How to Improve Your B2B Sales Workflow with Social Media

In my last post I defined social intelligence as a new form of intelligence that delivers a much broader view of the prospect. I discussed how in-context access to this intelligence will significantly boost sales productivity, enabling more successful outreach and engagement with the socially-savvy Customer 2.0. In this post I will provide three tips for implementing intelligence into your sales workflow (more specifically, directly into your CRM) and will elaborate on the effectiveness and applicability of social selling as an integral part of a business’ Social CRM strategy.

Intelligence Tip #1: Listen before you talk
Customers have increasing ownership of the conversation, but Social CRM levels the playing field for businesses by empowering engagement with customers within their preferred channels.

Social selling technologies and methodologies allow sales reps to:

  • Monitor what is being said about and by the customer
  • Analyze the relevant conversations
  • Automatically associate the findings with existing customer records
  • Use these insights to guide customer engagements going forward.

For example, by monitoring the blog posts and/or tweets of a prospect, the sales professional will not only be informed about what matters to the prospect, but also get a glimpse into their personality and style. Rich with insights about the prospect’s urgent business needs and challenges, the sales professional can then engage the customer at the right time with the right message – either via the traditional email/phone channel, or perhaps even with a response to their blog post or tweet. Of course, there is a lot of noise out there and not a lot of time to “listen,” which makes the use of technology, to identify what’s relevant to your sales team, critically important.

Intelligence Tip #2: Find a reason to call
How do you find a good reason to call your prospect? Social CRM allows companies to aggregate both official and unofficial social information about customers and prospects without any effort from or distraction to sales reps. Relevant content from customer communities can be automatically pushed into a CRM platform, enriching static prospect data with social intelligence. Intelligent monitoring of social conversations enable sales organizations to gain visibility into potential sales triggers such as upcoming business expansions, management changes or concerns about existing vendors that would otherwise be not available through more traditional news sources.

If you’re a systems integrator, for instance, you might want to watch target companies for contract awards or planned implementations of products in your market. If you sell litigation support services, you may want to monitor for news related to SEC or FTC legal investigations. Of course, any unofficial chatter about how your prospect isn’t satisfied with a competitor’s product or service will also give a great reason to call to showcase your differentiation!

These insights may be the difference between losing a deal (or not even being aware of it in the first place!) to catching a lead in mid air. This in-context intelligence, presented within the CRM workflow, drives sales productivity and accelerates deal velocity.

Intelligence Tip #3: Power the customer community
Companies have a very difficult time standing on the sideline while others discuss their business (I speak from experience!). However, adding input or marketing propaganda into customer conversations can interrupt the conversation and cause customers not to share their opinions, or maybe even lash out at you for the sales-y pitch. For example, most LinkedIn and Google groups I engage in have a no sales pitch policy that is strictly enforced by the group leaders. And specifically because of this policy, there is a great deal of open dialogue between the members about companies, products, business trends as well as best practices.

Social CRM cultivates business and empowers the customer community by:

  • Allowing customers to openly discuss a product or company – whether this includes problems, compliments or general inquiries prior to purchasing
  • Uniting happy customers so that they can influence, help, and nurture each other
  • Connecting the business with unhappy customers, enabling rapid response to make things right vs. have issues spiral out of control and affect the opinions of the others in the community
  • Providing sentiment analysis on aggregated conversations that take place in the relevant communities – helping companies notice signals of readiness (pdf)
  • Notifying when conversations are hot for engagement, or cold for simply monitoring

What will your company do to easily tap into and make sense of this highly valuable social intelligence to accelerate the sales cycle? How will you leverage new social insights to deepen customer relationships and drive business success? Hopefully these three tips will set you on the right path.

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