• May 13, 2009
  • By Jessica Tsai, Assistant Editor, CRM magazine

InsideView's Vision Of Social Sales

In a move that industry analysts say bridges the disconnect between social media and sales intelligence, San Francisco–based sales automation provider InsideView this week made available its new SalesView Buzz tab. Claiming to offer more than mere social media monitoring, the SalesView Buzz tab uses natural-language processing and what the company calls "entity triangulation" to produce a "smart record" of an individual and her company.

With this capability, the members of the sales team have access to more knowledge about the leads provided by their marketing counterparts -- effectively turning the once-divided relationship into what Rand Schulman, chief marketing officer of InsideView, calls "smarketing." The goal, he says, is ultimately to help "people run a business more like a science than [like] an art project."

The SalesView Buzz tab collects information from data sources divided into two categories:

  • Subscription-based data sources — including the following:
  • Hoovers;
  • Thompson-Reuters;
  • Jigsaw; and
  • ZoomInfo.
  • "Nonsubscribe" data sources — this includes networks such as:
  • Facebook;
  • Twitter;
  • MySpace; and
  • LinkedIn.

According to Schulman, a significant amount of data on the social Web is simply wrong. For instance, a Google search for an individual can bring up multiple results that connect her to different companies. "We're a technology company, not a data company," Schulman says. "We pick and choose the best pieces of data that will allow us to create that record." The SalesView Buzz tab aggregates relevant social feeds, deep Internet feeds, and subscribed media feeds into one place to determine who the prospect is connected with, news about her company, and events that may prompt a conversation with the salesperson.

Existing social media monitoring and analytics providers, such as Radian6 and Lithium Technologies, typically glean insight from online conversations to improve marketing effectiveness or inspire new products and services. What the SalesView Buzz tab does, according to Aberdeen Group Research Associate Alex Jefferies, is "not only gauge consumer-generated sentiment, but also use that information...to provide a well-rounded, contextualized view of the customer or prospect...without having to spend valuable time searching for it online."

Although the Internet has allowed companies to learn more about their customers, Jefferies says that the proliferation of information online has actually shifted the power to the prospect. Customers are conducting research, reading reviews, and conversing in their social networks to learn more about companies and products of interest. To combat the new disparity, Jefferies says, the Buzz tab "allows the sales representative to regain some of that power by providing him or her with up-to-the-second information concerning key accounts or prospects."

As social media's role in business matures, privacy and security continue to be among the biggest concerns. "It could be really easy for a sales representative to pluck a ‘sales opportunity' off of Twitter and reach out blindly," Jefferies says. While InsideView boasts "productivity" and "velocity" with the Buzz tab, the technology is only one piece of the puzzle. Success, Jefferies adds, ultimately depends on organizational processes and procedures that will define how information garnered through social media can be applied.

SalesView is available as a standalone product -- Pro ($99 per month for a single-seat license) or Team (enterprise edition, also starting at $99 per month, per seat) -- but CRM users can download the CRM mashup tool SalesView Free at no additional cost when used in conjunction with InsideView partners and customers: Landslide Technologies, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Oracle CRM On Demand, Salesforce.com, and SugarCRM.

"There is no doubt that the CRM landscape is being altered by social media," Jefferies says. The only way your company can effectively manage customer relationships is to be wherever the customers are, and allow them to find you through whatever channel they prefer. Jefferies anticipates that social networks, though they may seem like a chaotic mess of information right now, will prove to be extremely beneficial for sales representatives -- especially, he adds, once they can tap into the connections of their colleagues and their colleagues' friends.

News relevant to the customer relationship management industry is posted several times a day on destinationCRM.com, in addition to the news section Insight that appears every month in the pages of CRM magazine. You may leave a public comment regarding this article by clicking on "Comments" at the top; to contact the editors, please email editor@destinationCRM.com.

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