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Sales mobility: getting social

By Peter Ostrow / May 8, 2013


To what extent is it necessary to marry the mobile and social aspects of professional sales activities? If we look at the basic math in Aberdeen’s recent research, the answer is a no-brainer.

71% of the 246 sales organizations surveyed indicated that “yes, we support our sales team members with mobile-enabling processes or technologies, when they are not working in our physical office environment.” More than half of all survey respondents included mobile access to social media as one of their active initiatives.

More telling is the fact that 50% of the top-performing companies take this approach, compared with 37% of all other firms. These findings provide a powerful argument for enabling our front-line sellers with unfettered access and the ability to contribute to all social media communities that are relevant to their business needs.

Sales mobility and social selling

What exactly is “social selling,” and how can it be most effectively leveraged by field-based sales and account management personnel? There are three major foundational elements to consider:

Collaboration

With a host of products available to the enterprise in a freemium model, most of which can be effectively incorporated into the CRM implementation, social collaboration is great for team-based selling. I recently heard of a huge deal won by a group of 46 sales and support staff; how many “reply-all” emails could they have tolerated if not for collaborative tools enabling more effective action?

From the standpoint of remote and mobile staffers, it’s a virtual no-brainer to ensure that co-workers aren’t left out of the conversation simply because they aren’t in their physical office environment. The pace of business today is simply too fast to omit anyone from vital selling conversations. Indeed, best-in-class companies are 19% more likely than all others to use collaborative tools such as live chat in support of team-based sales activities.

Listening

Yes, a salesperson’s most effective tool is their ears, not their mouth. There is so much behavioral data out there on your prospects, customers, markets and competitors. Learning how to gather, filter and act on trigger events, product releases, personnel changes, and M&A activity will give you more information plus a competitive edge in prospecting, consulting, and closing business. The fact about user-generated content that’s most relevant to sales mobility is that social media is so incredibly fast-paced and real-time in its very nature.

Think about an account manager or sales rep traveling to see their prospect or customer at a time when a current business event, such as an acquisition rumor, might impact their pending conversation. With a steady stream of blogs and tweets providing insight into the situation, a well-enabled rep will know up-to-the-minute news and appear better prepared for the customer discussion.

Participating

Most sellers go with their gut with social media, and the first thing they try to do is, well, sell. The smart money, however, is on resisting the temptation to offer discounts, feature/advantage/benefit pabulum or sales pitches disguised as conversations. Instead, the savviest B2B sales professionals simply talk about their customers’ success stories, without ever mentioning their own company or product name. This allows them to become a subject matter expert who provides actual benefits to followers and friends.

Here, the marriage of mobile and social selling is more a matter of convenience than necessity. An unfortunate fact of life for field personnel is the accrual of small pockets of down time during their business day; best-in-class sales organizations lead others in empowering reps to remotely access inventory, view/update the sales forecast and CRM, and yes, by a 25% margin, view and participate in social media. Outside of somewhat cute and informal on-the-fly communications (“ just met with my favorite customer, quick Starbucks before the next meeting!”), it’s clear creating user-generated content anywhere, any time, on any device environment has real benefits.

This article was published by SAP. It originally appeared on Business Innovation and has been republished with permission.