Jerry Maguire is a legendary icon in the sales profession. While our hero in the movie got the cash, and the girl, there is no romance in the anguish and string of unnatural acts successful sales people do on a daily basis. Yet countless numbers of annual Sales Kick Off meetings have the theme of “Show Me the Money” to motivate their sales forces to ‘work the deal’ and do whatever it takes to bring home the cash.

The firm, Peak Sales Recruiting, has created the infographic to show why top sales people are so hard to hire. The best sales people are masters at relationships, creative problem solving, strategy, lead generation and a good dose of therapist.

To any sales people a truly qualified lead is gold. It’s a simple request of Marketing. Yet that request is often the wellspring from which great animosity and frustration is born. Absent qualified marketing leads, Sales becomes a primordial hunter of two clues: Trigger events that indicate a sales opportunity is brewing, and a way to reach the right person. Jerry Maguire built his business using brute force; identifying a trigger event has been hit or miss. The amount of heavy lifting required to find enough of these clues to fill a salesperson’s pipeline is daunting.

Social media was supposed to take the friction out of selling. Buyers openly discussing purchase decisions with their social graph. Marketing enabling buyers with the right content at the right time. Sales joining the conversation and establishing trusted relationships. But, that is not the way social selling is turning out for most companies. Brands have already caught on that Facebook and Twitter aren’t selling channels. The definition of social selling is evolving and likely will end up being something quite different from what is being imagined today.

What social has actually done is enable Sales to work smarter. Smart drives sales productivity which is the engine of profitable companies. In all the hype around social, a few social selling applications are emerging that actually help sales team hunt smarter.

salesPRISM from Lattice Engines is a cloud application that leverages social technologies to mine clues for emerging sales leads. Based on big data technology, salesPRISM analyzes internal information, external news, and trigger event indicators. It then rates the attractiveness and ease of capture of a sales opportunity. By analyzing patterns embedded in the sequence of events leading up to past sales opportunities then comparing these patterns to current account market behavior, Lattice Engines can highlight how sales professionals should prioritize their time across different opportunities.

According to Shashi Upadhyay, CEO of Lattice Engines, “Our big data analytics engine infers what prospects and customers need based on patterns seen elsewhere.” By bringing together into a single view internal data from marketing automation systems, ERP, etc. and external data from social community sites, websites, news, etc. insightful patterns are identified such as a happy customer, a new office about to be opened, or a company struggling with a failed product. Depending on what you sell, these can be sales clues.

The secret sauce is Lattice Engine’s ability to infer intent. As businesses go about doing their business they leave behind signals that indicate impending trigger events. For example, a company that is planning to open a foreign office will file for an export license, engage in foreign exchange transactions, sign a short term lease, and increase international travel. All these signals are clues that a company is growing and expanding operations. If you sell office furniture, computer servers or accounting services you might want to know about these clues.

Company clues are great but a smart sales person also wants to know the intent of buyers. By looking at the patterns of various buyers within the same organization, Sales can determine not only the inferred intent of the organization but also isolate which buyers Sales should engage with. On the flip side, if buyer behavior doesn’t match company patterns then the probability of a qualified sales opportunity is low. Lattice Engines derives buyer intent through pattern matching at the campaign level with their visiDB and playMAKER products. Using Lattice-Engines, a Fortune 50 computer hardware manufacturer recaptured $750 Million in new pipeline, reduced outbound call volume by 30 percent and increased marketing conversion rates by 45 percent within two quarters. Now, that’s smart selling.

Finding qualified sales leads is one thing; being able to engage with the right buyer is an all too frequent frustration. The ‘key’ buyer is often not in the CRM system. Buyers today are immune to voicemail messages, cold calls, direct mail and other forms of door opening tactics used by sales teams. Waving free box seat tickets to a Yankees game might help but the effort sales go through to get into an account is much like the Greek actor Sisyphus continually pushing his boulder uphill.

The plight of sales can reach a point of desperation. How many times have you seen a sales person send a broadcast email to the whole company to see if anyone knows Jane Doe at XYZ organization? Occasionally the plea for help is read but rarely responded to which is too bad because the sales person has a real opportunity and just needs to find a way into the buyer.

That’s where BranchIt comes in. BranchIt is a cloud application that replaces the desperate email blast with an automated method of discovering who else everyone in the company knows. “BranchIt is a relationship discovery tool,” shares Josh Yuster, CEO and Founder of BranchIt. “It helps sales, HR and marketing get to that untouchable person.”

By mining employee business communications and tapping into corporate email, calendaring, social networks, phone systems and collaboration systems, BranchIt serves as a corporate social search engine. The strength of each relationship is measured along 36 different metrics and scored based on the context and frequency of past interactions. The organization’s corporate social graph is delivered to Sales through their and Chatter apps, or through a stand-alone social search engine.

The BranchIt corporate social graph is kept current through the continual indexing of new emails, calendar requests, phone calls, etc. Founded in 2004 and grown organically to 25,000 users across almost a hundred organizations, Yuster stressed repeatedly that no personal data is captured or used in the mining process.

Using social technologies to “connect the dots”, as Upadhyay refers to it, is key to selling smarter. But technology is not a cure-all; sales and marketing needs to evolve their processes and mindsets in order to reap the benefits of social. Upadhyay shares his advice for how Sales can work smarter:

1. Consider data as an untapped asset that can drive better customer interactions.
2. Use the Buyers’ Journey to define when the right time is to engage and what the right content is.
3. Improve productivity by “closing the gap” between buyer and sales’ knowledge.
4. Coordinate buyer interactions across functions by aligning teams to the Buyers’ Journey.
5. Retrain sales on how to use signals to find an engagement opportunity.
6. Focus on the individual buyer, not just the company.
7. Assign a Data Tsar to tear down organizational silos and drive cross-functional data usage.

Sales may look deceptively easy from the outside but it can be one of the toughest yet most rewarding careers. In the eyes of your employer you’re only as good as last quarter’s performance and the margin on your last deal. Your customers measure your value by how well, cheaply and quickly what you sold them actually delivers to their expectations.

To survive Sales needs to sell smarter; social tools can be today’s “Help me help you”.