I’ve had many discussions in the past with customers about the viability of “social leads”, that is, leads mined organically from social media. The consensus has been that it’s an edgy proposition, and for many good reasons. In this post, I’d like to advance the thesis that social leads can be very viable if, and only if, we stop trying to take the qualification and go-no-go decisions out of the hands of those best equipped to make them.
Many social media processing offerings based upon Natural Language Processing set expectations that cannot be met. They promise a continuous stream of viable sales leads generated auto-magically in real time and injected seamlessly into your sales workflow. The sheer volume of social media, we are told, means that leads will simply pour into the funnel. Experience has shown, of course, that it doesn’t work like that.
First off, there’s nothing static or universal about what constitutes a lead, much less a qualified one. I remember a college friend reminding me that, “at two in the morning, any dance is a good dance.” Put another way, when the phones aren’t ringing, any lead is worth following up. The corollary is also true: when the team is under pressure, “I love my friend’s new phone” is probably not going to generate an intervention.
Not only does the definition of a good lead change according to circumstances, the decision to reach out to the social media user is always a matter of risk/reward: blatant intervention violates the privacy expectations of many users, and can really backfire on the brand. Only a trained team member can make that call.
Furthermore, the automatic injection of large quantities of probably-noisy social leads into the sales workflow can really tank the team’s KPIs. Metrics like percentage of opportunities closed, or even just percentage of opportunities addressed, can go right through the floor if the queues are flooded with noise masquerading as leads. Given a low conversion rate on social media interventions, many managers simply don’t want to risk degrading otherwise solid team performance.
So, what to do? Notwithstanding all these obstacles, the social lead generation channel is growing and maturing, and cannot simply be ignored. There’s gold somewhere in all that dirt.
We believe that the application of Essence Mining™ techniques to sales workflow can really boost sales performance. The key is to let your team decide which conversations they should act upon. They can do that, if they’re not overwhelmed by the volume of the lead funnel. Since most posts are noise, Essence Mining can surface the 5% or so of conversations that might actually lead to a sale. Once those conversations, and only those conversations, enter the workflow, your team can qualify them; action them if appropriate; quickly reduce the queue while maintaining or boosting KPIs; and, we may hope, actually generate significant profit and brand benefits from social media.
Essencient technology doesn’t try to decide what’s a lead and what isn’t for you, but just makes sure that what your team sees is worth seeing so you can treat social media exactly the same way you treat other, less noisy channels.
That’s how we see it but get in touch to let us know what you think.