Social Media Tools in B2B Selling

Some quotes from Facts vs Fiction – Social Media Tools in B2B Selling posted on btbtraining.com on April 6th, 2009:

“[…] how effective are these new technologies in producing additional sales? and are they now, as has been claimed in some quarters already replacing established sales methodology and processes?

Well according to a new study by ES Research Group, Inc. (ESR), one of the leading research and advisory firms on sales effectiveness, social media tools such as Jigsaw, LinkedIn,Twitter, Plaxo, Facebook, Hoovers and OneSource may be useful for other purposes, but most of them aren’t helping sales teams close many B2B deals today. […]

Based on a survey of nearly 400 sales professionals in the U.S., the report found that only LinkedIn (86%) and Hoovers/OneSource combined (61%) were used by more than half of respondents in their selling efforts. Facebook (50%), Plaxo (48%), Twitter (31%), and Jigsaw (26%) trailed in use. […]

Of respondents actually using the tools for sales, Hoovers and OneSource were the only tools helping more than half (54%) of them win B2B sales sometimes or often. LinkedIn was next at 42% and Jigsaw followed at 35%. Worst were Facebook (15%), Plaxo (13%) and Twitter (13%).

“The results demonstrate that with all the hype and buzz, most social network tools aren’t helping sales teams sell more yet,” Said Dave Stein, CEO and founder, ES Research Group. “For example, Twitter has not come into its own as a salesperson’s tool. It is presently a marketing tool that can potentially benefit the sales organization by contributing to the generation and nurturing of new sales leads. For now, the use of sales methodologies integrated with CRM systems and other sales enablement tools are proving far more successful in driving sales.”

Other key findings include the following:

  • LinkedIn is clearly the favorite among B2B salespeople surveyed.
  • The established for-pay information services (Hoover’s and OneSource) came in second.
  • Free/low-cost information sharing services such as Jigsaw will rise in popularity over time.
  • Twitter is an anomaly. It will have a high degree of uptake, but in a very narrow market. Marketing will find the tool much more valuable than sales for the foreseeable future. Presently it is not a valuable mainstream medium for B2B salespeople.
  • For the time being, Facebook is best reserved for the personal and family sides of one’s life.

The ESR survey of sales representatives in a broad set of industries examined the prospecting process, the selling process, and the storage and retrieval of customer and prospect information.

No one doubts, the evolving role that social media technologies will play in the B2B selling environment, however the evidence clearly demonstrates that their present significance is no where near what some would have us believe. This is a topic of conversation that we will no doubt re-visit as the months and years go by. For now though, I applaud Dave and the ES research group for seeking out the facts of the matter, and for giving me the reassurance to continue to deliver the best advice for my customers and their sales people. […]”

 

Social Media Tools Not Ready for Prime Time in B2B Sales

April 07, 2009

“ES Research Group survey finds sales methodologies, CRM still most effective
According to a recent study by ES Research Group, Inc. (ESR), a research and advisory firm on sales effectiveness, social media tools such as Jigsaw, LinkedIn, Twitter, Plaxo, Facebook, Hoovers and OneSource are not helping sales teams close many B2B deals today. In fact, based upon ESR’s research, sales methodologies used in conjunction with CRM systems are far more effective in this regard.

The study, developed in cooperation with The TAS Group, surveyed nearly 400 sales professionals in the U.S. ESR’s “The New Social Media: Do They Enable B2B Selling?” report found that only LinkedIn (86 percent) and Hoovers/OneSource combined (61 percent) were used by more than half of respondents in their selling efforts. Facebook (50 percent), Plaxo (48 percent), Twitter (31 percent), and Jigsaw (26 percent) trailed in use. Note: Hoovers and OneSource are separate companies but were combined for survey purposes because of their similar services.

Of respondents actually using the tools for sales, Hoovers and OneSource were the only tools helping more than half (54 percent) of them win B2B sales sometimes or often. LinkedIn was next at 42 percent and Jigsaw followed at 35 percent. Worst were Facebook (15 percent), Plaxo (13 percent) and Twitter (13 percent).

“The results demonstrate that with all the hype and buzz, most social network tools aren’t helping sales teams sell more yet,” says Dave Stein, CEO and founder, ES Research Group. “For example, Twitter has not come into its own as a salesperson’s tool. It is presently a marketing tool that can potentially benefit the sales organization by contributing to the generation and nurturing of new sales leads. For now, the use of sales methodologies integrated with CRM systems and other sales enablement tools are proving far more successful in driving sales.”

Other key findings include the following:

• LinkedIn is clearly the favorite among B2B salespeople surveyed.

• The established for-pay information services (Hoover’s and OneSource) came in second.

• Free/low-cost information sharing services such as Jigsaw will rise in popularity over time.

• Twitter is an anomaly. It will have a high degree of uptake, but in a very narrow market. Marketing will find the tool much more valuable than sales for the foreseeable future. Presently it is not a valuable mainstream medium for B2B salespeople.

• For the time being, Facebook is best reserved for the personal and family sides of one’s life.
The ESR survey of sales representatives in a broad set of industries examined the prospecting process, the selling process, and the storage and retrieval of customer and prospect information.

“The New Social Media: Do They Enable B2B Selling?” contains ESR’s insights into each of the tools surveyed.
Free highlights of the survey can be found at The TAS Group. The full report is available for a fee at ESR Research.”

Source: Sales & Marketing Management

Conversation Enablement – Presentations are about delivery. Conversations are about discovery.

Mark S. Bonchek took the time to answer some questions I had asked as comments on his blog post “Can We Talk?”.

Here are his answers as published in his blog post “Conversation Enablement” from February 3, 2009:

“Commenting on my earlier post “Can We Talk”, Paul agreed that “conversation enablement is the way to go” and asked some great questions.  They were so good that I’m going to use them as the structure for this post.  Hopefully they will spark further comments … and perhaps a conversation.”

Who is a thought leader in that space?

“I actually haven’t seen many thought leaders on real conversation enablement in sales situations.  There are a number of thought leaders on conversational marketing, but they don’t really address what happens one-on-one with a buyer, nor how to enable conversations that a buyer has internally with stakeholders.  Some of the sales training companies like The Complex Sale or Executive Conversation cover the conversational dimension of selling, but they tend to focus on sales skills, not what needs to happen to enable the conversation. […]”

Where can I find an approach for Conversation Enablement that works?

“Unfortunately, I don’t think there is a systematic approach yet for conversation enablement.  Or at least I haven’t found one.  I think one of our companies, Truman Company, knows as much about it as anyone, but it isn’t yet systematized.  Perhaps we should start a stub on Wikipedia?”

Are we talking wikinomics and opening up of enterprise social networks to our customers to get the voice of the customer in our organization?

“I think this could be considered in a broader definition of conversation enablement.  In some sense, even the scripts used in call centers could be considered conversation enablement — whatever helps employees hold productive conversations with customers and buyers.”

Or are we talking about our internal sales enablement application having more web2.0 components and providing the sales force with more food for thought for better conversations?

“This is where my interest has been:  in B2B settings, enabling better conversations among sales people about how to sell, enabling conversation among customers, and enabling better conversations by sales people with customers.”

Should the conversation with the customer happen online more often and face to face less often to leverage the collective conversation skills of more of my employees?

“It depends on the level of the customer in their organization.  As you move up into the managerial and executive ranks, you need to have a much greater focus on face-to-face.”

Or are we looking for more dynamic client presentations that can be generated customized by audience, industry vertical, type of meeting, country, etc…?

“This is necessary but not sufficient.  And it leads to my main point.  A conversation is not a presentation, no matter how customized it might be.  A presentation can help to provide context and be a catalyst for a conversation.  But it is not a conversation.  In a presentation, you know where you are going.  In a conversation, you don’t.  Presentations are about delivery. Conversations are about discovery.

We are having a conversation about conversation enablement because I don’t know the answers. If I did, I could just give a presentation.  But for now, we’ll need to discover the answer together in the context of a conversation.”