The preponderance of business and social data on customers poses both an opportunity and a challenge for today’s sales professionals.  Given changing customer behaviors and demands, engaging today’s socially-savvy customer – Customer 2.0 – requires a lot more than a grasp of the basic facts and figures about their companies.  It requires relevance at the time of engagement.  Reps need a 360 degree view into their prospects that incorporates recent business events, social conversations and social relationships.

Fortunately opportunities to gather both business and social data are abundant, and data consolidation certainly simplifies this process.  However, the challenge is extracting the salient points from such information for the purpose of increasing sales.  Sales reps need to be able to make sense out of this ubiquitous and sometimes conflicting mountain of data and turn it into actionable insights to engage the prospect. [tweetmeme source= “insideview” only_single=false]

Social networks like Twitter and LinkedIn (as well as the entire blogosophere) are target-rich environments to find new opportunities and leads, and engage with prospects in a powerful and effectively intelligent new way. So what is holding companies back? Of the dozen or so objections I have heard, my conclusion is: FEAR. Fear that their sales team will not produce results, fear that the sales team will waste their time online and fear that their sales teams will do or say something online that will tarnish their brand and kill sales. The fact of the matter is, NOT letting sales professionals engage on social media is detrimental to the bottom line for the reasons below.

The sales productivity challenge can be addressed by putting in the right sales intelligence infrastructure in place to discover the relevant pieces of the prospect puzzle from all of these available sources, including social media.  A single “go-to” intelligence source helps sales professionals identify the most relevant, up-to-date and actionable insights about their prospects and customer with ease and efficiency –  driving sales productivity throughout the sales cycle.

Cases in point:

“Our decision to switch to InsideView was driven by our desire to consolidate multiple data sources into a single stream as well as improve the quality and relevance of the intelligence our business development team relies on daily to formulate target account strategy,” said James Warren, director, global business development at RightNow Technologies.

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