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Social Proximity

0e617d1Today's blog post is by Al Campa, CEO of Reachable. He is responsible for the strategic and operational leadership of the company. 



With all the changes in business, one thing remains the same: business is about people. Despite globalization, technology revolutions, social networks, and razor-thin competitive margins, business is still about people working with people. People who can’t connect effectively with others rarely do well in business.

Consider sales, for instance. We buy things from people we have positive relationship with, people we like and trust. And if those relationships stay positive, we keep buying from them over many years. So one would assume that when companies assign sales territories and determine which sales reps will sell to which accounts, they would consider the strength of social relationships in their assignments.

In reality, however, most sales territories are determined by geographic boundaries and physical proximity. Sales reps are assigned to nearby zip codes or area codes, or they are assigned by state boundaries where they live. Yeah, who cares about whether they have good connections, solid relationships, and reliable networks? If the zip code matches, well, anyone can see that’s what’s important, right?

Yet in the age of conference calls, WebEx presentations, and Skype, social proximity becomes a far more important tie to an account or prospect than geographic proximity.

To make the best use of this social proximity, Reachable has created an online solution that helps businesspeople leverage their personal contacts and the contacts of others in their organization, to broaden their professional network and reach people they need to know – people to people, rather than area code to area code. Our research shows that having an existing relationship with an account or prospect makes the likelihood that you’ll be able to engage that prospect or account three to four times higher.

At Reachable, we believe that social connections and relationships are solid gold for a sales organization and should be leveraged as much as possible. We make it possible for a company to leverage and manage the connections of all its employees, as well as its customers and partners. And we integrate these connections into the sales process. Assigning leads and accounts by social proximity, rather than geographic proximity, will increase account engagement and account knowledge and increase close rates.

Social Selling

Reachable offers a number of capabilities that make leveraging social selling easier for reps who have contacts spread all over the map. Considering that reps probably have contacts in one or more email address books, social networks, databases, etc., Reachable brings together these contacts so reps don’t have to check different places to see if they have a connection with a lead or within a target account. Once a user has imported his or her contacts, Reachable scours all contacts to find potential connections.

In addition, being able to leverage the networks of others can extend one’s reach dramatically. Reachable’s ShareGroup feature lets salespeople leverage the contacts of trusted associates on their sales or executive teams. Users opt-in to be a part of a ShareGroup and are able to leverage one another’s network as if they were their own. Contact information (email, phone numbers) are not shared but can be requested from the contact owner. This lets users take full advantage of the collective network within their company while maintaining contact privacy.

Many salespeople spend much of their day working within their CRM system.  Reachable is tightly integrated with such popular CRM systems as Salesforce, so salespeople never have to leave their CRM app to take advantage of Reachable. Within CRM systems, Reachable uses proprietary algorithms to automatically rank leads, contacts, and opportunities by the strength of a user’s relationship to them.

Sales Insight

Salespeople now have much more information at their fingertips than they had even a few years ago. Company information is available via Hoover’s, Thompson Reuters, or Google. Information about people is available via LinkedIn. Facebook and Twitter provide social information. But in spite of this deluge of new information, close rates may not be improving. Cycle times are not decreasing. Sales teams are not getting more productive, because critical insight, rather than background information, is the key to engaging prospects and closing sales.

Insight is a window into company goals, key business problems, and the critical initiatives a company is launching to achieve its goals, as well as the key people internally who are assigned to make it all happen. The insight on a company’s business problem can come from only a trusted internal source, not Twitter. If you don’t have relationships in an account, you are never going to find out what its key initiatives are and how you can help solve them. It’s all about the people you need to reach, the information you need to have at your fingertips, and the ability to engage with those key people to help solve the problems they deem critical.

These are just a few of the Reachable capabilities that can help salespeople become more people-to-people effective. To find out more about the Reachable solution, go to www.reachable.com.

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Social Media, Mobility, and Security: How These Three Pillars Enable Successful Sales

DavidSatterwhiteToday'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:  

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!

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Capture & Use Social Insights to Gain a Competitive Selling Edge

I'm convinced that social insights are the key competitive differentiator for impacting revenue cycles today. 

Today we get social insights from information and data shared on social networks. But really social insights are nothing new to any experienced sales leader. Many sales professionals remember walking into a prospect's or customer's office and looking around to get a sense of what kind of person they'd be talking to. Were there photos of family on the desk? Sports trophies on shelves? Degrees on the wall? 

People carry their accomplishments, hopes, fears, and dreams around with them. These are the kinds of things that great salespeople excel at uncovering. Context clues -- what the person wears, how the person talks, etc. -- can help you figure out what is most important to this individual. These clues can help you establish trust and rapport. 

Today all of this information and more is readily available to you via a simple LinkedIn search. Your prospects and customers might be on Twitter right now, sharing details about themselves and their lives that can help you create a meaningful connection.

Reps who use social insights to uncover business concerns, personal interests, career history, common acquaintances, and more are better equipped to make connections with prospects that ultimately lead to more sales. Sales teams that can access a deeper level of knowledge beyond names, titles, and contact information automatically become more competitive by collapsing the sales cycle. The thing that amazes me is that many sales leaders and their teams have yet to tap into the rich resource of social insights to learn and listen to uncover opportunities.

I believe that sales leaders who act immediately to capture and use social insights will gain an automatic edge over the competition. Tomorrow I'll be discussing the power of social insights in more detail during my webinar, "How to Impact Revenue Cycles" with Ralf VonSosen, Vice President of Marketing at InsideView. He'll be sharing the compelling results that companies have been getting by incorporating social intelligence into their lead-to-revenue process, including explosive growth in call-to-opportunity ratios, true sales opportunities, and close rates.

Register now to join us and learn how your team can start seeing similar benefits today. 

 


Seven Ways to Improve Your Email Response

NicoleMerrettNicole Merrett is vice president of CRM marketing for Sage North America, a supplier of business management software and services for small and midsize businesses.

 

 

Here are seven suggestions to help you craft more effective email campaigns and get better response rates.

  1. Subject Line
    First impressions are critical in any form of communication. When people receive an email, the first thing they see is the subject line, which has the potential to either gain or lose their interest. Subject lines that include your company’s name as a reference and provide specifics supporting your email topic will typically gain higher open rates. 
  2. “From” Line
    To understand how important this is, think about your own inbox. Would you be more likely to open an email sent from advertising@xyzcorp.com or nicole.merrett@sage.com? People don’t want to open an automated email.
  3. Personalization
    People love seeing their own name. It makes them feel is if the email was written to them personally and not sent to thousands. Online services have simple options to directly insert names from your contact database using a template editor.
  4. Variety
    How often do you send out newsletters, event invites, and updates that aren’t just soliciting a purchase? Are you getting an active response from recipients? If not, try something new. Be conscious about how many emails you send out each week or month. How are individuals interacting with your emails? Are you following up accordingly? How are you engaging the people who seem uninterested? Some email services include click-through analytics that monitor which readers spend time with your emails and forward them along to colleagues.
  5. Quality Content
    When you provide your contacts with quality content, they’re more inclined to read your emails and even forward them to friends. Gain your contacts’ trust by emphasizing quality of communication over quantity. One option is providing information they can use immediately. A seller of gardening supplies might offer a series of horticulture tips; and when a prospect is in need of planting materials, he or she would likely think of the insightful supply-marketer first. The best sources for good content are the questions you get from your customers.
  6. Testing…
    Test the way your email appears, not only through your own email service provider, but through several providers. Test all links in your message to make sure they work. Test your graphics. Pictures are a great way to grab someone’s attention. Remember, however, that pictures don’t always show up in email messages, so test the effectiveness of your email by viewing it in an email client with images turned off and making sure your message remains easy to understand and the call to action is clear. Finally, test your email with a spam check tool before sending. Spam check services review email content to see what might get caught in spam filters.
  7. …And More Testing
    Your email has passed all the tests: it looks good, the Web links work, the images are properly placed, there’s a clear call to action, and it’s made it through the spam check…but it’s not getting the open rates you expected. How come? There are many reasons, including the time of day you send your email, the day of the week on which it’s sent, the frequency with which you send emails, etc.

    So why not test it?

    Test one change at a time. For example, explore what days your recipients are more likely to open your email. Split up your recipient list, and send each set of recipients the same email on different days. Does the open rate stand out more on one day than another?

    A next step could be to determine the time of a particular day people are more willing to open and interact with your email. Again, divide your list and send out the same email at different times of the day. A good starting point is the start of the day and middle of the afternoon. Studies have shown that these are the best times of day to send emails. See if your tests concur.

    When you have a specific day and time recipients are most responsive, examine your content. What sort of subject line gains the highest response? Do your recipients react more to graphics or text? Consider the placement of your call to action. Is one position more effective than another? Do your recipients appreciate lengthy, informational emails, or do they prefer a quick read? Test each element one at a time.

With email marketing, you never need to settle for one formula because you will often have the flexibility to make improvements as you go. So make taking advantage of trends and technology the constant in your digital marketing programs. This will help you achieve more tangible results.

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Top 12 Tools to Use for Social-Media Lead Generation

New_repcor_avatar2This guest post is by Rebecca Corliss, head of the social-media lead generation team at HubSpot. HubSpot is a marketing software company in Cambridge, MA, that makes inbound marketing and lead management software. Follow Rebecca on Twitter as @repcor.
 

Social media is a fantastic, quickly growing channel that marketers around the world are using specifically for B2B lead generation. By promoting your best blog and lead-generation content, your company can successfully grow a large social-media reach and funnel a portion of that reach into traffic and leads for your business. But what tools should a marketer use to generate leads most effectively through social media?

This article will walk you through the most useful social-business pages, monitoring applications, and measurement tools that will help you fully and easily manage your social-media lead generation.

Company Business Pages

1. Facebook Business Page – Facebook is a great place to collect "likes" for your company. Use your Facebook Business Page to showcase some of your most intriguing and fun content to your community. To optimize your Facebook page for lead generation, make sure to post a solid mix of fun, visual content and business-focused educational articles that can funnel your most qualified prospects to your Website.

2. Company Twitter Account – Use your Twitter network to develop a fast-growing community of people who will look to you via your Twitter account for interesting information and links relevant to your industry. People especially appreciate content that is educational or information that will help their business.

3. LinkedIn Company Page – Company pages on LinkedIn have been rapidly improving, including a new status-update feature (similar to Twitter or Facebook) that can be used to share similar content with your LinkedIn network. Company Pages also have a "Products and Services" tab, where you can promote specific offers. You can also use this tab to request product recommendations from your network as an additional promotional tool.

4. Pinterest Page – Pinterest has gained popularity recently and can be a great way to promote your company's most visual content and drive traffic back to your Website. Use Pinterest to create "boards," which will act as a collection of the best visual content around a specific topic. Make sure that your collection includes content from your company and others. Promoting your content exclusively contradicts the nature of the site and could anger your followers.

Monitoring & Posting Tools

5. HootSuite – It's important to monitor social buzz around your company to prove that you're listening and receptive to feedback. Use HootSuite to monitor a constant stream of your company's mentions or other search terms that are important to you. Be sure to respond to relevant requests for help, kind words of praise, and other tweets that deserve a reaction from your company. HootSuite also allows you to schedule posts for the future to help you save time later.

6. TweetDeck – TweetDeck is another monitoring tool. Download TweetDeck to monitor most important terms and mentions for your company, similar to HootSuite; however, it does not include the same publishing and scheduling features as HootSuite.

7. TweetChat – Ever consider hosting a Twitter Chat related to your industry? (HubSpot's Twitter Chat is every Tuesday at 3:00pm ET.) Twitter Chats are a great way to create a wave of Twitter content around your company by hosting a crowd-sourced discussion. Use TweetChat to consolidate the conversation to one page and encourage chat participants to follow your company.

Measurement Tools

8. HubSpot – HubSpot is all-in-one inbound marketing software that includes analytics tools that help marketers measure how much traffic, leads, and customers you generate from social media or other channels. Use it to prove the true ROI that your social channels drive for your company – a great way to argue the value of social media to your management team.

9. Google Analytics – If you want more in-depth Web page analytics, use Google Analytics to learn how specific pages within social networks are driving traffic to your Website. This will help you figure out which are the best sources for promoting your content to drive the most visitors.

10. Topsy – Topsy is a great Twitter search tool to analyze usage of specific keywords and hashtags. If you are promoting a specific Twitter campaign that has a hashtag, use Topsy to understand how often that hashtag was used before and after the campaign.

11. Klout – Curious to know how influential your social accounts are? Klout helps you understand how much pull you have over your network on Twitter, Facebook, and more. You can also see how it changes over time based on the content you offer or the number of retweets you receive.

12. Twitter Counter – It's very important that your social-media reach grows consistently so that your business always has a fresh network of visitors to attract to your Website. Use Twitter Counter to understand the rate at which your Twitter account is growing and recognize any key dates that led to significant growth.

With these key tools, marketers can optimize their social channels for lead generation and measure success with meaningful metrics. Over time, you’ll learn which social channels drive the best leads for your business, and with that data, you can focus your efforts on the ones that are most effective.

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How to Create a Target-Rich Sales Pipeline

Clip_image002Today's guest blog post is by Paul Alves, chief executive officer and cofounder of AG Salesworks.

 

When I was a rookie sales guy, I didn't put much stock in creating a business plan. My motto was, "Give me a list and a phone, and I'll make it happen." Guess what? It worked; I did make it happen. But what I learned several years later is that I could have made more happen with less work, if I had only taken the time to plan.

As a salesperson, you are running your own business. Your support can range from no support at all to a finely tuned marketing machine. Either way, it is up to you to succeed. Failure is not an option.  

Every successful campaign starts with a plan, which should have two major areas of focus: database development and a proactive, outbound teleprospecting/email plan.

Build Your Database

The first step is to create a quality database. Think quality over quantity. While it is tempting to create as large a data base as possible in hopes that just the sheer numbers will produce prospects, this is only true to an extent. Yes, you need lots of prospects, but if they are not a great fit, they will only dilute your focus on the best opportunities.

Scrub Your Database

As you work through the process of building and scrubbing your database, think about whether or not your prospects look like your ideal customer. Do they look like the last several closed deals? Build a database in your CRM consisting of quality prospects that you know are a fit for your products or services, and be diligent about scrubbing and adding to it every day. This is the pool from which you will find prospects to fuel your pipeline.

Develop a Teleprospecting/Email Strategy

Now you are ready to create a well-planned, consistent, proactive, outbound teleprospecting/email plan to ensure success.

Think of your prospects as a network of professionals who you can help. Reach out to them with a phone call, and if you don't catch them directly, leave a voicemail followed up by an email introducing yourself and your company. Explain to them why you believe they should take a few minutes to speak with you. You might try a message like this:

  • "Hi Mr/Mrs. Prospect, my name is Paul Alves, calling from AG Salesworks. We specialize in identifying and delivering high-value sales opportunities to technology firms. After researching your company, I realized that we have had specific success in your space, helping companies like 'X,' 'Y,' and 'Z' grow their pipelines by two to three times in three to six months. I would be happy to share some of what we have been seeing in the market and determine if we might be able to help you, as well. Do you have five to ten minutes to connect over the phone this week or next?"

Conduct Research

Take the time to research your prospect's business online prior to reaching out. Leverage social-media information that you can find on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. When you call, be brief, and provide specific examples as to how you have helped similar companies. Give them a compelling reason to speak with you, not a fluffy marketing pitch. These people get calls every day, and if you don't sound like a peer who can add value, they will not take the time to speak with you. You have to stand out, and if you don't, then you're just white noise like all the rest.

If you have a marketing team to help you, use it. Collaborate with marketing staff; let them know what messages resonate and which ones fall on deaf ears. Always fine-tune your message for each industry segment and job function. Don't use one boilerplate message on every call. Customize, individualize, and optimize your calls. Engage interested prospects, and remove those who are not ready to buy, but always keep in mind that it is your job to add value on every call. Don't be afraid to drop prospects into the nurturing bucket and let an automated marketing process take care of them. 

Final Words

Build your database, reach out to your prospect universe consistently with a value add message, set a goal to complete an x-amount of quality conversations per day as appropriate for your business, and hit that conversation goal every day. Executing on your plan will turn your target rich pipeline into dollars.

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Killing Email in the Name of Sales Performance? It’s Possible.

Cabrera_newToday's blog post is by Christopher Cabrera, CEO of Xactly Corporation, the industry leader in sales compensation automation.

 

The French information-technology company Atos recently announced that it will give up email over the next 18 months. Instead, all 74,000 employees will use instant messaging and a Facebook-like interface for internal communication. Atos CEO Thierry Breton said 90 percent of the emails employees receive are not useful, and 18 percent is spam. Breton has not sent an email in three years. (Source: WSJ)

Here's how I think Atos stands to benefit from its email ban:

  • Easy sharing of content across the company
  • Elimination of spam and unwanted email from outside the organization
  • Instant collaboration, which will lead to more collaborative solutions
  • Higher-quality company communication because dedicated internal channels won't co-mingle with external platforms

Is Email Dead, As Some Pundits Have Predicted?

This remarkable departure from email reflects a radical shift in the corporate culture and illustrates how social technology transforms workplace communication. Point-to-point email communication seems to get displaced by social information streams that everybody in the company can join to collaborate, comment, challenge, and vote on. I am reminded of the free flow of information in an ancient Greek forum, where every citizen contributed to the ongoing dialogue aimed at improving the state.

Today, autocratic leadership is taking a backseat to community ownership. Our Chatter and Jive culture allows employees to contribute to the corporate information streams in real time. These live conversations instantly reflect and shape what's taking place in a company. They empower every employee to feel he or she has a meaningful stake in the company. Everyone contributes to the welfare of customers and the company.

Technology motivates people to truly participate in the progression of their culture and company. It's also important to note that the boundaries of the workplace have shifted. Work is no longer a place we go to. Work is what happens in the Cloud. We need only a browser to connect to people around the globe 24/7.

Inspiration and Compensation in a Time of Transformation

The new workplace offers employees a huge opportunity to contribute their ideas and talents, and as a result, companies need to rethink their compensation strategies. Visionary sales leaders transform their operations, not to serve and support those who are reluctant to change, but to empower a future generation of technology-enabled high performers who are motivated to leap tall buildings. As sales leaders, we need to constantly align our processes, including our modes of communication, to reflect these shifting priorities.

When you provide the right motivation, you can influence how employees act and salespeople sell. As our adage at Xactly goes, "incent right, sell more."

Are your salespeople, processes, and technology aligned to inspire your sales force? What are you doing to cultivate a future-oriented corporate culture that attracts and retains top talent and promotes excellent performance?

--

To learn how to improve sales performance by leveraging what Gen Y cares about, check out Xactly's “Tips for Incenting Gen Y.

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How Much More Will You Sell in 2012 with Social Media?

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Today's guest blog post is by Caitlin Robersonfounder and CEO of Wordisseur, a content marketing consultancy that specializes in sparking conversations online for technology vendors. Follow her on Twitter @CaitlinMarketng.

 

I just attended the "Sales Strategies in a Social & Mobile World" conference, and if the pulse of the room was any indication of how fast social business is changing, then prepare yourselves for a head-spinning 2012. Check out the conversation on Twitter (#s20c).

Below are the key takeaways from the invigorating day, which include the following:

  • 5 key trends of a rapidly changing marketplace
  • 4 principles for sales success with social media
  • 3 steps to sales transformation

5 Key Sales and Marketing Trends

  1. Companies are suffering from adaptation apathy. @Gerhard20 (the Sales 2.0 Conference host) said the rate at which business is changing has increased by 10, and most companies lag behind, changing at a rate of only 3x. Keep doing business the way you've always done it, and you'll be out of business in 3 years.

  2. Email is dying. An average of 200 emails floods your prospect's inbox every day, and as many as 97 percent of them are unwanted. Video is the new high-impact sales medium. Successful companies reach out to prospects through social media, and then they connect face-to-face online. Find great tips to put your best face forward online here.

  3. Geographic territories will become extinct. @MichaelLodato said geographic territories have become useless in a social world. If your Chicago-based sales rep has a closer social connection to your San Diego-based prospect, it doesn't make sense to assign that lead to your San Diego-based sales rep. Social proximity beats geographic proximity, hands down. Lodato termed the new idea "social proximity prospect management."

  4. Thought leadership is out; community leadership is in. Marketing owns more of the sales funnel now that buyers self-guide up to 80 percent of their buying cycles online. To earn their place at the revenue table, marketers must join the online conversation, become community leaders, and be numbers driven. Conversations and collaboration must lead to measurable ROI metrics if they have any hope of fueling future success.

  5. Standardization is dead. @Gerhard20 also said, "We are moving from the industrial world that aimed at standardization to the information world, which aims at customization." We no longer can afford managers who rigidify sales and marketing processes, strangling opportunities left and right. Off-the-shelf solutions stopped working in 2008. Customers expect greater flexibility and customization – for everything. B2B needs to adopt the 1:1 sales strategies of B2C.

4 Principles for Social-Media Success

  1. The corporate voice = the personal voice. The social business operates in a 1:1 world. @MarkRoberge (VP of sales at HubSpot) says every HubSpot sales rep is required to blog, and IBM's joining the social crusade across multiple channels.
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  2. You learned the rules for online conduct from your mom and grandma. (Credit for this tagline goes to Jon Ferrara, @Nimble's CEO.) If someone RT's you, say thanks. Asked @JeffreyHayzlett, would you interrupt a live conversation between two people you don't know? Personally, I think the answer is maybe. It begs the question, is the cold tweet the new cold call? Attendees weighed in below.
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  3. Content catches customers. The social business rests squarely on four pillars: people, process, technology, and content. Successful companies create killer content for every stage of the buying cycle.

  4. Quality trumps quantity. @Jon_Ferrara described this phenomenon with the following metaphor: "We're swimming in a social river. Catchable fish only swim by once in a while, so why would you tweet every second?" Proof for the point: Jon only tweets three to four times each day but has 8,000 followers. Check out my quick tips for quality connections during events here.

3 Steps to Sales Transformation

Here is a crib-sheet version of the preconference roundtable:

  1. Identify the emerging opportunities in a chaotic marketplace.
  2. Objectively assess your internal capabilities and realign them to match external opportunities. Again, think people, process, technology, and content.
  3. ROI and metrics: rinse and repeat in real time…all the time.

Your takeaway: Sales transformation will deliver predictable sales performance. Just check out how many leads @PAKRAGames sources through social media:

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It all comes down to the value you deliver. @AnnekeSeley's RT said it best:

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Sales and marketing leaders, what other trends and principles are guiding you as you refine your plans for 2012?

Thanks to @Sales20Conf – and everyone quoted here – for a fantastic conference.

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Five Ways to Measure If Facebook "Likes" Work for Your Business

Wedding_just_me_reasonably_smallThis guest blog post is by Julie Bevacqua, Vice President of Global Marketing for CDC Software. As a natural networker and team motivator, she has encouraged, guided and steered her team to play a major contributing role in maintaining the company's online presence.

As the business world continues its shift from what the seller wants to what the customer demands, simple tools such as Facebook's "Like" are getting a lot of attention.

You no longer have to imagine what the customer does or does not like about your products or services. If you're lucky enough to have a Facebook following, they'll tell you!

Depending on what you sell, a large percentage of Facebook's 500 million users could be your market. According to eMarketer, the 2011 forecast for ad revenue spend on Facebook is $4 billion. But with all this money being poured into Facebook, savvy marketers are beginning to ask questions:

  • How can we measure Facebook?
  • What is the ROI on the time, effort, and money spent?
  • Do I pay for additional advertising on Facebook? If so, what should I pay?
  • What is my return on ad spend?

And the ultimate question: what is a fan "Like" really worth to my business?

The value of a fan can mean different things depending on your business. Consider Papa John's: would you connect with your favorite pizzeria on Facebook? Nearly 2 million fans seem to think it's a great idea. Papa John's started its page only after discovering that people were actually creating Papa John's fan pages!

In this instance, the value of a "Like" is tangible and hard to ignore. For some companies, the value may mean an actual sales figure; for others, the evangelical aspect of a "Like" proves invaluable. How do you know what your fan value is?

Such companies as Syncapse have assigned a value of $136.38 to each fan, while Vitrue brings it down to $3.60! In fact, Vitrue has released a free tool: Social Page Evaluator, which helps you set a value to your Facebook page. While some argue it is not necessarily the most scientific way to assess your online marketing strategies, it does provide a starting point.

As with any social media, metrics are still being worked out, and the results are often hard to compile. So step outside the box and explore these five ways to determine if Facebook "Likes" can work for your business.

1. Consider the nature and size of your business. It is important to understand that the actual advantage to a company will depend on a number of factors, including its size and ad spend, as well as the nature of the goods and services it promotes. Smaller enterprises may well focus their efforts on Facebook, while larger companies will regard Facebook as part of a bigger social-media strategy that spans the enterprise.

2. Question your transactions. More and more retail stores are using Facebook to target their clientele by offering such things as a promo code in exchange for being a fan; however, you may need to give more in order to be "Liked."

3. Reassess your evaluation methods. Having someone "Like" your page is not enough. You need to track the results to see if these "Likes" convert into paying customers, repeat customers, evangelists, etc. Use analytics to track your statistics, and base your campaigns at least in part on the results they produce.

4. Recognize the sustaining value of the social media you select. Twitter has adopted far fewer changes than Facebook, which is constantly reinventing itself via applications and advertising methods. Can your business keep up with these changes?

5. Outline your social-media strategy. All new media require an investment – time and money – before they show results. Define your goals and objectives and assign resources. The quicker your business can adapt and convert "Likes" into actual sales, the better the chance you have of becoming a Facebook success story.

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My Social Media (for B2B Sales) Experiment Results

Donal-dalyThis guest blog post is by Donal Daly, CEO of the TAS Group. He shares sales insights, hindsight and a little foresight on his sales and technology blog, Dealmaker365 (previously Sales20Network).

 

Social media is on everyone's lips. But B2B use cases are extremely rare. Most stories relating to B2C experiences are hard to transfer to the B2B sales world. We've been working on that.

For the past 18 months or so, I've been trying some B2B models in the social universe. The core philosophy has been to shape thinking, cultivate customers, and earn permission to engage.

Here's what we have learned:

1. The social universe is a great place to listen and learn. If I follow you on Twitter, read your blog, or study your LinkedIn profile, I quickly get a sense of who you are. Everything you do in the social universe leaves a shadow that I can collect to build a picture.

2. Give value first and expect nothing in return. Whereas traditional selling centered on targeting customers, now you need to make it easy for them to find and want to engage with you – because you give value. It's a long road. Short-term return is unlikely. First, you must cultivate interest by building awareness and delivering value.

3. Be authentic, be prepared to fail, don't give up. In the social universe, you're competing for hearts and minds, and you need to develop trust. Openness, integrity, and authenticity are essential. You can develop trusting fans, or you can be voted off the island.

4. Be open, collaborate, co-create; in other words, let others play in the community. When others play in your world, everyone's experience is enriched. You choose your fellow travelers, and they may select you. Comment, participate, and invite contribution.

And here's what we have done:

 

What we do

 

Is it worth it?

 

My main blog is Dealmaker365, and I blog in other communities. I try to post twice a week.

 

Dealmaker365 has had 220,000 visits this year, and a number of our commercial relationships have started with the words, "I read this on your blog." Definitely worthwhile.

 

@dealmaker365 follows 143 people on Twitter and has 2,500 followers. I am interested in everyone I follow, and I don't follow just to be followed back. I try to cultivate opinion carefully and respect my followers, and I don't tweet about my breakfast.  

 

I learn a lot from and about the people I follow. Twitter is my main source of (immediate) market information. I engage actively (Reply/DM) and have done business with people I first "met" on Twitter. Hugely valuable.

 

LinkedIn helps with recruiting, profiling customers, and networking. I think adding/accepting connections with strangers dilutes the network value. We also use LinkedIn Groups and Polls.

 

I'm not sure I really understand why, but LinkedIn is consistently one of the highest-traffic referral sources. The network value is high, and I use it every day.

 

We created a YouTube channel called Dealmaker Magic to showcase our products. It includes short movie-trailer-style videos and full product demos.  We sometimes send demo links to customers before a call. The call is then more business focused.

 

Dealmaker Magic has had 20,000 views this year. It shortens the sales cycle and delivers consistent messaging. Maintaining up-to-date content is hard work, but we think it is definitely worthwhile.

 

We have also engaged in an extensive amount of Freemium activity, with which we have provided automated services online that we (or others) would have charged fees for in the traditional world. Customers are invited to partake of these services on our Website and on my blog.

 

This proves the "give value first" concept. We had to get comfortable with the amount of "free" value we were delivering; however, we have seen dramatic return.

Among our customers, I've seen a few examples of success in the social universe, but primarily when the company integrates "social" into everything it does and recognizes that "social" becomes part of how it does business, rather than when it tries to do "social business" explicitly.   

My advice: Listen first, then give value. Be open, authentic, and honest, and the engagement will happen.

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