What’s the deal with Social CRM?

Social CRM has two meanings.

  1. We take our social contacts and create a CRM-like environment to manage them. Our friends at Nimble and SproutSocial do a good job of this.
  2. We take our CRM contacts and create a social-like environment to manage them.  This is where we are seeing a lot of interest.

First, let’s take some very fundamental concepts about social data and apply them to selling.

The information that individuals provide about themselves in social media is going to be the best possible data about them.  That’s because these individuals have publicly volunteered their professional, demographic, and contact information in an effort to be seen and heard in social media.

This information is also going to be the most accurate because the individuals make the update themselves. Unlike purchased third-party databases, there is almost no lag time from when an individual changes jobs to when it is reflected in LinkedIn.  This takes the popular concept of “crowd-sourcing” and applies it to the micro-level of “sole-sourcing.”

Most third party databases universally apply locations and industries to every individual in their employ – whereas social data accurately reflects these fields for the individual. Social media provides new and unique methods of communication in the form of twitter handles and Facebook updates.  We can also learn what influences our contacts by understanding who they follow and what they mention socially.  From a B2B perspective – content mentions and social influence can be a great way to understand our contacts better.

Now let’s take some fundamental concepts about CRM and apply it to selling.

Our friends at Hubspot report that data degrades at 25% per year.  Our own individual research finds that over 50% of sales reps trust the data inside of LinkedIn more than they do inside of their own CRM. This leads to a very staggering problem – the average sales rep spends 10% of their time working outside of their CRM either validating or correcting the data inside of it.

Savvy sales professionals realize that integrating social into their CRM not only provides the most accurate and detailed data available, it gives sales people more time to sell.  10% of a sales person’s workweek is 4 hours or a half a day.  What impact would 4 additional hours per rep per week have on your sales numbers?

We are helping our clients recover this time, prioritize their sales and marketing efforts, and enrich the understanding they have about the prospects – all though social.

 

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Birth of a Social Salesman

My first sales manager asked me to keep a box filled with index cards with my prospects’ contact information on them.  She told me that web-based CRM was too unreliable for one and two, I shouldn’t be anywhere near a computer when you are on the road selling. Those were truly Spartan times for sales reps but we had an advantage back then – we had all of the information. If a buyer wanted to know what I knew – she had to meet with me.

Now that has changed – the buyer has all the data they need to make an informed decision on the products we sell.  It is truly difficult to bring more to the table than your corporate website, third parties review, customer endorsements, and online demonstrations. The question then has to be asked, how does today’s seller become more than someone who takes an order after the buyer has made a decision? How can today’s seller impact the sell?

I advocate that today’s seller needs to adopt the same tactics the buyers have employed – data; more specifically – social data.

Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are more than just vehicles for content marketing. They are rich sources of data where potential buyers expose their interest – well before they reveal themselves to buyers.  Take for example the Twitter Directory Journal rationale as to of why one person would follow another person on Twitter: http://www.dirjournal.com/articles/5-reasons-to-follow-someone-on-twitter/.   A follow is a social expression of interest.  A twitter handle’s following is a group of people who, by and large, all have the same interest.  From a sales and marketing perspective that is extremely valuable if you are able to isolate the following of your competition or association.

Social123 https://www.social123.com/what-we-do/socialfollower/ levels the playing field for sellers by giving them this market intelligence. SocialFollowers+ shares the name, bio, domain, and location of every follower from any twitter handle.  This tool can also append an email address, search the social web for additional sales triggers, and find additional contact data from other social networks to provide a complete contact profile.  

Help Wanted – Inside Sales Rep

Location: Roswell, GA

Department: Inside Sales

Type: Full Time

Min. Experience: Entry Level

Salary: 30,000 annual, 15% commission

Social123 is currently hiring an Inside Sales Associate to successfully bring in new clients on a monthly basis.  Social123 helps companies monetize social media by delivering social leads and data enhancement services. We use our own lead generation tools to create business on our behalf.

This candidate must be comfortable and effective with cold calling, online demonstrations of Social123, as well as have excellent interpersonal & technical skills.

Responsibilities:

  • Inside Sales Office Environment
  • Deliver online product demonstrations via GoToMeeting
  • Respond to prospect inquiries
  • Cold-call on businesses and organizations
  • Follow up on inbound leads and sales inquiries
  • Update lead interaction in Salesforce

Requirements:

  • BA/BS degree
  • 1-3 years of inside sales experience
  • Comfortable cold-calling businesses
  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • CRM / Marketing Automation experience
  • Web demo experience

Please email your resume to scott.miller@social123.com

From Cold Calling to Social Calling

There are two aspects about cold calling that make it an imperfect demand creation technique. 1. The cold caller hates to do it. 2. The prospect hates to receive it.

As someone that has put in his fair share of time interrupting busy executives with my solicitations, I can confess that this most unnatural of interruptions never really did live up its billing.  The problem is fundamental, cold calling is akin to finding a needle in a haystack.  We have to find the right person, in the right company, at the right time, who happens to be at their desk and willing to take an unsolicited call.

From a salesperson’s perspective, we are told that every NO leads to a YES and that selling is a contact sport – so make your dials! However, Einstein once famously told us that the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  Eventually, the lack of success that cold calling produces leaves what would otherwise be a highly compensated member of your company surfing the Internet.  From a sales person’s perspective – waiting for a lead is just as productive as trying to produce one.

What if we could turn that paradigm around? What if we could provide sales people with the right person, at the right company, at the right time who is looking to buy? Triggering Event and Social Monitoring are demand creation tactics that provide business intelligence to sales people alerting them of buying events.  It can be as simple as a potential buyer announcing a need for a solution you sell on LinkedIn, a press release on Facebook announcing an corporate initiative your product can help facilitate, or a prospect exclaiming their dissatisfaction for your competition on Twitter.

Social Media is a viable median for lead sourcing. A recent report from the Social Media Examiner finds, “58% of marketers who have been using social media for more than 3 years report it has helped them improve sales. More than half who spend 11 or more hours per week find the same results and over 65% of those who spend 30+ hours earn new business through their efforts. Small business owners with 2 or more employees were more likely to see improved sales from social media (51.5%). “

“By spending as little as 6 hours per week, 61% of marketers see lead generation benefits with social media. A significant 65% of small business owners were more likely than others to generate leads, compared to the 58% average for all marketers.”

The Competitive advantage of a Social CRM

Successful businesses are always looking for an edge against their competition. After all, as Thomas Freidman has told us the world is flat, so it isn’t unusual for Asian and European companies to compete for business in the United States. Traditional e-commerce efforts that push or pull traffic to a corporate website have proven to be the vehicle that has leveled the playing field for small / foreign businesses.  However, innovative companies are finding a way to gain an advantage in this already intensely competitive landscape with socially appended data. Stated otherwise – they are evolving their CRM into a Social CRM

Take for example LinkedIn – the most widely used social media outlet for professional purposes. A fully populated LinkedIn profile has the following data on an individual:

  • Picture
  • Location
  • Accurate Position
  • Alma Mater
  • Number of Connections
  • Alternate E-mail Address
  • Phone Number
  • Twitter Handle
  • Work History
  • Groups and Associations
  • Interests
  • Honors and Awards
  • Skills and Expertise
  • Birthdate
  • Marital Status


If I were simply preparing for a meeting – this data would give me a much better perspective and holistic view of my prospect.  I would understand how long she has been in her current position and where else they she has worked to ascertain if she has used my or my competitor’s product.  I would also know if we have any mutual connections or similar interest, honors, or associations to reference.  Lastly, I would know if my prospect asked or answered any questions on LinkedIn that related to my service.

However, the true power of social data is the strength it has en masse.  A CRM that has been appended with social data empowers businesses with additional contact information such as a twitter handle, cell phone number, and alternate e-mail address. These methods of contact are used mush less frequently for professional purposes and therefore more productive.

Imagine the power of segmenting your current CRM database by interests, groups, skills, or alma maters that would be uniquely interested in your service. What impact would wishing your customers and prospects a happy birthday or anniversary have toward brand awareness? What better prospect is there than one that has already used your product? Social data can give you that insight.

When product is commoditized and you can’t get above the noise of traditional e-commerce, Social CRM is becoming a true competitive advantage looking to gain an edge.

The Three Best Sales Books You Need to Read

I have been asked what the best books on selling are on more than one occasion. Obviously I am predisposed to Rick Page’s Hope Is Not A Strategy, seeing that I worked for the man for over two years. That notwithstanding, it is perhaps the only primer you need on strategizing a multi-vendor, multi-decision maker, big ticket sale. Rick takes the concept of strategic selling from B2B to P2P or peer to peer. Not only should you understand the pains of the company – but the individual decision makers – then tailor your message to solving those pains on a one-off basis. Genius really – but Rick’s book strictly covers deal strategy. You can compliment it very well with these books – I humbly submit:

Selling to Big Companies: Jill Konrath. I love this book. Jill does an extraordinary job of getting you in the mind of the buyer. Your buyer is busy, he doesn’t return solicitations, and he doesn’t care about your solution. Trust me; now that I am literally on the other side of the desk I experience these truisms every day. What I care about, and your buyer as well, is how you can help me take one thing off of my plate and give me one more hour with my kids. How can you learn what’s on my plate, “use the news.” Jill introduces the concept of triggering event selling, meaning we can get a glimpse of what will entice our prospects to buy by linking into their press releases. Although written in 2005, read this book to get a primer on modern day demand creation. Schiffman, Boylan and Parinello write books that can help you get the appointment, but Jill’s book will help you get the deal.

SPIN Selling: Neil Rackham. This book introduces the tactic of probing for pain in that we first need to diagnose before we prescribe. Neil was hired in the 70’s to find the one common trait that all successful sales people had at Xerox. What he found was the sales people that were most successful listened two times more than those who were not. The SPIN Selling technique was introduced to replicate the art of listening. Situation, Problem, Implication, Need. We must first understand our buyer’s environment, the problems within that environment, the impact those problems cause and what is needed to solve those problems. Bosworth’s Solution Selling and Customer Centric Selling basically take the pain-based selling concept and retool it with additional steps. However, SPIN has four steps – the only four steps you need to probe for pain.

A Report from the Field


As many of you know – I went from sales consulting to sales management a couple of months ago. I thought I would take this opportunity to share my report from the field.

1. Senior Sales People won’t create their own demand. I have found this to be more the case than I originally thought. At my employer, we use a third party to create intro calls for the reps. This is extremely helpful and keeps my team focused on opportunity management. The drawback I am finding however is that these “leads” are generally outside of our ideal customer profile in terms of vertical and stakeholder. Therefore I have employed a multi-touch / multi-media demand creation campaign to ensure we are still marketing to all aspects of the territory

2. The Best Practices Sales Cycle is my coaching tool of choice. The first thing I did in my new role was to get buy in and alignment on the best practices of our sales process. That includes the stages and tactics that make up those stages. Now – we have a common vernacular on where we are in the sales process and expectations on next steps.

3. The 3 R’s of revenue distraction are alive and well. Refereeing internal disputes, Recruiting, and Reporting. I find that blocking time off on my calendar specifically for the reps in the form of one on one time and deal coaching helps me separate the urgent from the important. I also find that keeping that time sacred – just as important as an appointment with a prospect – helps ensure I get the time with the reps.

More reports from the field to come….

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