On February 25, 2009 Sameer (@sameerpatel) from pretzellogic.org wrote a great blog post with some important characteristics of how typical sales reps at large organizations roll:
- “Media watching is not a sport for sales reps. Feed them the good stuff & they’ll consume it.
- Data/Intelligence extraction over collaboration. “Give to Get” doesn’t fly with most sales reps.
- Good reps know exactly which 8.75 data types help them bust quotas. No more, no less.
- In spite of the above, don’t expect them to dig for it. They’d rather use the time to cold call a lead.
- Sales often ignore a lot of what marketing might offer or recommend.
- They don’t personalize portals & intranets.
- They rather search than browse; they want answers, not search results. (ok, who doesn’t!)
- CRM apps often morph into reporting mechanisms that sales reps are mandated to use.
- Pre-sales engineers (in the case of High Tech) often do most of labor intensive tasks in the sales cycle (assembling proposal components, finding SMEs and references, etc).
Here’s the beginnings of a framework to identify what works for a sales organization at large organizations:
An information management architecture that can surface the good stuff as well as support a 90% consumption / 10% contribution model.
Traditional collaborative systems and social networks are built to enable…well, collaboration and being social. As a sales rep what I need is aggregation around news and information (person, customer, prospect, industry news) relevant to my customers that show up in SalesForce or HighRise. User and topical tags help me drill deeper and find authorities or stories on topics that can help me engage a new lead, up sell a customer, build a more compelling proposed solution, or deflect a customer satisfaction train wreck that’s about to hit. The kicker is that I shouldn’t need to browse too much or worse, contribute to be able to extract.
Augmenting or if necessary, even by-passing some of the traditional marketing qualification processes by providing a direct contextual lens into prospect and customer activity
New qualified opportunities are just as likely to show up on these social platforms as they are via traditional marketing programs such as events, email and webinars. Based on accounts I manage or territorial prospects, as stated by my CRM system, dynamically assemble a direct, real-time view into customer and lead activity. Examples are customer activity on support and developer forums, prospects commenting about specific products on blogs, or lead activity on LinkedIn, Techmeme and Satisfaction that might help me spark a conversation.
Federated, persistent search that folds social discovery into SFA/CRM processes and technologies, thereby enrichening the data available at each step of the sales cycle
For instance, say I’m in the proposal creation phase of the sales cycle: Let me look up preset searches and tags on specific content sources (e.g. specific wiki spaces where SMEs hang out, highly rated solution white papers, links to relevant online demos that everyone’s raving about) so I’m putting my best foot forward.
A push architecture so the critical intelligence can find the sales rep (not the other way around)
I’m not going to keep revisiting content sources (blogs, wikis, forums) to see if there’s anything new that I might care about. Make it easy for me to filter and subscribe to specific events on blogs, support and community forums, wikis etc., (e.g. a new white paper emerges or my customer comments on a blog) via Email, RSS, SMS, IM. Let the information find me.
The ability to broadcast a question and receive an answer
Sales reps want answers. Search functionality provides results; people, however, provide answers. The ability to ask questions to groups of relevant people and quickly crowd source the best solution or identify experts that can credibly address a solution is imperative. This needs to be both open ended as well as around an existing topic (a bookmark, link, comment, video, etc.)
There’s certainly other technologies or components to consider when trying to conceptualize how Sales can benefit from an Enterprise 2.0 enabled world. For instance, ESME is designed to let globally disparate users easily huddle around tasks at hand and the recently announced lifestreaming capabilites from Yammer is trying to bring Friendfeed-like capabilites to the enterprise. […]”