Social Selling Applications Go Corporate
When social networking applications started out over ten years ago, they were for individuals to communicate about their personal life. Individuals created networks of friends/connections/followers and shared posts about their awesome meal, vacation photos, or funny cat videos.
As business decision makers got active on social networks like LinkedIn and Twitter, these networks grew in importance for B2B companies. Initially, corporate marketing departments created corporate social accounts to listen for trends and broadcast content. Later, innovative salespeople began to use these networks for selling purposes, thought still in an individual fashion. Eventually, companies realized they needed to develop a social selling strategy to fully leverage the benefits institutionally.
The first step is training salespeople on a common set of Best Practices. Having helped over forty companies reach this level in the last three years, I am seeing many of them that are now ready for the next step in social selling. The next step is to deploy applications that tie together the individual accounts/activities and fit into the corporate sales and marketing processes. There are three requirements of these corporate social selling applications.
Scalability – As large corporations like IBM, ADP, and General Electric roll out wide-scale social selling programs, these companies need systems to replicate the training and operation across thousands of salespeople.
Management Reporting– As quality expert Edward Deming stated, “What gets measured, gets done.” In order for sales managers to spot trends, identify best practices, and coach salespeople, they need a management dashboard that ties all the individual social accounts into a dashboard with reporting features.
Integration Capabilities – The two categories of Sales and Marketing software are CRM and Marketing Automation, respectively. Since social selling involves lead generation and content sharing, any corporate system needs to integrate with CRM systems like Salesforce.com and Marketing Automation systems like Marketo or Eloqua. That way the company can truly measure social ROI by mapping revenue back to a social selling activity like a content post or networking introduction.
As evidence of the rapid adoption of social selling with corporations, three companies have recently released new applications:
InsideView released InsideView Open, a market intelligence platform with open APIs for embedding InsideView information into other apps. At the launch event in San Francisco, InsideView demonstrated an iOS app called Knobile that delivers valuable insights about people and companies on an iPhone calendar. With Knobile, a salesperson would be up-to-date on the latest information about a prospect just seconds before meeting with them.
LinkedIn made a major announcement last month with the introduction of an all-new version of its Sales Navigator product. This is the most powerful application available for salespeople to leverage their LinkedIn account to connect with prospects. It features a long list of enhancements over the free version including lead recommendations, expanded views of profiles outside one’s network, integration with Salesforce.com/Microsoft Dynamics, and TeamLink – a feature for leveraging colleagues networks.
PeopleLinx just released Version 3 of its corporate social selling application. PeopleLinx focuses on helping companies drive high adoption of social networks like LinkedIn and Twitter. PeopleLinx 3 features include video training, 1:1 coaching services, profile optimization, social content sharing and tracking, and management reporting. Personal analytics show team members the value they’re creating.