web conferencing in a virtual 3D environment for remote meetings, training, sales enablement, and sales support
On March 28, 2012 Corporate Visions @corpv tweeted:
“Key findings: Sales enablement tools for customer conversations in a virtual environment are missing”
I would suggest to take a look at AvayaLive Engage.
AvayaLive Engage (formerly named web.alive and originally developed at Nortel) is web conferencing in a virtual 3D environment for remote meetings, training, sales [enablement], and [sales] support. I’m no longer affiliated with the product or any of the companies behind it, but I used to do product marketing for it back in 2009. On the website AvayaLive.com you can sign up for your chance to participate in the beta program. You’ll get 90 days of FREE AvayaLive Connect service. There is also a free trial with your own environment for 15 days.
“[...] rich and immersive avatar-based collaboration [...]
- [...] allows you for the first time to meet with your online customer in the same way as if they crossed the physical threshold of your business’ front door. Unleash your real-time voice and existing highly skilled staff to go and talk to your customers, either one-on-one or in a crowd. By doing so, you provide them relevant information to help them down ‘off of the fence’ [...]. The same environment can be used to provide support, and a community of users with knowledge can help deepen your relationship with customers, as well as providing a place to work with your customers [...]“
On February 7, 2012, Lauren Carlson wrote 5 Social Media Strategies for B2B Sales Success. In her post Lauren presents five ways in which B2B sales professionals can leverage social media to find and win more business. E.g.:
“[...] Try searching social media sites and tools for certain signal phrases, such as “seeking vendor recommendations,” or those that mention specific pain points your company can address. Refine your searches to social media channels your target customers use, such as by relevant industry hashtags on Twitter or industry-specific groups on LinkedIn or Facebook. This method of discovery requires minimal effort and can uncover leads that might have otherwise gone unnoticed. [...]“
From my experience I would add ifttt [can be set up to search twitter etc], socialmention, and of course Google Alerts [which can be a bit slow] as free tools that allow companies to track their brand, to identify their potential customers, or as Laura writes to “track their competition. They can see what tactics their competitors are using” and when the competition is failing at something. However, Lauren also mentions “that many C-level execs aren’t chatting it up on Twitter and LinkedIn”, but that the people, who influence them or at least have access to them, could be.
Check out Lauren’s blog post for some great examples of how B2B sales professionals can get creative with social media.
On September 7, 2010, Matthias Roebel from BizSphere.com/blog wrote “The Importance of Context for the Enterprise 2.0″:
Just a few days ago Joe Galvin from Sirius Decisions wrote about how important Social Media – as an approach for better internal collaboration – is as part of a Sales Enablement strategy. I think he is absolutely right. What used to be the informal coffee corner chat before nowadays is mimicked in Social Media platforms. Over time, people will learn that even within an enterprise the sharing of information is beneficial for everyone in the end. Yes, there may be a lot of sceptics around, especially in sales teams, but with the right programs and incentives offered, they will make the jump to the new social collaboration paradigm.
However, the flip side of extensive social collaboration might be the appearance of new information silos as well as growing information overload. Without the social collaboration being moderated to a certain extend, it might lose some of its potential impact on the overall performance of the sales teams. Aaron Roe Fulkerson discussed this in a recent blog post: “The importance of context: why Enterprise 2.0 still fails to deliver value”.
A company might use a lot of different types of social collaboration platforms – the challenges is: How can they be orchestrated in a way, that actual knowledge exchange is taking place across existing team and functional structures? And how can the content generated be aligned to some generally agreed upon enterprise structures? What companies, that are serious about implementing a Social Media strategy for sales, should think about, is to create and maintain an enterprise context.
Then collaboration can take place within this context and will add greater value to a broader audience. Ideally, the enterprise context should constantly evolve based on feedback gathered during the ongoing social collaboration (for example as shown below).
‘Chief Listeners’ Use Technology to Track, Sort Company Mentions
Relatively New Role Is Becoming More Commonplace in Major Marketing Companies
by Irina Slutsky
Published: August 30, 2010
“[...] the CLO’s job is one of “broad listening” – as Dell has such a deep penetration globally in so many different markets.
“Our chief listener is critical to making sure the right people in the organization are aware of what the conversations on the web are saying about us, so that relevant people in the business can connect with customers,”
Unlike many social-media jobs, this position is very inward-facing. She’s listening to Dell customers and consumers and giving all the intel to her Dell colleagues internally.
[...] ”Dell has been listening for four years and created a position called ‘Listening Czar’ two years ago.
[...] said their companies were driving innovation through customer feedback. [...]“
I just found the following graphic in the blog post ‘The hyper-social organization’ by Joachim Niemeier @JoachimNiemeier from June 29, 2010. I’m not sure who the author of the graphic is. When this is an Enterprise 2.0, then I can’t wait to see how an Enterprise 3.0 looks like (with everything being semantic).
Graphic from Dion Hinchcliffe http://blogs.zdnet.com/Hinchcliffe but altered with regards to ‘Sales Enablement Application’ instead of ‘online community’.
Also of interest to you might be my posts ‘Constant loop of quantitative and qualitative feedback in a sales enablement portal’ and ‘Without a guiding context you can never be sure how a word used as a tag was meant’
All blog posts below were posted on July 9, 2010:
On Mar 24, 2010, Len Rosen wrote How Enterprise 2.0 Sales Teams Will Use Social Networks:
“Are private social networks becoming entrenched in Enterprise 2.0 businesses with sophisticated sales forces? “We’re not there yet,” states Jennifer King, Director of Sales, Central Region for SAS Canada, the leader in business analytics software and services, and the largest independent vendor in the business intelligence market. SAS is one of many software companies involved in complex solution selling. “Our sales teams are knowledgeable with many years of experience,” states King. “They are just getting their feet wet when it comes to understanding public social networks.”
SAS in many ways is an Enterprise 2.0 business. But it is still getting its head around the tools of social networking. King states, “We have invested in a lot of communication tools including email, bulletin boards, internal chat, blogs, and SharePoint for document sharing. But we have yet to embrace social networking internally.”
At Avnet, an international distributor of electronics, computing and storage products, and a company that is embracing Enterprise 2.0, Charlie Babb, Vice President of Sales and Marketing states, “the answer to every single sales challenge we face already exists somewhere in our company.” Babb recognizes that mining that information is critical to sales success. He asks, “How do we go get it? How do we synthesize it? How do we improve it? How to we get it out to the field? How do we update it?”
SAS and Avnet have been using technology to support sales for many years. They along with many other companies have embraced today’s CRMs, software tools that are great at capturing lead demographics and tracking sales cycles. Knowledge sharing tends to be vertical, that is, sales managers can see what is occurring through report roll ups usually to some kind of dashboard. But CRMs are inherently clumsy when it comes to cross-fertilizing knowledge from one member of a sales team to another.
When Social Networks Interact with Sales DNA
Think about the social networking experience on a public platform like Facebook. Information can be shared in many conversations whether you create a discussion, post something to your wall, or respond to someone else’s posting, view a friend’s video, write your own blog or comment on a friend’s blog. Now translate this functionality into a sales department. Are sales people willing to be a friend to others? When I entered sales 37 years ago it was clear to me right from the start that I was in competition with every other sales person in my company. This competition was company fostered. Rewards were never given for sharing. Every year the best of us survived the “cut” to continue selling. The worst of us got “pink slipped.” Knowledge sharing was not in our sales DNA. But every sales manager wants answers to the questions that Charlie Babb posed, and one way of fulfilling that goal is through the deployment of a private social network.
Two years ago I was approached by a company here in Canada that had 400 locations coast-to-coast, a central office in Winnipeg, and regional offices in all 10 provinces and the 3 territories. The sales force was 4,000 strong. Imagine creating a network for knowledge sharing and cross-fertilization of ideas for such a distributed army of individuals, many of them working from home offices with their only connection electronic using the phone and Internet.
I sat down with the VP of sales and asked him what were the challenges within his organization. One was harvesting the knowledge that existed within the staff. Another was spreading the knowledge wealth. A third was retaining staff. The company had web resources, email and other means of electronic communications but they didn’t have a social network. The company had a tradition of rewarding peak performers, not just for sales success but also for attaining levels of certification based on taking company-sponsored programs.
This is the perfect scenario for deploying a private social network framework with all of its communication attributes. Enable Consultants, a Toronto-based software developer, encounters many of these types of companies. Faith Exeter, President, remarks, “Organizations need a way to harvest collective wisdom that is friendly, informative, engaging and fun, and serves to meet revenue and other business objectives.” Enable builds many different types of private social networks, each meeting particular industry or market niche requirements. “We find when we talk to marketing people, who tend to be younger and digital natives, they immediately grasp the value inherent in implementing social networks inside the firewall.”
However, Exeter goes on to state, “getting sales departments to buy-in takes considerably greater effort largely because they tend to rely on past experience as their model. And experienced sales people tend to be digital immigrants, not as savvy or accustomed to social networking and its uses.”
In an Enable sales social network every sales person has a profile, a personal calendar, a bulletin board for receiving short messages, a blog, a place to store documents, a place to upload videos and pictures, chat, and receive and send email. Every sales person can be partnered with a team. Interaction is encouraged and rewarded through a point system with points given for online participation and group interaction. Knowledgeable sales people acts as content experts and through sharing information with knowledge seekers receive rewards.
Sales 2.0: The Rise of Social Capital
The adoption of social networking in sales organizations has recently been given a new name, S2.0 or Sales 2.0. The implementation of a private sales social network changes communication. Company sales knowledge gets quickly disbursed. When a knowledgeable sales person answers a question the information is not only read by the person asking the question but is captured for all letting other sales people view the results or enter key search words to see the answer and other answers of similar relevance.
In a sales social network answers can come from unlikely sources. Employees who may be quiet in a meeting may feel empowered when in a virtual space, sharing knowledge that is uniquely held. These are the hidden gems within your organization that a social networking application can mine.
Insights from known knowledge workers can be flagged by the application with automatic system alerts going company wide whenever they post something new. Instructional videos can be posted online, accessible anytime, anywhere. Sales departments can build best practices wikis, or industry-specific documentation shareable company-wide. The knowledge shared internally can be made available to externally, giving selected customers and prospects access to important information to help them make buying decisions. Postings can go mobile as well making any cell phone a knowledge resource.
For companies who have sales teams that are multi-generational, facilitating communications using the media that is most comfortable represents a real challenge. Baby Boomers get email. Digital natives, those in their 20s and early 30s, use instant messaging, texting and social networks. For young workers email is communication for old people. Social networking and all its many communication tools is where it’s at.
In the Miller Heiman report, “Megatrends That Will Impact The Way We Manage Sales Organizations,” it states:
“today’s young social networkers are tomorrow’s salespeople. Having grown up with social networking, they’re likely to continue relying on this way of communicating and collaborating throughout their careers.”
The report refers to the collective value that social networking provides as “social capital,” almost as important to an organization as intellectual capital. They conclude, “Organizations with rich social capital enjoy access to venture capital and financing, improved organizational learning, the power of word-of-mouth marketing, the ability to create strategic alliances, and the resources to defend against hostile takeovers.”
About the Author
Len Rosen is a Toronto-based consultant working with companies on the use of technology to enhance small business productivity. He has a particular interest in the business application of social media and social networks. Len has been at it for 36 years. He is a contributing author to a number of web sites and publishes his own small business technology blog.
I just listened to this podcast interview with Paul Dunay from Avaya on social media marketing for B2B (SMB) by Chris Herbert, from June 4, 2010:
Welcome to our second episode of “The B2B Specialists” podcast series. A series dedicated to having and sharing interesting conversations with professionals in our field.
Here’s the link to listen to the podcast with Paul Dunay, Donna and myself.
In this Podcast Episode
What’s new in B2B marketing for 2010? We dive right in to a conversation with Paul Dunay, Global Managing Director of Services and Social Media marketing for Avaya. (see below for more details about Paul). We talk about how social media is being used in B2B marketing and sales both at Avaya and in general.
00:49 We welcome Paul Dunay who tells us a little bit about his career, publishing endeavors and educational background.
02:35 Paul talks about what’s new in B2B marketing. The conversation includes:Linkedin and SEO; Facebook advertising; Mobile marketing “grows up” and the role a corporate web site plays vs “offsite content”.
05:10 We talk about how some companies are neglecting their web sites. Sites need to be current and a content production schedule should be in place. Paul’s advice: “Think like a publisher. Plan what content you will produce and over what time frame”.
07:10 We talk about how a blog platform, like WordPress, is an ideal platform to use to produce a website, especially for small to midsized businesses. It’s a “swiss army” knife for web marketing.
08:19 Paul gives some great examples of how Facebook can be used for B2B marketing.
14:00 The conversation turns to the adoption of social media. Where should a company start and how to measure ROI? What Paul is doing to show ROI at Avaya.
18:23 We talk about Avaya’s use of Twitter to support customers and how advocates (loyal customers) are helping support Avaya in return. These brand ambassadors act as unofficial spokespersons for Avaya. They can also become formal references and case study candidates.
22:55 Paul talks about how he shows examples of Twitter conversations to members of the Avaya management team so they can see the positive impact they are having on the Avaya brand. This helps turn social media skeptics into believers. One twitter conversation led to a customer purchasing an Avaya systemin less then 15 days.
About Paul Dunay
Paul Dunay is the Global Managing Director of Services and Social Marketing for Avaya, a global leader in enterprise communications, and author of Facebook Marketing for Dummies (Wiley 2009). Paul is an award winning business to business marketer and publisher of the blog Buzz Marketing for Technology. Paul is on our “A” List of B2B marketers.
Links of Interest