The rich untapped source of social data lying latent in your company
In today’s high-tech environment leading organizations are increasingly utilising data and analytics to better engage with customers. For organisations looking to gain an edge over their peers, timely and actionable insights from data has become a critical source of competitive advantage.
In a recent study by Avanade, 75 percent of respondents said their organisation will make additional investments to improve their capability to analyse data within the next 12 months. Companies are increasingly recognizing that data analytics can fundamentally change the way they compete in the market. In time, those who succeed will be those who have successfully harnessed the value of data and analytics to drive transformation.
Sales in the Socially Connected Era
Cold calling is dead! Today, product information is readily available online, as are product reviews and candid opinions. Customers are in greater control of the sales process than ever before, often engaging with your brand without you even knowing it. In this context, cold calling is of little use. Trust becomes increasingly important; trust in a brand, in subject matter experts and in relationships. People are influenced by those who they know and trust. Referrals, Recommendations and Relationships are the three R’s that modern sales teams must master. But how do you ask for a referral to a client or prospect if you don’t know that a relationship even exists.
Cold calling has typically less than 2% success rate of securing a meeting. Referrals however, are a very different matter; warm introductions have a 40% success rate.
Sales teams commonly look to social networking sites like LinkedIn to find common connections who might be able to facilitate warm introductions. However they often fail to leverage one of the most valuable sources of referrals – their own colleagues. This is because finding the right colleagues is its own significant challenge.
Challenges of keeping track of relationships
For sales teams it is not just what they know but also who they know that makes them successful. Sellers who are well-networked often succeed where others fail. As such it is important for sellers to keep track of and manage relationships with prospects, clients and colleagues. According to research by Prof. Robin Dunbar the average person can only effectively maintain around 150 meaningful relationships at any one time. This is essentially a ‘hard wired’ limitation of the human brain. Technology can now be leveraged to extend this ‘number’ by helping to better track business and personal relationships.
In this era of hyper-social connectivity, people also often mistake “connections” with “relationships”. We talk about how many Facebook ‘friends’ we have, or judge a person’s influence by how many connections they have on LinkedIn. However a ‘connection’ is not always a ‘relationship’. You may have met a connection just once and ‘accepted’ their request. A relationship is more than that. It is generally someone who you have several interactions with over time. Thus a relationship is much more valuable than a mere connection.
At TrustSphere we specialize in ‘Relationship Analytics’ which recognizes that a better understanding of organisation-wide relationships helps individuals and teams to better understand their customers.
The Power of Collective wisdom
Currently many organizations underutilize one of their most valuable assets – their collective social network. Organizations are a collection of people who have relationships. Being able to leverage the collective network can be exponentially powerful. TrustSphere’s research shows that the average employee has around 130 relationships. In a 1,000 employee company the collective reach for the group would be tens of thousands of unique relationships. Providing sales teams and others in the organization the ability to navigate this collective network can be very powerful, particularly in the new sales paradigm. But without technology it is extremely difficult to leverage properly.
According to research by the Aberdeen Group, using analytics, sales teams are able to achieve their sales quota 54 percent more often. Having efficient access to the collective network is a pivotal step towards a more effective and efficient sales process.
So how do you enable sales teams to leverage the collective network of the company’s entire network? The right processes need to be put in place, complemented with the right technology. For example, TrustSphere has developed a simple solution which enables companies to let their employees leverage the company’s collective network using their mobile phones and/or CRM systems. Called LinksWithin, it is as simple to use as conducting a Google search. When a prospect or contact is entered into a search bar, the top ten colleagues from within the organisation who provide the best path to that contact or prospect are shown. No data other than who has the best connections and how current these are is shown. This protects individuals’ privacy and because only limited data is returned, people’s own networks are protected. However, the task of finding the right colleague to provide that warm introduction is transformed.
Data analytics will play a critical role for organisations to maintain their competitive advantage in an increasingly competitive and technologically connected business environment. Understanding and leveraging an organisations collective relationship network is already having significant impact on sales and customer engagement. Early adopting organisations are already reaping significant rewards from tapping into this traditionally difficult to leverage corporate asset. After all, the power of collective wisdom should be available to help teams leverage revenue opportunities, collaborate better and more effectively serve customers. Technology, data and analytics can help those companies with the appetite to win achieve greatness.
1 Avanade Big Data Analytics Study 2012
2 Robin Dunbar: http://www.psy.ox.ac.uk/team/robin-dunbar