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A New Don: How the sales profession has evolved from the Mad Men era

As a fan of the series “Mad Men” TV series, I have to share this comparison of the sales profession development with you. When we compare the decades from 1950-2010, we realizte that there were some significant differences. From Don and his friends’ wild office parties and massive whisky as well as martini consumption to a straight organized reality where sales automation has taken over and social media rules the communication between people.

Although, we still here at the universities and in seminars from the advertising Gods like Leo Burnett and David Ogilvy, Don Draper’s world has seen a radical shift in sales profession. But in which direction…? The guys from Leads360 have created an infographic that defines the main trends we saw lately…
– 1960: In-person pitch.
– 1970: Door-to-door vacuum pitch.
– 1980: Not really specified in any direction…
– 1990: In the beginning email messaging, later customer relationship management (CRM)
– 2000: Social integration (Social Media)
– 2010: Intelligent sales automation

“Over the last 50 years, many of these fundamental sales strategies have remained incredibly valuable,” states the infographic. Maybe you find the reasons why when reading through it.

Today, we are talking of Facebook as the barbeque with “friends and fans” and of Twitter as the chatter at the toilet. Well, it seems that we haven’t moved away from socializing. Maybe we just need to add some drinks next to our screens…

The_New_Don_Infographic_Sales

Reputation Management Information for Business Owners

Unfortunately, most business owners don’t consider establishing a reputation management campaign until disaster has already struck. While taking measures to control your company reputation after slanderous or other undesirable information is plastered on the Internet is an important step, sometimes this post-situation management isn’t effective at clearing your business name.

In the fast-paced world of social media and digital information you must take preemptive measures to keep your business name and brand unwavering in the eyes of your customers, both current and potential.

Steps of Reputation Management
Reputation management isn’t a new concept within the business world, but since the introduction of social media platforms and its various spin-off websites, this mode of safeguarding your company’s good name has altered from print-only mediums. Although the specifics of a reputation management campaign can vary, the three most common principles include:

Establishing a Reputation
While this may be the most complicated and time-consuming process, establishing a good reputation within your industry is paramount to long-term success.Reputation Maintenance – Now that you’ve built a solid reputation within your industry for quality service, products and customer care , you must maintain this reputation. Reputation maintenance involves a myriad of steps, which may include continual monitoring customer reviews on social media sites and updating a business blog with vital and free information. Reputation Recovery – Even by following the aforementioned steps, it’s still possible to receive bad marketing from competitors or jilted customers. This is the most important step out of the aforementioned as it involves rescuing your reputation through a series of marketing techniques and positive business promotions.

Advanced Advice
Although securing your reputation is a continual process, professional reputation management consultants demystify the abundance of information about reputation management. Due to unique circumstances that can tarnish your business reputation, it’s important to place your business focus not on covering up negative remarks, but replacing these remarks with positive truths.
While certain forms of reputation management are considered manipulative as they attempt to alter search results, other forms don’t necessarily alter results but rather place the focus on the positive qualities of a particular business or person. The most effective way to accomplish this goal includes:
Publishing several websites that spin your business in a positive light. Soliciting mentions in highly respected third party directory listings.Proactively respond to criticism found in public spaces with an explanation and solution.Offering a level of transparency within the company so current and potential customers are aware of your business practices and procedures.

Social Media & Customer Service? Companies have got 60 minutes max. to react

Many companies and brands are asking themselves (and us): “How fast do we have to give some feedback or answer when somebody is pinging us on Facebook, Twitter and the likes?” Or: Do we have to give some feedback on the weekends? And the answers we have heard were quite astonishing. Many managers in companies still think they have got a day or two to reply to their customers – whether they are speaking with them on email or on one of their realtime streams. Many test we have done so far, have shown us that most companies don’t react at all, some not on weekends, and some after one or two days. Be sure, if you offer your clients a realtime channel, they will use it – and they don’t care if the problem comes up on a weekend or not.

In a recent research by Convince and Convert we can find some clean answer now: 42% of the respondents expect an answer in the first 60 minutes! What comes even worse for companies: 57% want the some reaction time no matter what time of day it is or whether it is a Saturday or Sunday. In total, 67% expect some response by companies in the someday.

Still, many companies don’t have the right resources to satisfy their customers Social Media expectations. And there are many reasons for it: not enough resources, lack in modern process management or lack in technical establishment. Some companies started mentioning their opening hours in the info or biography fields which kind of makes sense and becomes a state-of-the-art workaround for the interim period until companies understand what a full-fledged social business with proper community management means. And this definitely goes away from the “9-to-5” workplace we know from our fathers.

Spot On!
The main challenge for companies and brands is to find out what the deeper demand of the status update, the comment, the review or a rating is. Remember the 3R’s? In the end, what we have learned years ago, is that people want to have the feeling someone is taking care of them immediately. This does not essentially say that companies or brands have to supply the best possible answer or solution. Many managers have still not understood the fine difference between these topics.
What we would like to know is: Do 60 minutes feedback time make sense? Should we try to be more patient as users? Is a quick feedback really that important if our lives are not depending on it? You give the answer…

Interview: "Social Business = Creating a smarter workforce & a proven solution to business challenges"

One-on-one interview with Ed Brill

Ed Brill is Director, Social Business and Collaboration Solutions, at IBM. Brill is responsible for the product and market strategy for IBM’s messaging, collaboration, communications, and productivity products, including Lotus Notes and Domino, IBM SmartCloud Notes, IBM Sametime, Lotus Symphony, IBM Docs, and other related social business solutions. Brill’s focus is on extending and growing the success of these solutions through customer engagement, partner ecosystem development, and harnessing the breadth and depth of the IBM organization.

The Strategy Web spoke with him about the relevance and future of Social Business.

Why is Social Business not only a buzzword?

Leaders in every industry are leveraging Social Business technology to disrupt their industries and create competitive advantage. They are improving productivity and unleashing innovation by tapping into the collective intelligence inside and outside their organizations. With social, they’re creating a smarter workforce and proving that social business isn’t just a buzzword, it’s a proven solution to business challenges.

According to Forrester Research, the market opportunity for social enterprise apps is expected to grow at a rate of 61 percent through 2016. According to IBM’s CEO Study, today only 16 percent of CEOs are using social business platforms to connect with customers, but that number is poised to spike to 57 percent within the next three to five years.

What does it take to make a business “social”?

Organizations have quickly learned that a Social Business is more than just having a Facebook page and a Twitter account. In a Social Business, every department in the organization has embedded social capabilities into their traditional business processes to fundamentally impact how work gets done to create business value. A Social Business utilizes social software technology to communicate with its rich ecosystem of clients, business partners and employees.

Social business is a strategic approach to shaping a business culture, highly dependent upon transparency and trust from executive leadership and corporate strategy, including business process design, risk management, leadership development, financial controls and use of business analytics. Becoming a Social Business can help an organization deepen customer relationships, generate new ideas and innovate faster, identify expertise, enable a more effective workforce and ultimately drive its bottom line.

What does it mean to change the culture of a company?

Changing an organizations culture to embrace social must start from the top. Senior leadership must buy in and promote a culture of sharing, transparency and trust. Recent studies by IBM see this shift, today’s C-Suite recognizes the potential of social. Consider this, according to IBM’s 2012 CEO Study, today only 16 percent of CEOs are using social business platforms to connect with customers, but that number is poised to spike to 57 percent within the next three to five years. Similarly. IBM’s 2011 CIO Survey of 3,000 global leaders indicated that more than 55% of companies identified social networking as having a strategic significance to their company’s growth. And finally, 2011 IBM CMO Study reports that CMOs are using social platforms to communicate with their customers, 56 percent view it as a key communication channel. These senior leaders are the key to social business adoption and there’s a real shift occurring, social business is now a business imperative.

What role is the flexible workspace playing in the process?

Companies are able to build virtual teams out of expertise and leadership, regardless of their physical location or title on the organization chart. Today’s workforce expects to be able to share, post, update and communicate with colleagues, customers, and ecosystem using social tools to get real work done. Through those tools, employees who work remotely, use flexible “hot desks” in company offices, or open floorplans can leverage tools for instant e-meetings, video and audio tools, and embedded applications to process knowledge and activities faster and deliver more value to the organization.

What’s your advice for companies to become a “social business”?

Companies around the world are now focused on becoming Social Businesses, Forrester Research estimates that the market opportunity for social software is expected to increase 60% annually. But perhaps the most daunting part of becoming a social business is how to start the journey. That’s where creating a Social Business Agenda plays a vital role. In order to become successful in social business, an organization needs to create its own personalized Agenda that addresses the company’s culture, trust
between management and employees and the organization and its constituencies, engagement behind and outside of the firewall, risk management, and of course, measurement. The sponsorship for such an activity can be driven by leadership, lines of business, or other organizational catalyst roles.

Reasons why businesses move to the cloud

Small companies see the trend, bigger companies are following. Evernote, Wuala, Dropbox, or SafeSync were kind of the first movers and shakers of the cloud wave. Today, more and more businesses are moving their tasks and workplaces to the cloud.

The reasons are manyfold. Sometime it is their competitors that are a step ahead, sometimes it is the smarter working trend which allows employees to work anytime, anywhere at any project. Sometimes it is an IT setup, maintenance and support factor.

More and more companies see the advantages and collected some evidence that it offers mow productivity and flexibility. The cloud solves HR flexibility problems and offers new IT opportunities and destroys IT maintenance issues concerning service and support which the infographic by Yorkshire Cloud illustrates. The main benefits that the Cloud Computing Survey Outlook under 521 IT pros saw were…

– 61% appreciate the instant scalability
– 54% found cost savings as an argument
– 53% prefer the easier management of IT

Forecasts indicate that by 2014 the use of cloud services will increase 27% from 2010. The cloud computing industry is expected to grow to 240 Billion USD by 2020.

Are you seeing your company move to the cloud?

Study Gen Y: Moving communication to social networks

Many managers don’t believe that the next management generation might communicate differently from today. So, every proof we have could be beneficial to score here and it is necessary to obey the signs in every region in the world.

In India an increasing number of the Gen Y generation prefers to communicate via social networking platforms to stay connect with their peers. And they do it on mobile devices as their preferred tool for communication.

A recent survey called The GenY Survey 2011-12 by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) asked 12,000 high school students between 12-18 years in cities like i.e. Mumbai, Delhi, and Pune from July to December 2011. It finds that a “total of 88% respondents from metropolitan cities had a Facebook account while other platforms such as Orkut and India-based Apna Circle, Ibibo and Hi5 were more popular in small metros”.

The study states that 40% of the Gen Y’s have internet access on their mobile phones. However, television emerged as the least favorite gadget with not even 1% voting for it. An emerging trend is the use of tablets with almost 14% using these new devices, it quotes.

Some more findings of the study…
– 85% use social networking sites such as Facebook
– 84% have internet access at home
– 79% own a mobile phone
– 28% value the mobile phone their favorite gadget

Spot On!
There are already 38% of respondents in metros using Facebook or Twitter to communicate. Tweeting is now being used by one in three students according to the study, though just 1% mentioned it as their preferred site. Text and chat were said to be the preferred alternatives to voice calls with 50% of respondents in metros explaining they used SMS most frequently to communicate, 45% used instant messaging. Apart from that, they also value information technology as a career option followed by engineering and medicine.

The Virtual Handshake

Marko Greitschus / pixelio.de

When I was a kid, my grandparents had a little pub. Nothing special. Nothing glamorous. Just a comfortable meeting point for friends or business partners to catch up for a drink. The best day always was the “market day”. Merchants were setting up their booths at the marketplace in the little village my grandparents were living in, early in the morning when most people were still snoring in their beds. When their job was done, they popped up at the pub around 7am when their wives took over to sell their goods.

The guests in the pub did not expect very much. A drink was their desire. A tasty sandwich was luxury to them. Competition amoung pubs was tough, even in this little village a long time ago. There were many pubs around in that coal distrinct north of Germany. The owners of the other pubs in the village changed more or less every year, some even earlier. My grandparents’ business stayed for over a decade, until they decided it was time to stop working. The guests loved their attitude, their individual touch, their personalized way of talking to them. My grandparents’ business was successful.

What was the key to their success story?

Before I answer this question, let me ask you something… When did you shake hands last time with a friend, or a business partner? Do you remember? Did you ever think about why we are shaking hands with people? Have you ever not returned a handshake? It is a common habit of introducing ourselves and of saying Goodbye. We just do it. Well, let’s say in the offline world we do it…

Those days, whenever somebody came into my grandparents’ pub, my grandma and granddad gave them a personal handshake, embedded in some small talk about the weather or last nights sports results. The conversation made people feel good, feel wanted, not just being anonymous guests. They created a living room. People started talking with them about their personal hopes, fears, issues. The handshake had broken the ice…

In our social web world of today, customer relationship management and social networking become an increasingly important factor to be maintain a successful business within a more and more challenging and competitive world.

Many relationships today begin with a virtual handshake. So you may ask: What is a virtual handshake? Today, it comes in the format of a comment on a blog post, a LIKE on a status update on a Fanpage, an introduction mail inside a social network, or an invitation to join a community (Facebook or LinkedIn or a company specific).

In the offline world, nobody would turn away and not return the handshake. However, in the online world individuals put effort in terms of writing, talking and engaging with companies and brands, making their brand passion transparent, or just opening their minds to “business” (or privat?) conversations. All of that often before having received a virtual handshake with those companies that are reaching out to them via their -often anonymous- social hubs.

By participating in a community or engaging in conversations, customers take the initiative, they state a case and describe an act of will. Companies tend to forget that this is a virtual handshake. “Hello! Here I am! Look what I am telling you…”.

Many companies and brands do not answer. They don’t reply on social networks. They don’t value the hand that is right in front of them waiting. The hand which feeds them and their business. The free opportunity to connect, collaborate, or convert. Lack of time and resources is the killer of many of their social web activities.

My grandparents never forgot to shake hands with people that came to visit their pub. This was their success story. So simple, right…?

Think about it next time you set up a group, start a community or approach someone on a social network (be it via InMail on LinkedIn or a status update on Facebook). Relationships start with a handshake – whether real or virtual. There just needs to be somebody that returns the handshake. For some this might be a change management process, for some it is just natural attitude towards customers…

Criminology and Law Enforcement Officials Using Social Media To Fight Crime

For years now, the world has become a very high-tech place, and just like with everyone else, criminals are also becoming more astute and coming up with more technological ways to break the law. Ever since the Internet started seeing widespread use, Criminology and law enforcement officials have been playing catch-up to try and monitor all of the offenders that are currently on the web. Now, as social media has taken hold, it seems that officials now have a new tool in fighting crime.

Social media has allowed the world to become interconnected and interface with one another through the digital format of social media. More and more of our connections are going through online forums, but it’s also having the side-effect of keeping track of everything we say. Law enforcement agencies around the country are beginning to realize the power of social media for their own purposes.

Police blogging has become relatively popular lately, and it’s beginning to allow police stations across the country to keep up on the events of the day. Many people are already familiar with the police sergeant sitting at the registry desk, but now a station can keep track of Twitter feeds, blogs, and updates. It offers officials and the public a real-time way to see the crimes that are being committed in their area. These blogs are publishing crimes and arrests and keeping track of the real-world activity through online avenues. This is becoming a very useful tool to keep an open dialogue and exchange of information between citizens and police. Average citizens can also post on these blogs to let police know about what’s going on and it’s quicker than a phone call.

There have been sites where people could go online and see the latest wanted criminals, but now different law agencies are beginning to use Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms to update and keep people aware of local criminals that are at large in their area. The great thing about social media is that it’s instantaneous, and officers can keep the public aware of what’s going on up to the minute. This has been done through fan pages as well as local and district specific pages. Their usage has become more fine-tuned over time, and it’s increasing in regularity. It’s another example of how much social media is changing our everyday lives.

Many aren’t aware of the term, but social media stakeouts are becoming a popular tool to find criminals in every background. Some social media advocates argue that this has become a sort of invasion of privacy but police and law enforcement officials aren’t hacking into anything, they’re merely listening in. Whether you agree with it or not, it’s given police the ability to track important information and search real-time for offenders and key words and phrases that are of particular interest. This social media monitoring is a preemptive measure that’s getting a lot of attention. There exists the possibility that these social forums could be abused by officials but there’s no doubt that it has helped them to keep up with the times.

It’s not clear as to how much control different offices of enforcement really have over our personal and social media accounts. There’s been a lot of speculation over Facebook’s complicity in working with companies and governments and sharing personal information. Currently, it’s only through accusations. People are worried about “big-brother,” but it’s essential that we give our law enforcement officials the tools they need, within reason, to combat crime in an evolving society. Otherwise, we could run the risk of giving criminals a better ability to curtail the law and hurt others.

This post is a guest post from the Davenport Institute.

Study: Twitter becomes popular among business chiefs

Is this a good sign for the acceptance of social media in the business world? The use of Twitter as a business and marketing tool has increased from 31% to 61% among Europe’s top business leaders, finds a recent study by CNBC.

Even more, 61% of the business leaders see the growing impact of Social Media. They believed Social Media was changing the way their business is done today. 77% of the business executives have Facebook accounts (from 81% in 2010). LinkedIn gains tracktion from 52% to 56%.

The study polled 650 European business chiefs as part of their CNBC Europe Mobile Elite 2011 survey. The idea was to get more knowledge about the use of the latest technology features in the C-Level area of companies at work and in their free time.

Although the increase of Twitter popularity among business leaders is obvious, the busiens decision makers admit that the are unable to keep track ith the latest technological innovations. Apart from that, another study some weeks ago showed that they are also not sure how to leverage Social Media for business.

The most popular device is the iPhone which 21% of the business chiefs call their own now – up from 19% in 2010. Similar numbers gets the Blackberry in terms of popularity – an increase from 18% to 20%. The iPad is also becoming more popular among business leaders, with 15% of them now owning one.

“In a rapidly changing world, Europe’s decision makers are challenged with not just keeping up with technology change, but also ‘driving change’ within their respective sectors. Throughout 2010, Europe experienced some the most advanced innovations in mobile technology the region has ever seen.” Mike Jeanes, Director of Research, CNBC EMEA

Spot On!
The CNBC study states the importance and changing development of mobile use for the business decision maker. The message is that websites will continue to lose value against apps on mobile devices among business leaders. News apps are the most popular application segment for the respondents. 75% of respondents said they use them followed by weather (54%) and social networking (39%). The study makes clear that top management is trying to get in touch and keep up with the pace of technology innovation. However, time still seems to be their biggest enemy…

Web or App? Nielsen study knows usage time of Android smartphone users

According to the latest findings of research firm Nielsen that tracks and analyses iOS and Android data, smartphone users spend twice as much time on applications than on mobile version of these websites. The study reveals also that –although there are millions of apps in the world- only “a very small proportion of apps make up the vast majority of time spent”.

The average Android smartphone user spends 56 minutes a day using apps and browsing the internet. Two-thirds of that time is usage of apps, the rest goes to mobile websites and 39% acccount for consumer app consumption. The study illustration below shows that mobile device owners spent almost half of their usage time on their top 10 favorite apps and 51% on their favorite 20 apps.

Let’s give it a guess… Probably most of the app usage of mobile device owners accounts for the following usage time: Checking email apps, Facebook, Foursquare or Gowalla, Twitter, and some of their favorite and coolest news or geeky gaming apps (very often used by their kids). And if you look at the top (free) list of apps you find Angry Birds, Angry Birds Rio, Google Maps, YouTube, Facebook Mobile, Skype, Tiny Flashlight, Viber and Drag Racing amoungst others.

The study supports my own feeling that although we continue to download apps and spend (2010 per user: Android 1,97 USD, iPhone 21,22 USD), we only use most of them them periodically, and only a few continously if the give us permanent benefit in networking or staying up-to-date on news.

Well, the time will come when HTML5 might change the market situation and developers will have an easy time working with apps. Amazon’s Kindle Cloud Reader gives insights in what is possible with HTML5 for the mobile web.

Spot On!
The study does not really give an answer to the question yet, or can give a recommendation to management. Still, Seeing these numbers, just imagine the chances companies and brands have when launching a new app to get under the hiflyer apps in the smartphone user market. Ideally, think about the five strategic reason that could make your app successful and be aware of the fact that most brand apps fail.