/// Daily Quote
"A fool bolts pleasure, and then complains of moral indigestion."
-- Minna Thomas Antrim
Selling Power Magazine Article
The Pace of Change
Customize and Choose
Each company uses the technologies that meet its most pressing needs, whether gathering leads, training reps and channel partners, or handling massive volumes of transactions when a new campaign is launched. But everyone we talked to reports that the new Sales 2.0 technologies are paying off big time, in many cases enabling sales initiatives that simply would not be possible without them.
For example, senior marketing manager Edward Linde manages 14 people in the Web marketing unit of IBM.com. Linde supports three sales groups: inside client reps who work over the telephone, product-oriented brand specialists, and lead-development reps. “The Web is the ultimate reference because when prospects come to your Website, they want to do business,” Linde says. “We harvest, validate, qualify, and pass these leads to the field.”
IBM uses social media in two major ways. First, it “listens” for leads. Lead-development reps mine social conversations for people who are looking for solutions or considering issuing a request for proposal (RFP). “We engage them to see if we can transform them from an inquiry to a validated, qualified lead,” Linde explains. “We have been doing this for several years with excellent success and have generated several million dollars.”
“Listening” poses challenges, such as having to separate fact from fiction and understanding how immediate an RFP will be. IBM uses trained staff to interpret social-media conversations. It would like to automate that process with artificial-intelligence tools.
IBM’s second social-media initiative: sales transformation through digital tools. “We want to use technology to extend the reach, frequency, and scope of contacts between sellers and customers and enhance collaboration,” Linde says. “Salespeople used to go to a customer’s office, roll up their sleeves, and build trust and solutions. Now customers’ time is more valuable, and they want to [conduct business] over the phone and electronically.”
So IBM is giving all its reps their own individual Web pages linked to Twitter and Facebook and equipped for live chat with Lotus Sametime, “a great tool for enterprises, scalable and secure,” Linde notes. And IBM is enabling reps with video cameras. “They will be able to share things like whiteboards to show ideas to a customer, who can say, ‘Not like that; redraw it.’” Marketing supports reps’ Web pages with content and email campaigns to bring in customers.
The new approach is more efficient and becoming essential. “Salespeople with two hundred accounts in their territory cannot reach them all in a quarter, even by telephone, if customers are busy,” Linde says. And IBM uses digital tools to expand beyond existing markets. Digital sales transformation enables IBM to reach firms with fewer than 1,000 employees, traditionally an undertapped segment.
Networking on the Web pays other dividends: “We are getting referrals when people register to dial in,” Linde says. “When reps called on a Fortune 100 company, they used to focus on the C-suite and IT department. There were potentially a thousand useful people they did not know. Now we are penetrating these organizations deeper.” IBM encourages its scientists and engineers to participate in Web exchanges, because these are the people customers really want to talk to.
Moreover, the more active IBM is on the Web and social media, the more prospects visit its Web pages, because search engines are programmed to prioritize sites according to frequency of use and reference. “And customer searches are the best sources of leads because they are self-selected,” Linde explains.
For the future, Linde sees more mobile devices and collaboration tools, such as file sharing. “We do that internally but must make sure proposals are private with customers,” he explains. Linde thinks 3-D video will eventually come when it is affordable and scalable.
IBM pushes the Sales 2.0 envelope, and Linde goes on sales calls to explain what his group is doing because IBM’s customers want to sell better, too. Linde ticks off the benefits: “We harvest more leads, we break into accounts we could not before, we speed the sales cycle, we talk to more customers more frequently on a lot more subjects, and we improve rep productivity. There has absolutely been a positive return.”
Leads and Storage
For new firms, leads are gold. NetApp provides data storage and management for companies around the word. Three years ago, it chose Jigsaw to enable systematic processes in sales and marketing, explains audience program manager Renee Gellatly. “We had Eloqua for marketing automation, and we wanted a broad-scale application for contacts, lead scoring, nurturing, and Web talks. First, we wanted something that could handle large volumes for marketing, but then we gave our inside salespeople and reps direct access to it for their immediate needs.” That produced a surprise. “It was an instant success. They (continued on page 2)
– Henry Canaday
Conferences and Events
Selling Power Classics
Get Your FREE Issue of Selling Power
/// 50 Best Companies
Apply now to be included in Selling Power's list of the 50 Best Companies to Sell for in 2013. Applications are due June 24th.
Apply Now >
Apply Now >