For some reason, sales intelligence vendors have never properly understood social selling and how to integrate social media into their products. This has long amazed me. Instead of building an integrated social media viewing tool with sharing and feedback, they all seem to nibble around the edges. You’ll find social hyperlinks directly from company or contact profiles, but these simply window out to the social media site. Also fairly common is the inclusion of corporate blogs into their news and sales trigger feeds, but fully integrated social media tools have yet to be offered by vendors.
The closest any of them have come is InsideView which added a Buzz Tab about five years ago to its InsideView for Sales product. The Buzz Tab provides a consolidated view of blogs, Facebook, and Twitter feeds. However, the social content remains segregated from their other discovery tools and the population of Facebook and Twitter feeds is limited. Other social tools include a Who Knows Who “Six Degrees” tool and the inclusion of Personal Tweets from business executives in their alerts.
There are also a set of social selling tools that focus on social media, blogs, and news but which are light on company and contact information. As these tools improve, one of the sales intelligence vendors is going to make a build vs. buy decision and either OEM the upcoming service or buy a social selling service outright.
What tools such as Artesian Software, Owler, Contify, and Trapit do isn’t revolutionary. They basically provide a unified view of news and social content. Users can filter the feeds and interact with the posts. If a free service such as Owler can build such functionality, why can’t the sales intelligence vendors? Core functionality could provide the following features:
- A deep set of direct links for companies and executives to LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, G+, etc.
- A unified view of the corporate social media content across Twitter, Facebook, SlideShare, YouTube, Vimeo, corporate blogs, business blogs, etc. This view would be easily filterable by source, date, keyword, etc.
- Social Media Metrics for a company charted over time. If the company is also selling into the marketing department, then comparative metrics should be available.
- When filtering Twitter, allow the user to see both the Tweets from a company and mentions (these are separate options).
- Support basic widgets from the major social media vendors. These are small applets that display key statistics along with a brief description and logo/headshot.
- Allow any news article, sales trigger, or social media post to be shared via social media, enterprise social (e.g. Chatter, Yammer), and email.
- Support expanded alerts that include targeted social media alongside sales triggers. Thus, an alert could consist of the half dozen most important sales trigger topics, Twitter posts from the company, Blog headlines, and YouTube / Vimeo uploads.
- Executive alerts based upon social media posts and news mentions.
Who Know Who Six degree tools are also worth considering, but this functionality is so well locked up by LinkedIn that relationship discovery tools have remained a standalone category. Amongst Sales Intelligence vendors, only InsideView and DueDil Connect have built relationship finder tools in competition with LinkedIn.
To be fair, the sales intelligence vendors all understood early on that they needed to work with LinkedIn. Most of them adopted the LinkedIn widget or the LinkedIn API to provide relationship and executive intelligence into their service. But then LinkedIn decided it was going to offer its own sales intelligence service called Sales Navigator and began blocking sales intelligence vendor access to LinkedIn. Since then, with the exception of InsideView, the sales intelligence firms have done little to integrate social content into their services. Hopefully, the vendors begin to see this gap in their offerings and begin to address it.