Why We Run Our Business on Social

2017-08-28 12:08

by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes | LinkedIn

When I worked in the corporate world I was lucky enough to work for a sales leader who “got” social.  Not in a, “I say I do because I need to politically”, but in actual deeds. As somebody once said to me “leadership that “gets” social is a competitive advantage”. But, that, my friends, is a blog for another day.

This blog is about how we use social internally to power our start-up.

Some of you may recall the CEO of Atos, Thierry Breton, announcing he wanted to be a zero-email company and certainly this is something we are striving to do, in this blog I will outline the benefits and the business case.

Why social?

DLA is a social only company. We help companies understand the business imperative both at a strategic level. Say, for example, your management don’t get social. We have created IP and run sessions to change all that.  Outputs include a social vision including ROI.  The ROI is a “fluffy”. The CEO will get 1,000 followers but also a $ figure in-terms of an incremental (net new) revenue uplift.

We then drop down into departments, marketing and sales, through our world beating social selling programs. We also work with HR and supply chain, changing the processes from push to pull. 

What social platform?

We use Slack. There are also products such as Jive and Microsoft’s Yammer and Facebook for work.  There are also products from enterprise software vendors such as Chatter from Salesforce and Oracle has the Oracle Social Network (OSN).

If this all sounds complicated, it isn’t! If you are a user of WhatsApp or Facebook, and I’m guessing you are, then using social at work is as easy as that.

The problem with email

Email is such a “time suck”.  Sure, it’s a great, easy-to-use communication channel but it’s now at a point where external and internal spammers steal your time.

How many times are you in a situation where you are on a mailing list(s) and it sends you irrelevant information, or the “copy all merchants” where two people are having a two-way conversation, but still copy everybody in.  At my last company, I would get over 100 emails a day, but probably only 20 had any relevance.  I recall that I was given advice when I joined the company that, “managing the deluge of email was an acquired skill”.

But social is about chatting with your mates and posting photos of your lunch? Wrong. 

If you think about Facebook, you are only in the groups and connected to the people you want to be with.  You can join and leave groups, you can tell Facebook which groups you want or don’t want updates from.  You can be connected to people.  One of the features I like is the “unfollow” where you can be friends with people, but don’t have to read everything they post.  You are in control of what and how much data you consume.  The same is with internal social.

Let me walk you through some ways we use social, it’s application are limitless.

Sales forecast accuracy

We all know that sales forecasts are accurate to plus or minus 100%.  I jest, but there are parts of your business that would agree with that.  So how as an organisation can we get 95% accuracy or better? 

Especially when dealing with vagrancy of sales people, and the unpredictability of the buying process in 2017.  Very simple.

For every “large” deal or where we see a sale needs extra focus, we open a discussion.  This is a private conversation for the people involved in the sale.  And you can add people as you go along.  For example, you might want the pre-sales person on the conversation from the start, but the legal folks get introduced towards the end.  (The benefit to legal is that they see all the history of the conversation, without having to be involved every stage.)

Each salesperson contributes to the conversation and updates after sales calls. This is extremely useful if we are working across lines of business (XLoB).  It also allows people to collaborate outside of prime selling time (PST).  How does this help with forecast accuracy?

Where we are closer to winning deals, there is always a flurry of activity, there is a “vibe” to the conversation.  Whereas, if there is a deal where it is obvious it’s “making up the numbers” there is no activity.  Subtle difference, but makes a massive impact on how we forecast.

Lead generation

In organisations today, most people in sales and marketing, telesales, or telemarketing are required to contribute to the lead generation process.  In different companies, the number of leads generated may vary, but with a conversation on the leads generated, this shows to everybody, who is and who is not contributing.  It also helps as I’ve often seen (doesn’t happen in our company of course!) leads being double counted.  That is salespeople claiming the leads of the SDR.  It is also good to give access to senior management, so they can get a feel for leads generated and overall sales contribution.

Product launches

Launching a product (even in our company of 12) requires you to work across the company as people bring their different skills.  It also allows you to crowdsource ideas and communicate where we are.  As well as this, people can update their actions.  In an email world, people can write long emails (that nobody ever reads), whereas the short form of social forces people to get to the point.  Of course, only the people involved in the product launch need to be part of the conversation.

Returning from maternity leave or long term sick leave

With returners, we can get them up to speed and contributing faster by adding them to the relevant conversations, allowing them to see the conversations over time.  In the email world, you might flick them a couple of emails.  In the social world, they can sit and see all the “twists and turns” that might have happened.  I’ve seen a product launch where we had a maternity returner and she was contributing in days, not weeks.  This is a massive saving to the business in terms of productivity.

Getting new starters productive faster

Where we have a group for new starters, they can see the comments from the previous intake.  I have no idea what goes on in there but they tell me this gets people more productive, faster.  For many large organisations it can take nine or 12 months to get new sales people contributing. My view is that anything we can do to shorten this time will have a massive financial benefit to our business.

Shortening the time of meetings

I’m sorry I cannot reduce the number of meetings, but we can certainly shorten the time taken for meetings.  For certain meetings, we set up conversations beforehand.  This allows the attendees to collaborate and crowdsource ideas before the meeting.

In the email world, I’ve seen meetings where people turn up, actions are taken (that nobody completes, but that’s a different conversation).  Whereas in the social world, I’ve been to meetings where people take completed actions from the crowdsourced discussions.  Again, increasing productivity.

Business Case

There is a McKinsey report on using social internally and an analysis of that report

What are your experiences of using enterprise social networks (ESN). Tell us in the comments thread below!

Why Traditional Sales is so Much Better than Social Selling!
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