In the recent elections, we saw the rise of social media as powerful communications platforms, as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others were used to discuss election issues in public and galvanise the public to vote.
Businesses in Singapore too should take heed of how discussions online through social media can influence customers and other stakeholders – who will cast their vote for or against the company through their buying power as well as their influence among friends and associates.
There is one area in particular that is often not looked into enough – the use of social media monitoring for sales opportunities. Here is a story that’s not new but that’s worth retelling. By monitoring Twitter for sales leads, Avaya responded to a tweet by a potential customer in 2009 regarding their new phone system. 13 days later, Avaya closed a USD250,000 sale, and still uses the event as a social media case study today.
The web 2.0 driven explosion in online sources of customer information means that B2B sales lead monitoring at Singapore companies has taken on more possibilities. To take advantage of these it is important to keep in mind some best practices:
First, be clear about the objectives.
What is the sales growth strategy? Is the company aiming to increase sales to existing customers by selling more of the same to them or by offering new products? Or is the main priority to win new customers? Are those new customers to be found in existing market segments or new markets such as overseas countries or as yet untapped industry segments?
Answers to these questions will to a large extent determine which companies are to be monitored in social media.
Naturally, the sales strategy may include multiple objectives that contribute to overall growth. In that case, setting the objectives for sales leads monitoring is all about priorities and deciding which sales efforts could benefit most from additional intelligence.
Once objectives have been set, the format, level of detail and frequency of updates on potential sales leads from social media, and how these will be delivered within the sales organization, need to be considered. In many cases, delivery will be to many sales people in different locations around the world.
A regular flow of basic information about new suspects and prospects may be sufficient to help sales teams in many companies. In others, the sales intelligence may be in a more comprehensive format, including target company profiles with valuable details and updates about its strategy and business challenges. Such intelligence provides an indication of a prospect’s needs, not only its existence.
One powerful solution is to deliver sales lead intelligence into a corporate market intelligence portal where the information can be combined with other intelligence about industry and market trends, and made accessible to sales teams. In such a portal the incoming sales leads can be automatically distributed to the right sales people based on their geographical or sector territory, and team members can add insights by posting comments to the incoming information.
This type of solution allows seamless integration of the sales lead intelligence with the follow-up action, for example enabling sales personnel to react to potential customers’ discussions on the web, as in the Avaya case mentioned above. Members of the sales team can engage in an online conversation on social media platforms directly through the same user interface that delivers the intelligence. Caution and tact are required however – some potential customers may not react well to an unexpected and heavy-handed sales approach.
Taking things to another level, more advanced sales lead monitoring might involve continuous analysis of specific target companies on several parameters and provide recommended actions. This can work well in industries where buyer companies are large and the vendor has several solutions to offer to different business units, at different times. In this kind of sales lead monitoring, the ongoing analytics based on multiple information sources – including social media – will alert sales teams about the company’s emerging strategies or business challenges, and the best propositions for that prospect at that moment.
Pete Read, Senior Vice President at Global Intelligence Alliance
The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.
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