Our desire to collaborate with our fellow human beings is built into our genetics. In fact, evolutionary anthropologists recently discovered that young humans prefer to work together to solve problems, while chimpanzees do not exhibit such a preference. It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child, and in B2B sales, it might as easily be said that it takes a company to close a deal.
Even at small B2B firms, it’s common for multiple sales reps, marketers, creatives and even executives to collaborate on a single deal. This is especially true when companies sell high-ticket products that involve drawn-out sales cycles. But business collaboration has had its challenges. Prior to the advent of the social web, sales teams were often siloed from other organizations like Marketing, IT or Operations. Questions like “Did John Summers over at AT&T get that deck he requested?” were commonplace.
Several years ago, Salesforce.com developed Chatter, a social platform to improve business collaboration. Initially dismissed as just “Facebook for business,” Salesforce Chatter gives unprecedented transparency to organizations. Chatter not only empowers sales reps to benefit from real-time social collaboration with other sales reps, but also helps employees from all avenues of an organization work in tune with each other.
While Salesforce Chatter can open lines of internal communication and help teams move leads through the revenue funnel, the reality is that just turning on Chatter isn’t going to close deals. Here are some ways to make Chatter work for your organization.
Establish Some Ground Rules
Chatter was envisioned as a more secure and less distracting version of Facebook, and with proper planning, it can be just that. But without planning, Chatter can turn to clutter, replete with pictures of Al’s dogs and Mary’s daughter’s horseback riding birthday bash. So to prevent your Chatter stream from turning into a literal dog-and-pony show, set up some ground rules. Train your team on what is and isn’t appropriate to share in Chatter.
In a recent Information Week article, OpenTable senior VP of sales Mike Dodson revealed that he migrated all internal communications to Chatter, telling his team that he didn’t want to see any more email from them. He also put an end to the superfluous posts that were previously cluttering the OpenTable Chatter feed. This was intended to improve accountability and collaboration among teams, as well as keep mobile reps connected to office operations.
While we haven’t gone as far as eliminating email at RingDNA, Chatter is our preferred method of internal communication when discussing customer accounts and sales prospects. Members from different teams can follow relevant deals and instantly know when actions are required. Our sales team has been doing an excellent job of using Chatter to communicate about accounts. This has kept our sales process running smoothly, and we’ve had more transparent communications across our organization as a result.
Bring Chatter into the Social Sales Process
More and more B2B sales reps are experiencing how social media can transform the sales process. Monitoring prospects’ feeds in social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter for actionable sales insights can make the difference between winning and losing deals. But staying on top of internal social communications can be just as vital. That’s why RingDNA social sales apps not only instantly deliver prospect data from Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter into a single interface. We also made certain that our apps reveal prospects’ Salesforce Chatter feeds. The result is that reps can get up-to-the-second updates about deals. They’ll always know when to act, and what actions are required.
Get Everyone Involved
Social collaboration works best when everyone gets involved. We recommend that everyone in your organization, from the interns to the CEO, use Chatter to communicate. When executives are using a social media solution regularly, it’s easier for the rest of the team to take the tool seriously. Sales reps should be encouraged to use Chatter as a way to directly collaborate with marketers, developers, managers and anyone else that is relevant to closing a deal.