B2B Sales and Social Media

Understanding the force that is social media is a quite a task. But leveraging effectively it to advance your team’s selling efforts is beyond the capabilities of most companies. (See information about upcoming webinar on social selling at the bottom of this post.)

There is no lack of data to underline how far social media has progressed. Last year Facebook topped a billion users. LinkedIn has over 200 million members. And here’s a statistic you’ve likely heard but may not have a strategy to overcome: according to the Corporate Executive Board, “customers will contact a sales rep when they independently completed about 60% of the purchasing decision process.” How do savvy sellers meet, create a dialog with, and nurture sales prospects during that time? The answer is social selling. Try this. Go to trends.google.com. They type in social selling and hit enter. See what I mean? It’s a force.

Too many companies are leaving the learning and development of a social media strategy up to the individual salesrep, and that’s a dangerous thing. It often leads to wasted time, confused company messaging, offended customers, and, most importantly, not adapting to the new way customers are buying products and services. That disconnect means fewer wins.

You can buy social media strategy advice and training from any number of sources. The challenge is integrating all that into your company’s selling process.  And while some sales training companies have invested in social media learning as part of their solution portfolios, many others are less willing to be held accountable for that component of sales peoples’ skill sets. That’s not a good thing.

Leveraging social media isn’t new to Philadelphia-based Richardson. Over the past several years we’ve given them high marks for how they’ve employed social media in their own marketing and selling efforts. Right now they’re planning to incorporate LinkedIn and Google Alerts into their “Prospecting with Insights” and “Selling with Insights” programs. That’s a good choice of platforms, since Facebook tends to be more of a Business-to-Consumer and friends & family network. Twitter, the other big force, can be a time-waster and risky, as I mentioned above.

Sales Performance International—the Solution Selling® folks—have successfully piloted their “Social Media for Sales” workshop. For that program, they’ve defined emerging roles a seller must play within new customer buying processes. One role is what they call “Micro-marketer,” whereby the seller uses social media for planning and demand creation and generation. The learning objectives and exercises for that program will certainly provide a solid foundation for a salesrep to get the most leverage out of technologies such as InsideView, LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs, and YouTube. This all relates to recent changes in the Solution Selling execution methodology, intended to boost sales performance in our world of tech-savvy, sophisticated, and powerful purchasers.

Solution Selling now includes a new framework for mapping social media into the sales process. They actually open up selected social media tools and exercise them in the context of a sales process.  So they are able to answer the question, “As a seller, exactly how do I use this at a given point in the sales process to advance my sale?”  SPI provides the roadmap.

 What can you do now to separate the value from the hype and get up to speed on what social media networks, tools, and strategies to employ in your selling efforts? Talk to your customers. Find out what networks they use to build and maintain business and personal relationships. That’s where you need to be. Find out where they educate themselves so they can perform their jobs better. That’s where you need to be. Then, as we’ve learned from two top sales training firms, get your new social media strategy integrated with your sales process and get your reps trained on how to leverage it.

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Tools to manage Home based Employees

With more business owners allowing employees to work from home or satellite offices, the need to make sure those workers stay on task and productive is growing. From the employee’s perspective everything seems rosy. According to a recent Harris Poll, 64 percent of telecommuters say working from home increases productivity and output.

But for employers, allowing workers to telecommute can be akin to working in the dark. If you can’t see Harry, how do you know he’s actually working?

If you’re suffering from remote worker separation anxiety, these three tools can help you monitor actual time on task. Remember, these tools only provide you with raw data. You need to interpret the results on a case-by-case basis. Also, it’s wise to let employees know they are being tracked and how.

Related: 3 Free Apps to Help You Network Like a Pro

1. Hivedesk 
If you’re juggling multiple remote workers on multiple projects, Hivedesk has a simple solution for keeping everyone on task. Workers check in by choosing their project from the central hub. Then Hivedesk tracks their time and adds each day’s information to the weekly time sheet.

During the work session, Hivedesk snaps random screenshots so you know your developer is on task and not, say, on Facebook. The system also sends a graphical productivity gauge for each worker so you can see at a glance who is performing and who isn’t.

Pricing starts at $14.99 a month for up to two workers and goes up to $100 a month for 20. It requires a desktop download and is compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux.

2. Worksnaps 
If you need more detail, there’s Worksnaps. This tool takes screenshots every 10 minutes and logs keyboard strokes and mouse movement. In addition, it catalogs the applications that were used so you can tell if an employee spent 10 minutes reading a Word document or plugging numbers into an Excel spreadsheet.

The User Management panel gives project managers access to reports on their team members, creating multiple levels of accountability.

What’s more, Worksnaps has an optional webcam feature that allows you to see not just what’s on a worker’s screen but the worker as well. This can be a useful feature if your employees need to spend a lot of time on their phones, tablets or handling non-computer based desk work.
Plans start at $14 a month for up to four users and go to $60 a month for up to 30 users. Worksnaps requires a desktop download and is compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux. Worksnaps also integrates with project management software Basecamp, invoicing software Freshbooks and time tracker Harvest.

Related: Mobile Apps to Make Business Travel Easier

3. MySammy 
For business owners who prefer a less heavy-handed approach, there’s MySammy. This application is all about balance. As long as an employee’s bar graph is mostly green (active) you can forgive the 10 percent that’s red (non-productive.)

In order to categorize activity, the manager must mark every desktop application and website in the system as either productive or not. Excel gets a thumbs up, Facebook gets a thumbs down. The system also allows for overrides so your social media manager isn’t penalized for time spent on Twitter.

MySammy’s reporting system allows you to filter the data in a variety of ways so it’s easy to see who is getting the job done and who needs some motivation.

The starter plan is free for up to four employees but has limits on long-term data storage. A small-business account is $7 per person per month for up to 50 users. For larger companies, the price is $17 per person per month and it includes five years of data storage.

The MySammy client must be installed on all work computers. It’s compatible with Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, Windows 2003 and above. It is not compatible with Mac OS.

source: entrepreneur.com