Monday, 14 January 2013

The power of integration of social media and the sales processes

With the emergence and convergence of new technologies over the past five years, namely cloud infrastructure, social media communications and mobile devices, businesses small and large across the globe alike have the opportunity to harness these and to transform their organisations and boost their bottom line significantly.

Infrastructure: Old vs. New

The traditional IT infrastructure model, also known as the CapEx model, is both restrictive and expensive - restrictive in that due to security complexities available to the customer there are not many options for opening up the mobility of the application, i.e., you need a VPN to access the server from a remote location. Many of us have experienced this and come out the worse for wear, suffering from dropped connections via a weak broadband and having to restart the iteration of logging on again.
It is also expensive; it requires capital to be invested in server hardware and software in the form of operating systems. Would it be great if we could get away from this model? Doesn't it make sense to rent a holiday home rather than having to buy it and then buy another when you find that you want more from your holiday?
The new IT infrastructure, known as the SaaS model, on the other hand, where the application is provided as a service, provides great flexibility for the modern business allowing it to respond rapidly to a changing market place and take advantage of new platforms. It does away with having to invest in capital for server hardware and software licenses, it does away with security restrictions and risks and it paves the way for rapid development and roll-out of new features seamlessly.

Communication: Email and Social Media

Additionally, end-users today are used to using SaaS applications such as social media. They use social media now as the preferred method of communicating instead of email. It may be factors such as convenience, speed (timeliness) and costs effectiveness are the driving forces behind social media technology adoption. It is cost effective because most social media is free to use and requires the user to have access to broadband. It is timely in that communication can be live, instant, so that as soon as you send a message it is received. It is convenient: the applications are easy to use, mobile and non-disruptive, i.e., if you lose your connection you can still reconnect quickly without having to restart your application, device or operating system.
There are no features that email has that social media can’t improve on. So why don’t business switch from email to Social Media applications as a way for communicating in business? For one, email is an accepted method for allocating tasks to individuals. Additionally, business application need to have social media built in.


Integrating social media into business processes is one thing, keeping control of responsibility and timeliness around these processes is another and the business process will fail if they don’t maintain control of these functions. This is what I call the second degree of social integration into business applications. The first degree of social business process is where the social media is integrated with the business process allowing individuals to engage others directly on the business process. Below is an example of the Social Business process in use:

Example: Marketing: turning leads into opportunities:

  1. Your company takes a stand at an industry expo in order to generate leads, opportunities and ultimately new sales. During the show, the team are busy gathering contact details of prospects interested in your product/s and services. 
  2. Each lead or prospect that hands over their contact detals are registered into your CRM. As part of this process, they are automatically sent an invitation via email to join your social group set up specifically for them. From chatting with a prospect you find out that they are interested to know whether your company has delivered success for other companies within their industry and you don’t have the details to hand, you’ve promised to get back to them with an answer. 
  3. You post the question directly from your CRM via a social conversation on the prospect and get a response quickly from a one of your colleagues who is travelling to another customer, offering to engage the prospect. 
  4. You can now assign a task for your colleague to follow up with the prospect. This task provides the responsibility and a due date functions required for a business process to execute. The task is now part of the conversation so it also has relevance. 
  5. Your colleague keeps track of their tasks and makes sure to get back to the prospect. Getting an answer back to the prospect quickly impresses them with your efficiency and shows that your care about them from the outset. They let you know there is an opportunity to do business with them.  
  6. You can now create an opportunity in your CRM and this gets assigned to the best sales person you have. This prospect is well on their way to becoming a valued customer.


 What are the advantages of integrating social into the business process? 
  • The whole sales process is a lot more efficient and entirely auditable. 
  • You can engage the customer directly across multiple social channels from within your business application.
  • It removes duplication of effort;
  • It’s very fast
  • Can be used on any platform, e.g., mobile, laptop, browser, iPhone app or Android! comes with all this built in using Chatter as its social media integrated into the Sales, Marketing, Service and Work Cloud modules. 
With these advantages of integrating social media into the business processes, end-users will be wondering how they did things before it became commonplace. Time to help your workers get social in business!