Prospecting and lead generation

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 own experience I would add zapier.com and ifttt [both 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.

The Importance of Content Marketing

The following is a guest post by Jared M. Wells from TSL Marketing:

“The fourth Quarter is an interesting time for B2B Sales and Marketing professionals, you’re focused on closing the year with strong numbers.  Being in sales, I’m guilty of thinking low hanging fruit is the most appetizing, at times.  However, I have to ask myself if I’m cutting myself short.

Image by TSL MarketingSales and Marketing teams work diligently throughout the year filling sales pipeline and often times lead generation efforts go to waste when the sales team is focused primarily on short sales. Buying intent is often underestimated with longer-term opportunities and leads are overlooked.

This is why it is important to enable your sales team with tele-prospecting support and lead nurturing tactics. This helps assure that you will get you more mileage out of your pipeline and leads will not slip through the cracks.

The Importance of Content Marketing

B2B marketers have gotten more sophisticated with technology and taken steps towards better alignment with sales in recent years; because of this many coin 2010 as “The Year of Content Marketing” Sirius Decisions released some excellent research in this area. Content generated will have the most impact if it’s targeted to the prospect’s position along the Buyer’s Journey:

by TSL Marketing

“Content is Key” but be warned – it’s not just about content…  A recent study by IDG Market Fusion determined that in only 42% of cases, prospects received relevant content; that means 58% of the time the WRONG content is being shared. Marketing Sherpa also discovered that irrelevant or off-target information reduces your chance to win the business by as much as 45%. Keep it relevant!

Leveraging your Inside Sales Team for Lead Progression

Longer-term deals require time and attention in order to realize their full potential.  Automated Lead Nurturing is great, however nothing beats an actual conversation!  Leveraging inside sales for lead qualification will help ensure proper lead nurturing, and most importantly, pipeline acceleration are taking place.

Inside Sales is best suited to enable the Sales Team by qualifying and helping to ensure proper content is being provided. This will enable the field sales team to do what they do best, focus on closing deals.  If history has shown us anything: That’s what they’ll do, regardless.

To learn more on the importance of lead progression, TSL Marketing recently released a free whitepaper, “The Payoffs of Lead Progression”. In this whitepaper you will learn how you can increase lead conversion rates by upwards of 44%.”

Chief Listening Officer – Chief Listener – CLO

One of my past job titles explained by Advertising Age:

‘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. […]”

An Enterprise 2.0

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).
Hyper social

Relating this to Sales Enablement, I would like to point to my post ‘Information Architecture?’.

Graphic from Dion 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’.

How Enterprise 2.0 Sales Teams Will Use Social Networks

On Mar 24, 2010, on cmswire.com 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. enableconsultants.com 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.

You can’t manage what you don’t measure

Craig Klein (@craigklein) wrote ‘8 Metrics You Must Know about Marketing, Leads and Sales’, on March 9, 2010:

“[…]

#1 Metric You Must Know about Marketing and Sales
Total number of leads coming in.

Simple right? Well, it is but, it means you need to know about all of them. All the referrals your sales people get that they never mention to you. All the call-ins that come in but, never get called back by a sales rep, etc.

#2 Metric You Must Know about Marketing and Sales
Where does each lead comes from?

How did they hear about you? What ad did they respond to? Where did you meet them? Who referred them to you?

Again, simple stuff but, the key is to be sure you get this information for each and every lead you talk to. If you get 100 leads a month and fail to collect this information for 5 of them, it could really throw off any analysis you do.

#3 Metric You Must Know about Marketing and Sales
How qualified is each lead?

This one is tougher. The reason is that you have to decide on objective criteria that makes a lead qualified. Do they have a need for what you sell? Do they have the money for it? The answers don’t necessarily need to mean that are absolutely going to buy from you. Just that there is a basic fit between their needs and situation and your company. They’re worth your time. Choose the 4 or 5 questions you have to ask every new lead and start capturing the answers for each and every lead. I know, you won’t be able to get all that information for all of them. That’s OK. If you don’t get it all, they’re not qualified.

#4 Metric You Must Know about Marketing and Sales
What’s the value of the sales opportunity?

Best case scenario, what can you sell them in the near term? What is this opportunity worth to your company? Pretty simple.

#5 Metric You Must Know about Marketing and Sales
What market segment do they fit in?

In every business, you have a few segments you have developed unique solutions for. It might be business vs. residential or small vs. large. You’ve got to know where they all fit.

#6 Metric You Must Know about Marketing and Sales
Product you propose to them.

This could be a direct one to one relationship with the segment they fit in but, it’s usually not that simple. Some customers will request certain solutions even though it’s not what you’d recommend for them given the segment they’re in, etc. Again, you’ve got to track this for each lead.

#7 Metric You Must Know about Marketing and Sales
Won or Lost

Did they buy or not? Simple right? What about if they just say “call me later”? (that’s a No if they don’t buy within a reasonable amount of time BTW)

#8 Metric You Must Know about Marketing and Sales
Did they give you a referral?

Why do you need to know this? Well, you need to know if they were asked for one thing. Also, this is a great measure of the satisfaction of that client. Let’s face it… You can value customers by how much they spend but, a customer that gives you referrals is much more valuable than one that spends the same and doesn’t give you any referrals.

[…]”

 

How Registration Forms are Killing B2B Software Marketing

On January 13, 2010 Kim Cornwall Malseed wrote ‘How Registration Forms are Killing B2B Software Marketing’:

“I’ve been reminded once again of what a mistake it is for B2B software companies to force prospective customers to fill out a registration lead capture form in order to view their marketing content.

Over the past week I’ve been researching project management software solutions to better collaborate with clients on marketing and PR projects, and as I was perusing various vendor websites, again and again I was asked to submit my information and “pay” just to read case studies, white papers, watch videos or listen to podcasts so I can potentially buy their product.

Instead of generating leads, these registration forms turn away the very prospects that you need to educate and engage with. Like most busy professionals researching software, I want to have a very good sense that a solution will work for my specific needs before I want to risk being interrupted by phone calls, emails, and direct mailings from people I don’t care to hear from.

That means removing the barriers to your marketing content in order for prospects to learn more about your software and see you as a trustworthy source, which compels them to contact you and willingly engage with your company. This is far more likely to result in a sale than not generating leads at all, or generating low quality leads because they’re still in the research phase of the sales cycle and probably don’t want to talk with you yet.

Survey Says: 75% IT Pros Won’t Register for White Papers

In an interview on the Savvy B2B Marketing blog with Jay Hallberg, VP of Marketing of networking monitoring software provider Spiceworks, he discussed results of a survey of users of their IT white paper community. (And yes, I do find it ironic that they are making people register for survey results report)

The survey found:

  • More than 75% of IT professionals DON’T sign up for white papers requiring registration
  • IT pros want to reach out to the vendor on their terms via their preferred channel, e.g. phone, email, or chat. Prospects don’t want the vendor to contact them. Period. If they want more information or to talk to a rep after they download a paper, they will contact that vendor.
  • Some IT vendors offer “free” white papers but require registration. If the vendor requires contact information, the white paper is far from free.
  • When vendors remove the registration wall, downloads go way up. One white paper that was offered without registration was downloaded 500 times in 3 days.

Lead Capture Forms Make Social Media Sharing Ineffective

One of the project management software vendors I checked out was recommended by someone on LinkedIn who provided a link to a white paper. Unfortunately, the link led to a registration form to download the white paper, which I didn’t do because I didn’t know enough about the vendor or solution yet. If the link had led directly to the white paper itself (or page from which I could download without ‘paying’) then I could quickly and easily have found out if I wanted to contact the vendor and engage with them. If I found the white paper helpful, I would have shared it with others via Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media venues as I know other marketing pros that need similar solutions.

By putting up barriers to your content, you’re missing out on effectively using social media to generate leads.

ReachForce Increases eBook Clickthroughs by 1600%

In a recent test by the marketing team of lead generation software provider ReachForce, they removed the registration form from an eBook they had created, and sent an email to a targeted list promoting the eBook, making sure to highlight that there was no registration required. Clickthroughs to the eBook increased by 1600%, and because ReachForce’s sales team could track who was clicking through, they were still collecting highly valuable information about prospects.

Registration Has Its Time and Place

Lead capture forms are effective and needed for some aspects of marketing, such as requiring prospects to sign up to receive a newsletter or attend an event, as you need their email address to send the content or event information. It is a good idea to offer a ‘bonus’ content piece such as an article, case study, video, etc. that the subscriber receives immediately in order to boost subscription rates, so in this case a registration form is appropriate.

One way to effectively use registration forms is embedding them into your content or placing a lead capture form on the same web page as your content, so prospects can contact your company if they wish, but can still view and share your content without contacting you.

Increase Lead Generation by Creating Quality Content

If you’re continuously creating high-quality content that educates and engages (and entertains in appropriate cases) your prospective customers, instead of an uninvited pest, you’ll be seen as a welcome guest who they look forward to hearing from.”

Sales 2.0 tools that help align Sales and Marketing

On January 11, 2010 sellingpower.com posted ‘Sales 1.0 vs Sales 2.0: Tools That Help Align Sales and Marketing’:

“The seemingly endless turf battle between sales and marketing is among the more useless behaviors in corporate America. Fortunately, Sales 2.0 helps eliminate the conflicts by bringing the activities of the two groups into closer alignment. Here’s how:

Lead Generation

Sales 1.0: Sales and marketing argue about the quality of the leads that marketing passes to sales. Marketing might, for example, attend a trade show and hold some sort of drawing, allowing the company to “harvest” a set of business cards. Unfortunately, such practices require the sales team to weed through numerous contacts in order to find one or two who might actually purchase.

Sales 2.0: Tools such as InsideView, Genius.com, Salesgenie, and Engage B2B help companies capture more and better leads. Leads gathered through lists and trade shows can be enhanced with additional information, including listings of trigger events that might make a company more likely to buy. Current leads can be compared to previous leads to statistically determine which current leads are more likely to close. And leads can be put into a nurture pipeline for additional contacts, emails, and telemarketing. As a result, leads are fully qualified before they’re passed to sales and, when passed, include enough information to help determine which leads are likely to close.

Customer Engagement

Sales 1.0: Sales and marketing argue about the sales team’s ability to close leads. Marketing believes that it’s provided sales with opportunities that should be easy to close, but sales has not followed through. What results is an endless round of finger-pointing, with sales blaming marketing for providing bad leads, even though sales never found out whether the leads were good or not.

Sales 2.0: Such sales-engagement tools as InsideSales and ConnectAndSell make it easier for sales to contact prospects and move opportunities forward. Web-conferencing tools such as Citrix, GoToMeeting, and WebEx, and social-networking tools such as Jigsaw, LinkedIn, and Plaxo provide sales with additional ways to reach prospects.

Similarly, mobile CRM applications and devices, such as the iPhone and RIM Blackberry, help ensure that sales remains in contact with customers as the sale moves forward. Most importantly, because all of these engagement activities are measurable, sales and marketing management can use analytic tools such as Cloud9 and Birst to measure the effectiveness of sales efforts, thereby ending the arguments before they start.

Customer Messaging

Sales 1.0: Sales and marketing argue over which messages should be communicated to prospects and customers. Marketing spends money on materials and advertising, trying to create a consistent brand that will grow in value over time. Meanwhile, sales rewrites and reworks those messages in order to make them more practical as sales tools. Unfortunately, those field messages never make it into the marketing materials, leaving the company with two conflicting messages.

Sales 2.0: Such sales-process tools as Kadient and Brainshark [also see ‘work in progress list of sales enablement vendors‘] create a repository of effective messages and materials while encouraging content creators to communicate with each other about what’s working in the field and what’s falling flat. As a result, sales and marketing begin to collaborate on messaging in a real-time environment, rather than simply argue about which messages make more sense.

Sales Compensation

Sales 1.0: Sales and marketing argue about which opportunities and customers should be pursued and what offerings should be sold. Marketing may wish to build a presence in a new market by developing strategic customers and partnerships or by moving a strategic product into a high-visibility account. Unfortunately, sales may not have such goals or be compensated on accomplishing those strategic goals and therefore remain focused on tactical sales issues.

Sales 2.0: Compensation-management tools such as Xactly allow management to change compensation plans quickly in order to match strategic goals. Because the sales teams are immediately informed of the changes and can determine the impact of their day-to-day activity on their compensation packages, sales can respond far quicker to changes in strategic direction. This aligns a company’s selling behaviors with its strategic marketing goals, thereby avoiding confusion and argument. […]”

See the full blog post and leave your comments here.

Sales vs Marketing – Whose job is it to generate leads?

‘Sales Vs. Marketing: Whose Job is it to Generate Leads?’ by Pete Caputa from November 4, 2009:

This article is an interview of Anthony Cole by HubSpot’s Peter Caputa. Tony is a sales development guru and the founder of Anthony Cole Training Group. Anthony Cole Training Group (a HubSpot customer) helps individuals and companies drive consistent and predictable sales growth. Tony’s blog is called the Sales Java blog.

In marketing, we call it “generating leads.” In sales, it’s usually called “prospecting.” Whose job is it anyways?

While salespeople have always been measured on their ability to generate leads, inside sales people are often measured only on their ability to turn a cold list into warmer leads for their outside reps. However, even outside sales people who do their own prospecting are measured on their ability to fill the top of their funnel based on what leads turn into sales at the bottom.

Great marketers generate demand for their sales teams. With online marketing, marketers are now being measured on their ability to do so. With measurement comes great responsibility.

As a marketer, are you up for the challenge? Is your sales team carrying their weight too?

To find out what it takes for a salesperson to be good at prospecting and generating leads, I turned to a sales training guru that I’ve been following for a few years, Anthony Cole:

Pete: How do you teach sales people to prospect?

Tony: Actually the real key is to hire people who can prospect (prospect qualification is a testable skill) and then help them improve their techniques. Prospecting effectively is a topic we help sales people with every day and maybe for the marketers out there, this may help you understand how to better support your sales teams. We coach salespeople that their attitude about prospecting will determine how successful their sales career will be. If they feel that prospecting is something they have to do, then they will view it as drudgery. They will resist it; they will find other things to do instead of prospecting. They will not improve their skills at it and  their performance and success in sales will suffer. They must embrace prospecting. They must understand that prospecting is the job. They get paid a lot of money because they are willing to do what others won’t – prospect.

Pete: Most people think that the best salespeople are the ones who are all about talking a lot and closing hard. In your experience, would you say that prospecting is the hardest thing for salespeople?

Tony: Those people in sales who are making the most money are not making the most because they are brighter or have better presentations, or because their product is better. They are making big money because they have figured out that the real job is getting in front of people or businesses that need, want and can pay for the product and services they provide.  The moment they realize that prospecting is THE job, they have taken their first step to the best year in sales they’ve ever had.

Pete: Have you found that there are certain salespeople that are better at prospecting than others? Why?

Tony: Yes, there are people who are better prospectors and here’s why.  They have less of a need for approval and can ask tough questions.  Also, they recover from rejection quickly so not much gets them down.  They need to have the attitude of prospects that ‘some will, some won’t, so what, next…’  Many salespeople have self-limiting beliefs that in turn limit their behavior. The first step to unlocking the locked mindset is to identify those beliefs. Here are some examples:

  • “I don’t like prospecting.”
  • “It’s hard to get past gatekeepers.”
  • “If a prospect asks me to send something, I usually send something.”
  • “I’m uncomfortable asking for referrals.”

Pete: How do you recommend salespeople get over these self-limiting beliefs?

Tony: Having the right attitude and beliefs about prospecting is the essential key that will unlock the skills they may have already, if they had just been able to overcome their own self-limiting beliefs. We tell them to take the limiting beliefs they’ve identified and turn them into positive affirmations. Below are a few examples:

  • “I don’t like prospecting.” –> “I love prospecting because it is the key to great prosperity.”
  • “It’s hard to get past gatekeepers.” –> “Getting past a gatekeeper is what I do best when I prospect.”
  • “People don’t like to give referrals.” –> “People are more than willing to introduce me to other people they know.”

Pete: That’s really interesting. Do you think marketers have self limiting beliefs about generating leads for their sales teams?

Well, I’m not the expert on that. But, I’ve listened to enough salespeople complain about their marketing teams to know that it’s probably a good idea for marketers to reflect on it.

[…]”

Social Selling

I guess the term ‘Social Selling’ is equivalent to the term ‘Sales 2.0’. On June 09, 2009 http://blog.marketo.com wrote…

“[…] as buyers started to research their purchases online, preventing the sales rep from deciphering the buyer’s intention from their physical actions. So sales professionals reacted, spending their time pouring over online data, trying to understand what made a good buyer. Because it was difficult to tell which online behaviors were part of the buyer’s decision path, sales couldn’t just focus their energy where there would be the biggest payoff. And when they did reach the buyer, it was often after they had made much of their decision, leaving the sales rep to negotiate price and mail out a contract. Marketing tried to help by scoring leads and only passing the ones that met certain criteria, but this still meant a heavy burden for sales, who had to look through pages of online data for the leads that were given to them.

Sales is now ready to take back some of the control, with the evolution of social selling. Social selling is the use of web 2.0 technologies merged with traditional sale strategies, enabling sales to prioritize their time again, and help serve as experts in the product selection process instead of just serving as negotiators. But there are many misconceptions about its use.

Misconception of Social Selling

True Social Selling

Sales is notified when leads visit your site

Sales is notified when a qualified lead does something interesting on your website

Sales can view a list of all of their leads in their CRM

Sales can sort their leads in their CRM by priority, allowing them to contact leads when they need the most attention

Sales can see all the companies that visit your website

Sales can see the companies in their territory that visit your website, and can access and import key contacts at those organizations into their CRM

Sales must go to multiple websites to find contact information

Sales can access Jigsaw, Demandbase, & LinkedIn directly through the tools they are already using

Sales must learn to go through all their lead’s web activity and email activity to identify the best leads and to figure out when to make contact

Sales is alerted when leads participate in interesting activities that indicate they are a hot prospect

Sales must learn to use new email tools inside their CRM or other external tools requiring training

Sales can use Outlook to reach prospects, and data is sent to their CRM, with enhanced information about opens and click-throughs

Email templates are kept in the CRM

Email templates are accessed in Outlook

Sales must sit in front of their computer watching for interesting online body language from prospects

Sales can subscribe to receive Facebook style status updates for the prospects, companies, and actions they think are most important, allowing them to work on the go without missing an opportunity

Marketing tells sales when they need to work with a prospect

Marketing passes leads to sales, and, if needed, sales passes leads that need nurturing back to marketing

Sales must spend hours looking through information in multiple systems to understand what is going on with a prospect

Sales can use RSS to send all the different types of prospect information into one system, saving them time and effort

 

While sales may not go back to days on the golf course, with social selling they are able to go back to prioritizing their time, focusing on the qualified leads that will be the biggest sales earlier in the buying process. This will not only cause for increased success, but increased margins and shorter sales cycles, making their contributions evident to the entire organization.”