Worldwide Regulatory Challenges
CEO, Technology Marketing Corp.
For the past several issues, I’ve touted the power of social media in the contact center space, including an analysis of the penetration of social media in contact center environments (see the April CIS Publisher’s Outlook). The million-dollar question, though, is how important should social media be to the sales process?
During a recent trip to Dallas, Ken Murray (News - Alert), president of VanillaSoft, agreed that social media is going to be very important because it will enable salespeople to understand much more about their prospects before they ever pick up the phone. The question he poses, though, is this: “If you can do in-depth research on five prospects and call them and get one new sale, that’s great; but, if you can cold call 20 prospects and get two sales, at the end of the day, isn’t
that still better?”
I posed a series of questions to Ken about social media and the evolution of contact centers. This is what he had to say. (For more of Ken’s comments read my blog entry: http://tmcnet. com/27963.1, and check out more of Ken’s own comments on the contact center evolution in a TMCnet video filmed in Dallas: http://tmcnet.com/27964.1).
As a pioneer in the contact center space – how have you seen it evolve lately?
The biggest change is there is a multitude of technology choice available to businesses to power their selling efforts.
Thanks to SaaS (News - Alert)-based offerings, the smallest businesses get equal access to the best technologies at an affordable price and can level the playing field and extend their global reach. That was simply impossible only a few years ago.
We have customers is eight countries, all made possible by the Internet and the technologies we have selected to enable
our selling effort. Three years ago, if you had told me VanillaSoft was going to play big in Ireland, I would have
laughed. Because of technology, we service customers there as though they are in the U.S.
How is social media changing outbound sales?
That’s a big question with a complex answer. Right now, it is making all organization re-think their approaches to cold calling. Companies making outbound dials are wrestling with how much research should be done on a prospect before each call is placed. The question on the table is can a sales person socially connect to a prospect prior to that first contact being made or, through social research, learn enough about the prospect that it will enhance the call? If the answer is yes to either, then what is the value of that social connection or social research? Does it translate into revenue for the company or is it a waste of valuable selling resources?
What do companies need to know about social media and contact center/inside sales integration?
The most important thing to know is that the final answer has not been written. Too many times we think of what is new as the next and final solution. Social Media will be a valuable tool and continue to gain attention and traction to all groups selling. But, like all tools, it needs to fit within each unique selling strategy and it needs to be tested and measured just like any platform, process or selling tool. The end result will come down to ROI and the answer to the most fundamental question we all ask as sales people and marketers: Am I better with it or without it?
Your company was located in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, how were you able to stay operational during the storm?
First and foremost, we have a great team of people who care and are dedicated to serving not only our customers but each other. We had somewhere around 50 people who lost homes. Needless to say, as a company, we were hurting just like our community. What allowed us to not only survive, but thrive, was attitude first and technology second. The SaaS model was relatively new back in 2005, but we had chosen well. We had all of the important technologies needed to run a software company with geographically disparate customers and employees in place, including redundancy we had built virtually. We did not have a single technology asset based in our facility in New Orleans. Rather, we had redundant servers in Colorado, a virtual PBX (News - Alert) system, remote management systems for backup, and so forth. But, at the end of the day, it was the people and their ingenuity and foresight that allowed us to survive and win. For that, I am grateful.
CIS Magazine Table of Contents