Sunday, December 22, 2013

Social Media Sales Strategy @ IBM Listening for Leads & inside sales teams

IBM had been using the social media and networking platforms to drive sales for its products and services. IBM believes the fact that in the current business world both current customers and prospective customers are aggressively engaging on various social networking sites and the company had developed a social strategy that is hugely successful. IBM social media sales strategy started in the 2009 when the company initiated the “Listening for Leads" program that uses Social Media to help identify opportunities by sales representatives.  Business to Business sales teams use many internal websites that help them to know more about the products and updates and also have a blog with RSS feeds connected to LinkedIn and Twitter through which customers can follow them and maintain relationship. Additionally inside sales teams were set up called “seekers” who on a voluntary basis go to particular social media sites where they listen to conversations and determine whether there’s a potential sales opportunity. The leads then transferred to a lead development representative, a telephone sales rep who has been trained to have a conversation with the lead to qualify and validate the opportunity and then pass it to the appropriate sales resource to follow up. A variety of performance were used by IBM to measure success like retweets, mentions, reach, revenue, and leads, analyze patterns and trends in the data and with the help of marketing analytics understand how sales were improved. IBM found that reps with strong customer relationships and social platform usage had a 2-6% improvement in sales over their colleagues who were less effective.

With the success of social selling in B2B sales teams IBM extended it to B2C and all sales teams within the company and equipped them with necessary training so that join the ongoing social conversation and use it to identify and progress new opportunities. IBM invested in social media training, toolkits and personalized digital pages to help its inside salespeople generate leads and manage account relationships. IBM successfully used this strategy in pushing sales of Public Cloud commerce engine. Three months after launch, 19 per cent of all Public Cloud inside Sales Rep Page traffic could be attributed to social media activity – and 11 per cent of these visitors clicked through to commerce sites. Additional results for the first three months include: 55 per cent increase in Twitter followers, more than 3500 tweets and retweets compared to less than 500 at implementation, more than two thousand clicks driving prospects and clients to rep pages and the SmartCloud Enterprise website. The cost involved in driving this traffic was far less than the traffic generated through the traditional media and advertisements and the conversion rate into sales is also high. Inside sales teams also called as virtual sales teams or remote sales teams within IBM consisted of employees with domain expertise and specialists that can effectively engage with customers and help them resolve their problems and queries. IBM inside sales teams have effectively supported the field sales teams in closing more deals and generate millions of dollars of revenues to the company. IBM internal social media profile includes 17,000 individual blogs, 1 million daily page views of internal wikis and information-storing websites and more than 400,000 employee profiles on IBM’s initial social networking initiative, IBM Connections which is playing a big role in its social media sales strategy.