“Social media are tools, Real time is a mindset.” – David Meerman Scott
Once the mindset is there, you still do need the tools. In this section, I will go over some of the tools to consider. For a very long list, go here. I have not used most of these tools, nor do I necessarily recommend them, and have not received any compensation for their mention. (I do have a free HubSpot CRM account). These are here as examples. Please do your research beyond this list and think about the tools you need after you have decided on your real time workflow.
Free Tools or Freemium Tools
Most B2B SaaS services are not freemium, but the cost per month is low enough for many businesses to try. Freemium tends to work very well with the social tools themselves because they are on the B2C side as well, allowing a small firm to grow into the paid offering.
If you are a small firm like me, or prefer to test out options first, here are a few free options. Remember, “free” means “no cash needed,” not “no work or customization needed.”
- Google Alerts and Google News
- HubSpot CRM & Sidekick
- Embedding search URLs to various platforms.
LinkedIn is the number one free tool for salespeople as well as for marketers. A good salesperson can use LinkedIn effectively without paying because it lets you find people up to 3 levels out, making it possible to glean enough detail to contact them directly. Marketers find LinkedIn effective because there are several third party tools for connecting (or scraping) LinkedIn details for sales prospectors. (I don’t think scraping is an effective, or ethical use of LinkedIn). Marketing ops finds that connecting LinkedIn to their MAP and CRM with the free API is the best use of time. In the New Rules of Sales and Service, Scott describes the training a salesperson should undergo to use LinkedIn well.
Eventually, Sales and Sales Operations will want to go further. It is possible to do this by paying LinkedIn for improved levels of access for your Sales team. Marketing, of course, can pay for PPC ads or engage carefully in Group Discussions. As with any forum, I advise you to be helpful and to share content that will be viewed as helpful. Too many people spam Groups and it is really, really obvious. I am probably guilty of this too even though I try to frame my content as a question (very effective) and not use the content to promote my paid services.
To add power to your LinkedIn, see options like Sales Navigator.
This tool usually starts out in Marketing as the social media manager’s free tool, eventually becoming the marketing team’s paid team tool for monitoring across social media. I have used the paid service (and currently use the free service) and have found it very effective for scheduling, monitoring, and engaging across platforms. I have not used the reporting features or UberVU via Hootsuite. The Marketo Integration pulls in engagement conversations and creates new records from the Hoosuite Dashboard.
LeadSift is ideal for those attempting to buy social media ads or engage specific follower groups. I would be careful with this one in the twitter context simply because many brands have had automated messages appear ham-handed and too obviously automated.
Web Enablement Options
While HubSpot’s Sidekick and Hootsuite’s browser plugin come to mind, what other tools are there for marketers and salespeople to instantly research someone they find on the web?
- Riffle – seems possible to do this, but they are a bit vague on what they offer over Hootsuite. Social Media Examiner explains the tool displays details of the top things the Twitter user does on Twitter.
- Buffer or Buffer for Business which helps your team schedule posts and directly act from a web page, much like Hootsuite’s tool.
Nimble is a social CRM service designed very similarly to HubSpot’s CRM. The conversation and timeline views are integrated with backend company data to reduce manual data entry. The platform includes a marketplace and appears to offer more social platforms built right into the monitoring portion of the tool.
This is another social tool that is quickly becoming a platform by itself. In fact, their homepage has a grid explaining their feature set against solutions and functional needs. If anything, this may make it hard to decide how to use Sprinklr if other tools already exist. Expect more community integration with their acquisition of Get Satisfaction this year. They also have an integration with Marketo, among others.
Part of operating a firm in real time is integrating your help and support systems with your CRM and Marketing. Your customer success and support teams should be able to monitor conversations in real time too, and connect those conversations back to customer records. There are many tools besides ZenDesk, yet it seems this is the one everyone talks about when they don’t mention Salesforce ServiceCloud. ZenDesk has built in listening and behavior tools alongside a robust ecosystem of social integrations.
A few articles mentioned this tool. It seems aimed mostly at PR professionals and content marketers looking to stay on top of trends and sentiment.
Configure Price Quote Tools (CPQ)
CPQ is not often mentioned in the martech stack because it tends to be owned by sales operations and enablement. This is an important part of the real-time stack because rapidly generating proposals and stock arguments are important for a closer. If the CPQ system can pull in real-time information to prompt customization or even just drop in the latest adjustments from product marketing, that’s a big win. I find Sales teams are very concerned with speed and avoiding “administrative” tasks, including proposal generation. CPQ tends to be more effective at larger firms with clear, but complex pricing sheets and product options. In terms of real-time sales, be careful to add the human touch instead of sending along a standard proposal written by marketing only.
Tool options include
Much has been written, and announced, about how Salesforce handles real time for each function at each stage of the funnel. The recent changes with Lightning should offer improvements to the real time aspects of Salesforce.
First, it is easy to add social media search links to any record page layout. There is the native functionality as well as the link tools, which can leverage LinkedIn and Google, or even Google News Alerts. If that’s not enough for you, then it is time to add more SFDC components.
Second, the evolution of Salsforce seems aimed to keep your entire funnel staff on one screen: Salesforce.com. While Marketo wants to be a marketer’s “third screen,” the vision of a single screen is far more compelling. The question is whether or not it can be done in a way that is actually adopted. It is rare for a complete suite to function well for everyone. Time will tell.
Here’s what SFDC offers us to help make real time a reality:
- Salesforce1 enabled new mobile functions, customizations, and even a new view of Marketo Sales Insight. Now Sales can see more on the go and, hopefully, take action.
- Radian6 & the Marketing Cloud. This embeds social listening and engagement for Sales and Marketing.
- Marketing Cloud: covers everything from email to customers with the tools from ExactTarget and Pardot, although Pardot is still somewhat separate. The full service includes web personalization as well.
- Sales Cloud provides new real time tools such as Engage, bringing together all the data a customer or lead might have and making it more actionable. I suspect the amount of work required to make this work for your sales team is pretty heavy.
- Service Cloud claims to integrate cases, chat, and social. Ideally, each section of SFDC should allow the employee to respond in the original medium first, and if needed, invite the customer to a more private discussion.
Marketo Sales Insight and RTP
Marketo’s main offering typically includes Sales Insight, which is a plugin for the CRM. I have only worked with the SFDC version. MSI, as it is sometimes known, is an effective real time sales tool because it posts real time behaviors to the Lead record in SFDC. Marketo can be configured to trigger email or SFDC alerts to bring the salesperson back to the record. If Sales is using their mobile device, they can use Salesforce1 with MSI to see their latest Interesting Moments and response behaviors from their leads. MSI also works with SFDC to email leads with approved content and with Outlook or Gmail to record email interactions to SFDC and Marketo.
Marketo’s Real Time Personalization tools work a bit differently. RTP is designed for marketers to more effectively tailor their website to post offers or adjust messaging to the specific lead. Of course, this requires effective buyer personas and clean data to drive the system. Normally, I’d recommend a good data cleansing and appending automation for this one to show great results. RTP can go hand-in-hand with a retargeting program. See Bizible’s amazing work with this exact situation.
Even if you do not want to spring for Marketo’s real time add-ons, there are ways of using tokens and dynamic content to appear more real-time to leads. Users of Marketo Standard and up get dynamic content options in email and pages which, when built carefully, have the effect of real time personalization.
HubSpot CRM, Sidekick, and Marketing
For the past two years, HubSpot has been working to make their tools work more closely with Sales just as much as they are building real time principles into the platform. This is no surprise because David Meerman Scott is one of their advisers.
- HubSpot Content Optimization System – this is their version of dynamic content and tokenization. Marketers use this with their buyer personas to quickly adjust messaging based on a lead’s details.
- Marketing – along with COS, HubSpot displays social details for each lead and can pass this information along to Sales or Marketing. The contact view is in a timeline format with all marketing and lead engagement and behavior data in one view.
- CRM and Sidekick – these two freemium services work hand-in-glove to deliver the conversation timeline, record lead behaviors, and alert the salesperson to opens, clicks, and other changes. I have been using these two for a few months and am increasingly happy with the CRM tool, although I tend to not care much about the Sidekick alerts. I suspect a Lead Development Rep (LDR/SDR) would very much want the alerting features for Gmail. Be careful though because open information is not to be confused with engagement or interest in your product.
For additional sources and reviews:
Account Based Marketing Tools
With ABM being the latest wave of discussion, it is worth mentioning that ABM can be considered real time as well. If your systems are designed to connect individuals to Accounts automatically, then Sales can see into major companies much more easily and take action when the Account reaches critical mass.
Bonus – Real Time Email
Recently I attended an event here in LA on the “future of email.” In the sales pitch, two vendors explained how they combined real time information at the time of open for email. The solution seemed targeted at B2C and ecommerce, yet there could be dozens of possibilities for B2B. Check out one option: LiveClicker. For those of you on the forums wondering how to make email more dynamic, this is one option. (And I have no idea how they do it!).
Vendor Ecosystems and Real Time Business
During my research, I began to see that to build a Real Time marketing and sales operations stack would mean a martech stack would resemble the multi-platform topology rather than a central platform. Social media tools integrate with MAPs, CRMs, and each other, leading to this multi-platform view. Several firms come to mind.
- Marketo’s Ecosystem
- HubSpot’s Ecosystem
- Hootsuite Ecosystem
- Oracle Eloqua’s Ecosystem
- Salesforce Appexchange
The Real Time Sales and Marketing Stack
As you consider vendors, remember what the constellation stack may look like:
Have you constructed your martech stack to be a real time system? Why or why not? How did you do so?
Disclosures: I received an advance copy of the New Rules of Sales & Service before it was released in 2014.