Sales

Sales 2.0 and Social Media: Thought Leadership with Anneke Seley

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Anneke Seley What can Sales 2.0 do to improve your sales success?  Anneke Seley, Author and CEO, shares some of her thoughts about using social media in our newest B2B Marketing thought leader interview.  Anneke was the twelfth employee at Oracle and the designer of OracleDirect, the company’s revolutionary inside sales operation.  She is currently the CEO and founder of Phone Works, a sales strategy and implementation consultancy that has helped over 350 large and small businesses across industries increase sales productivity and results.  Anneke is also the coauthor of a new book, Sales 2.0: Improve Business Results Using Innovative Sales Practices and Technology.

When we think of Sales 2.0 we often think about social media– but does it entail more than using Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn?

Sales 2.0 entails a lot more than using social media!  It is a philosophy and approach to selling, not a technology.  Sales 2.0 is a more effective and efficient way of selling for both the buyer and the seller that is enabled by technology.  It requires re-thinking the sales process from the perspective of your customers, continually evolving and improving practices as your markets change, and recognizing that sales is a science as well as an art that can be measurable and predictable, with the help of technology.   There are many powerful technologies that enable Sales 2.0 that can help sales people connect with and engage prospects and customers and increase productivity.

In what way has Sales 2.0 impacted the success of your company, Phone Works?

The sales community has responded enthusiastically to Sales 2.0 and the messages in my book, which has had a positive impact on Phone Works.  Large and small companies across industries are asking for our help defining or assessing their overall sales models.  This includes new approaches to sales strategy, people, process and technology that are resonating with customers and translating into increased revenue, shorter sales cycles, predictable business results, and happier customers.  We are even working with several nonprofits, who are embracing a Sales 2.0 approach to fundraising, membership outreach and engagement.

What mistakes have you made or seen made by other sales professionals in social media?

The biggest mistake I see sales executives and reps make is to fear social media or dismiss it as a time waster.  We can now point to many examples of social media contributing to a sales manager’s monthly quota or filling the pipeline with qualified leads.   We sales people are also susceptible to making the same mistakes in social media that we make face-to-face, on the phone, in e-mail, and any other communications: we talk before we listen.  Users of social media are especially sensitive to this, so it’s easy to to turn people off. Salespeople can avoid this common error by  reading customers’ posts and comments and understanding their perspective by asking questions before pitching  products.

What are your thoughts on lead nurturing to help sales move leads through the sales funnel?

Lead nurturing is an important piece of the Sales 2.0 philosophy: sell in the way your customer wants to buy and develop strong, long-term relationships.  That includes respecting their decision-making timeline and giving them time to understand your offering instead of forcing a sale because it’s the end of your quarter. By putting lead nurturing programs in place, you also increase productivity by focusing sales on the highest-priority opportunities that are ready to buy now while insuring that the longer-term opportunities are not ignored.

Many sales professionals believe social media to be the responsibility of marketing and customer service.  Do you agree or disagree, and why?

I believe that customers look to social media for an authentic, personal, real-time view of you and your company.  That means that there is an opportunity for sales people – and others in departments such as product development – to connect to buyers in a new medium that is rapidly gaining in popularity.  Why limit that potential competitive advantage in customer communications to a few functional areas, such as marketing and customer service? In Sales 2.0, departments across the company collaborate to give customers the most valuable, most responsive experience possible.  The reward is customer retention, loyalty, and increased sales.

What are the new metrics that you think companies should be using to measure their sales programs now that so much business is occurring online?

Companies should be measuring quantity and quality of sales leads generated by medium – both traditional and social – and comparing results. This will help determine customer preferences and where future investments should be made.  Also, as customers gravitate to online information sources rather than speaking with a sales person, it’s important to measure their activities and engagement levels, so you know what they’ve looked at, downloaded or forwarded before the first person to person interaction.  By tracking this “online body language”, you can determine when to get a sales person involved and help prospects make a buying decision when they are ready.

What do you think will be some of the challenges and trends in sales for 2010? 

Sales 2.0 continues to be a growing trend as we approach 2010.  One challenge is keeping companies focused on implementing appropriate strategies, business practices and tools to measure success. Sales 2.0 technology can help, but requires a foundation of the right business approach, people, process, and supporting resources. Inside sales – sales teams that use the phone and Web to engage with and sell to customers – will also continue to grow in importance, as customers embrace new communications media, travel budgets shrink, and companies continue to focus on increasing sales productivity and effectiveness.

To learn more about Sales 2.0 and to hear from Anneke and Marketo about benchmarks and best practices to create a winning sales process join the upcoming webinar, The Secret Sauce for Sales Success on November 4th.