A social outlook: driving sales effectiveness and customer management

Companies that embrace social interaction solutions are out-performing non-adopters across a wide variety of business KPIs. Peter Ostrow, VP and research group director for sales effectiveness and customer management at Aberdeen Group, tells us why

Lindsay James
Lindsay James
By Lindsay James on 18 May 2015
A social outlook: driving sales effectiveness and customer management

This article was first published in the Spring 2015 issue of OnWindows

How is social interaction evolving in businesses today?
We’ve seen a dramatic uptick in the use of collaboration platforms within the enterprise. Those companies that embrace such solutions are experiencing 19% better customer retention rates and 18% more effective on-time project delivery. Meanwhile, external social listening has revolutionised the way in which modern enterprises discover and care for their customers.

How are businesses harnessing social tools?
Savvy organisations have learned to empower their market-facing staff with tools that streamline the process of gaining intelligence more efficiently and rapidly than ever before. External participation – the active posting, sharing, blogging and tweeting executed by modern sellers – also represents great opportunities for those refined sales professionals who understand the value of giving before getting: they curate valuable content, share best practices and develop a reputation as subject matter experts.

Do enterprises face any specific challenges in terms of social interaction and communication?
Organisations simply cannot stop the incursion of social tools into the enterprise. They can either embrace the formal solutions offered by business providers, or sit by while the viral spread of the most popular platforms takes on a life of its own. Another challenge focuses on two kinds of control: security and messaging. Indeed, we see the strongest-performing organisations putting more energy into establishing formal policies around the use of social media by employees. Establishing clear policies creates more direct and constructive conversations in those few instances where things get out of hand.

How do you see communication changing in the years to come?
Everything boils down to one word: mobility. In a remarkably short period of time we, as consumers, have all grown accustomed to the mobile-first nature of most of the content we both consume and create. However, moving from consumer to business communications, mobile is much more complex to deploy. Layers of on-premise business applications, slow-to-adapt IT departments, and friction-inducing VPs of sales prevention litter the enterprise landscape in even the most progressive of companies seeking to update legacy systems to adapt to the 21st century norms of all social, all mobile, all the time. The future depends on a device-agnostic user experience, which best allows sales reps – whom we should consider our internal customers – to get their job done on their own terms. After all, isn’t that the very definition of social?

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