Archives for August 2013

Selling Has Always Been Social…the new value of a business card

(This is another guest post by my friend John McCabe .  As I head to a conference next week myself, it will be interesting to see who has evolved their trade show processes.  I’ll be sure to have some comments here after that)

imagesAt a networking event, business meeting, conference or any other such venue, vendor and attendee lists are typically provided in advance.  With this data in hand, before the event, I perform my due diligence, learning more about the companies that will be there. Once I complete this evaluation, I begin to formulate a list of companies I wish to speak to first, second, and so on.

So if I am speaking to a representative of your company, I already know what you do and what you are trying to sell me.  I also know your representative is trying to obtain my contact information at all cost so I can receive a deluge of communications.  Valuable or not, too much of a good thing is never a good thing in this case.  If those communications are unwanted, it takes me longer to get your company to leave me alone than creating world peace.   And now you run the risk of your spam campaigns being front and center of some viral social media rant.

When I speak to a representative of your company and they hand me a business card, I already know what’s on it, your physical location, logo and probably even the rep’s contact information (assuming they are on LinkedIn).  The business card is a touch point that is highly underleveraged in most cases.  I want to know about the salesperson, as a person.  What do they like?  What is their work history?  What good books have they read?  Provide me an authentic, in-depth picture of the person with whom I am going to do business.  Give me a reason why I should continue investing my time.  A static business card, to me,  equals a static company.  I will not deal with you even if you are the best price in the marketplace.

On the other hand, wouldn’t it be great to hand me a card that has, in addition to a name, e-mail address, mobile phone and social i.d.’s, a QR or 2D barcode on it!  Remember, I already know about your company.  Now, I am highly interested because you have made me an interactive connector with your company’s online brand presence.  Engaging right there on the spot via my smartphone with your digital content.  Vine clips, YouTube channel, interactive demos, blog, mobile website and other interesting nuggets.  Now we have a reason to continue our conversation at your exhibit booth.

Now, when I equate the individual with the company, I will always remember not just the physical but the social, digital interaction we had since you made that part of the process.  Now I know that you and your company have embraced the current B to B buying landscape.  You have created value for me before the sale, before we are even close to a transaction.

Call it #socialselling or whatever buzzword you choose.  Isn’t that what all selling should always be about?

P.S. Be always diligent.  Since we are engaged socially based on this positive interaction, your company must be ready to deal with the inverse, should a hiccup ever arise.  Just do what you are telling me you are going to do.  Continue to be authentic.

Syndicated, Social & Customer Service Data

Social-Media-InsightsSpencer Geren, my friend and big data evangelist, made a compelling case for the incremental value created by augmenting syndicated data in Consumer Packaged Goods with social web data.  In Spencer’s example, social data provides the opportunity to understand the “why” behind the sales and consumption numbers.

As background, Dion Hinchcliffe made a very good baseline case here for the value created by combining big data and social media.

While you can make the argument that this root cause level data is already available via customer surveys, focus groups and other such methods, there are key differentiators that make the pursuit of Spencer’s concept worth the investment.  A few differentiators that this strategy provides include:

  • Unsolicited vs solicited consumer feedback: unsolicited feedback especially peer-to-peer, gathered via social chatter is more authentic.  And, by not forcing answers to specific questions, potentially leads to unexpected yet more valuable insights. 
  • Timeliness of insights: social data provides a source of more real-time feedback to brands compared to the typical time delay associated with syndicated data alone.  Actions taken in that time compressed state can translate into significant sales and market share impact.
  • Why is always more actionable than What: As Spencer noted in his piece, social data provides insights on the behaviors and real-time reactions that will drive the consumption numbers in the future.

So, as a customer service guy, I of course look at this issue through that lens.  Multi-channel customer service data provides even greater value along those three elements above.  Multi-channel customer service data, by definition:

  • Is unsolicited
  • Is timely
  • Provides the insight into customer behavior

The point here is two-fold.  First, marketers and market researchers should be tapping into this customer service data as a value added tool in their quest to predict future customer behaviors.  Secondly, as I argued in my recent post on Salesforce.com’s blog, customer service as an enterprise function has the opportunity to use social, multi-channel and other big data sets to reinvent itself from traditional reactive processes to a proactive deliverer of customer insights.