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Who Wins? Cold Callers or Social Sellers?

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Some sales people believe in cold calling/emailing, supremely confident in their ability to seduce anyone into buying their wares.  Predictive Analytics people tell you to cold call but not just anyone — just the people they tell you that you should call/email.  And the Social Selling experts instead recommend a long, slow process of courting leads by building a reputation on LinkedIn and establishing trust before moving in for the sale.

That’s nice but what works best?  And where does Reachable fit in all of this?

I had a very interesting discussion with the Director of Marketing Analytics for a big company a few months back.  He told me that large companies like his were looking for scalable sales processes because they had big numbers to meet.  It gave me a clue to the answer to the question I just asked…

Cold emailing is scalable.  And predictive analytics works in that context.  Here is the process that proponents of persistent calling/emailing recommend:

Email or call anyone at least 5 times and you will ultimately get through and be able to build a qualified prospects list to sell to.  The problem with sales people in their view is that they don’t call or email enough.  Their view is that you should take a list of 10,000 people, email them 5 times, annoy 9,950 people, in order to end up with 50 very good leads (those who actually need your service but were too lazy or busy to respond the first 4 times you emailed.)  If you get a little smarter on who you email, with the help of predictive analytics, you can reduce the list of 10,000 to 5,000 and still get 50 good prospects but a) you pissed off less people, b) reduced your email campaign costs, and c) 50/5,000 looks better than 50/10,000 so you must be doing something right (and keep buying the analytics!).

This is indeed a scaleable process, and it works within the current model of inside sales teams backed by research and appointment setters.

The Social Selling crowd is focused on a different problem.  They are looking to find leads by having the leads qualify themselves and reach out to the sales team.  This is done by leveraging the sales organization to do marketing, aptly called Social Selling.

Here is what the Social Selling experts recommend: Get on Twitter, follow the people you want to sell to, and when they post something be the first one to jump in and tell them how their post was amazing.  The poster will appreciate your sincere compliment and reply.  Based on that relationship with your new BFF you are assured to be able to sell a lot of widgets to him/her.  You can do the same on LinkedIn by posting comments on people’s posts, comments that they will appreciate, and cause them to connect with you, allowing them to sell to them whatever you have to sell.  You can do even better by turning your LinkedIn page into a billboard for your company’s products, with materials pushed to you in an online locker by your marketing department.

This is why LinkedIn streams are now streams of commercial messages.  But if you post, post, post then when someone does click or respond, you can be sure they are interested in buying something from you.  Or are they trying to sell you something and are trying to build trust…?

I think you may get the feeling that I have doubts that the Social Selling thing will soon replace cold emailing/calling.  If it were then InsideSales.com would not be doing so well.  After all, the Sales Solutions revenues at LinkedIn are still a drop in their revenue bucket.

What about Reachable?  Glad you asked.

See, we are not trying to help you meet new friends.  Reachable is the perfect complement to the cold calling/emailing sales process to make it a lot better.  The marketing analytics folks or the sales managers can overlay Reachable on top of call or target lists that were built outside of Reachable.  Reachable will analyze the lists and warm them up by showing you for each of your prospects someone inside your company, or someone willing to help, that can make an intro or give you the scoop on the target person or accounts.  So, call or email, but not cold thanks to Reachable.

Reachable is going so far as integrating entire prospecting databases (like the people database of S&P Capital IQ) so that if you don’t have your list and need to build it yourself, then you can do it within Reachable.

So, going back to my conversation with the Marketing Analytics director, Reachable is the only scalable lead warming solution that we know of that complements existing sales processes.

And that is pretty powerful stuff.

Log in to your Reachable account now, or sign up for a free account now, and close deals faster.  Stop wasting time and energy on blind leads when you can get the inside scoop and know whom to talk to, what to say and when to close your deals.

Sincerely,

Laurent Ohana

CEO

Best Sales Team: Lone Wolves or Wolf Pack?

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What’s more effective a lone wolf or a wolf pack?

The reaction to my “Everyone is in sales” blog from 2 weeks ago was swift.

Comments included: “Salespeople are competitive with each other and don’t collaborate” and “People in organizations don’t want to help the salespeople because the salespeople get all the credit (and money) and the helpers just get extra work.”

There is a view that better let the salespeople be salespeople — lone wolves.  Give them the latest gadgets to make them better hunters and get out of the way.

Some People’s View of The Ideal Salesperson

(“Mexican Wolf 2 yfb-edit 1″ by Clark, Jim (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) – [1]. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/)

However, prospects are increasingly well educated about what they are looking for.  Aggressive content marketing by competitors results in prospects having ready access to comparative information about products.  Salespeople don’t have the information advantage, sometimes even about their own products.

To win, salespeople need to be capable of orchestrating the work of an internal team.  Having visibility inside their enterprise to understand who has valuable insights to win a deal is critical.

Enterprises that fail to enable their wolves to work in packs along with everyone else in the company will suffer the fate of another animal, the Dinosaur!

 (photo: Creative Commons)

Reachable started as a solution for lone wolves.  The core Reachable product allows anyone to create an individual account, set up lists of targets, and let Reachable analyze their contacts from LinkedIn, Facebook, Outlook, and Gmail.  It figures out their best connection paths to these targets along with valuable insights about people, companies and their relationships and affiliations.

We too evolved when we realized that the future is in Collective Sales Intelligence, and we added the TeamReach functionality.

TeamReach enables anyone to create a team of people he/she wants to cooperate with and link their Reachable accounts in a way that protects their private data while enabling the discovery of who knows who in the team.

If you are interested in learning about how to create a Team for your company or a group of collaborators, please contact sales@reachable.com and ask for a TeamReach upgrade (free during a trial period).  If you are not presently a Reachable user and want to try it, visit our web site and create your account here (of course, we have a video!)

Laurent

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.
Laurent

Social Selling is Really Marketing by Salespeople

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Social Selling is Really Marketing by Salespeople 

I was quite shocked recently when one of the leading bloggers/consultants of the Social Selling movement felt the need to write about what Social Selling was not.  Basically, she correctly reminded folks that selling is hard — you need to get off your butt, get away from LinkedIn and Twitter, make some calls, visit clients, attend conferences and get yourself known in the community.  With all the hype about Social Selling it was time for someone from the inside to send the wake up call — and implicitly make the case for Reachable.  As one of our users exclaimed to his colleagues about Reachable on their Chatter: “this is money!”
Then what is Social Selling? It’s really simple.  Social Networks have hundreds of millions of members.  They give you the ability to a) establish a presence and to b) promote your presence by broadcasting messages to the community at large or to segments of the community that you “connected with.”  Social Selling is about learning how to have the “proper presence” — is your picture nicely done, is the name of your company properly spelled, are you describing yourself in a way that would make someone want to connect with you and do business with you?  And it is about how to message other people on the network to let them know you exist — do you send them birthday congratulations, comment on their posts, or just send them an InMail and hope they will think you are worthy and return the email?
In the end, Social Selling is really Social Marketing except that now the Marketing Department wants salespeople to do it too.  But the function of Marketing is to generate leads and the Sales Team is to close the deals.  I don’t believe that these distinctions are sacrosanct and they will eventually fade into a new way of doing things.  But today, Social Selling is asking Sales to do Marketing.
Instead, Sales should be closing sales.  And to close sales, you should use Reachable.  Here’s why: all marketing activities result in A LIST.  Recruiters have researchers to create the candidates’ list, Investment Bankers have analysts to create target lists from CapIQ or others, and so on.  In the end, it’s ON THE LIST OR IT DOES NOT EXIST!
Better than anyone else, Reachable shows you how to leverage ALL your connections and the connections of people who trust you enough to give you a partial view into their contacts (like co-workers, partners, vendors, customers) to easily penetrate the target accounts on YOUR LIST.  That’s not Social Selling or Marketing — it’s hard core sales.  If you are not using your relationships to get every tidbit of information, and every possible angle to get to the decision makers (not those with the titles) then you are at a disadvantage.  And if your organization is not working hard to enable you to leverage the relationships of the organization, then it is putting you at a competitive disadvantage.
Reachable can fix this.  You can sign up today for a free trial and use it now for yourself and/or to evaluate it for your organization.  To quote our favorite user of the day, “this is money.”
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!

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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!

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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!

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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

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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…

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