Selling Web 2.0

Another good article from Selling Power. The long and short is if you are selling Web 2.0 style technology, there are some good things to look out for.

Before they get deeply involved in Web 2.0 technology, many companies will busily assess the social culture and processes in the current workplace, before using social software, and redirecting IT to give priority to openness, usability, people-centricity, and flexibility.

Therefore, if you’re involved in selling software that falls under the Web 2.0 bailiwick, your specific challenge will be to identify companies ready to make this transition and help them through the culture knotholes.

But there is good news.

For software vendors that successfully manage this feat, the rewards are likely to be substantial. Gartner estimates that the enterprise social software revenue market will reach $226.9 million in 2007 and will increase to more than $707.7 million by 2011, reaching a 41.1 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2006 to 2011. Gartner further predicts that by 2012, the primary role of business networks will be to support social interactions rather than routine business transactions.

On Joining Socialtext

Many moons ago, during my brief stint at Hyperion, we used Sharepoint. If you are not familiar with it, Sharepoint is a decent tool for sharing files, but it is far, really far from a true collaboration solution. There are a lot of limitations that I’ll go into at some point, but, in short, it was easier to use email for collaboration. As a sales manager, with a distributed workforce, I needed something a bit better than this. I started to look at various enterprise wiki tools and came across Socialtext. I really liked the user friendliness of the tool and, from a security standpoint, it met the needs of the company. Shortly thereafter, Hyperion was purchased by Oracle and my search for a wiki ended promptly.

Fast forward to Yahoo. I was asked to be part of an external wiki project for the customer care team. “Sweet,” says I, “We’ve got to evaluate Socialtext!” Which we did. The product was easy to use (important for a large number of Yahoo users), customizable (important for the Yahoo branding people) and able to set user access rights for internal and external users (important so that we could have a hierarchy of users). It did pretty much everything that was needed. Then the group got a new VP and all priorities were thrown out the window for new priorities. Damn.

However, during my 2 experiences with Socialtext, I found a company that a.) had a great, easy to use product that met a lot of really diverse needs b.) had a great staff of people that were truly interested in our success.

In doing some more homework, I found that the company had a fantastic board and management team, an extremely experienced and successful staff and a giant list of marquee customers. I had a tough time finding anything negative about company.

I soon found that Socialtext was looking at growing their sales team and I’ve been wanting to work at a start-up again for a long time. After several conversations with the team at Socialtext, I decided to make the move.

While it’s only been one day, I’m really excited about the prospects of the company and the Enterprise 2.0 space. There are a lot of things about Socialtext that remind me of WebEx. More on that later. For now, it is good to be working on Wiki Way.

Web 2.0 Sales Tools – RSS

This is the 3rd in a series that I’ve been doing on web 2.0 tools that can be used for sales professionals. The other 2 are available here (blogs) and here (Instant Messaging). This will be a 2 part post two with the second part being more detailed on how to use Yahoo! Pipes to create a really nice front end for your feed.

RSSI know that you’ve seen this little button on just about every website you’ve ever been to, but you may not know exactly what it means. This means that you can subscribe to the content and have it delivered to your inbox (if your email client supports RSS) or directly to your RSS feeder. Sweet, huh? How does that help you? Simple, it provides you with the most up to date information about your clients. Knowledge is power.

But first, let’s go back a bit – Subscribe?
You can have content pushed to you. For example, let’s say that you go to the same website several times a day. You go to that site once an hour and find that sometimes that content is updated and sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes, when you go to the site, you get great information and sometimes you don’t. But still you go. Wouldn’t it be great if the latest headlines get sent to you? That is what RSS does.

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. It is a stupid name. I’m actually pretty surprised that with all the great minds publishing via RSS, that no one has come up with a better term. I’ll leave that to someone with better ideas than I have. That little orange box above allows you to subscribe to that content and have it delivered directly to your RSS reader.

How do I get an RSS Reader?
Getting an RSS reader couldn’t be easier. If you haven’t already navigated away from this page, you probably already have an RSS reader and don’t know how to use it. It’s cool. There are a bunch of them out there. I use MyYahoo and Google Reader.

One of my biggest complaints about MyYahoo was that it doesn’t tell you what you have read and what you haven’t. It is sort of a half done RSS reader. Thankfully, I’ve seen the next rev of the service and it looks great, so I’m going to be migrating back as soon as I can get my hands on that one. So really, all you need to do is to sign up for one of those services and you are off and running. There are a number of other good hosted RSS readers out there, I just don’t use them so I’m not really qualified to speak to them.

If you are more into having the reader already baked into your browser, both IE & Firefox have RSS readers in them. If you don’t subscribe to a service, you can use this and by clicking on the orange box, the browser will prompt you to get it. It isn’t a great experience on either account. I can’t figure out how to default the RSS reader in IE to something that isn’t IE. In Firefox, simply go to Tools | Options | Feeds.

Okay, I got my reader how do I use it to sell
Go crazy and subscribe to everything related to your clients and prospects. A couple of hints:

Build a list of clients in Yahoo! Finance and subscribe to the news feed for all of them. For example, if I have eBay, Intel, Chevron & Intuit as clients, I’ll go to Yahoo! Finance and do a search like this:

Look in the address bar and you will see that little orange box (it’s a wide image and I didn’t want to mess with my formatting). You can subscribe to this feed.

Press that little orange button. Now assuming you signed up for an RSS reader properly (Google Reader), you will get a window that looks like this:
Google Reader

Press the ‘Add to Google Reader’ button on the right side. And now you are subscribing to content about your clients. Nicely nicely, thank you.

Now, Go Accumulate Feeds
Where? First, I’d make two lists. The first of paying customers. The second for prospects. Not for any reason other than I tend to be more compartmentalized when I work. The first place that I would start is with the above example. I’d take all of my publicly traded companies and make two lists. Then I’d go to Technorati and build the same type of list. After that, I’d start looking at all of my clients and subscribing to all of their blogs.

Knowledge is power. The more you know about your customers, the better you will do. All of the information that pertains to their business is at your fingertips. eBay having undervalued assets in PayPal funds, how will it affect your Q4 deal? Dell maybe not making their number? It’s going to impact Intel next quarter. $100 oil might impact shipments of goods, what does it do to your deal at Chevron? Etcetera, etcetera.

You can see how this would get addicting. In my world right now, I have about 200 feeds that I subscribe to. Once you get used to it, though, you can skim through a few hundred headlines in just a few minutes. You learn to pick out what is important and what isn’t.

It is still a lot, though. My next post will be on Yahoo! Pipes, which is an amazing tool that does more than I would ever be able to write about. One thing that it does really well is consolidate a lot of RSS feeds into one pipe. It makes management a whole lot easier.

Until then, good selling.

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