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Everyone is in Sales, or should be…

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Have you ever heard the expression “everyone is in sales”?
I have heard it over and over from CEOs and CROs at clients and prospects.  But more often than not, it was stated as a goal, something they longed for… and knew was beyond their reach.  It was more “if everyone were in Sales, how much more productive and profitable the company would be.”
Surely, they don’t mean that every person in their company should drop what they are doing and start generating leads and calling prospects.  But they are decrying organizational silos that make it too difficult for employees of the same company to support the company’s sales activities in any way they can.  This goes beyond the work done by organizational consultants to reengineer sales organizations.  This is about rethinking how the company operates, how sales intelligence can flow from anywhere in the organization to the sales team to support the sales effort on a continuous basis.
Think about this: everyone in the company has a LinkedIn profile and/or a Facebook page, yet most company employees are strangers to each other and are not networked to each other.  Every employee has several email accounts away from the company with contacts from prior jobs and other personal contacts.  All of that data is in the Cloud.  And then you have the on-premise Outlook and the CRM system.  Where do you think is most of the social capital of the company?  In the Cloud clearly and over time it will only get more and more Cloud-based.
Reachable has a built the tools to empower groups of users from any part of an enterprise to collaborate around the sales process and make “everyone is in sales” a reality.  Our TeamReach solution allows users to have control over their contact data in the Cloud and to share it with other members of a private network set up by an enterprise.  The network members know what are the sales targets that are being pursued by the enterprise and useful connections in the private network are surfaced to the relevant people on a continuous basis.
If you would like to try TeamReach for your organization, please contact sales@reachable.com today.  It takes 5 minutes to set up a TeamReach account for your company, and you can start a TeamReach with ONE user and then invite others.
Best,
Laurent

Missing from the Corporate Balance Sheet: the Enterprise Social Capital

Posted by | Opinion, Uncategorized | No Comments

March 24, 2015

Readers of the financial press are surely well versed in the analysis of balance sheets.  However, there is a critical corporate asset that you are not going to find on any balance sheet: the Enterprise Social Capital.  Now, thanks to the partnership between Reachable and S&P Capital IQ, the Enterprise Social Capital can be analyzed and systematically managed for the benefit of a business.

What is Enterprise Social Capital and what role does it play in the success of a business?

In order to scale, businesses had to develop task specialization.  The founding team of the business scaled by dividing tasks in increasingly thin slices.  Now the role of recreating the original “can do,” “we are in this together” and “everybody is in sales” attitude that made the business succeed falls on the management team and its culture experts, and modern Social Enterprise tools.

Social Selling tools emerged with the rise of Social Networks, in particular Facebook and LinkedIn.  These tools are based on the premise that everyone is connected on a “social graph.”  Social Selling tools posit that the nature of the social and professional links between people can be analyzed to generate insights about who would buy what from whom, and to trigger purchasing decisions by activating influencers.

There is strong logic behind this approach.  There might come a day when businesses will buy from other businesses without human intervention, perhaps purely based on algorithms.  But until that day arrives, relationships and the trust they carry have a distinct influence on what gets bought, from whom and how quickly.  Relationships do matter.

But businesses are not leveraging relationship as well as they could.

Most Social Selling tools are geared to helping an individual connect to other individuals on a social network — mostly to people that they don’t know.  That only goes so far.  Relationships you make on a social network are superficial — it takes a while to know what to expect, what can be asked and what is proper.  Often, people connect, exchange niceties and that’s that.

Further, corporate marketing departments are increasingly leveraging the personal accounts of employees as a channel.  They want employees to push a corporate message.  This commercialization makes Social Networks less and less the place where people develop genuine, trusting relationships.

Reachable takes a different approach.  We start by analyzing the people you already know.  We create a cloud-based contacts vault where you can store contacts acquired on Social Networks or off-line.  Reachable’s algorithms figure out whether these contacts could be connectors to people and companies you are trying to reach.

To perform these complex analytics, Reachable has partnered with S&P Capital IQ to access its verified profiles of people and companies — millions of profiles that are developed and maintained with exacting standards.  What these profiles tell us is where people have been and what they did there and for how long.  Using big data analytics, Reachable is then able to create its own graph of professional connections for millions of people.  Reachable can not only recommend connectors to people and companies but also explain why it would make sense to go through these connectors to reach a target.  These “relationship insights” are essential in helping you navigate the opportunities that your connections can deliver.

But Reachable went a step further and tackled the enterprise challenge.  Our TeamReach solution enables a group of people to inter-connect their contacts without exposing them.  No one in a TeamReach gets to see anyone else’s contacts, nor can the enterprise that created the TeamReach for its employees.  This is the first time that you can get a complete view of the Social Capital of an enterprise — all the contacts of the company in a data set that can be analyzed and leveraged.  All that is possible provided that the people who participate continue to own their data and no one can violate the privacy protections that are inherent in the Reachable platform.

The value of this new collective data set is immense.  If you are looking for a connection to a specific person or company, you will be shown which of your teammates can make the connection.  You can measure how well connected is your sales team to the entire list of accounts you expect to generate revenues from this year.  You can hire people who truly have the connections you need to break into new accounts and keep existing customers.  This can be done instantly and at enterprise scale.

This makes the enterprise TeamReach a unique and powerful asset for the enterprise.  But it’s an asset that you will not find on the balance sheet of any business.

Laurent Ohana

How Hillary Clinton Managed to Endorse Reachable’s Data Policy!

Posted by | Opinion | No Comments
March 11, 2015
It’s been two years now that we have been telling CIOs and CEOs that BYOD/TYOD was coming to their enterprise.  We meant “Bring Your Own Data / Take Your Own Data.”
On Tuesday, Hillary Clinton said:   “For any government employee, it is that government employee’s responsibility to determine what’s personal and what’s work related…”  WOAW!
If we struck the word “government” from that sentence, I am pretty sure that every CIO in the US (and beyond) would take issue with it.  (Equally sure that the CIO at State and CIA/NSA would also disagree but that’s not a topic for this blog).  For many, she touched the Third Rail.  Someone had to because the issue of who owns and controls the digital footprint and interactions of employees has been swept under the rug for too long.
We have seen the change coming and we believe that its not reversible.  Individuals are learning to take control of their data in the Cloud.  As many relationships are being formed online or quickly becoming digital by means of the obligatory LinkedIn connection request post-meeting or follow up email, a lot of relationship data is accumulating online, in the Cloud.
When individuals take a job, that relationship Cloud is likely to remain cordoned off from enterprise use.  This is certainly the case that individuals will cordon it off if the enterprise by whom they are employed claims ownership of an individual’s relationship data cloud.
Reachable took the position, to the consternation of some CIOs’, that for individuals to share their personal relationship Cloud with the employers, the employers had to disclaim exclusive ownership of it.  That’s why we came up with Bring Your Own Data / Take Your Own Data — in the end, it is extremely beneficial to the enterprise to have access to as much relationship data as possible, and it does not need to have exclusive ownership of digital relationships — like claiming ownership in the LinkedIn connections an employee has developed.  (Really…!)
Secretary Clinton, for one, took the position she was entitled to control her data.
Soon this will be the practical reality in the enterprise, aided by Cloud computing, consumerization of the Enterprise, and the attitudes of the “sharing” generation.  Luckily, Reachable is ready for that day and can provide clients and users a state of the art Relationship Analytics platform that strikes the right balance between personal relationship data and enterprise CRM.  If you have not yet spoken to our sales team, do it now: sales@reachable.com
Best,
Laurent

And the Oscar for Best Enterprise Private Networking goes to …. Reachable!

Posted by | Opinion | No Comments

You might have missed it Sunday night if you checked out before the end of the ceremony.

So, here’s the scoop.  Enterprises are waking up that it’s the morning after LinkedIn.  And they are liking the Reachable story more and more.  Hence, the Oscar! (Excuse me for conflating my watching the Oscars and thinking I was actually there winning one.  It can happen to anyone…)
Here’s what I would have told the interviewer at the post-Awards party:
  • Networks of Enterprises will dominate.  Reachable provides the rules and the technical platform to enable sharing of contact data among a group of collaborators, including people inside an enterprise and members of an enterprise’s ecosystem.  It’s Airbnb for contacts for networked enterprises and networks of enterprises.
  • Employees want to control their data.  Employees are increasingly empowered by social networks to control their data.  CRM tools that are predicated on employees giving up relationship data to the enterprise are doomed.
  • CRM is not where Relationship Data will Reside.  A company’s IT infrastructure is just one of many platforms that employees use to connect with people, build relationships and do business.  As social and business networks proliferate, and as the length of time that anyone spends in any job shortens, the fraction of relationship data that will be captured on an enterprise platform (be it CRM or otherwise) will decrease.
  • Reachable Cracked the Code.  Reachable provides a hosting, analysis and connectivity platform that aggregates all contacts from all networks.  It respects Privacy, protects employee data and enterprise data.
So, thanks to the Academy for recognizing the immense value that Reachable provides to individuals and enterprises!  (But Gartner already gave us our first award back in 2010…!)
Laurent

 

Don’t Chuck Your Salespeople Just Yet!

Posted by | Opinion | No Comments

In a masterful content marketing play (or ploy), a CEO posted a story on LinkedIn saying he would never hire a salesperson again and would basically do away with his sales team.  This ignited a firestorm in the world of B2B sales with tweets, articles, counter-articles and all the usual hallmarks of a tempest in a teapot.

Let me grossly simplify the argument.  Buyers are now extremely educated with all the reviews, comments, endorsements and brochureware available about every possible product.  This is supposedly reducing the value of salespeople — pushing product just does not work.  You need to let the customer come to you and then delight them in not leaving.  So, instead of salespeople you need customer success staff.

For me the argument for having a B2B sales team to sell a SaaS product was definitely resolved by Mark Cranney’s on the Andreessen Horowitz blog. Your freemium strategy may get in the door at a client but once you landed, you need to expand.  And that can only be done by salespeople who can translate what your product does into an articulation of the value that your product creates for your client.

The argument therefore should not be about whether you need salespeople or not but what type of sales force do you need and what are its objectives.  And that is determined by the nature of the product you are selling and the competitive landscape.  But I am convinced that at some point in the sales funnel, a conversation with a client will be required.  It could be at the beginning of sales process — we are seeing lots of a traction in the model of companies like Insidesales.com which are combining predictive analytics with a methodological pursuit of sales prospects by inside sales teams.  Or it could be later stages where a free product tier has identified motivated users who can be targeted for an up-sale.

At some point, you will need to ask someone for their attention and their trust and to help you navigate a selling process that will involve a decision by committee.  That’s where leveraging relationships will be important and where Reachable will help you reach the people you must get to in order to open the doors to the kingdom.

Your Contacts are Leading a Double Life

Posted by | Opinion | No Comments

Sorry to be to one to tell you.  But it’s true.  They are yours but they are not.  It’s complicated.

You met Jane Peters* 10 years ago have been doing business with her on and off since then.  She is in your Contacts in Outlook on your PC.  You joined Allied Systems a year ago and uploaded your Contacts into the enterprise Outlook.  You sent her an email about a potential deal.  She thus entered  Allied’s CRM.  She eventually bought one of Allied’s services.  Unbeknownst to her, Jane now belongs to Allied.

You found out because you left Allied to work at United.  When you left Allied you tried to download a copy of the Contacts file from the enterprise Outlook.  You were a shy person and during your time at Allied you did not meet a single person.  So, the number of people in your Contacts was the same the day you left Allied as it was on the day you started: 1984.  But you were locked out of the PC and you could not do it.  No matter, you are the “always have a plan B” guy and you had a copy of the 1984 contacts on your iPhone.

United and Allied sell similar products so you thought that your old friend Jane should hear about United’s amazing gizmos.  She agreed the gizmos were amazing and she took her business to United because she trusted you and your judgment.  Unfortunately for you, Allied heard about this and did not like it.  It sued you for stealing the Contact file and the customer (Jane) and it sued United for allowing you to upload stolen property unto their systems (i.e, your, or their, Contacts.)

You were a bit upset about all this so you uploaded all your contacts to LinkedIn and made them public.  Allied was not amused.

I could continue this parable but you got the point a while back.  Every time you enter your contacts into an enterprise system or into most social apps, the contacts acquire another life that belongs to someone else.  There may be legitimate reasons for this of course. You may have consented to this trade to receive a free service.  Businesses have a legitimate interest in keeping a record of communications with clients or prospects — in case someone else is assigned to work on the deal, or in case of a legal dispute with the client, etc.

At Reachable, we thought that this state of affairs was not good for the employee nor for the employer.  After all, the fuss is about something that may not be that valuable.  While I would not just hand them out, if you got a hold of my Contacts and started calling my relationships chances are you would not go very far.  Your best chance of getting to them is through me.  Still people do get sued about things like these.

Our response was to become the Contact Data Switzerland.  Contact data uploaded into Reachable’s platform is date stamped and belongs to whoever uploaded it.  A person can upload it or a company can.  Until a court tells us otherwise, it belongs to whoever uploaded it.

Companies and groups can set up a collective pool of Contacts hosted on Reachable and use Reachable to datamine the data to find connections to targets without sharing the original raw data in the group.  Employees join such enterprise groups with their data and leave with their data.  Companies add enterprise data to the group and can take it away anytime.  Everyone retains ownership of their data but the value of the Contacts can be exploited by the enterprise team while the employee is part of the group.

Every body wins with clear and simple rules and a technology solutions that embodies and enforces the rules — Reachable.

Laurent

* All names are fictitious of course, except for mine…

Those Tricky, Tricky Intro Requests

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We all get them, and we have all made them.  They are tricky.

In case you were wondering, the intro request conundrum preceded the advent of social networks by, I am sure, hundreds if not thousands of years.   Social customs developed in every age to handle these requests.  In the Victorian Era, for example, the Letters of Introductions were an elaborate affair with the choice of paper, scent and whether to seal them or not of major import, and the relative social status of the requester, the connector and the target dictating who could ask whom for what.  (See how Benjamin Franklin dealt with it in Paris.)

I think that in the age of LinkedIn and Facebook there is an urgent need for some new rules.  People are exposing their Connections wily nilly (though that may change) and connecting to lots of people they barely know.  As well, the ability to hide behind a computer screen is encouraging intro requests.  On the receiving end, showing off the size of your Connections list online exposes you to getting lots of requests, and having to figure out whether to grant them or not.  What if you don’t want to help the requester? What if you don’t really know the person regarding whom the intro is requested?

Yes, I am aware that some people may be reading this thinking that this discussion is a waste of time because they would never ask for an intro.  They are convinced that their abilities in the cold calling department are so hot that they can overcome the chill of any unsolicited call.  Or their marketing automation tools are emotionless and they will continue emailing you forever anyway.  This is completely missing the point!  Consider this:

Rule #1.  Go for Insight.  Use the fact that I know a person or an organization to ask me for insights.  You may learn something.  (May be you are calling on the wrong person?  How valuable would it be to avoid an infinite sales cycle with this account?)  Use the new ease of, and lack of formalism in, communications to connect and learn.

Rule #2.  Be Patient.  Often it is better not to ask but wait for the intro to be offered.  I know you are calling for an intro but don’t corner me.  Allow me to decline without having to say no.  I will appreciate it and next time you call, I will take your call as opposed to ignoring you for eternity.

Rule #3.  Don’t Exclude the Connector.  Asking for contact info so you can contact the target directly takes me out of the loop and excludes me (a bad thing unless I am seeking to hide my involvement).  I may need or want to remain somewhat involved to make sure that all goes well and everyone behaves.  Some people move me to bcc right away, others never do — somewhere in the middle will do.

Rule #4.  Choose Who you Ask Carefully.  Ask people you trust and let them introduce you to people they trust.  Even if an “extra hop” is introduced in the connection path (using Reachable lingo), you gain knowledge with every hop because the trust factor leads to information sharing.  Remember, your task is not to “get to this person,” it is to close a sale/deal with this company.  Very different…

Rule #5.  Reachable can help :).  Yes, it’s a plug but I mean it.  Reachable gives you information about the context of relationships — who knows who but also how they know each other and (using our algorithms) deriving how well they might know each other (our relationship scoring).  Reachable gives you many paths to a target — you be the judge of who is the best connector to use in this context, we can’t really figure that out (thankfully for you we don’t read you mind, or your emails like other companies I won’t name…)  TeamReach protects the data of your teammates by only revealing metadata about their relationships not contact data and enhancing people’s expectation to privacy at work, not destroying it…

Relationships are tricky indeed but also very helpful.  Only you can truly manage them but Reachable can help.

Laurent

It’s All About Relationships (& My Holiday Message)

Posted by | Opinion | No Comments

I hope you are not reading this on Christmas Day!  But if you are, I will keep this short to allow you to get to more important things.

The last 2 weeks of December are an odd time for people on the revenue generation side of businesses (aka Sales, Business Development, Deal Makers, etc.).  For most businesses, it’s the last 2 weeks of the business year and the pressure to make the quarterly number and/or the annual number or close that deal are intense.

At the same time, pressures from family and loved ones to disconnect from work are intense.  And the fact that every work team has someone on vacation on the third week or fourth week of December, or both, does not help productivity.  And if you are doing business across the world, it’s even more tricky.  Sure, with laptops and smart phones it does not matter if people are at work.  Not true, things slow down still and everything is more complicated.

How do you get through it? Rely on your relationships.

At work, there are people you can count on that will go the extra mile to get the project done now, get the contract out today, stay an extra hour or respond to an email from the other side of the globe in the middle of the night.  In your business network, there are people on the other side of the phone or email, who will process the invoice today, sign the contract now, review the proposal today, because you asked.  And at home, there are people who will forgive you (again) for a promise half-kept to really disconnect.

That’s who you can count on.

Our Team at Reachable understands that we are here because you, our clients, users, collaborators and friends went the extra mile for us, encouraged us and contributed to our successes.  So, Thank YOU!

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

Laurent

(Excerpted from the Reachable Newsletter of 12/25/14)

Networking: Is it a bad thing?

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It’s December, the holidays are upon us and there are parties everywhere.  Now, I love parties as much as the next guy but I can think of a few friends who are truly compulsive party-goers.  About one of them we might say “John is a networker,” with a bit of better-than-thou attitude.  It’s as if meeting people and having a great time at party is OK, but going to the same party with the intention of meeting as many people as possible and going home with lots of business cards appears less than genuine.

Genuine is a key word in selling.  It’s a rare quality, though.  If you are too aggressive and don’t appear genuine, you will not garner the trust needed to close a sale.  But if you try too hard to appear genuine, you will reveal that this is your modus operandi and lose the trust.  So, bottom line naked aggressiveness won’t work, and aggressiveness cloaked in fake genuineness does not work.  This relationship stuff is hard — an art, not a science.

The compulsive networker has gone online now as well.  He is that guy who boasts “10,000 followers on LinkedIn”.  Do you want to be Connection #10,001 to that guy, or Connection 367 to someone with 366 Connections?  And what about you, will you accept any incoming connection request as a matter of principle, or will you be selective? Do you make the requester wait and sweat it out a bit, or do you accept right away?  Do you personalize the request or just send it?  Networking on a social network often feels as if you emigrated to a new country and had to rebuild your life from scratch, redefine who you were.

Except that you are still here and you have a network, so use it as best as you can.  Reachable uses similar tools to those employed by the giant social networks but it puts these tools in the service of your existing rolodex.  Think of it as having the power of Big Data analytics attached to your rolodex, constantly analyzing it to figure out how your relationships, from the web or real life, can lead to insights and introductions to the people and companies you want to reach.  That’s the big idea behind Reachable (or at least one of them!).

Happy Holidays!

Laurent

[Reprinted from the Reachable Newsletter Dated December 18, 2014]

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