Today's blog post is by David Satterwhite, VP of Sales and General Manager, Americas, for Good Technology (www.good.com). He is a successful sales executive with a proven track record for building and scaling worldwide sales, services, and business development teams for various high-tech companies. Follow David on Twitter @Satterwhite1.
There are three megatrends emerging today that stand to push our customer relationships and sales strategies to a whole new level: social media, mobility, and security. We all know that building and sustaining strong customer relationships is key to a successful sales strategy. But in today’s environment, being “social” with your customers refers to not only wining and dining current and prospective clients (OK, that helps, too); it refers also to your sales team’s ability to effectively share information, build customer communities, and engage regularly with clients and one another through new media channels.
As of today, there are more than 825 million users on Facebook, more than 130 million members on LinkedIn, and upwards of 140 million active users on Twitter generating 340 million tweets per day. More than 400 million Google+ members are expected by the end of 2012. Not only are these online communities growing, but they are also increasingly going mobile. According to a report by comScore, in August 2011, 72.2 million Americans accessed social sites and blogs from their mobile phones, a 37 percent increase from a year ago. And considering your sales force is always on the go, there is a true dependence on smartphones and tablets in order to embrace a social customer culture and communicate with customers, partners, and colleagues, anytime and from anywhere.
Mobile devices are also catalysts for improved productivity by way of any number of social-business applications that not only improve an organization’s productivity, but also enable real-time collaboration with its sales team and customers. If your company has a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy in place, all the better; sales reps can use the devices that they’re most comfortable with to do their jobs.
But while mobility and BYOD certainly enhance the sales professional’s ability to do his or her job more effectively, they also bring important security issues to the table. In sales, we’re privy to sensitive customer information. If the integrity of that data is compromised in any way – because our iPad is stolen or we download an infected app – the consequences for our clients could be dire. The impact of a security breach ranges from multithousand dollar fines to brand damage and customer attrition. The bottom line: mobile security in today’s app-central business environment is no joke.
Establishing a mobile-security strategy that includes BYOD and social-media access becomes, then, another important enabler of a successful sales strategy. A “containerized” approach that effectively sections off a mobile device into work and personal components can solve this problem. Data is encrypted and password protected, and IT can quickly and easily wipe all company data from the device if it gets lost or stolen without having to wipe personal information.
The intersection of social applications, mobility, and security hold enormous potential for sales teams to sell more, with greater customer satisfaction, while reaching sales goals faster. Let’s look at some of the key benefits that your organization can achieve by combining these three elements:
- Unified sales force. Your sales reps can be scattered across the country or across the globe. Using a social-business application such as Jive, for example, can help you achieve a collaborative, secure environment that builds a stronger sales team. Jive transcends these geographic boundaries and helps sales associates share their knowledge, insight, and experience with other team members.
- Increased executive visibility. Being mobile and global sometimes makes it tough for sales reps to connect with members of the leadership team. Building a social community in a secure environment gives executives added visibility into customer activities, issues, and solutions. This heightened insight enables the more experienced, senior-level, executive team members to impart their knowledge to the sales force while interfacing with customers in a social forum.
- Reduced training cycles. Getting new team members up-to-speed is time consuming. What if you could shorten the process and make it less overwhelming by providing a secure forum for new recruits to ask questions, gather information, and see how their more-experienced colleagues are getting things done? Sometimes simply observing a community conversation is all it takes to prompt new sales reps to ask questions they would not have thought to ask otherwise.
- Better alignment with marketing. Social collaboration tools give the marketing team an opportunity to see the conversations taking place and provide sales reps with the assets they need to do their jobs more efficiently. Recurring themes, questions, and issues can be identified and addressed quicker and more efficiently than before.
- Improved customer service. A happy customer is not only a returning customer, but one that will become your brand ambassador. Building social communities lets customers and sales teams interact in real time. They also provide a secure forum for customers to interact with one another and share best practices to ensure a successful experience with your products and services. Establishing a dynamic and social customer community is an easy way to enhance their experience with your company and its products or services.
Achieving sales goals is the cornerstone of any company’s success, and a savvy organization will create an integrated approach to selling in today’s evolving business environment. By effectively deploying a secure, social mobility strategy, organizations can take advantage of tools that will enhance customer responsiveness, improve productivity, accelerate sales cycles, and of course, keep customers coming back for more!