Yesterday I talked about Chris Brogran’s post The Best Fits for Social Media in the Sales Cycle. Chris’s suggestions were spot on. Social media gives us new tools to drive sales and accelerate the process.
Although good, I think Chris’s definition sales process was too marketing heavy
In my post I added two sales stages; the opportunity stage and the close stage to what Chris had already described.
1-Create Awareness (Marketing)
2-Identify Prospects (Marketing)
3-Generate Leads (Marketing)
4-Opportunity Pursuit (Sales)
5-The Close (Sales)
6–Customer (Sales and Marketing)
7-Evangelist (Marketing and Product)
Opportunity Pursuit is the process of moving a customer or lead to close. Opportunity pursuits include;
Assessment – what is happening in the client or buyers environment? What problem(s) are they struggling with that my product or service can solve?
Solution Identification – What solution am I offering? What is the value of my solution and how well does it deliver on the pain/problem of my customer/prospect?
Strategy – What is my approach to positioning my solution? How am I going to attack the process, what resources do I need, how will execute on the strategy?
Relationship – Who is responsible for the decision? How well do I know them? What is my relationship with them? What position am I in to influence their decision?
Getting to Yes – Every sales process is made up of a series of yes’s. Each yes, brings you closer to the closing the deal. The opportunity pursuit is all about getting to yes, and driving the deal to close.
The Close is the culmination of the above. It’s not a process, but a transition. Getting to the close depends on the opportunity pursuit. I give “The Close” it’s own place in the process, because of it’s culmination of the pursuit. Nothing happens with out it.
As Chris described, Social Media can help a sales cycle.
Social Media fits well into a sales process. As within a marketing cycle you have to know when and how to use them.
The better the assessment of your customers environment, the challenges they face and the resources available to them, the better the chances to win the deal. Social Media can do wonders here. Finding and following employees from the company on Twitter will provide you with insight to what they are working on and the challenges they have. Following your customers competitors can give you visibility into positioning. It will point you to industry research comparing the companies and outlining their strengths and weaknesses. Industry Analyst blogs are killer for calling out industry gaps, player analysis and future opportunities.
This information gleaned from Social Media can give you a substantial leg up in framing your strategy and understanding your customers world.
Because of it’s proprietary nature traditional Social Media is less effective here, however a crop of new Enterprise 2.0 applications, such as Socialcast and Yammer, are popping up, accelerating the movement of information within companies. A Socialcast type application allows you to quickly corral your company experts, brainstorm ideas, and share information in real time, therefore creating bigger, better, faster solutions.
Blogs, LinkedIn, Industry Analysts via Twitter etc. provide tremendous amounts of company, industry, competitor, and solution oriented information. Grabbing this information and gleaning the subtle messages will help you understand the best approach to position your solution. Strategy heavily relies on assessment. Social Media makes a big impact here. Use it to ask questions on Twitter, find White Papers, Engage Analysts, or find former employees or your competitors who are willing to give you insight.
Don’t be shy to leverage Social Media for information to influence your strategy development
This is an easy one. Use LinkedIn to find and learn about your buyers. Follow the tweets of the buyers. Become aware of your individual customers social graph, where do they live, what do they talk about, who are they friends with. Once you find them, listen, engage. Comment on their blog, retweet their tweets, comment on their LinkedIn status, join the forum they are on etc. By understanding their online presence, the offline becomes much easier.
Getting to “Yes”
Getting to “Yes” is understanding the unique gates or objections required to demonstrate increasing value of your solution. In the beginning of an opportunity pursuit, getting a “yes” to meet is your first yes. Using LinkedIn to find a contact of yours that can create an introduction will accelerate the process. Getting to “yes” is different in every sales process, across every opportunity. Social media is key in shortening the effort curve.
Blogs, Twitter, Socialcast, Yammer, Facebook, LinkedIn, RSS, etc, like any set of tools they each have their own value, solving different problems in different ways. The key to getting the most of Social Media in a sales process is to know what tools are available to you and wield them appropriately.
How are you using social media in your sales and marketing cycles? Share in the comments and I will post them.