SOURCE: Aberdeen Group

October 09, 2008 16:37 ET

Sales 2.0: Social Media for Knowledge Management and Sales Collaboration

73% of Best-in-Class Companies Plan to Increase the Budget for the Enterprise Use of Social Media Technologies in 2009, Compared to 60% of All Others

BOSTON, MA--(Marketwire - October 9, 2008) - As the proliferation of social computing has forever changed the way customers gain information and feedback concerning a particular company's products or services, sales representatives are challenged to sell to a prospect base that potentially knows as much, if not more, about the competitive landscape than the reps themselves. This new challenge has caused a number of companies to implement social media solutions within the enterprise as a way to more effectively connect sales representatives to the subject-matter experts they seek. A recent study, "Sales 2.0: Social Media for Knowledge Management and Sales Collaboration," conducted by the Aberdeen Group, a Harte-Hanks Company (NYSE: HHS), reveals that 59% of Best-in-Class companies consider the use of social media collaboration tools within the sales department to be a priority to the organization, compared to 35% of all others. Aberdeen's report reveals how top performing companies currently blend process and technology to achieve a higher level of collaboration and, ultimately, a superior sales performance. To obtain a complimentary copy of the report, visit: http://www.aberdeen.com/link/sponsor.asp?cid=5308.

The pressure to increase top-line revenue growth (63%) and improve overall sales productivity (60%) were identified by survey respondents as the top two pressures causing organizations to focus resources on the organizational capabilities and technology enablers use to improve sales performance. Nearly a third of respondents (32%) also cited the need to compete with increasing customer and prospect knowledge of products and competitive differentiators as a factor when determining spend on sales performance. Best-in-Class companies indicated that they currently implement formal and documented sales processes (66%), solicit the support of senior management for internal-facing social media solutions (55%), and currently have, or plan to have in the near future, defined performance metrics to measure the impact of social media on sales productivity.

"The result of an increased number of companies welcoming, and in some cases facilitating, online conversations about their product or services, is ultimately a more knowledgeable and informed customer. In order to properly understand the business challenges of such a customer base and more efficiently map their own products and services to these challenges, sales representatives must have access to the tools that allow for quick and easy internal collaboration," explains Alex Jefferies, Senior Research Associate at Aberdeen Group. "By connecting sales reps to subject-matter experts, allowing them to collaborate on project or procedural documents, or simply reducing the amount of time spent looking for answers to frequently asked questions, organizations can shorten their sales cycles and improve overall sales productivity. The use of social media solutions within the enterprise better prepares sales representatives to answer questions from prospects who understand the competitive landscape, thereby allowing them to work smarter, not harder," Jefferies concludes.

The report demonstrates the value of collectively leveraging organizational practices in process, performance measurement, knowledge management, and technology to provide a foundation for sales success. By combining organizational capabilities with a strong focus on enterprise social media solutions, Best-in-Class companies are able to positively affect performance in average deal size and increase market share.

The research educates readers about the various aspects of sales collaboration. The report also identifies Best-in-Class performance as a result of sales performance initiatives and the use of enterprise social media solutions, compared to the Industry Average and Laggards. A complimentary copy of this report is made available due in part to the following underwriters: eTouch Samepage (www.etouch.net), StreetSmarts (www.streetsmarts.com), Landslide (www.landslide.com), and Telligent (www.telligent.com). Furthermore, this research is being disseminated to the market through the support of various media outlets, such as the ECT News network and ITO America. To obtain a complimentary copy of the report, visit: http://www.aberdeen.com/link/sponsor.asp?cid=5308.

To access all of Aberdeen's complimentary research please visit http://research.aberdeen.com.

About Aberdeen Group, a Harte-Hanks Company

Aberdeen is a leading provider of fact-based research and market intelligence that delivers demonstrable results. Having benchmarked more than 30,000 companies in the past two years, Aberdeen is uniquely positioned to educate users to action: driving market awareness, creating demand, enabling sales, and delivering meaningful return-on-investment analysis. As the trusted advisor to the global technology markets, corporations turn to Aberdeen™ for insights that drive decisions.

As a Harte-Hanks Company, Aberdeen plays a key role of putting content in context for the global direct and targeted marketing company. Aberdeen's analytical and independent view of the "customer optimization" process of Harte-Hanks (Information - Opportunity - Insight - Engagement - Interaction) extends the client value and accentuates the strategic role Harte-Hanks brings to the market. For additional information, visit Aberdeen http://www.aberdeen.com or call (617) 723-7890, or to learn more about Harte-Hanks, call (800) 456-9748 or go to http://www.harte-hanks.com.

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