e-mail to a client can be construed as good customer relations but the fact is social media has amplified this relationship. Customers now expect to have their voices heard – and if organisations are not willing to listen they will find someone, probably a competitor, who will.
This immediacy can be perceived as threatening but there are obvious benefits in giving customers and partners a shared voice in your products, services and brand through social media.
According to recent KCS statistics, nearly 90% of all customer conversations are not incorporated into a company's collective knowledge and it's anyone's guess to how many sales opportunities, product innovations or service improvements there are that have disappeared in this noise.
By design, social business software can collate and manage these direct and indirect customer interactions uncovering vital information in them to be streamed to the most appropriate member in your team.
Proactively listening to stake holders through SBS will result in a deeper understanding of who they are and, importantly, what their real needs might be. The bottom line over time is continual up-sell and cross-sell opportunities for your sales team.
Connecting the right person to the right information
As leads are discovered, assessment of value and probability is the critical next step. Most often this information needs to reach members who have the areas of expertise to provide the most accurate evaluation. It is not unusual for companies to have missed opportunities because information was not directed to the appropriate member within the organisation.
Because social business software creates business communities, each member has a profile presence to which information can be directed to their areas of strength. This provides an assurance that information is reaching the right person and potential opportunities are being properly addressed.
Collaboration amongst colleagues is naturally inherent across the entire sales cycle. The method of communication and intensity varies. Large bid teams for example preparing formal proposals will often make use of all channels of communication available and will require a number of information assets in order to compile a formal proposal. An individual on the other hand may only need an expert opinion in order to satisfy an information request that they have received.
In each case organisational knowledge is being generated but in many cases it is not organised in such a way that it can be easily found for future use. The biggest culprit for loosing organisational knowledge and the most active communication channel is a company's e-mail repository.
The benefits of social business software
Social Business Software, such as the Jiglu Social Business Software Suite, provides the benefits of collaboration on a number of levels:
- Pre Sales approach, proposition development, pitch and presentations, and formal proposals can be developed within communities where member expertise is easily identifiable for the task on hand. This enables prospects and opportunities to be rapidly assessed, evaluated and acted upon.
- External stakeholders can participate in the collaboration process providing insights to product and service improvements or streamlining partnering opportunities for new and existing business.
- Collective knowledge, including information assets, resides in a central repository and is readily available for future use.
- Information delivered into a community, including e-mails and instant messaging, will remain part of the collaboration process and be available for reference at any time.
- Obstacles caused by a participant's geographical location are removed.
The Social Web is truly revolutionary and provides wider sales opportunities that were not possible before. Social Business Software is pivotal to the process. Automating prospect discovery is really the only way to effectively identify the maximum number real time opportunities and quickly and efficiently assess them within a collaborative sales process.
Companies currently embracing SBS are winning new business and gaining deeper understanding to existing client requirements. More importantly they will be better prepared for when social media reaches maturity. The Jiglu Social Business Software Suite brings together all the tools required to make the most of this rapidly changing world.