Highlights from tech experts’ Social Tech Update columns of 2022
Over the past year, our contributors covered a number of social selling tech strategies making inroads in the channel. For our year-end roundup, we’ve selected their most important takeaways to help direct sellers have an even stronger 2023. Please visit SocialSellingNews.com for the complete articles.
USING LEADING INDICATOR DATA TO CHANGE THE REFERRAL MARKETING GAME
March 2022 Issue By Ben Dixon, Naxum Online Marketing Services, LLC
Presently, there are companies creating online platforms and mobile phone apps that feel like a top leader is suggesting what to do throughout the day. The power of these predictive action platforms is that the field adopts and uses them at high rates to bring real-time feedback loops of actual data.
A brief list of applications include:
- How to invite a new contact
- How to follow up with a prospect
- How to have a customer reorder
- Training and leadership development
- Best practices for sharing in social media
- Mentorship opportunities downline
- Share streaks and consistency of the team’s behavior
The predictive applications can be delivered through web-based or app-based interfaces to members. Some companies position the actions they want members to take as a daily commitment and have members focus on winning the day.
Other companies will put the work in to interview top field leaders and create business rules around the kind of words to say or text to prospective customers. By organizing the actual words and phrases for inviting contacts, following up, and sharing products and services, platforms can feel like a coach that models the next thing to say or do to prospects.
When the content and business rules are wrapped with a predictive engine, the system becomes intelligent and can even “suggest” the next action for members to take. Predictive actions allow for more activity in less time.
Summary of the benefits of daily feedback loops:
The predictive systems not only suggest what to say compliantly, but, because the corporate teams can track the results, the content can be continually improved.
2) Financial Savings
With the known data showing what promoters are willing to share and which styles of content are converting the best, the focus can then be shifted to the content budget for producing videos and shareables that have an increasingly higher impact.
Because the predictive platforms present a proven path to follow, even the newest members of the social selling community can have the confidence to commit and take daily actions promoting offers.
HOW ‘LEARNING DESIGN’ CAN CHANGE YOUR ENTIRE COMPANY
May-June 2022 Issue By Lauren Mason Carris, Penny AI
In the wake of direct selling’s “digital transformation,” learning design has incredible potential. True learning isn’t just the acquisition of knowledge. It’s a behavior change. Companies are investing more and more in new tools and rethinking internal processes to optimize business and increase efficiencies, yet one critical variable in the equation is overlooked—behavior change as a result of learning.
Curating knowledge and rolling out a new tool is not a guarantee for behavior change. Despite the rise in digital transformation, we’re seeing the same pain points persist, such as:
- High consultant churn
- Leader overwhelm and pressure
- Inconsistent onboarding experiences
- One-size-fits-all experiences
- Compliance with the FTC
- Monitoring of compliance externally
Traditional “one-and-done” onboarding methods and “content dumping” training methods cannot scale at the pace of change we are experiencing. Emerging from the fields of cognitive and behavioral psychology, the science of learning—and design thinking—learning design can transform entire organizations into learning organizations.
Research conducted across the industry tells us that the onboarding experience and “first moment” of success are sometimes at odds, given that both need to happen immediately and continue in some fashion.
Repeated, routine behaviors completed on a regular basis become hardwired into our brains, creating habit loops. We are then able to perform these behaviors, or tasks, without much thought, leading us to operate on autopilot. How can we leverage this concept to inform training and upskilling of a direct selling force? By creating automated patterns for the basic daily tasks that need to be done.
The biggest drive for the field is generating revenue. Yet, when learning how to generate revenue (the knowledge) and learning how to use a tool to complete revenue-generating tasks (the actions) are in different places, the two efforts are in direct competition with each other. So, what is the answer? Personalize and integrate the experience. Bring relevant learning into the flow of work, in the spaces where learners are doing their work—in this case, working their business.
TO BUY OR TO BUILD SOFTWARE
May-June 2022 Issue By Jordan Zommick, DirectScale CIO
Making the “Buy vs. Build” decision for your company is one of the most important decisions for you to make. To start, it may be beneficial to look at the decision more holistically rather than focusing on any one particular driver.
You must consider all costs associated with the effort, including implementation and ongoing costs. Consider tech infrastructure, additional staff and support after it’s launched. Industry standard is that 70% of all software costs generally occur after implementation.
If a project is complex and requires specific expertise, find a SaaS partner who can offer a mature solution. Generally, SaaS partners tend to offer economies of scale as their costs per client go down the more clients they add.
Buying a solution often means receiving industry best practices as well, which are obtained directly from the feedback of many clients over the years.
Building software is generally an enormous effort. If you are slow to the market, it gives your competition the advantage.
Are you creating something that requires specific expertise not available within your company? Has your company ever done something like this before? Do you have the confidence that your internal team can deliver a product as good as something commercially available? Does your company have specific expertise that nobody else has? Are you open to sharing intellectual property (IP) with someone else who could negate your differentiator?
There are inherent risks to buying software and building your software. When buying software, risks such as resource management, development problems, and launch timelines fall on the vendor.
The Future of the Customer Journey in the Payments Industry
August 2022 Issue By Eddie Gonzalez, i-payout
Digital banking is not a new concept, nor is it unusual for consumers to conduct their banking digitally, but what is true about digital banking, especially for businesses, is that the industry has not accelerated at the same pace as demand. Trends in the payments industry tend to follow innovation that is happening in the consumer market, but if consumers can make safe and low-cost instant payments, why has it not been available sooner for businesses to do the same?
Businesses want, and need, the same banking conveniences they have access to as consumers. This is crucial to stay afloat amid the threat of an unstable global economy and to meet the evolving needs of their customers. Businesses that can’t compete with efficient payment solutions will fall behind, and it is up to payment providers to ensure they have the solutions businesses require to meet their customer demands.
Understanding customers’ expectations can be one of the greatest challenges for businesses. The customer journey needs to be seamless for the payer and the payee to ensure their needs are met and the process is a positive experience. Customer satisfaction is a high priority, but certain processes can’t be overlooked. This includes the safety, security and credibility of the payment transfer.
The Convergence of Physical and Digital Retail
October 2022 Issue By John Lietsch, Bloo Kanoo
The emergence of e-commerce in the ’90s and its subsequent meteoric rise had many people believing if not predicting that physical retail (“brick and mortar”) had met its demise.
Online shopping is convenient; is always available; saves time; saves money (comparison shopping); has greater availability of desired items; and is more comfortable (less crowds, no parking hassles, etc.).
In-person shopping allows interaction with the product; provides immediate gratification (can take purchase home); saves shipping costs (ignoring time and gas costs); allows for easier returns; can be a social experience; and provides direct access to in-store personnel that can answer questions and make recommendations (build trust, loyalty, and rapport).
The “phygital world,” an increasingly popular term for the convergence of the physical and digital, can combine the best of both worlds and become both incredibly convenient and highly personal.
- Leading the charge is “live commerce,” the act of selling products during a live broadcast while shoppers interact with the brand in real time, usually through chat or reaction/emoji buttons.
- Shoppable videoconferencing, “Concierge Shopping” or “Assisted Shopping,” is the use of videoconferencing technology to meet with individuals or small groups in a more intimate, online setting and directly assist them with their shopping needs.
- Augmented Reality offers the ability for customers to interact, customize and engage with products without having to visit a physical location, or without waiting to see the final product.
- Online and console games offer the opportunity for meeting, hanging out, playing and shopping together online, interacting as if in-person. Virtual Reality and Digital Universes are in their infancy but are commanding considerable attention and investment dollars.
Direct sellers are already using many of these technologies to allow their distributors to be “personally” available online and offline and to extend their influence beyond their immediate connections and forge global relationships. Many are increasing conversion rates and average order values (AOV).
Are There Any Threats to Direct Selling from These Tech Trends?
- Preference for Affiliate Marketing over Distributor Marketing
- Continued Growth of the Direct-to-Consumer Channel
- Digital Universes, Weak or Strong Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Bots
- Failure to Adapt