It’s no secret: I am not a fan of the emerging class of “Sales 2.0″ tools that let reps follow online visitors or peer into their browsing habits. In a prior post, I admitted that I did not see how chasing anonymous Web traffic helps reps manage assigned accounts or follow up on well-qualified leads delivered by marketing. I believe marketing should strive to put sales out of the business of cold calling. So I am quick to dismiss these tools in my research and advice.
Until last week when I discovered a new software application that helps reps do what they need to do: build and mine relationships with prospects. Kevin D’Souza, long-time colleague and friend from my Stratify days (where I worked prior to joining the analyst ranks), introduced me to 7 Degrees, a very small tech firm where he’s handling sales and business development today. 7 Degrees is the team behind PeopleMaps — a tools that lets you leverage personal and professional networks to let you see how you connect with other people, especially those inside of companies (see the screenshot where I used PeopleMaps to see how I am connected to Gord Hotchkiss, co-founder of Enquiro, a search engine marketing agency, and author of a new book about the BuyerSphere — a topic for a future blog post. Not surprisingly, most roads to Gord lead through SEMPO, the search engine marketing professional organization that he chairs).
Why does this tool appeal to me as a B2B marketer? Because it helps sales folks make first contact AFTER the lead management process delivers a qualified prospect to their SFA inbox. It helps salespeople prioritize which hot leads to pursue. It helps mine relationships that can make warm introductions to prospective buyers. Combining PeopleMaps with lead management information culled from an Eloqua, Marketo, Silverpop, or any of the other vendor’s I’ve mentioned in my market overview gets sales closer to that fabled “360 degree view” of the client.
Marketing lead management gives sales the qualification information — demographics, contact history, interaction insights, and buyer behavior cues — and PeopleMaps then shows sales how they connect to the prospect through a social graph of personal contacts and relationships. Sales isn’t making cold calls; their building off of existing relationships to form new ones. And isn’t that what sales does best?
Check out PeopleMaps for yourself and let me know what you think. I would also be interested in hearing from you about similar tools you have seen or experienced. For example, I think technologies from companies like LinkedIn and ZoomInfo show who is who and that connections exist, while PeopleMaps shows how these connections occur.
Bottomline: If marketing wants to enable sales and leverage technology to do so, then providing tools that help sales foster relationships, and continue the dialog marketing starts, will be key to achieving a real closed-loop process between marketing teams (who develop the market) and sales (who sell to it.)
Note: In light of recent FCC rulings, I am disclosing that Kevin did pay for lunch last week. Not that it really should matter , but that’s my disclosure of a “material connection” to Kevin and 7 Degrees.