According to recent figures from the Office of National Statistics, productivity in the UK has failed to increase since 2007, and the static level of our worker’s output per hour is unique amongst advanced economies. Apparently, it takes a worker in Britain five days to complete a task that an employee in France would complete in four.
Other warnings appeared this week regarding Britain’s poor record in innovation and embracing technological change, and cited the international think tank, Conference Board, which showed that productivity had fallen in 2014 for the third year in a row.
The fall in productivity, however, is at odds with our ability to create employment; in fact our economic growth is faster than that of any other major advanced economy. This might, of course, be down to an increase in investment or the extended hours that we are working, which wouldn’t reflect overall efficiency.
But, whilst economists worry about the effect that this drop in productivity will have on our future prosperity, the business community seems to be seeing a slightly different picture. According to a BlueWolf study carried out amongst Salesforce customers, 84% of businesses felt that customer engagement would replace productivity as the primary driver of growth and McKinsey has also thrown its hat into the ring, claiming that 56% of respondents to a survey on what is top of mind for companies find customer engagement in the top ten.
This reflects an increasing desire amongst senior business leaders to learn more about their customers and how to keep them closer and it also provides a pretty convincing argument for getting on board with systems of engagement.
If you listen to Paul Greenberg, the widely acknowledged expert in customer engagement strategy, we are already entering the era of customer engagement and it will be a key driver for the next 10 years. Forget big data, analytics and productivity improvements, which should be a given, the real priority for corporate digital strategies is engaging effectively with customers.
If you talk to sellers, they are likely to say they are engaged, but when buyers are asked about their meetings with vendor sales teams or individuals, they report that 80% of the agenda is about the seller and over a third of sellers just listen for a keyword or two before launching into a prepared pitch. That is not effective engagement.
Never has the moment for true personalised engagement with customers been more apposite. Sellers have access to efficient CRM databases, such as Salesforce, which can help them to record customer data and be more productive. They can also gain insight and intelligence from everything the Internet has to offer on companies and their activities. Bring into the mix sales engagement software, and they then have a powerful platform to approach customers.
Any seller will tell you that cold calling is no longer effective. The real key to getting the buyer’s attention is by talking to them about something that is relevant to them, and this is increasingly being enabled by ‘social selling’. What differentiates social sellers is that they use tools that ‘listen’ to online data and news from across the Internet and social media to establish who to target, what they are looking for, and listen for the triggers for the right time to connect, in order to have the most impact.
By doing so, when making that call, the seller will be more informed and therefore ‘warm’ and this will render them ‘value add’ to the buyer. By using this approach they are given permission to engage and are then free to establish their credibility and create a meaningful relationship.
And this is not just a means to open doors. Social selling is already providing measurable benefits. According to the Aberdeen Group social sellers achieve 31% higher quota attainment.
As sellers shift focus from themselves, their company and their products and instead start listening to and learning from the buzz about their prospects online, they will become more informed, more insightful and ultimately more engaged in the buying process, from the start.
Further reading on growth marketing: Pitch to rich – fuelling business growth through marketing