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Sales Processes 2010 (NEW)

Page history last edited by Axel 10 years, 6 months ago

 

The only little change about Social CRM that hasn't been talked about is the sales process. When I explore Social CRM solutions with customers, the new social sales process is the real eye opener for most. In essence CRM 1.0 was based on sales processes designed in the 70's, 80's and 90's. But then everythiung changed - Social CRM is not only a reflection of that change but need to provide concepts for average sales people - how on earth they need to do differently in their everydays lifes.

 

I worked with Andy Rudin on this document and love to get other opinion as we are going to publish it next week.

 

Not Your Father’s Sales Process:

Social Selling Changes Everything

Prospecting.  Cold calling.  Getting in the door.  Getting around the gatekeeper.  Overcoming objections.  Controlling the prospect.  Fuhgeddaboutit!

 

 

If your selling methods haven’t changed in the last years, achieving quota in 2010 will become harder than ever.  Why?  Prospects don’t buy the same way.  They ‘google’ things, then ask their trusted networks, peers and friends and bring clear pricing expectations to their conversations.  Ask yourself:  “Is it getting easier for me to sell?  Are my sales cycles trending shorter?”  If you answered “no” to both questions, it could be because you’re using yesterday’s sales strategies and tactics.

Just look at the typical buying process just 20 years ago:

 

 

 

Compare that to how your prospects buy today:

 

While the actual tasks are not that different, the source of information is very different. Prospects no longer consult the “expert”, instead they get educated through their “network”. This is hard core evidence why inquiries have dropped so much, in some cases to almost zero.

 

 

Does the way your company sells more closely match the first model—or the second?

If there’s a gap, what can you do about it?  First, accept the new realities of selling:

1.    Selling requires learning about influencers and reading the market

2.    Successful sales outcomes are facilitated through teams, not individuals

3.    Social selling must be supported with tools that support teams (we call it FLIGHTS)

4.    KISS (Keep it Simple, Stupid) works!

 

 

I know.  You’re thinking “I send Tweets every day, and I write a blog that I send in an e-newsletter.  Isn’t that enough?”  It’s a start,: but this the marketing end of the spectrum. Sales PROs have processes nailed down that match the buying pattern as good as possible. Socializing was something for the sales elite who went on the golf course with the buying elite. Social media will not change that – but the change comes in for everybody else who wants to get a food in the door. The door is now in networks, groups and communities. And the socializing which happened only on the golf course is now accessible to everybody.

1)    Social Network Management

The sales person needs to know and have easy access to the social sites of the clients where they hang out.

2)    Connection Tracking

With hundreds or thousands of contacts it is very hard to remember where the sales person has been and how often. A tracking mechanism needs to be available.

3)    Activity Tracking

Activities with prospects may vary based on products but even with campaigns. So the follow up and “action List” need to be highly flexible and able to be created or managed “on the fly”

4)    Objective Management

Business objectives may no longer be just mechanical steps and scripts, because they are just no longer acceptable by customers, instead defined on a per initiative basis.

5)    Instant Network Access (Via Social Site Management)

While it is nice to get Twitter Streams directly into a system, it is soon so overwhelming that it is more desirable to allow the sales person to see the actual Twitter stream, Facebook wall, LinkedIn status and much more around a client with a single click.

6)    Flow Based Forecasting Model

With the new sales processes, planning pattern will change and as such the actual forecast. A buying pattern based forecast system allows management to manage a forecast without discounting the expectations from their sales people.

7)    Flight Sharing

Very soon, as social relationships between sales people and prospects develop a whole new level of trust, data in the sCRM system maybe even shared in part with the client. In particular in B2B sales the Customer will have for the very first time access to the Customer Relationship system.

8)    Rules Based Openness

Openness is a key aspect in order to be truly social. At the same time internal data need to be protected. As such Social CRM plays an interesting, bridging role by providing a company specific application with well defined data pipes that are open enough to allow the connection and closed enough to protect corporate data.

9)    Genetic Computing

The amount of complexity, connections and attributes of all those objects may bring typical software development to its knees. Technically new ways need to be developed to manage that complexity. XeeSM developed a “Genetic Computing Model” to keep track of the “DNA” of all aspects and relationships.

10) Integration

Integration in the existing IT world may look differently as social systems are inheritently open. API based system integration need to be more transparent to IT departments with more control over what data go where.

XeeSM/PRO was build from ground up on these principals. It is the first Social Business Application that supports the new sales processes, is reflecting the new buying pattern and allows every sales person to socialize like the multi million dollar PROs.

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In the end you need to re-align your sales processes with the changing buying behavior. The requirements of those new sales processes:

- Must be in alignment with the way people buy

- Need to allow leaders to predict revenue based on new buying processes

- Need to provide ways measuring success on influence and recommendation level

- Need to be simple and fast to adopt, in particular for the older sales teams

The New Processes

Let’s take a look at the new way how people buy.

1)    Search

It all begins with an online search for “things”; whatever they look for.

2)    Referencing

Once products or brands are of greater interest, the next step is to learn about the experience from current users/customers

3)    Evaluating Options

Next step is to measure, imagine, compare and create a short list.

4)    Free Trials

Now once a product is interesting enough prospects want to touch things, see how it works for them in their environment. What is easy for software is a bit harder for physical goods. But businesses try hard. You get a copy machine for 1 week, you can return even shoes, you get a car for a test ride and even food is presented in WholeFoods so you can test what you like.

5)    Best Practices

Depending on the product prospects now seek to understand what the best way to use a product is. Obviously this may be not applicable in some industries. Prospects however will find information in online communities, groups and forums.

6)    Vendor Exploration / Negotiation

At this stage the product or brand decision is pretty much set in stone and the prospect starts to explore and negotiate with the most interesting vendors

7)    Purchase Decision

Who ever has the highest level of advocates and matches best with the needs will win the deal. Customer is closing.

 

Your obvious step is now to match the new sales processes with the buying pattern of your respective market. Before sales gets involved there is most likely marketing with a good social media monitoring program. Not only to get some sentiment analysis and brand presence reports but actually potential clients through online conversations.

1)    Identification / Networking

Like in the old sales process, where prospect identification was a good start, that is true here too. But the actual process is very different. To identify a prospect the sales or marketing team need to be in the social networks to “listen” what is going on and who is looking for what. And if “Search” is step one on the buy side, looking for search is the identification process on the sell side

2)    Introductions

As prospects are looking for the real story – the sell side need to make sure that prospects get to those clients with no “preparation”. A large customer community would be the best place a prospect needs to be directed to. If the prospect can’t find a decent number of customers, they assume that there are no customers and moves on. Vocal customers are always interesting. Regardless whether it is an argument about a product or excitement. Sales now need to make sure that the more customers they can introduce to a prospect the better it is. NOW THIS IS TROUBLE – again. Because sales people always tried to PREVENT the contact with other customers. Well if you prevent to contact than you lose it regardless. Sales need to keep in mind that customers are not dumb and companies have competitors. As such customers have choices. To provide a way to let customers communicate their choice is the best way to a reference. Those introductions may not be made by the sales person but actually by other people from their network. The level of trust a sales person brings to a new prospect is not that relevant at this stage. However the sales person will need to develop a social relationship by connecting with the prospect, understand what’s on top of their mind without selling anything.

3)    Listening

As prospects evaluate options it is important for sales people to simply know what is going on. Any activity on the sales side can at best delay the process, lower the probability or actually ruin the deal. Very socially savvy sales people may stay closer in touch with the potential client and be just helpful in the process.

4)    Providing Free Trials

This may be the very first step a sales person actually get’s in contact with the prospect. Offering a free trial or a way to somehow test a product.

5)    Community Involvement

As a prospect is now seeking for best practices examples, again the in-house team may not have the trust level to be accepted by the prospect and so it may make a lot of sense to formally introduce experienced users or best practices material to the prospect. Depending on the product, an online community, forum, social network group may be the best anchor in this step.

6)    Negotiation

At this point we are actually back to the old sales process where buyer and seller negotiate a deal, terms and other details.

7)    Closing

Whoever believes is in the driver seat is closing the deal.

 

Sales Process 2010

Sales Process 2010

 

 

There are a lot of discussions around social media and social selling. There are ideas how to use Twitter as social tool for customer relationships and LinkedIn to professionally network. Yet none of those suggestions matured in a way that a business leader could go ahead and execute. Why is that?

 

 

Before we look into social CRM or any new tool or promising process, strategy or tactic, we need to understand the close relationship between sales processes and buying behavior or processes. Traditional CRM systems where built around a typical buying behavior as understood in the 70’, 80’s and 90’s. Part of Tom Siebel’s success was that he knew the buying behavior of customers and translated it into a sales process that was supported by a CRM system. That CRM system construct was then recreated many times by many other companies.

With the inception of the social networks and the ever more open Internet customers help themselves and ask around. In the so called social web – one of the most asked business questions is “Does somebody have experience with…” You fill in product, brand, technology. And once a prospect has a pretty good idea what they are looking for they don’t wait for the well trimmed sales manager who just came back from his latest “reference selling training” to provide the customer with three references. No, the prospect figures out who is using the product and asks directly what the “real story” is. At the end the prospect starts talking to a small selection of vendors on their short list – basically “give me your best price”.

 

CONSEQUENCE FOR SALES:

Bad Planning

Even so the business is not so bad but forecastability is in the tank. Sales people who stick to their old processes just cannot predict a business as they used to with those old tools. A recent CSO Insights report concluded “More than 90% of sales deals did not close as forecasted”

Less Influence

Sales people today no longer have the influence they had just five years ago. 60% of purchases are based on recommendations from peer groups, colleagues, friends and other trusted sources. 70% and more of the traditional sales process are not in synch with today’s buying behavior – that means a dramatic loss of influence.

Imploding Sales Efficiency

Now, the worst aspect is sales efficiency. If we measure our sales teams based on efficiency like lead conversion rates or lead to opportunity conversion, those sales people look really bad. Because there is nothing to convert – so we fire them. If we measure sales people based on their nurturing process effectiveness, again it looks really bad because the nurturing process almost evaporates. If we measure sales effectiveness based on the progress of their sales pipes – again: Bad news because the sales pipe is not what it used to be.

Motivation

Even the good sales people today get frustrated when all they can do is “leave a message”, hear: “No interest” or “Great you call, here is the problem with the product I have…” or “I’ll get back to you…”. Emails land in the spam filters and all the other promotions basically evaporate.

The shift on customer buying behavior requires new alignment of our sales processes. We may call it social selling or just new sales process, it doesn’t matter, businesses are required to shift gear.

Without understanding the correlation between social media, new customer behavior and new sales processes we can look into all sorts of fancy tools but won’t get any tangible results.

 

 

How would a Social CRM software look like in this environment?

A Social CRM system need to be build from ground up to support the new processes. Instead of dealing with historical data, it needs to keep real time information and “intentional processes” in mind. That means a Social CRM system need to support the intention of the sales person (future related) and not so much support the sales call based on historic data. A sales person need to find the prospect wherever that prospect is (like in which network) not what historic data tells him where he was in the past (he may have been in a group but no longer). The here and now is in the social web, not in a street address. It’s no longer only the call and the face to face meeting but also the tweet, the group discussion on LinkedIn the latest personal interest on Facebook, the business presentation on SlideShare a video clip on YouTube and much more. On top of all this, the places and spaces vary by customer and even by person – plus they may quickly change over time.

In a B2C world sales people need to learn about the various influencer and read the market. In a B2B world sales projects may only be possible with a whole team. So Social CRM need to be able to support team activities and share those projects (we call it FLIGHTs) with others. In indirect sales those FLIGHTs may actually be shared with alliance partners across company boundaries. This may sound rather complicated but here comes another requirement into play: A Social CRM system need to be so simple that those kind of scenarios are doable with a minimum of training – if anything at all.

Tweetable summary:

"Social CRM systems require that the respective sales processes are newly aligned with the changing customer behavior.

"

 

Custom Concepts

The above description is obviously not a cookie cutter model for any business in any industry but shall illustrate what need to be done to make a company win back influence an grow reputation, trust and revenue. We predict that many sales and business consultants will be able to shift gear and work with business leaders to make this shift a reality. XeeSM is working with partners around the globe to help businesses implement a solution based on a strategy that matches the situation in their respective market.

Proof of concept:

You’re in the driver’s seat!  Have meetings with 20 different customers and chat about how they see this – you may even point to this post/document and ask what they think. Start with the social process right here before you spent a single cent in any change.

Executive Summary

The shift in powers towards the customer is a generally healthy development - at least because we are all customers of somebody else. Customers make their product and brand decision nearly without the influence of sales and marketing. In order to become an equal part in the product exploration phase business teams need to align their workflow with the way customers seek, explore and decide what they buy. The 20+ year old sales processes need to be realigned despite the fact that millions were invested in training, systems and process optimization. A Social CRM is not the wonder machine fixing the problems but just a tool that supports the new processes matching with customer behavior – once embedded in the newly aligned organization.

 

 

Axel Schultze

http://xeesm.com/Axel

 

On February 11 - we show a demo on how this all flows together

http://xeesm.com/_/site/index.php/events/social-crm-live/

 

 

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