Status Social Selling in 2015 (Infographic)

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Not many companies are leveraging the power of social selling so far. Just recently have the guys at PeopleLinx released some findings on how companies and brands are using social media for their sales efforts. And it becomes clear that they still have a long way to go to incorporate social media into their sales process.

The main findings of the study among 277 B2B sales and account management professionals in U.S. B2B companies (500+ employees) show mainly three things…

PeopleLinx-Most-Valuable-Network-2015
1. Salespeople & social selling. Nearly three out of four marketers (73%) state that at least one social network is valuable for their sales efforts. LinkedIn (76%) is seen as the most valuable of the “big four” social networks, followed by Facebook (44%), Google+ and Twitter (16%).

2. Salespeople & sales process.
Social media is not part of the sales process. Just 31% of respondents include social in their process as just one out of four is clear about how to use social in the sales process.

3. Salespeople & Social media sales training.
Only 11% of sales reps answered that their company offers training on social selling. Surprising as the adoption rate accelerates from 28% to 74% when training gets offered and executed.

Salespeople who want to be relevant to their customers in the future will need to adopt to social media and use it for their sales efforts if they want to stay on top of the curve. The team at Sales For Life now came up with some nice infographic which also makes clear why companies should better jump on the social selling train. Any questions?

Social-Selling-2015-SalesForLife

Social Selling 2015: The year of redefined engagement

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Selling through social media has always been a challenging business. However, all brands and companies we have spoken to in 2014 wanted to turn around Social Media from a brand reputation channel into a sales opportunity touchpoint.

Obviously, many of the companies had already failed. Most of them as they were either too greedy, or just not prepared to go in a bar without expecting someone to sell them a drink – or respectively, to buy their products and services after the brands or companies have posted their first status updates. In my eyes, it is time to shift expectations and start anew. 2015 should not be your year of sales disappointment, it should become your year of redefined engagement.

All companies aim for the same goal. Customer engagement is what companies are waiting, hoping and praying for. Thus, they pump out tons of content pieces from their latest brand sponsoring activities to the best white papers and case studies they can offer until they cannot find any content piece in their PR or marketing repository that has not been shared across the globe. And by accelerating the content via Facebook, Twitter and the likes, they expect their KPIs to become real.

And then, the guys from SocialFlow conducted a study in summer last year. analyzed organic posts with almost 1.5 billion social actions, showing them 99 percent of those updates on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ create little to no engagement at all. Did brands use engagement the wrong way? Where their tactics bad? And if so, what were the obstacles they did not obey?

Engagement Facebook 2014

Let’s look at the following three tactical approaches. Ask yourself if you really follow the three rules of engagement.

1. Engagement: Think cross-department, cross-partners and cross-employee

Companies still tend to be structured in silos. Internal politics, department thinking and career ambitions rule out what could be replaced by community engagement, employee engagement initiatives or engagement incentive plans. Still, most responsible managers don’t know or forget how networking inside the company and with all external forces like resellers, retailers and partners might might leverage selling opportunities.

Now, whether it is limited digital capabilities of employees or the HR department that is often only involved in social media in terms of setting up social media guidelines, companies should start realitzing that their social media manager is not the company’s silver bullet. HR and marketing need to align forces and work closer together: Culture, relationship building and trust creation is not only a sales business which got nicely highlighted by a study from Altimeter at the end of 2014.

Setting up processes, programs and platforms that work towards a common goal, that get updated by various minds, by different perspectives and manyfold views attracts the engagement of more customers. The formula is easy and proven: More brains can be in more conversations and generate more engagement.

2. Engagement: Learn cross-platform, from “free-meal” to „pay-for-play“

Companies and brands seem to accept that social media is not a „free-meal“ any longer by investing in consulting companies to help transforming their social media efforts into social selling enagement. Facebook is leading in driving engagement to brands according to Simply Measured’s 2014 Facebook Study which analyzed the Interbrand Top 100 Global. Photos accounting for 77% of total engagement, and link usage to around 16%.

However, brands still haven’t respected the fact that getting people to listen and read their marketing messages by posting in social media is changing dramatically. When Facebook turns the algorithm into “less promotional” this year, companies need to start redefining how they approach their customers more subtile. Even if they will be addressing them with building clusters (or circles), contacting them via the „@name“ phenomenon or hashtags. The wording needs tob e chosen carefully, and we can be sure other networks will follow that example.

Thus, the next big thing will be the shift from investing in traditional media to spending more money in platforms that leverage social networking engagement. Products like the LinkedIn Sales Navigator or individual targeting through the combination of data analytics and marketing services, will become the new sales kid in town. Where marketing and media decision makers have invested in nebulous target-group definitions, social networks can cluster target-groups by their individual interest in content, in pictures or in videos.

The only shame is that smart data (and especially media and sales data exchange) across platforms does not work yet. So, banners and sponsored posts will continue to haunt customers although they have already bought a product or service a banner promotes to them. Clever managers invest in blogger programs, in brand advocates and loyalty programs to drive up and cross-selling opportunities. Don’t just think about content!

3. Engagement: Understand cross-quality values

Just to make this clear from the beginning: A LIKE is not only a LIKE, like a Retweet, Repin or Reblog is not just a meaninglesss interaction of some lazy engagement. In many seminars, we see marketers that still center their KPIs around quantitative engagement figures while under-estimating the chances that are covered behind such „automated“ customer interactions: joy, interest, passion, emotions, etc..

Clever sales people use such quantitative engagements for profiling their customers’ habits, experiences and interests in their social CRM database or sales management systems. They value every single customer engagement as they know when to turn quantitative into qualitative engagement, and how to turn it to their favor in meetings, calls and conversations. Knowing that a client has liked a shared golf or football video can be the start of a long-term relationship and open up doors for introductions to others.

Customers will be happy if they get good content to share with their own peers and community. They appreciate the dedication (seasonal content), commitment (consistency of service) and the quality of engagement (high interactivity) that brand accounts offer to them according to a study by the Engagment Labs. Appreciation, well-understood from customers and companies, is the key to social media engagement.

Spot On!
The link between customer engagement and employee engagement was not only proven in a study by Answers Corporation lately. In many examples with customers and experts have we experienced that social media engagement is not rocket-science, however the process of setting it up plus using and finding the right technology is a challenge. Still, the rules of engagement are changing in social media, especially in social networks. Facebook is the former RSS feed, just with the difference that you can sponsor it now. Youtube is the new search engine. It’s 2015! Redefine your engagement mindset!

Study: Many executives cannot stop working in spare time

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Last year’s CNBC study examined that C-level execs were more mobile than their senior counterparts in middle management. This year’s CNBC’s Mobile Elite survey -based on more than 600 online interviews across Europe, Asia and North America – shows that the usage and impact of mobile devices amongst business executives is higher than ever. Six in ten executives admitted they are still busy checking their mobile devices when its weekend time and the stock-market is closed.

Managers are even more busy consuming news during the mornings. For those vendors seeking to address the European business decision maker the weekday evening is said to be the right time to get in touch, according to the study. Obviously, many managers have more time during their weekend leisures to digest articles and information. Almost every second executive (48%) reads ‘in-depth articles’ and 38% has a close look at business profiles.

In that field, LinkedIn has achieved the number one position in Europe as a ‘useful business and recruitment tool’ (59%) with the highest scores for the ‘respected brand’ (64%). However, Facebook is also under the top-performers as a ‚useful marketing tool’ among Europe’s Business Elite. In Europe Twitter scores highest European executives for ‘use for both work & leisure’ (55%) increasing from 32% in 2013.

TV and tablets are moving more and more together in terms of business impact and parallel screen usage for decision-makers: 80% of US executives stated they were watching TV while using their tablet. Europe is with 71% and Asia with 70% behind the US results. Still, 56% of global executives use their mobile device as a direct result of watching TV.

Their predominant reaction after watching TV content is…
– Web browsing for products or services (69%)
– Purchasing products, stocks or shares (55%)
– Responding to advertising (42%).

“An ongoing trend where work life and private life is bleeding into one another“, thinks Professor of Organisational Behaviour, Cass Business School London, Andre Spencer.

Spot On!
Not surprisingly, business executives are massively using their mobiles and second screens. The more business turns international the more “global business environments work on a 24/7 basis”, thinks Spencer. Staying in touch is possible and needs to be done the more people are engaged in being on the road. The work-life balance gets challenged when organizations are increasingly expecting their top executives to be online and working.

CNBC Mobile Elite Study 2014

Email Evolution or Revolution – From Goethe to IBM Verse

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Eyes wide open, the two IBM gentlemen look at me. They sit up right. Professional. Spot On. You can feel their enthusiasm, their expectations are high. Both are social collaboration leaders at IBM, evangelizing on the #newwaytowork. That’s how the software technology company hashtags their latest journey to the revolution of the email as they call the launch of their new inbox communication software “IBM Verse”. You can tell how excited the two managers in front of me are to talk about the IBM success story. The launch seemed to have gone well so far.

On my opening question both face each other, not sure who shall answer. They are professionals in communication, they are prepared. “The term Verse is historic for communication and conversation”, replies Dr. Peter Schuett, Leader Social Business Strategy at IBM. “In times of Goethe, when carriers brought people hand-written letters, all the communication that went to and fro was written in verse.” The answer surprised me as IBM’s development sounds like a trip in the past.

It is not. For the first time, IBM has taken a new development approach. They made their customers think about the new software solution by inviting customer to their labs, by rethinking email, and by thinking design and customer experience first, based on real customer feedback, input and inspiration. Not the cheapest way to innovate. The product development cost 100 Mio. US Dollars according to them. It has got to be effective from a customer perspective.

IBM_Verse_People

For a long time, IBM has been a forerunner in terms of modern workplace technology. Their “Outside the Inbox” evangelist Luis Suarez has already been preaching for a business world with less emails. We all know the reasons why he was addressing this. People get approximately 127 emails a day. This means emails kills 28% of our daily work-time, and thus of our daily productivity.

With IBM Verse the software technology company wants to shift productivity. Creating a more effective business culture is the aim. From Ed Brill’s perspective, he is IBM’s social business transformation specialist, email should function as a transmitter. Email today should be serving notes like a private letter what Goethe used to do in hand-written form: delivering private information.

“Email is the service forever. But it needs to be a personal service.” Dr. Peter Schuett, IBM.

Focussing on the new software solution, I brought up the question in which way this is a revolution to email communication. Ed Brill emphasizes that IBM did not want to reinvent the email. IBM wished for a better email. However, IBM wanted to create a new intersection of email, calendar, social media and analytics. That’s what they have done with IBM Verse.

When I showed a bit of my disappointment around the new solution’s capabilities in terms of being an aggregation platform for direct messaging and functionality as an inbox management system in general, Ed Brill rearranges my expectations in bringing the metaphor on suits which might all look different in design but are in a sense all alike from the amount of innovation in style and structure. And by the way, the power users of enterprise email are still personal assistants.

IBM_Verse_Analytics
True, sometimes people forget where they stand in the evolution of modern communication. With their “People” and “Analytics” functionality, the modern way of a more personalized communication approach seems to get in that social direction in the future. At least, when we compare IBM Verse and Facebook from a superficial point of view. With IBM Verse people also move into the centre of the communication universe which is meant to map the efficiency form content to people. IBM Verse “People” learns to show the users dynamically who is important to their communication, by hour, meeting and topic of conversation. Obviously, users can also change that and arrange it according to their premises. The world of communication gets filtered more and more.

Spot On!
IBM Verse is definitely a big evolution step in email communication. Still, they could have made it a bit more of a revolution in delivering a multi-messaging and communication management platform in my eyes which integrates direct communication via Facebook, Twitter and others.

Brill agrees that when CEOs wanted to spread the word around some company, product or people changes in the company, IBM was about to use email for that communication. Today, via IBM Connections -the internal use of their own company community platform- gets 7 Mio. accesses a month, and the CEO messages will reach (and achieve more feedback) more people via internal social messaging than via email in the past.

Nevertheless, the two gentlemen did not want to commit to a statement whether IBM Verse and IBM Connections might become one platform in the future. But the approach to one collaborative workplace platform, serves the option to have fewer apps in the future. But hey, there is hope: “Rome was not build in one day!” summarizes Schuett in the quick Snapshot video interview in the end of our interview, and smiles.

Report: Best rated CRM software tools 2014

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A recent report from G2 Crowd, based on the reviews of 1,700 CRM professional users, shows that Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics are the leading two customer relationship management (CRM) systems. This is the finding of a report that has checked the 27 highest rated systems by customers.

The report grouped tools together based on two main deliveries a) overall customer satisfaction (average scores by users) and b) market presence (market share, vendor size, and social impact). The report defined the CRM systems as software systems that provide salesforce automation features (account, contact and opportunity management), marketing automation tools (lead and campaign management), customer support options (knowledge management and support case), and a unifying database.

In the CRM “leader” category finished Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics. Both tools showed substantial scale and were rated relatively highly. Salesforce was rated significantly better by 9 out of 10 users: reviewers gave Salesforce 4 or 5 stars. Furthermore, 84% stated they would recommend the product to peers and 88% thought the CRM tool is headed in the right direction.

However, Microsoft Dynamic’s impact on the market in the top tier is predominantly depending to its large market share. Only 60% of Microsoft Dynamics users rated the product 4 or 5 stars. Still, 64% would recommend the tool to their peers and 60% think the CRM system is headed in the right direction.

G2 Crowd Grid CRM Software 2014

Spot On!
Another study by Salesforce.com shows that customers experince CRM systems to boost customer experience. However, data quality and predictive analytics could still do better in performance conversion. Nevertheless, the battle in the CRM tool business is on. Microsoft just bundled their product offering to challenge Salesforce. Although aggressive pricing might change proples’ minds, Salesforce.com has the benefit there exist hundreds of AppExchange partners, like Marketo, Eloqua, LinkedIn and others. While Microsoft also has its’ partners, Salesforce.com’s still offers the enterprise app cloud development platform that shows more opportunities.

State of Marketing 2014 Report: Social Media and Video Ads up, Mobile down, Programmatic low at 1%

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Compared to some previous study, this years CMO Council’s “State of Marketing” (sponsored by NetBase and Infor) shows that confidence to be a trusted source for the C-level is back with marketers. The online study that asked 525 global marketers in the first quarter 2014 shows that 69% of senior marketers see themselves as a trusted, strategic member of the C-suite and/or are increasing their credibility with the main business decision makers inside their companies. Furthermore, 81% of senior marketers responded that they’re confident to meet management expectations and goals for top-line revenue growth and market share in the next 12 months.

“The level of confidence and optimism is very high. We are seeing the CMO role being elevated to a much larger degree.” Donovan Neale-May, Executive Director, CMO Council

From a budget perspective, the main areas of marketing spending growth for this year will be social advertising (71%), online video (71%), social engagement campaigns (69%), retargeting (67%) and search engine marketing (66%). However, mobile will go down in the attention of marketing spendings this year. Only 62% said they plan to increases and just 25% project increases of over 5% for 2014. 45% said they expect no change for mobile banners. The report makes no commments on reasons for this stagnating mobile budget growth. In general, 54% of marketers plan to increase their marketing budgets over the next 12 months, 27% will keep budgets stable. The most funding will go into new products and program launches (54%), corporate branding and identity building (53%), lead generation and qualification (50%), and customer retention and monetization (44%).

State of Marketing 2014 What tactics is most effective

When asked to identify where marketers will allocate marketing budget across

From an operational and process point of view 12% of the responding marketers said they will invest in product marketing, 12% said in strategy and branding, almost 7% in marketing and planning, 7% in sales and lead management, and 5% in market research, among other areas. It seems that programmatic buying has still not reached the marketing department. Only 1% sees programmatic advertising technology systems an interesting topic to invest in. Maybe they just do not have the right arguments for their C-Suite on programmatic yet.

The senior management expects from their CMOs over the next 12 months to drive top-line growth (56%), grow or retain market share (52%), better define the brand and value proposition (44%), and further customer insights and analytics (37%). As the leading areas of responsibility the marketers see for themselves strategic planning and forecasting (74%), branding (71%), digital (68%), budgeting and mix modeling (68%) and market research (67%). from a C-level perspective the marketers state that their main tasks from the business leaders are driving top-line growth (56%); growing or retaining market share (52%); better defining the brand and value proposition (44%); and furthering customer insights and analytics (37%).

Spot On!
The challenge for marketers as of the cloud technology evolution is to connect with other departments inside the company. Interesting to see from the report to which people marketers are reaching out these days for partnerships. The marketers responded that the CFO (58%), CIO (53%) and chief sales officer (51%) are their main three touchpoints inside the organization to form partnerships with.

State of Marketing 2014 Collaboration

The report also states that 55% of marketers want to hire in 2014. Their main focus of reecruiting people or getting knowledge will be on customer analytics (40%), social media (36%) and content development (27%). Interestingly enough, a trend that we also experience with our clients is that B2B marketers (60%) are very active finding new staff. Their main interest is in people on topics like customer analytics (33%), product marketing support (33%), content development (32%) and social media (32%).

2020: What will be the 10 most important business skills (Infographic)

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It’s hard to look into the future, or claim how the workplace could look like in 2020. And that in mind, although I get invites to different event looking years ahead and telling us, which technology will rock, which cloud model will be staring, and how friendships might die as of millennials heading towards a straight career, and forgetting the working colleagues, they have held close for years.

Still, certain drivers of change become more and more obvious. With the increasing advent of mobile and cloud systems in companies, some smart machines, sensors and systems will replace workload from people, and probably also erase some job profiles. And automation will organize a lot of processes that will connect the world around us.

What I see from our consulting business already today is that “sense making” and “social intelligence” has still often not found it’s way towards board rooms. Sometimes this is based on the missing people, sometimes just it’s a matter of traditional management methods that block the change process as of company or personal politics.

Furthermore, I can see that “virtual collaboration” is desired in many companies. Still, the culture of training and changing the mindset as a basis for this capability gets not the right support and budgets from top management. Finally, “cognitive load management”, the challenge to filter information from importance, was an approach I thought of in my vision of the Personal Web Manager some years ago. It will come, I am sure…!

The guys at Top Ten Online Colleges have create an infographic which summarizes the top 10 business skills for 2020. Have a look and tell us what you think!

2020-Top-Business-Skills

Study: Millennials value workplace friendships but sacrifice them for their benefit

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Credits: Gerd Altmann  / pixelio.de

Credits: Gerd Altmann / pixelio.de

A friendship is not a friendship, when it comes to moving on with your career – at least for millennials. A recent study published by LinkedIn this week shows that millennials believe in friendships at work boosting happiness, motivation, and productivity. However, friendship has an end and makes millennials competitive when it comes to career promotions.

The report states that 27% of the respondents think that workplace friendships boost their job performance. The negative part is that it also makes them more ambitious. Those millennials (68%) would even sacrifice a workplace friendship to get a promotion. The majority of millennials (3 in 5) believe that socializing with coworkers improves their workplace, and every third millennials thinks it will advance their career. Interestingly enough, almost every second millennial states that they would even discuss their salary with coworkers.

The results show quite a big difference to the Baby Boomers where almost the same percentage would never dare to have such a thought. From those workers at the age of 55-65, almost half of them even think a friendship with their coworkers had no effect on their professional performance in any way. Talking about salaries? Only 23% of baby boomers would think about it (and probably not do it).

The study shows that millennials are more open to talk about their very personal business situations like compensation and benefits with their millennial counterparts. Millennials are even heading for those informations instead of showing understatement and not disclosing any information about their personal salary conditions like the baby boomers do. Management should be coaching millennials here, and making sure that they give them insights in why it would be better not being too open with their coworkers.

Don’t limit conversations to only email or formal meetings. Take a walking meeting! Walking meetings are part of LinkedIn’s culture, and they are popular because people tend to relax during a walk, which allows for a more open and creative discussion. Plus, not having a phone or computer interrupt you every second, allows you to be more focused on the person you are talking to, and ultimately more connected.

Take an interest in the personal. While you may not want to give relationship advice, you should have an interest in your teammates as people. Take a few minutes during every one-on-one meeting to connect on a personal level. If your colleague always jets out with their yoga mat, ask them about it! Work is only a part of who we are; if you get to know people’s other passions, it may give you a glimpse into what motivates them.

Congratulate, share and like! A simple gesture on LinkedIn can do wonders for employee morale. Think how great it feels to get “a job well-done” email from your boss, and then imagine having the same recognition shared with your network. It feels great to get acknowledged for your hard work, and by sharing it publicly, you also help to build your professional brand.

The study shows that millennials are more open to talk about their very personal business situations like compensation and benefits with their millennial counterparts. Millennials are even heading for those informations instead of showing understatement and not disclosing any information about their personal salary conditions like the baby boomers do. Management should be coaching millennials here, and making sure that they give them insights in why it would be better not being too open with their coworkers.

How do you manage the millennial workforce in your company? Are they also as open as described in this study?

Relationships @ Work from LinkedIn

Why ‘A’ marketers are better than the rest (Infographic)

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Although many marketers have heard of the analytics, data and technology challenges, a minority of 26% of marketers understand their value for the business they run. This is the latest results of a joint study from VisionEdge Marketing (VEM) and ITSMA Marketing Performance Management (MPM) with input from 380 marketers gives insights on marketing performance and best-practices.

The study shows how marketers can earn an “A” grade from the C-suite as they understand impact on data for business. The outperforming marketers know how to make performance management a priority. They know how to plan and implement a well-defined and documented road map for performance improvement. While many marketers measure effort and activity, these “A” grade marketers find the right metrics on ROI efficiency, while building dashboards in order to communicate business benefits of their efforts.

Not surprisingly, “A” grade marketers know how to align their marketing objectives with business priorities, which are the basis for selecting the right metrics. They understand why their offerings create a bi-directional benefit for customers and shareholders.

Of the top performers, 63% claimed increased customer share of wallet. This is a massive success when compared with 48% of “B” marketers and 38% of low performing marketers. When monitoring improvements for business growth, 54% of “A” respondents confirmed improvements in their win rates. This stands against 39% of the “B” competitors and 25% of laggard marketers.

However, some of you marketers might think you should have the ROI in focus, the “B” grade marketers
are too much looking for sales figures. They are spot on getting leads for their pipeline and try to map the customer journey intensively. Still, they lose the big picture of the long-term web strategy. The lazy laggard marketers just see the production of marketing campaigns as their target instead of producing and generating real business results, according to the study.

ITSMA-VEMMPM-Study-2014

Report sales software: What buyers have, and expect to get.

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Buyers like cloud solutions and are looking for automation software supporting their sales efforts. These are the main findings of a recent report based on interviews with 385 prospective buyers of new sales force automation software conducted by Software Advice. Two-third of all respondents (67%) stated they are interested in sales automation software solutions for the first time. Those sales leaders with a deployment preference trying to find a new solution these days were prefer a cloud-based solution (96%). Just 4% were evaluating on-premises solutions.

Interesting to see that still one out of four managers (25%) still use spreadsheets or email clients (21%) to handle their sales activities (tracking leads and managing contacts). Furthermore, a big portion do not have a real system in place (22%); these guys still use pen and paper. Those buyers who have got a system in place use commercial customer relationship management (CRM) software (17%), work with industry-specific solutions (8%), or developed their software in-house (3%).

Software Advice 2014 SFA Status Quo

Almost two out of three prospective buyers (62%) argued their top reasons to buy sales force automation (SFA) with improving organizational output and increasing efficiency. Many managers in enterprises (33%) and also in small companies (22%) are dissatisfied with their current sales management solution.

Software Advice 2014 SFA Evaluating Reasons

The top requested features that managers are looking for are contact management features in their new sales software (93%). Almost two from three respondents (65%) claimed they need a note-taking feature, so they can keep track of interactions between clients and their sales force. More than every second manager (54%) wants lead management features to be included at every stage of the sales process. Only every forth manager asked for sales reporting and forecasting as an expected feature. Larger companies are a bit ahead in that development as 56% of those expect that functionality for their business, says the report.

Software Advice 2014 SFA Requested Features

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