When Salesforce acquired Radian6 in March 2011 the social business world was all aflutter on what this meant for the cloud computing powerhouse and the Rolls Royce of social media monitoring. Since then there has been much speculation on what Salesforce plans to do with the company and its technology and many hope that Dreamforce ’11 will house the reveal. In anticipation of #DF11 I’d like to look ahead at how social sentiment could impact sales and marketing functions and showcase some ideas on how Salesforce could parlay their Radian6 acquisition into a much larger evolution of the sales process.
Closing the sale is always easier when someone is happy
In today’s world of mass social media marketing, individuals (B2B decision makers and B2C consumers) are hit with general advertisements everywhere they turn from emails, banner ads, page takeovers, sponsored links, promoted tweets and others. Even with well-targeted advertisements it will do a marketer less good to advertise to someone who is sad, angry or melancholy versus someone who is happy, joyful, whimsical or otherwise non-negative. Think about it: it is easier for someone to advertise to you (or talk to you, influence you, etc) when you are happy or at least “normal” versus when you are feeling an adverse emotion such as anger, sadness or hurt. Good salespeople can sense a person’s mood during an in-person or over the phone interaction once engaged; however, how can one do this before the meeting, call or before sending a @mention on twitter or replying to a post on a Facebook page?
Social sentiment monitoring is not just for brands anymore
Brand sentiment analysis and other media insights have helped turn companies like Radian6 and Alterian into social household names. The value brought by monitoring a brand’s sentiment/image in the social world is well worth the price paid for the monitoring services as company executives and community managers are able to see the collective sentiment of their audience and can tailor brand messaging accordingly. This is a powerful tool in a company’s response toolkit and has helped in recovering missed or failed service opportunities and even generated new sales leads. So if we can monitor the sentiment of a brand or company why can’t we do the same for individuals and consumers? We can (and we soon will).
Introducing Social Sentiment Marketing (SSM) for B2B decision markers, B2C consumers
Let’s re-purpose the technology used to measure brand sentiment and instead use it to measure the sentiment of a specific individual. Imagine the power given to sales and marketing teams if they could know whether a person was ready to receive their marketing or sales messaging before delivering it. The salesperson or team would be able to tailor their messaging (or potentially cancel or reschedule the delivery of the messaging) given the current analysis of that person’s social sentiment profile. For example, if my tweets or other social communications are generally negative (using the #fail hashtag, specific words like “sad, busy, horrible, long day”, or a number of factors) it might be in a marketer’s best interest to delay their sales pitch or advertisement to another time when I am more apt to favorably receive their message.
In another use-case if I were looking to start building a relationship with a person over twitter to hopefully lead to a sales or related engagement it would behoove me to not @mention them if they are generally negative that day. Even more important would be to certainly not mention or engage with them in a specific topic that they view negatively unless of course I am attempting to solve that problem. On a more general scale as an advertiser I would rather spend my advertising budget on people who are ready to receive my messaging rather than someone who, according to sentiment analysis, is more likely to ignore or resent it. An interesting twist would be to see the addition of social sentiment being added to other demographic data points when determining the target market for an advert.
How Salesforce might use this to evolve the sales process
Salesforce could use its acquisition of Radian6 to make sentiment analysis involved at almost every step of the sales process. Imagine Salesforce showing you the sentiment score or rating for all of your leads, accounts and contacts. Now add to this the current trends or topics of this record in the social space (think Chatter or even Twitter trending topics) and you have a pretty holistic view of that record before engaging with it. Automated workflows to kickoff social communications and messaging can use sentiment analysis as an input to the qualifying criteria and can now be programmed to look for a time when that person/account has a positive sentiment or just seems to be actively engaged.
This could be particularly useful for sorting leads or contacts at different times of day. If a person seems to be more socially active with a positive sentiment during the morning versus the afternoon it makes sense to prioritize any activities with them earlier in the day rather than later. This data could also be used to determine the best person to contact that day if you have multiple contact options for the account. Moving into cross-channel and mashups we can explore an even more engaging and powerful use case. Using this technology you could have Salesforce automatically create or update an opportunity based on sentiment or context analysis of a record’s social communications and then use Chatter to update followers of that record on the prime opportunity to engage. Adding a mashup into the mix (such as google flu trends for HCPs) could prove even more useful since now Salesforce can bump up the context and sentiment against a predefined set of rules (including mashup content) to create even more informed record or workflow process. The possibilities seem endless.
So what will Salesforce unveil at DF11? It is anyone’s guess really; however, we are certain to see a paradigm shift in the way sales and marketing processes work moving forward.
Leave me your thoughts in the comments or tweet me on Twitter!