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Sales Prospecting Perspectives

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The Past And Future Of sCRM In Prospecting And Selling


Sales Prospecting Perspective is pleased to bring you a guest post from Jon Ferrara, CEO of Nimble, a social CRM solution. 

People born at the turn of the 20th century saw a lot of change over their lifetimes. They went from horse to automobile, from oil lamps to electricity...saw the transformation of medical care, science, and society. Huge changes -- but those changes seem as slow as Ice Age glacier movement compared to what happens now.

Think about your cellphone just 10 years ago and compare it to today’s smartphone. Or your computer. In just a few short years, computers that took up a lot of space have evolved to technologies that fit in our pockets. It’s the neck-snapping pace of change that sets the 21st century apart from the world a century ago.

Five years ago, few people thought social networks or social channels like Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn should be on their business radar screens, and now “Social” is the business buzzword of the day. Even companies who don’t actively practice social business know that they should. Social media, it is said, keeps CEOs awake at night! While we pause to blink our eyes, social media takes another leap, and new reasons to pay attention crop up every single day.

So why shouldn’t how we sell our products and services change with the times? In particular, I think one area that is not getting enough attention is using social CRM for lead qualification. The places your prospects hang out in the social stream are opportunities to lay the groundwork for a relationship of trust. They can see your interest -- your presence -- as a validation of your brand, and you have a terrific opportunity to build the relationship with your expertise as the foundation.

1. Listen first. Follow hashtags; do keyword searches; see what questions are showing up regularly. Check out your top competitors and see how they are approaching prospects on social media. You’ll be better prepared to enter the conversation if you have a good sense of the culture and the tone of the discussions.

2. Weigh in -- as a mentor and guide. Few people are likely to have as much insight as you do about your product or service. Go in with a generous spirit -- if your goal is to help people succeed, sales will follow.

3. Be disciplined. Social media is like an event that never ends. Visitors may come and go, but your continued presence is likely to be remembered. Make your social media research a daily activity. Find tools (ahem, Nimble!) that will help you systematize your social tasks productively.

The better informed your prospects and existing customers are, the more your brand can stand out as you uncover and address their needs. Sales, especially in B2B organizations, needs to be proficient at engaging socially with customers and be in sync with customers' social behaviors.

By stepping into the conversation, you can form a solid footing earlier in the sales process. Today, a lot of companies are doing up to 70% of the research for a purchase before they even think of contacting a salesperson. Not only can you  make a good impression earlier, but you can shorten the sales cycle at the same time. While you’re “qualifying” them -- through social interactions -- they have a convenient way to determine whether your product or service is right for them. It’s a great way to take each other’s measure and decide if there’s a fit.

And right here, I want to say that it’s not just the Sales Department who can do this -- it’s every employee. With a minimal amount of planning and effort, you can put a process in place to refer viable prospects to the frontline Sales team. Make it as “automagic” as possible, and you have an invaluable -- and collaborative -- internal funnel.

As the future unfolds, Sales 3.0 will be a by-product of our relationships. Sellers will make buyers more productive and help them solve problems -- and play a key role in their success. The next iteration of the Web is the place where we will all meet. It's a place that’s real and virtual, enhanced by both  technology and community, fueled by the ability to know our customers better, and to relate to them on a deeper level.

In the past, Sales qualified leads, cold-called prospects, pushed marketing messages Mad Men style, and followed the mantra “always be closing.” But social selling is a new ball game. You share information, educate people, communicate and engage on social networks. You form long-term personal and business relationships that have a story arc all their own -- blended relationships of trust that may, at some point in the arc, involve a mutually beneficial sale.

That’s the world of social CRM that I believe in, and that’s why I’m building Nimble to make it easy to manage your social relationships, be productive and organized -- while we see where this amazing social revolution will take us.


Jon Ferrara, Nimble sCRM, Social Selling

Jon Ferrara has over 20 years of experience in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Sales Force Automation (SFA). An entrepreneur at heart, Jon founded GoldMine CRM in 1989 with a college friend and turned it into a very successful venture that he eventually sold to FrontRange. In 2009, Jon founded Nimble, Inc. to reflect his passionate commitment to Social Contact Management. You can connect with Jon on Twitter or Google+



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