Social Collaboration: Pillar Five of B2B Social Selling

Social Collaboration is the process of leveraging technology to work efficiently with customers, partners and your extended team to strengthen relationships and achieve rapid results.

In the context of B2B social selling, collaboration creates conversations in communities and builds teams across physical boundaries. Go beyond mere publishing to engage and then collaborate using social media platforms. Make yourself a hub of networking and invite experts in where they can contribute. Value diversity, encourage opinions but gently discourage overtly selling or pushing personal agendas.

Social drives efficiency if you operate with purpose and finesse.

Birds of a feather flock together but they don't need to fly in and physically be in the same space to see a demonstration, collaborate, share ideas, work on documents or manage opportunities and projects. Social collaboration tools are everywhere and many are free... LinkedIn, Google Docs, Facebook, your iPhone to do conference calls and much more is available to transform the way you work with others. Tools that were very expensive not that long a go are now free... video conferencing is an example. Social is a great example of disruptive technology operating in the cloud. We really can beam in virtually and engage meaningfully.

According to research published in 2014 by London investment management firm, Nutmeg, commuters spend an average 10,634 hours traveling to and from work over their lifetime. Traveling wastes time and is a productivity killer. Working from home and teleporting into your meetings using the interweb can be done to great effect.

Tools such as Google Hang-outs, Skype, WebEx, and Go-to-meeting provide the opportunity to collaborate virtually but how do you ensure best possible engagement from every person? We've all experienced physical and virtual meetings where people are there but not really present; working on emails or digitally distracted.

You can tell when people are not there so get them engaged by asking them questions. Let people know you can hear them tapping away on their keyboard. Set the ground-rules for every meeting... "If you're going to be in the meeting, then be fully here." Let people know that it's important to respect everyone's time. Make sure you understand the technology your using and this video is a funny example of the worst of virtual meetings.

Collaboration means working effectively together so share information openly and make sure that it's timely and accurate. Use your content management and internal Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system well so that your internal team has an accurate view of the opportunity and knows the current status. Use the update/feeds capabilities (if your CRM offers the feature) to keep people informed. Ensure actions are being captured and tracked, also that contact details are up-to-date for all the players within the account. Earn the support of others by using your systems and tools well to earn their support and allocation of resources.

Social media platforms and modern communication tools make the process of connecting and collaborating amazingly affordable. I'm old enough to remember messaging technologies being introduced back in 1980s when email replaced memos... it's amazing how the world has changed in one lifetime! Now instant messaging, live chat, uploading photos and videos, scanning documents, virtual deal rooms, mobile applications, and myriad other examples have transformed the speed of commerce.

But amidst the frenetic pace of business and the overwhelming number of meetings demanding your time; set yourself apart by:

  • Using technology well (logged-in and set-up before the meeting is due to start).
  • Respecting everyone's time by circulating an agenda in advance.
  • Setting expectations for participants and their contributions.
  • Starting on time and keeping the meeting on track.
  • Politely calling people out for bad behavior (there but not there).
  • Capturing and circulating actions.

Here is a list of cloud/social presentation and collaboration platforms from Jamie Shanks that enable you to present and do demonstrations incredibly well.

No-one I know fosters collaboration and engagement in social better than John Smibert who leads the LinkedIn Strategic Selling group. He's masterful at starting conversations and encouraging individuals to contribute by reaching out personally to those he respects asking them to contribute. How do you achieve the best results with social collaboration tools and platforms? What are your tips for others? Here is how to go back to my Social Selling overview.

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Picture by Harry Harms. Every year Christian Moullec trains a number of geese to follow his ultralight plane. He uses this group and his plane to guide migrating geese from Lapland to France, avoiding areas where the geese might be hunted. In the spring the geese migrate back on their own. In this shot he is accompanied by cranes.