The Marketing Strategist:
How Xerox Global Services Used Social Media to Enable Sales
April 6, 2010
In 2007, Xerox Global Services (XGS) marketers asked themselves an important question: Do our salespeople have the information they need to position the company against competitors?
After researching the issue, the answer was a resounding no.
Worse, when buyers asked the inevitable, “What makes you different?” salespeople didn’t have an adequate answer, according to the research.
How much was the lack of competitive information hurting XGS’ salespeople? XGS’ research revealed that the lack of a coordinated competitive strategy had a direct negative impact on signings growth and account retention. “In interviewing employees that came from competitors, we discovered that our oral sales presentations were often very similar to competitors,” says Jeannine Rossignol, vice president, marketing operations and sales enablement, for XGS. “So that meant that the only way they could tell us apart was on price rather than on the value we could bring.”
Information Wasn’t the Problem; Insight Was
The problem wasn’t that XGS lacked competitive information altogether. The desks and PC hard drives of salespeople were often cluttered with folders filled with articles, emails, and links on the competition. “We found that salespeople had tons of information, but they were usually missing some of the pieces they needed to form a complete picture of the competition. Rarely did they have enough information necessary to create an adequate attack or defense plan,” recalls Rossignol.
Social media tools expand the possibilities of competitive intelligence by driving collaboration. XGS used social media tools and principles to create Competipedia, a wiki-based tool where salespeople can go to find and share competitive intelligence.
But Rossignol and Liz Bishop, who is manager of XGS Competitive Marketing and who helped lead the project, didn’t stop there. Meeting all of XGS’ goals required much more functionality than was available from off-the-shelf software. So the team decided to create a mashup of functionality that included other social media elements beyond the wiki foundation.
Automatically Generate Action Plans
More important, the team developed features that would automatically generate action plans and guidance for the salespeople, with the ability to shape and offer feedback on those plans. “We knew that if the salespeople had to figure out how to apply the information they were getting from Competipedia to their sales situations themselves, they wouldn’t—or couldn’t—do it,” says Rossignol. “We wanted them to be able to enter certain criteria and get back an action plan that they didn’t need to create by themselves.”
The project team knew that generating quality action plans would make the difference between Competipedia being a vital part of salespeople’s selling process and it being an add-on. Therefore, creating the right questions, but not too many, was critical.
To see the critical questions for automatically generating action plans and to learn how XGS developed Competipedia using social media, read the case study Xerox Global Services’ Competipedia: Using Social Media to Enable the Sales Force.