Fostering Collaboration to Leverage the Enterprise Business Graph

Reachable has received a tremendous response to its approach to fostering collaboration in the enterprise regarding personal contacts and relationships.  When we started talking to companies about the fact that they had an Enterprise Business Graph and that they should learn to use it, we had to explain to people WHAT was it was we were talking about.  We explained that one of the greatest assets of a company was who it and its employees knew.  (Some refer to this to as the Social Capital of a company but we feel this term to be too restrictive.)

The conversation with clients and prospects has now shifted from WHAT to HOW — how do we enable companies to leverage relationships?  It has become a hot topic and most of the incoming enquiries we get now are from people who are aware they have an untapped asset they should leverage.

The first thing we tell these clients is that leveraging relationships is not a science, it’s an art.  As well, we strongly believe that while automation has a role, it should not be applied to tracking interactions that employees have with others via email, phone, social networks, and chat — tracking and spying engender distrust and there is no way that people will collaborate when they feel violated.  We are not luddites and are quite adept in the use of Big Data analytics and algorithms to do what we do, but we don’t believe in simplistic technical solutions to solve complex social dynamics issues.

At the core of our approach is a data ownership and privacy policy that is really a paradigm shift in current practice in the CRM world.  We introduced the Bring Your Own Data/Take Your Own Data (BYOD/TYOD) policy to the market and it is catching on.  Basically, we believe that contact data that employees bring to an enterprise belongs to them.  Attempts by an enterprise to appropriate this data by requiring that it be entered in the CRM system are doomed — people don’t enter their contacts into the CRM system, and they are less likely to enter LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter contacts/friends/followers into CRM systems.  We do hear from time to time lawyers arguing that “this employee met this person at a company event and then connected on LinkedIn so the contact belongs to the company.” What does that even mean?

Reachable provides every person on the planet with a private, portable, and connectable web-based contact manager.  Private: Reachable’s Contact Manager belongs to the person who creates it and populates it with data.  It does not belong to the enterprise, even if the enterprise pays for special features and data enrichment that enhance the value of Reachable to the user.  Let’s be clear: we don’t give the enterprise a copy of the data in the Reachable Contact Manager.  Portable: When a person leaves the employer where they got access to Reachable, they can take the Reachable Contact Manager with them (but they lose the enhanced functionality paid for by the employer).  Does that mean that the enterprise loses the relationship data that the person brought with her to the enterprise?  Yes, it does.  Connectable:  Owners of Reachable Contact Managers can opt-in to enterprise groups (a “Team” group) and allow their contact info to be mined by Reachable’s algorithms so that their contacts appear in connection paths generated for other “Team” users.  At that point, Reachable tells the other person searching for the path that a colleague has a useful connection, and that they should contact that colleague and ask for insights about that relationship.  When connecting Reachable Contact Managers with other Reachable Contact Managers no data is shared or transferred — Reachable sees all the data and connects the dots where and when appropriate without data leakage.  In this manner, an entire enterprise and its ecosystem can become aware of each other’s contacts without giving them up to anyone. We think this is very powerful.

It’s a basic precept of human behavior that if you try to take something I care about I will never share it with you.  Relationships are extremely important to people and the mere hint of mishandling personal relationships will cause the entire idea of collaboration around contacts in the enterprise to go up in smoke.  Spying won’t engender trust and will violate privacy, which will cause companies that over-automate a lot of grief and embarrassment.

Reachable offers a foundation for enterprise collaboration around relationships and contacts.  It inventories relationships and collects data about the professional and educational biographies of people and infers who might be connected to whom using its proprietary algorithms.  But that data is used to show paths that could be useful, it is not shared.  By suggesting who might help who, we engender conversations and discovery of useful intelligence in sales, marketing and recruitment.  Technology does its job, then it’s up to people to create bonds of trust and choose to collaborate.

If your enterprise is people friendly and wants to unleash the power of its Enterprise Business Graph today, we invite you to connect with us today at sales@reachable.com or go to our web site at www.reachable.com.  Follow us on Twitter, Friend us on Facebook and Connect with us on LinkedIn.  Feel free to leave a comment here or on other social platforms.

Laurent Ohana, CEO

Those Tricky, Tricky Intro Requests

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…)  Reachable 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

Business Networking, not like Speed Dating

July 28th, 2016

It is easier to sell more to an existing customer than to acquire a new one.  Everybody seems to agree on that.  But why?  Because the pre-existing relationship can be leveraged.

If you accepted 100 connection requests on LinkedIn, could you immediately turn them into customers or trusted business partners?  Of course not, you would need to nurture these relationships over time just like people you met in other circumstances, such as social and professional events.  But similarly to Speed Dating, public social networks require both parties to expose a lot of information about themselves, via their profiles, before a connection is accepted.  Therefore, they are good “passive prospecting” platforms.  (Remember LinkedIn is primarily a “passive recruiting” platform.”)

But the people who can really help you move the needle today in your business are the people you already know. People you have encountered in all the places where you’ve worked, studied, played, volunteered, and communed.  These are your real networks.

Consider how much time you should spend on making new connections on public social networks and how much time you should spend on leveraging existing relationships and networks.  Reachable reduces the effort needed to leverage all your and your company’s networks.  It could be one of the smartest investments you make.

But for many people, especially people in sales and business development, sending 100 Connection requests and seeing who will find you worthy of an Accept is exciting.  We all crave acceptance, it’s human nature.  Just like Speed Dating — it’s all about the conquest and winning.  But customers are different.  They need to know that they can trust you, that you will go the extra mile for them and that you will tell them when there are bumps in the road so they can protect themselves.  It will take more than a 3-minute Speed Date or a Connect to convince them that you are that person.  So, in the meantime, leverage the relationship you already have, there is plenty of gold there.

Laurent Ohana
CEO, Reachable

Sales Automation will Soon Hit the Wall

Dear Friends,

If you Google “Fallacy,” one of the first results you will get is Fallacy of Composition.  It’s one of the best known fallacies, yet it would seem that anyone who (ab)uses marketing automation and cold calling tools has never heard of it.
Here’s an example:
  • If you stand up at a Football game, you will get a better view of the game.  If everyone stands up, no one will.
Translated into the Cold Caller’s lingo:
  • If you send me more emails, my open rate of your emails will increase.  If everyone did that, my open rate of everyone’s emails, yours included, would go down.
Hence, automation is contributing to the decline in effectiveness of many digital marketing tactics.
You see the problem now?  We are in this situation where everyone’s doin’ it but everybody knows it’s not really working.  But you have no choice till something better shows up.
Until that day when your “sales stack” can automatically sell to a client’s “buying stack”, the better mousetrap people have been waiting for is Reachable — but registered users of Reachable already know that…
Reachable automates the process of selling by referral — from colleagues, people you know and, ultimately, anyone willing to assist you (for a price or freely).  Reachable helps you set up a Team, create a list of Accounts and Prospects, identify who best to ask, and request an intro to or intel about an account.  Imagine running your key target accounts through our engine.
Use your Team (or create one now) by logging in to www.Reachable.com.  
Need the grand tour?  Ask for one here.

Cold Calling is Useless!

Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Prospects ask me “what can you do with a Collective Rolodex?”
I usually answer with one of these questions:
  • Have you ever sent an email around the office asking “who knows someone at XYZ, Inc., we are trying to win a big deal over there!”  
  • Are you one of those companies that has an intern or executive assistant with access to everyone’s LinkedIn passwords and charged with downloading them all into a big spreadsheet?
Now these are all examples of companies reacting to the lack of a Collective Rolodex.  Instinctively, everyone knows that if your work group or company had a way to leverage everyone’s contacts, it would lead to better outcomes.
Why?
In a highly competitive world, every service provider gets easily commoditized.
 
Are you really that different from your competitor? How will you get the sale or assignment or project?  
 
Relationships give you an edge with the information you need to win, and a foundation of trust to differentiate yourself.
This past week I was speaking to a CEO who manages a successful software services business that he grew to $20M in the last 3 years.  His secret? Nearly 100% of new business generation came from referrals from a network of “super connectors” linked into a Collective Rolodex with his sales team.  The sales team develops the target list, then runs it through the Collective Rolodex to discover how the Super Connectors could help with a referral.  To that CEO, building a strong network of Super Connectors is a key growth initiative.
With Reachable Teams, you can do it too.
Any Reachable user can create a Team with their Basic, Pro or Premium accounts, automatically becoming the Administrator for that Team.  As the Admin, you can invite anyone to your Team.  People from your organization or outside it — you decide.  So, if you want to invite people you know that would be happy to make introductions for a commission, or even just give you some insights about a target account as a courtesy, you can invite them to your Team with a simple click.
In a connected world, your company is as strong as its network.  
Reachable Teams give you an affordable way to build a Collective Rolodex to leverage that enterprise network.
Use your Team now by logging in to www.Reachable.com.

To Ask or Not to Ask — for a Referral or Introduction — That is The Question

What does it mean “to network”?

Some people think it means to attend an event and work the room, collect many cards and then follow up.  The events industry is booming because this form of networking works.  It’s also very expensive and that type of relationship building takes time.  That first meeting at the event was just the first step, it could be months or years until something comes out of it, unless you got lucky and sat at dinner with a person looking for what you have to offer just now.

Perhaps networking means going on to LinkedIn and sharing “content” to show that you are a smart, knowledgeable person.  But LinkedIn is a seller’s market — most people there have something to sell.  It’s either themselves (looking for a better job, either passively or actively), or a product/service.  So, most people visiting your content will be there to sell you something not to buy from you.  If you want buyers on LinkedIn, you need to buy an ad, cold email them via InMail, or ask for an introduction.

So, even on LinkedIn, despite the hoopla about Social Selling, to generate business it’s back to basics: ads, emails or intros.  In these domains LinkedIn is not the definitive answer and it has a lot of drawbacks associated with conducting business on a public social network that encourages sharing lots of data about what you do at work and who you connect with.  (People should care about Privacy but enterprises should care about Trade Secrets…)

Going back to basics for a moment, let’s remember that the currency of business is Trust.  

If you are looking for a service provider, what do you do?  You call around to find someone who can recommend someone they liked.  When you hire a new employee, you ask for references from the candidate and then find other references from your network to get more trustworthy references.  Can you compare the length of a sales process via a reference route to via an outbound cold call?  There is no comparison.  Nanoseconds compared to eternity (figuratively speaking).

But not so fast.  Getting a referral is not something you can control,  The phone rings, your buddy Claire is on the other side and she says “my former co-worker Suzie now runs ABC Co, and she asked if I knew a great [fill the blank], so of course I thought of you.”  You can build a business like that but it’s not the way that companies that want to grow rapidly now to meet investor requirements or to preempt competitors do it.  They hire sales teams and they call and email to set up meetings to make sales pitches — it’s the law of big numbers: if they call enough people, even with a small success rate, they could hit their numbers.  May be.

There is another way.

You could try to meet your goals by “asking” for referrals.  If you think about it, referrals and introductions are the two sides of the same coin.  But usually, people think of getting a referral (an uncontrollable mana from heaven) and asking for an introduction (an action you need to take).  But asking for an intro is fraught with social discomfort.

Some people think asking for intros is awkward, like asking for a favor.  That’s really self-defeating, if you don’t mind me saying so.  I don’t know if “working the network” is the key to success of all the successful people in the business magazines.  But if you look at their business trajectories you can see the bread crumbs and how they were collected along the way.  (Unless they just inherited the money, in which case you need to do that with their parents, or grandparents, or great grandparents…).

There are simple rules to making the referral request process acceptable and natural.  They work all the time.

  • Ask for a specific referral:  If you ask “I am looking for investors, do you know any?” then even a person with a full rolodex of investors won’t help.  Why? Too much work for them to figure out who to connect you to.  You need to do your homework, figure out a list of investors you want to talk to, and ask for a specific intro to these people.
  • Ask the right people:  Ask people who trust you in the context of the request.  You know thousands of people.  Which one of them would be comfortable introducing you to this type of person?
  • Be transparent:  You need to tell the person why you need the intro because they need to be able to assess several things.  Does the person on the other side of the intro request need the thing you are offering, and are you credible in providing the product/service?

Anybody can do this.

First, you need to know who you want to reach: you need a list of prospects.  Second, you need to understand to whom your contacts might be able to introduce you: you need a list of all your contacts, their work history, and estimate their ability to make a useful introduction to everyone on your list of prospects.  Third, you need to narrowcast to the relevant contacts that you need an intro, to whom and why.  Fourth, you need to keep track of all this.

OK, it’s a lot of work.

Then let Reachable do it for you in seconds.  

All you need is to invest less than 3 minutes of your time upfront, and tend to it from time to it.  You don’t need to connect to anyone and you don’t need to join a new social network.  There is a version for individuals and there is a version for enterprises that allows creating Teams of people who want to work off a collective Rolodex.

Reachable is more Google than LinkedIn but it has the best of both.

Reachable is for everybody.  But if you are in sales, business development, professional services or any business activity that relies on Trust and Relationships, then Reachable is a must have.

You can get started for free.  We do offer paid tiers of service to pay our data partners which are some of the leading database providers on the planet, and of course pay our data team that makes all this magic happen (and the rest of the Reachable team that makes it all look easy).

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

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!

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

 

Reachable Fills the Enterprise Void left by LinkedIn

The New York Internet scene has always been fascinating.  Reachable is starting to make waves with the idea that enterprises have networks too that they can mobilize to get things done.

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

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)