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Rapid Social Sales Response by Intelligent Aggregation

This is a follow-up post from last weeks interview with Dharmesh Shah, Co-Author of Inbound Marketing and Founder of Hubspot, The series itself leads up to an even in Boston on March 23: Bridging the gap between Social Media hype and business value, sponsered by BrainSell. In addition to Dharmesh, we have an equally compelling presentation by Umberto Milletti, CEO and co-founder of InsideView, who I caught up with via email last week.

Before I get to the interview;  I wanted to mention the great report put out by The Altimeter Group, this past week. The content of the report includes 18 well described Use Cases for Social CRM. If you are in this space (CRM, Social CRM) this is an important read. In full disclosure, part of the title of this post is Use Case S2 – Rapid Social Sales Response. Listed as a “Vendor to Watch” (one of only 4) InsideView is very well positioned in this space. The timing is great for me, as I needed a title, and I was in process of interviewing the CEO!

Monitoring key channels and integrating this into your processes

I started out with a simple question (along with my usual long winded set-up): On the one side of the coin there is the need to “be found” and “get noticed”. On the other, there is the need to search, find, alert and insert that into a process. Do you see these as discrete processes? How can teams work together to make sure there are no silos and we are all seeking to achieve the same end goal – happy, new and engaged customers?

Engaging customers in a productive conversation and driving them [to an] outcome requires multiple touch points. For those in sales and marketing, the key is being relevant in all points of this conversation.  Relevance requires knowledge” I agree wholeheartedly – a very important statement we all need to keep in mind. Umberto went on further to highlight a point made by Dharmesh as well: “Since prospect and customers are more educated than ever about your products, services, strengths and weaknesses, they will only value the conversation if you can bring something useful and relevant to the table.” As Altimeter points out their report, “participating in in the right conversation at the right time a sale can be intercepted from a competitor’s hand”. I would like to think that ‘right place, right time can also prevent it from even going there, but that is just me. Silos will get in the way as well, the message needs to be consistent.

I wanted to dig a little deeper, so I followed up with a question or two to get some details. Even with the sophisticated filtering, aggregation and analysis, do some organizations feel that there is just too much data? In speaking with your customers, what kind of cultural changes needed to be made within the organization in order to effectively take advantage of the “Social” era we have entered into?

With respect to the first part, Umberto had this to say “Information overload is a real issue. It is crucial to filter information to its most relevant bits and ensure usability by delivering it in existing workflows, easily accessible in the business productivity applications we spend most of our time in.” To this end, very often SalesView (the InsideView product) integrates the aggregated information into an existing CRM or SFA application. If knowledge workers, specifically sales types try to go after the information directly, there may not be enough hours in the day! ” Attempting to access social information from the increasing number of sources – and trying to determine what’s relevant to further business goals – is too time consuming and adversely impacts productivity.”

The name of the game is “Intelligent Aggregation”

Umberto stated the following, and I see no reason to alter his words: “What we need is “intelligent aggregation” of both very dynamic social data as well as the more static but still important basic business data (revenues, industry, phone, email addresses…) . “Aggregation” addresses the “too many sources” issue by delivering a single go-to place…”Intelligence” ensures accuracy and relevance at the individual user level through innovative use of technology and filters.”

I have been doing a bit of thinking on the cultural changes required to make this all work. I posted about it last week. In response to my question about culture, Umberto’s comments were very much inline with my own thinking (phew). “The main cultural change required of sales and marketing organization is a shift from the traditional selling processes (cold calling, feature-selling, low-yield marketing campaigns) to a selling process based on relevance and value-add. The education on [ or provided by] social media is happening every day for all of us in our consumer lives, and since sales organization tend towards younger demographics they are very open to using social tools.”

While the conversation is done for the sake of this interview, the journey has just begun. As Umberto states, “Fortunately, the social web provides ample information on people and companies.” There is the understatement of the day!  The real challenge for the practitioners is “to make this information available to all customer-facing employees in a productive fashion.” that is the intelligence part!

I want to thank Umberto for taking the time. Please join us if you are in the Boston area, the discussion is going to be very informative and quite fun! In case anyone is wondering, yes we are going to see all of this in action.

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