If music be the food of love, play on

By guest writer Alexander Low, Founder at BeyondSales.

There is much debate and insight online at the moment which says 2017 is going to be the year of the internal social network. A great piece here by Andrew Grill at IBM, whom if you are not following – you should, looks at where organisations are falling short on this front:

And here is where companies are missing a trick. Just as in 2016 most companies have some sort of social media presence, and hence monitor and measure (normally presented in weekly reports that no-one reads), few of them are monitoring or measuring what is happening on their internal networks.

and I agree with him.

Having lead the social selling programme for a large commercial real estate firm, which typically leverages the external network of who knows who, I have seen first hand how powerful this can be by turning new business into referral business with just a few clicks. By leveraging this powerful channel, organisations are better able to break down silos and enable much improved cross-selling in an organisation at an enterprise level.

Before Christmas, I attended the launch of the UK Chapter of the Sales Enablement Society led by Scott Santucci and Rebecca Bell. Much debate was had around what is sales enablement, what role should it play, who is responsible etc. The debate is still going on across a variety of global groups, giving some fascinating insight around how many differing views there are on this topic. One of the streams of debate started to compare it to music (join the group here), that sales needs to work in harmony with marketing in order to be efficient at lead generation etc.

I agree, but believe this can be taken one step further. The entire organisation needs to be harmony.

All organisations claim to be customer centric, however, are they? If I refer back to the CEB Challenger Sales process.

Note: the emphasis put on the buying experience and how this drives customer loyalty. If an organisation were to map its entire customer buying experience, from targeting, lead capture, lead nurture, buying process, pitch, win, project execution/delivery, invoices being raised & payment being chased – there are a lot of potential touch points with the customer, be it, automated, email based, phone based or face to face, by different functions and roles. You have Marketing, Sales, Technical Sales (Accountant, Lawyer, Surveyor would be the Professional Services equivalent), Solutions Architects, Customer Success teams, Legal, Finance, Accounts, Credit Control.

You then have IT, HR, Training & Development supporting all of this, and, last but not least Technology platforms. All of this is then surrounded by the overall business strategy and has to work in harmony to play the music the customer wants to hear.

If you look at each role or function as a musical instrument – in their own right they can play amazing music, however, if they are to play in an Orchestra – a business – they need to know what notes to play and when, in harmony with all the other instruments – roles/functions – to create a musical/buying experience the customer wants to hear.

The challenge is that each section of the Orchestra – business unit – has its own tune it wants to play to, in order to keep that particular conductor happy – Sales Director, Marketing Director, General Counsel etc – which usually means they are not in harmony with the wider business, but more importantly, the customer – after all, the customer is the one listening to the music! Each function needs to understand what its role is in the customer buying journey, what the other business unit functions are and, more importantly, what the parameters are in which they have been given to work in. For example, Legal is set how much risk the business is allowed to take on; sales needs to understand this so they do not try and bend it to get the deal done BUT, Legal needs to understand the pressure the Sales Director will be under to deliver the numbers – therefore try to keep playing in harmony with each other so the customer keeps on enjoying the music.

From what I’ve outlined above, I see this as more than just sales enablement, this for me is organisational enablement, with the customer at the centre – with the business working around and towards the overall customer buying experience. I believe this will also increase overall employee engagement as they will feel like that they are part of something beyond an internal transactional relationship. Jacob Morgan explores this further here.

Of course, there is a technology play which underpins all of this. By way of example, I have mentioned LinkedIn and their Sales Navigator platform to find who knows who as well as tracking what your prospects social activity. You can then look to a platform such as ProFinda to understand who knows what – an interesting piece here on them.

This can all be wrapped in AI / Machine Learning tech to understand the total of everything there is to know that your business has ever created using a platform such as GrayMeta – creating a complete internal and external social / digital network based around connections, knowledge and content. This becomes your music sheet from which to create the harmony for your customer.

Going back to Andrew Grill’s piece on the power of the internal social network, I see this as the fundamental building block to enable all of this. Organisations need to start leveraging the collective thinking power of their employees to create, not only internal harmony and better employee experience, but harmony for your customers.

About the author

Alexander Low is the Director of sales consultancy BeyondSales — connect with him at alexander[at]beyondsales.co.uk, LinkedIn and Twitter.