Social Collaboration: Does It Hurt Or Help Sales?

Daisy Hernandez

In a recent blog post, author Michael Mischker posited that online collaboration tools can potentially harm your business. He chalks this up to what he terms a “too many cooks” scenario, where so many people get involved in a project, it becomes difficult to reach a consensus on anything.

It’s a fascinating post with a number of great points. And while Mischker makes a strong case against social collaboration, there are simply too many statistics that highlight the real benefits, particularly in sales.

The evidence of collaboration being a boon to sales

Sales organizations are in a tenuous state at many companies. Forty-four percent of sales executives believe their organizations ineffectively manage the sales pipeline, according to a 2014 Vantage Point Performance and Sales Management Association survey. Moreover, a 2014 Aberdeen Group report stated that two out of every three sales reps fail to meet their quotas.

Fortunately, there’s hope, and that hope lies in social collaboration tools.

In a recent Total Economic Impact report, market research firm Forrester asserted that social collaboration software can help organizations:

  • Reduce time to close, resulting in 9.63 million new deals over three years
  • Decrease sales enablement time, shortening the onboarding process of new sales hires by 13%
  • Improve the customer experience by solving issues 10% faster, leading to more favorable brand sentiment and future sales
  • Increase speed of information, enabling the workforce, including sales, to be 14% more productive

Best of all, a company’s investment in the right social collaboration tools could potentially pay off exponentially. Forrester estimates that businesses that use social collaboration software could see an ROI of over 500%!

Six ways sales can increase revenue with collaboration

Throughout his blog post, Mischker concedes that, despite potential issues, social collaboration tools can, in fact, “allow us to work more efficiently and effectively than ever before.”

“Without tools like this,” he says, “many modern companies would cease to function.”

The sales line of business, in particular, would benefit from the use of social collaboration tools. Organizations can use this software to connect salespeople, customers, partners, and suppliers with the information they need to supercharge sales.

Here are six ways social collaboration tools can help your sales team succeed:

  1. Develop effective account strategies: Understanding your customers’ greatest business challenges takes time. By combining the expertise of your colleagues, you can put your organization in a better position to determine how to create the most customer value and increase sales.
  1. Sell as a team: An individual salesperson rarely possesses the diverse expertise or time necessary to carry out the various tasks it takes to make a deal. With a team of collaborating salespeople or partners at your disposal, you can ensure that your customers are receiving the right messaging or piece of information at precisely the right time to drive sales.
  1. Build ongoing relationships with customers: One-third of salespeople say their ability to effectively communicate with customers needs improvement, according to CSO Insights. With social collaboration software, you can develop an online customer engagement community that enables prospective buyers to solicit input directly from a more appropriate product/service expert or watch videos or read documentation to gain additional information.
  1. Find experts or information in real time: The best way to keep a deal moving forward is by providing your customers with the right information at the right time. Having the most relevant, up-to-date information or access to the most informed expert when you need it is the key to success. Using a social collaboration solution designed to support this is the best enabler to achieving this goal.
  1. Accelerate salesperson onboarding: Training new staff can be a lengthy process, especially if a recently hired individual is learning the ropes from a single colleague. Social collaboration tools allow you to fully immerse new employees in the content they need to succeed in their new roles. In addition to having a wealth of information at their fingertips, they can engage with an entire community of their peers to gain insight.
  1. Stop searching, start selling: Customers rely on information to inform their decision-making processes. Oftentimes, they receive this information from salespeople. The quicker salespeople can access the latest case studies, marketing materials, and FAQs, the faster they can get back to the business of selling. Social collaboration tools make enabling the field easier than ever by serving as a comprehensive database for whatever helpful resources you need – at a moment’s notice.

Social collaboration tools work – when you deploy the right ones and use them properly

Mischker concludes his blog post by saying that “getting your teams to use their digital tools effectively is the key” – and he’s absolutely right.

He even offers some advice on how to work more effectively using collaboration tools:

“[W]e just need to figure out what works best for different tasks, keeping a close eye on how many cooks are being invited into the kitchen.”

Cooking metaphors aside, each individual is responsible for managing how he or she uses social collaboration tools. But more importantly, companies must make sure that they’re deploying the proper applications in the first place, and they must set expectations accordingly for how their staff ought to be using this software.

Not all social collaboration tools are made equally. Some are designed specifically to facilitate instant messaging. Others are designed to support sales enablement or customer engagement. There are even some all-encompassing social collaboration platforms on the market, which can support the various sales, service, marketing, HR, and other teams throughout your organization.

At the end of the day, the effective application of the right social collaboration software will undoubtedly benefit your employees, whether they need to access a recently updated document or connect with a knowledgeable colleague halfway around the world.

Continue your education on how social collaboration software can positively impact your organization. Watch this on-demand Webcast, hosted by Forrester Research: Collaboration to Supercharge Sales, Service, and Marketing.


Daisy Hernandez

About Daisy Hernandez

Daisy Hernandez is Global VP of Product Management at SAP. Under her executive leadership she leads product management and enablement for SAP Jam Collaboration. She is an experience professional who has held several leadership positions with specialties in social software, collaboration applications, cloud computing, enterprise software, agile methodologies and management.