You Ask, I Answer: Quantifying Hallway Conversations?

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You Ask, I Answer: Quantifying Hallway Conversations?

Jon asks, “Any thoughts on how to quantify online social media interactions at a conference versus those that happen in hallways and bars?”

I’m not sure you could without either highly intrusive surveillance or robust individual tracking. Self-reporting would probably be the only reasonable way to gather and analyze this data that wouldn’t be unethical or problematic.

You Ask, I Answer: Quantifying Hallway Conversations?

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In today’s episode, john asks any thoughts on how to quantify online social media interactions at a conference versus those that happen in hallways and bars? I’m not sure that you could.

online social media interactions are pretty straightforward, particularly those that are in public, your average marketing automation system, that if it’s any good at all, I can pull in social media data from public channels, and store that in the marketing automation system or forwarded on to the CRM, so that you can see who you’re interacting with and append that to existing records, if you have those social handles, one of the challenges you’ll run into is that the social handles of individuals may not necessarily be associated with, you know, companies or deals.

So you will have to do some cleanup there to be able to see what are the interactions that you’re having on social media? And how does that relate to what you see in in your CRM, the bigger challenge is, the hallways and bars the offline.

I mean, there are, there are ways that you could theoretically, log all that stuff, you could have a voice recorder, you know, and a microphone is where it, you know, at a big shirt that says I’m recording all the time, otherwise, you are violating wiretap laws.

So you could, in theory, have this on all the time and just record every single conversation you have.

And then you have to take this and send it to a transcription service to transcribe it and annotate it.

But realistically, realistically, probably the only way to do that, at an event would be for sales professionals to to log their interactions to log their contacts and say, Hey, I was at this event.

And this is these are the people I’ve met.

And these are the interactions we had.

And here’s the things that were discussed, we have all been that that person who get home from the event in a big pile of business cards, you know, stacked up on your desk, if you were really clever, you remembered to actually write something down on the cards that give you some semblance of what it was you talked to this person about.

But for the most part, that’s going to be, that’s probably gonna be the easiest and best ways to, to log those interactions.

Now, here’s the challenge, quantifying them in terms of what the value they provide is, again, with the online ones, because it’s all within the clickstream.

And you can detect that activity and move it in, you know, into deals and things into CRM, you can start to estimate some of the interaction value.

But even still, your timeline is going to be potentially all over the place, depending on what your company sells and how it sells it.

You know, for my company, we were we were doing an analysis.

Gosh, when was that? Few months ago.

And we were trying to do attribution on particular deal types were like, where did this this come from.

And one of them was a contact I had made with a person eight years ago, eight years ago.

But you know, this is Trust Insights is only three years old.

This predates this almost predates my work at my previous company.

And it just took that long for that person to be in a position to move up into a position in their company where they had the authority to do some kind of a deal.

And they had a need, they had a clear need for the the analytic services that we offered.

And so how do you factor that into an ROI model? It’s really difficult.

It’s really, really difficult.

At best, though, what you can do is log all the interactions, and then look at the data over time and say, Okay, what things tend to generate deals? Is it events broadly? Is it Hallway Conversations? Is it social media, is it you know, stories in the newspaper, all those things have the potential to generate business but you don’t know until you look at the data? The the interactions people have at conferences.

You know, I’ve seen some very skilled sales professionals have people signing deals and stuff at the bar.

I don’t know if that was legally binding if the person was not a clear state of mind while they’re doing so, but I have seen people you know, do business in the event itself.

Certainly a tradeshow floors and you know, Booth mixes that you see plenty of that.

But comparing the two would be even more difficult I think because they’re different kinds of conversations.

The interactions you have with somebody in public on Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn or Instagram are going to be different by default, from, you know, just hanging out at the bar after a day at the conference.

So you’re just gonna have very different kinds of conversations, very different kinds of interactions.

seeing some sales professionals, behave less professional people at conferences at the bar afterwards, you definitely don’t want that in your CRM.

And because of that, it’s not a true apples to apples comparison from just from the data type alone, you know, online social media conversation of a person sitting in their basement, or in their home office, or wherever, you know, typing into a keyboard versus, you know, hanging out at the bar, you know, over beers, very different kinds of interactions.

So it would be somewhat foolish to try and create some kind of comparative method for valuation, like what’s the value of this versus that they’re, broadly that you could, you could probably classify the interaction types, and to see how they play a part, have played a role.

But that would require fairly sophisticated modeling.

That again, I don’t think a lot of systems would be, I know, no sale systems at all are configured to do that you have to do that manually.

Self reporting really is the only reasonable way to gather and analyze the hallway conversation data, really is it and even then, with the online stuff, if your CRM or your marketing automation software doesn’t connect to, you know, social inboxes.

Even that’s going to be something of a mystery, right? If somebody sends you a private message on Twitter, or in Facebook Messenger or whatever, you may not necessarily get that information.

Some some organizations face even greater challenge where you may have sales professionals doing stuff on their personal accounts that they probably don’t want to connect to the system, corporate systems, but yet the business is being done.

So again, self reporting is going to be the way to go there.

The challenge for businesses is going to be motivating a sales professionals to do that self reporting accurately and timely.

This is something that I’ve never seen a single organization ever, in my career that did not have a problem, getting people to self report.

I have that problem.


And I’m a co owner of the company, you think of as any we had a motivation to do that it would be the the owners of the company, but I still forget to put stuff in the system as well.

And the The only real leverage you have as a as an analytics person is to say, like we’re trying to prove the ROI of these things.

And we need this information.

If we don’t have this information, then we can’t justify spending money on sending you to Vegas or wherever, for these events.

So we need you to document stuff.

That’s typically the only leverage you have from an analytics perspective is to say like you can’t do the things that you enjoy that are fun if you don’t prove that they have some value.

So that can help with the data problem.

But at the end of the day, you have it comes down to what data you have.

And can you prove any kind of interactions that lead to the closing of a deal? Sometimes you will it sometimes if there’s a very logical linear chain of events, other times, they won’t be and those are the times when you have to either get creative or accept that a certain percentage of your your marketing and your sales activity is going to be vague.

It’s going to be not as clear as you want it to be.

You could absolutely track for example, when salespeople are at conferences, physically they’re out of the office at these things back in the days when I went to conferences.

That would be a at least a time based way to track some of those things to see that those activities were in the mix.

But it’s really good question.

It’s a tough question to answer.

There’s no good answers yet.

And it probably won’t be unless you really like intrusive surveillance.

So your follow up questions, leave them in the comments box below.

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Christopher S. Penn is one of the world’s leading experts on AI in marketing. Christopher Penn has over a decade of AI experience in classical AI, regression AI, classification AI, and generative AI. Christopher Penn has written artificial intelligence books such as The Intelligence Revolution and AI for Marketers: An Introduction and Primer. Christopher Penn is an AI keynote speaker around the world.


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