Social selling has arisen as the word du jour in the sales industry, and its prevalence among successful sales representatives suggests that social selling is more than just a trendy buzzword. Seventy-nine percent of global companies use Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube in their sales teams, and Forrester Research estimates that firms will spend $716 million on social media in 2011. So, if social selling is here to stay, what should your sales department do to stay up to speed with the social selling craze?
The most important, and often most perplexing, aspect of social selling is its definition. While millions of business people connect with professional acquaintances through LinkedIn and Twitter every day, they do not all recognize that they are social sellers. In a recent study, advertising powerhouse OgilvyOne learned that while forty-nine percent of salespeople think social media is important to their success, only nine percent of US salespeople feel their companies have adequately trained them to use social media to increase their sales success. This vast disconnect lies in the reluctance of sales leaders to label their sales strategy as social media based. However, chances are that if ninety percent of your sales representatives research their prospects’ social media presence at any point during the sales cycle, your team has embraced social selling. Whether or not a sales team terms their selling approach as social, sales representatives who recognize that they can use social media to learn everything they ever wanted to know about their prospects – without even picking up the phone – have mastered the art of social selling.
Deciding which social media tools to engage with can also confuse sales teams. Millions of bloggers post opinions and intelligence on just about everything – every day. As of January 1, 2011, Twitter users were tweeting 110 million tweets per day. With so much traffic to popular social media sites, such as Twitter, it is a no-brainer that you will find your customers and prospects through social media. The challenge lies in determining the relevant social media sources amongst the millions of unimportant ones. Sales representatives that get the importance of social selling can spend hours sorting through hundreds of sources every day to find the one gold coin that will help them win a deal. Which brings us to the next social selling challenge: finding the right platform to enable your success with social selling.
Social selling can be as simple as following a customer on LinkedIn, but the most successful salespeople fully integrate all relevant social media with every aspect of their sales cycle. Sales intelligence applications, such as InsideView, bring social media into Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 so sales people can incorporate social media into their existing sales pipelines. When social media integrates into your sales pipeline, you don’t have to open twelve separate tabs to show LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google Alerts, company blogs, etc. Social selling becomes a lot less elusive when you can practice it with every lead, every prospect, and every customer.
Besides bringing in real-time content from social media sites, InsideView also triangulates and aggregates company and executive contact information from leading and more traditional data sources, such as Capital IQ (a Standard & Poor’s company), Thomson Reuters, Jigsaw, Cortera, and NetProspex. As seen below, core company data, including Revenues, # of Employees, Industry, business description, and org structures, are accessible within Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 along with social media profiles and recent tweets of key contacts and decision makers. Constantly receiving these compelling prospect and client insights directly within CRM 2011 in such an organized and timely fashion will definitely increase your sales productivity and accelerate your sales cycle.
Brad Wilson, the General Manager of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, further comments on InsideView for Sales and the strategic partnership with Microsoft:
“InsideView for Sales is a great addition to Microsoft Dynamics CRM. InsideView for Sales provides an entryway to the social Web and empowers sales and organizations to gain valuable insight from a wide range of information sources beyond data contained in Dynamics CRM. As a partner, InsideView complements our mission of enabling businesses to find, win, and grow profitable customer relationships.”
Additionally, InsideView, when used with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, gives you the added capability to bring social media intelligence right into your Outlook email. Sales reps can opt to receive daily emails containing the latest stories on highly coveted prospects, such as leadership changes, funding news, new product offerings, or expanding operations. In the example below, I opted to receive a daily email for one of my favorite companies, Nike. The email contains feeds on some new product offerings, a few announcements on new office and warehouse locations, and one story about an upcoming business challenge. Having this relevant, up to date information delivered to your inbox can certainly give you a better understanding of your prospects and give you an immediate edge on other sales reps.
For more information on how the use of InsideView’s sales intelligence solutions in conjunction with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 can help you find and close more deals, please visit
Lastly, special thanks to Lisa Fugere at InsideView for contributing content to this post and sharing her insights!
by Customer Effective,