TALKING SALES 105: "Listen to your customer's customer"

John Smibert

Eavesdropping2              "Your customer's customer will tell you what you need to know to sell" - Interview by John Smibert

Adam FraserIn this discussion Adam Fraser makes the point that B2B salespeople selling to large B2C organisations can gain significant insight into their customer by listening to their customers on social.

Typical B2C suppliers include telco's financial institutions, retailers, energy suppliers, manufacturers, the auto industry and the travel industry.

These large institutions and their consumers rely heavily on social media like Twitter and Facebook for service provision.  And much of the dialogue is publicly accessible. So in listening to this we can learn a lot about the issues, challenges and opportunities that face these enterprises.

This is all great material to assist us in creating value for our customer through our sales conversations.

Adam goes on to tell us how to listen on social for this insight and talks about the tools that can be used to assist. See the full discussion below for great advice from Adam.

Adam Fraser is the founder of Echo Junction who help organisations and businesses leverage value from social media technology.


John: Hello, I'm with Adam Fraser again - welcome back, Adam!

Adam: Thanks, John!

John: Hey Adam, we had a good discussion about social listening and the need for salespeople to be in social listening as well as marketing. Off camera you suggested that we should be talking about customer service, and I said, "Why? Hang on there, we're talking about sales here, we're talking to a sales audience." What do you mean by customer service?

Adam: It's an interesting trend, John, just more broadly for the sales professional to understand that increasingly brands, enterprises, large-scale B2C based businesses are offering customer service over social media.

John: But we're talking to B2B salespeople, not B2C.

Adam: I think B2B2C, if you go on through, there can be some valuable insights there.

John: Okay, I understand. Let's explain customer service, and then let's go into how salespeople would be able to leverage it.

Adam: Sure. So, if you're a large-scale, customer-facing organisation, whereas 10, 15, 20 years ago your typical customer would maybe write to you, then obviously phone you, the phone call centre was the main thing. Move towards migration of email, the modern-day, forward-looking customer service centre will also offer customer service operations via social media.

John: So that's where I've got a problem with a product or a service or whatever, and I go on to social media to say, "Hey, this product stinks," or "This service stinks - I'm not happy."

Adam: "My broadband's down, my hotel room wasn't ready, my flight's running late," so typical... Think about banks and utilities, airlines, hotel groups, but there's a number of example use cases. Yes, so 10 years ago, John, you'd had to pick up a phone; even now you'd end up in a 1-800 number "Dial one for this, dial two for that," and so forth. You can now tweet to a brand, it's the most common platform, but also Facebook and LinkedIn can also be used, and many customers are finding they actually get better customer service via social media than via the telephone.

John: Okay. Now, I understand this, but, again, the question comes back. What does this mean to salespeople, particularly B2B, business-to-business salespeople? You mentioned B2B2C before, so I think that's something to do with that.

Adam: Yes. Look, if someone in your audience, John, is trying to target a certain product or service into a business organisation that itself is leveraging social media customer service... Again, there's enormous insights, as we discussed, in the social listening section. What problems are they typically facing from their consumers? How are they responding? You can get another real looking glass into the type of challenges that business is facing.

John: Okay. I think what you're saying then is if I were selling to say a telco, I should be listening on social for that telco's customer activity and what their customers are saying; this is going to give insight as to the challenges and issues my customer is facing that I might be able to help address.

Adam: I think that's right, John, there's almost two levels to it. Obviously you want to understand pretty much all aspects of the business you're targeting, so just knowing how their customer support channel functions, that it's phone, it's email, it's also social media. But secondly, yes, as you say, there may be some good clues and nuggets as to the typical problems their customers are facing that may help you come up with an angle or evaluating a service that they may need.

John: So, is this as simple as me hopping on Twitter and keying in the name of the telco, or is it something more than that?

Adam: Again, there are enterprise tools that can help you do this at scale, but if you're just trying to get a sort of peek into the headline issues, jump on to the brand's website, understand which channels they're currently offering social media service on; it could be the public Facebook wall, it could be LinkedIn, it could be most likely Twitter. And yes, have a browse of the typical customer service queries they're facing, and just deepen your understanding of the prospect.

John: But you did mention there are specific tools now, and a lot of enterprises are putting tools in that will help them to do this on a bigger scale, and the salespeople should be leveraging those tools.

Adam: Absolutely. If they're available within the enterprise that the sales professional works in, yes, there's plenty of tools out there that can help with all aspects of social media.

John: That's fantastic, and we'll talk more about those in a later interview.

Adam: Great - thanks, John.

John: Okay, so the key message that I'm getting is customer service now is being driven through social media, and if we think of that as a B2B salesperson or sales organisation, what does that mean to us? It means that we can actually see what's happening from our customer's customer point of view, which will help us with insight when we go in to solve some of their problems and help them, challenge them, to change - to provide better customer service.

Adam: Yes. You're understanding more about the telco or the utility or the company's operations, and you're also getting a very good peek into what their customers are struggling with.

John: I understand - great advice - thank you very much, Adam!

Adam: Thanks, John!

Go to @adamf2014 or to see and hear more of Adam.



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