Corporate customers have rightly been wary of the potential brand consequences of the unwieldy combination of poor personal choice making among sales people and off-the-official record intelligence creation.
Some of the cloud based social media driven sales prospecting software providers appear to have noted that the corporate sector may be the lesser of their growth opportunities. These cloud based software providers appear to have prioritised their market audience as the individual sales representative, and hence may sidestep organisational management decision making.
After reading white papers similar to those above, there may be fears: about the preservation and containment of sales prospecting intelligence corporations have funded; the manner in which their sales reps choose to conduct themselves when employing social media derived intelligence; and concerns with the notion that individuals may send their qualified prospecting intelligence – a process which makes more useful verified intelligence out of social media derived guesswork - into a cloud database operated by company with whom your organisation has no contractual relationship.
But let’s also recognise that our sales people have always carried their own book of intelligence, and even with the greater efforts of a marketing communications department arming itself with policy manuals, and the legal gymnastics of employment contracts – much of that intelligence has remained off-file and off-balance-sheet (so to speak) before and after the period of employment.
One of the first calls to make when assessing how to engage the overall issue is to get a handle on the situation. The issues of potential, security, and hence policy guidance, require such situational awareness.
In order to help managers grapple with these issues I will create some aggressively postured scenarios. I am here to convince you that the distance of these scenarios from market reality is a matter of the extent of risk taking your employees are engaging in rather than one of accessibility.
In my last blog post I mentioned the potential use of social media derived (or created) associations based upon the employ of emotional philosophical appeal to aid in the establishment of relationships with prospective customers. In my aggressive tactical scenario I want to link the build or association of “Using Social Media to Promote Awareness for a Good Cause” such as HootSuite has kindly prepared a case study on: http://blog.hootsuite.com/pacific-wild/
In my tailored scenario, I am suggesting that your sales rep has personally decided to associate with a feverish animal rights campaign to “save-the sharks”. In response to the Western Australian government hunting for large sharks in the vicinity of recent shark attacks, this contemporary environmental campaign has seen street & beachside demonstrations across Australia and media reports have followed around the world.
Before I proceed, my disclaimer is that as a teenager in the late 70’s I was trained and certified as a PADI open water scuba diver. My instructors (a husband & wife team) were both marine biologists by training who abhorred the killing of sharks, and moreso those TV personalities that killed them for the purposes of selling fear-based underwater entertainment. I have never killed or attacked a shark and have always had a healthy respect for them in terms of both my security and their conservation.
However, if a sales rep has successfully associated themselves with a mass moral social movement such as “save-the-sharks”, there is existing potential for them to employ that social-philosophical association in tandem with a technique called “stabbing-in” (no pun intended) when cold calling on an organisation. Using the “stabbing-in” technique, the sales rep doesn’t necessarily seek to contact the decision maker in an organisation directly, but rather looks for an introductory channel that bypasses fortified gatekeeping processes, and elicits as much empathy and association credibility as possible as they do so.
And how would they associate those people with an organisation that the sales rep is cold calling? Out on the social media frontier GPS coordinates and mobile devices could well do that trick for them…
As in the contemporary social meet-up software, or the peer-to-peer taxi hire software doing the rounds, the prospect of a sales rep moving down a street outside a prospective customers’ premises in the real world (or applying GPS remotely) could light up a number of contact possibilities.
This is the point of time that we may wish to reflect upon the number of commercial employees currently out there that are already accessible by means of social issue connectedness. Before there were few, yet they were significant and meaningful in traditional sales craft, but now, by means of exploiting positioning – technology – and accessibility there are many.
How will we react to the emergent social media world? How will our organisations and customers respond on matters concerning their privacy? Is it likely that persona disclosures will become more guarded? Will there be more qualitative and quantitative separation among tiered levels of social associations? How many sales staff are already using social media dashboards and uploading commercial sales intelligence to cloud based providers without the knowledge of their employers?
At Gilead we don’t pretend to have ready answers to each and all of these questions. Our market research relies upon presenting organisational commercial intelligence in the first instance. At this time, our employ of social intelligence is limited to nominating the closest point of association with decision maker contacts we can determine from the public domain and social media. We can, however, help with quality research, and we can help explore social media derived potential and unfolding policy issues.
We will leave you today with an article referring to a legal case in the UK in respect of the control and ownership of social media content delivered for commercial ends. In the cited case below we are refering to judicial case involving a Linked-In Group activity. The issue, however, will no doubt continue to bubble up in many forms as more precedent law develops: