Learn From The Bees How To Do Social Enterprise

It is flabbergasting how productive honey bees are! In one year, a colony of bees suck up and process between 120 and 200 pounds of nectar, in a labyrinthine process that takes social collaboration to new heights. How do they do it? In every aspect of their life cycle, from cooperative brood-care to the overlapping of generations and the reproductive division of labor, they’ve got social brain in their DNA.

honey bees getting down to business, as a social enterprise

Bees' work is a social enterprise, and one that is unbelievably efficient and productive.

You can learn to become like honey bees. Not just busy, but closing deals and hitting the numbers in sales, marketing, and customer service, all through social collaboration. Real relationship selling and real customer serving.

Truly packing heat via social collaboration in your enterprise— and not just using social media

There is a sea change happening. It’s not just social media  and social networks. It is social collaboration in your workplace and social products in your SKUs. Enterprises are turning social. Gadgets and cars are turning social. Remember that 80’s song from DEVO, “I’m turning Japanese, I think I’m turning Japanese, I really think so”? We’re turning social brain, I think we’re turning social brain… In fact, I left Cloudforce 2011 last week absolutely convinced of it.

What do you mean by social enterprise?

First, let’s define what is meant by social enterprise, and what isn’t. I’m not talking about social enterprise in general, where for-profits do something good to benefit society. Private companies from Starbucks to Patagonia are prime players in that kind of social enterprise. Nor am I talking about the way social enterprise is used to describe a range of activities from international development to nonprofit management.

I mean the huge and measurable gains:

  • achieved by new technology that enables better social collaboration within business units: for example, when a sales guy asks a question in the Chatter application of Salesforce.com, and a second person (in sales) has the answer, and 10 others like his comment
  • achieved by real time information that pulls in live Twitter and Facebook profiles, and allows you to see, when you hover over their faces, whether they are online, and who their connections are. This improves your ability to get instant answers, to customize scripts (in sales), and know before you make that call what matters to your prospects
  • achieved by real time information on the conversations occurring on social media sites, so that relevant and timely marketing campaigns can be deployed to win over prospects, one-by-one
  • achieved by technology that allows you to create a private and secure Customer Group within your platform, without worrying about the headaches of email
  • achieved by technology that allows a service agent to follow the documents and the datastreams inside the Chatter feed, so that the user has all relevant information, e.g., all the apps a particular customer uses, their past cases, their photos, their tweetstream … and enables the service agent to route the conversation to the appropriate person
  • achieved by the use of iPads and similar tablets among your field reps, which unleashes greater productivity, satisfaction, and ultimately more time to spend face-to-face with prospects
Better social collaboration using the chatter application

The view inside the Chatter application, as the sales people get their ducks in order.

One additional point: this post is primarily skewed towards larger enterprise organizations. Smaller businesses may not use the same playbook, or they may use other tools like Yammer and Jive. The goal of utilizing any of these technologies is the same: to discover relevant activity as it happens by your co-workers, reduce duplication, share docs and images, access related info and respond in real time to opportunities.

How marketing is transforming to social marketing

Marketing itself is transforming into social marketing. The ability to listen to customers is not only paramount, but with Radian6, a desktop or tablet becomes a complete marketing hub. For example, nowadays it’s more important for a competitor to know if Suze Orman is tweeting about TD Ameritrade, than it is to know when TD Ameritrade has launched a product or achieved a milestone.

It is crucial to assess whether mentions on social media sites are trending positive, or negative; to listen in on the conversation in realtime; and to make a plan (again, Radian6 can be a tool for that). That’s why when I tweeted about the XBox last week and dropped #WTF into the lexicon, I awoke in the morning to find that XboxNewYorkCity was following me.

social media shows my humorous tweet, and the social enterprise responded

I mentioned the brand, and by the next morning, they were following me!

The brand cares who is talking about the brand, and it especially cares whether I (or anyone else) have dumped in a negative spin. Reputation matters!

(Now you know the insider secret of making any big brand follow you on Twitter!)

To take it down to the most granular level, customers are won one by one. If someone tweets, ”Where can I find a great place to stay in Dallas?”, you don’t want to leave them high and dry. You want to send them an offer with a discount coupon to your hotel.

It used to be about segmenting your database. Now marketing is about segmenting the entire web.

And once they’ve become customers, there is no better way to double down and service them, then via social media – call center – customer service integration. Just watch the first five minutes of this video, to see amazing case studies of Bank of America and KLM airlines.

Seven best practices for social collaboration, so your sales team can lock it up

These are the 7 best practices that will yield humongous, measurable results for your sales team. (Again, I do not take credit for this list. At the final breakout session of the Cloudforce 2011 conference, Salesforce.com execs gave an overview of their effort to measure the benefits of Salesforce.com + Chatter + Radian6 + iPads as deployed in customer enterprises.)

1. Sell Social. For example, for every 2.4 introductions to co-workers within your enterprise, you actually have 1 more closed deal. The connections do help a sales gal sell. Did you know that 80% of top performers have over 100 connections within their firm’s Salesforce.com platform?

2. Sell as a Team. This means gathering the best intelligence from your crowd, all the folks in your pursuit team, and your wider umbrella of contacts. As the bestseller Behind the Cloud relayed,

“I’m less impressed with someone who closes a $2 million deal alone than I am with someone who brought all of us in and still closed the same $2 million deal,” says David Rudnitsky. “At a minimum, bringing in the rest of the team helps mitigate risk, and, in most cases, helps sell more.” pg. 92

3. Make smart decisions. For example, use Chatter to start discussions. Follow the gauge for the top 3 metrics, on the dashboard. As they move from “warning” to “critical,” be alerted. Use sales leaderboards to drive behavior. Track activity and inactivity.

4. Prospect smarter. Many sales people feel like they spend all day chasing down top honchos, planning territory, and prospecting. But with a more social posture, a sales person can actually collaborate with existing customers to reach targeted individuals. Likewise, they can gather better competitive intelligence with a digital connection to the Hoovers of the world, right at their fingertips.

5. Find files faster. Use versioning to make communications seamless and error-free. Let everyone pull up the latest and greatest, without causing egg on the face.

6. Go mobile. It will be a tremendous accelerator for your sales team. Aim to give everyone who calls on accounts in person an iPad (or tablet).

no tablets or iPads in sight

Can you turn these road warriors into SalesZillas?

Despite jitters you may have over the issue of personal vs. business use of tablets, these two areas are merging and it is best to allow sales reps to keep all their info in one place. Develop training tools and videos showing how to use them, and let the team dig their new found freedom from dragging around laptops. Reinforce the primacy of being mobile and social at every sales meeting. The upshot: Salesforce.com employees enjoyed a surge in face-to-face selling time after introducing the iPad; face time rose to 30% to 40% of their day.

(Update: Touch.salesforce.com will be released in early 2012. It will deliver an optimized experience of Salesforce apps and customizations for the entire range of touch devices, including the iPad and other tablets, and leverages the open standard HTML5.)

7. Leverage the cloud platform. If you are not yet drinking the Kool Aid on this point, we need to talk (another time!)

Mojo Moves

  • If you work in sales, marketing, or customer service, take more initiative and reach out to your colleagues, and set up a meeting (live, via Skype, by videoconference) to brainstorm how to get more social, like the bees. Get buy-in from internal stakeholders, set the agenda in advance, start with a fun ice-breaker, and figure out ways to strengthen social collaboration at your organization.
  • If you are a working stiff and don’t know everyone at your place of employment, block out one day a week to meet a new colleague and break bread with them.
  • If you don’t have access to Radian6, TweetDeck is the poor man’s workaround. Go to your Twitter account (Haven’t got one? Bad on you!) and tweet something you need, or mention a brand that you find remarkable, i.e. Who knows a great videographer in Pittsburgh? Or, That holiday dress with faux fur jacket from Ralph Lauren is fiercely festive #fashion #ralphlauren. Then, check for responses tomorrow. Experiential learning is the best teacher!

Photos courtesy of Creative Commons 2.0, mazatel, dream sister. Video purchased from perfectloop at istockphoto.

What do you think? Is social collaboration moving front and center,  for your team?

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Did you enjoy this post?
  • http://www.hanlancommunications.com Wendy Hanlan

    Yum! I love juicy tidbits of info like this – keep it coming!

    • http://www.mojo40.com Diane Dolinsky-Pickar

      Wendy, I’d be glad to!

  • Sara

    You have given me so much great advice in the past two blogs, I have so much “homework” but good homework to do! Thanks so much. Your blog is informative and it makes all these new technology that has come available and this different way of doing business less intimidating! Thanks again.

    • http://www.mojo40.com Diane Dolinsky-Pickar

      I am glad to offer you something that helps. You can ring that bell, I know you can!

  • http://sharonoday.com Sharon O’Day

    The fun part is “diluting” this valuable information down to where some pieces make sense for a start-up information marketing business. There’s plenty there to keep me busy for quite some time. Thanks, Diane!

    • http://www.mojo40.com Diane Dolinsky-Pickar

      Oops, maybe I went in too deep… in fact, readers are at different places in their knowledge and certainly at varying points in their business needs, so if I made it too complex, it was only that I erred on the side of more detail because it is simply amazing how sophisticated it has become. For a start-up, the key thing is that social collaboration sells better, markets better and in fact, serves customers better. But there are multiple ways to get to that goal!

  • T-bone

    This is really helpful! I love the Tweet! lol

  • Robert Garron

    Excellent Analogy!

    It is clear that today everyone with or without a job needs to reinvent themselves and to understand how we all live together and work together. Bees however are programmed to work the way they do, we thankfully can make decisions, even wrong decisions daily…. :)

    • Diane Dolinsky-Pickar

      Oh indeed! And I’ve made plenty of those wrong decisions…. that is why it is so great to know, there is always a tomorrow!

  • conflux

    Reminded me of the beehive exercise we did during a convention a few years back. This is a very extensive piece. As you mentioned from the outset, the blog is skewed towards larger enterprises, yet a lot of the tools available to the “big boys” are also available to the “little guys” as well (FB, twitter as examples). The challenge becomes how to effectively use these tools. Just looking at the varied tools that you mentioned it may require an army (or is it a colony) to fully take advantage of these tools. Great job!

    • Diane Dolinsky-Pickar

      Thanks, Conflux! It would be interesting to see to what extent large enterprises do adopt best practices in their intranet-type social communication. I have learned that beyond Yammer and Chatter, the Jive platform has recently gone public, and Cisco is now offering Quad… so it does seem that the big boys are addressing this need for internal collaboration, in new ways.

  • http://linkedin.com/in/ceciliapinedaferet Cecilia Pineda Feret

    What a great post, Diane! On a related note, I just learned of a wonderfully comprehensive platform offered by Sprinklr. They power the enterprise Social Relationship Management infrastructure and provide SOMEMA (social media management) services for many of the world’s most social companies including Dell, Virgin America, Cisco Systems, Target Stores, DuPont, and Samsung.

    This is the way the business world is headed and soon enough it will be a job requirement to have knowledge of, if not experience with, this type of SaaS in relevant markets.

    • Diane Dolinsky-Pickar

      You are so right, Cecilia! In fact, by getting current with trends like this, you will be far more valuable to your employer or your clients, than the person who is content to keep an eye on the present, without discerning the direction of change. Now, let me have a look at that Sprinklr website…

  • fefa

    Great post Diane.  “Turning Japanese” was released by the Vapors.

    • http://www.mojo40.com/ Diane Dolinsky-Pickar

      I didn’t know that! Now, I can add it to my playlist…

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