Social Networking 2.0: Avatar-Assisted Selling?

Just read an interesting take on the next generation of social networking and online communities at 1:1 Media’s site.

The blog post talked about how 3D avatars and online networks will result in consumers buying and selling online. And to an extent, we’ve seen a lot of that with sites like Second Life already.

But what about the B2B world?  How will 3D avatars, and more ubiquitous use of social networks factor into that type of sales model?

I think that as unified communications (UC), social networks, and CRM all converge, there will be a new kind of virtual sales model. Call it “avatar-assisted selling” or what have you, but it could be the way of the future. Cisco has already created really wild telepresence technologies, and link that with WebEx and DimDim integrations to CRM systems, and sales reps can connect in very meaningful ways on many levels with prospects and customers.

Imagine – you are a customer, and you’re looking through a product catalog and have a question. Instantly, your rep pings you through a next generation social network (supported internally via a CRM system) and you enter into a virtual session where you can see and hear that rep paging through a catalog, pointing out product configurations, citing discount promotions, etc. as if she was right in the room with you. In this economy, it gives the high touch needed to provide a great sales experience, but without all the costs (and energy consumption) of actual travel.

The benefits of UC have been well documented for customer support scenarios, but I am excited to see how UC and 3D presence technologies aid the sales agents of the future…

3 thoughts on “Social Networking 2.0: Avatar-Assisted Selling?

  1. Sounds great in theory but in practice?
    Seems like an aweful lot of tech has to be present on both sides to make it work. Best bet: it’s 5 years away before it becomes probable and 5 more years before it becomes accepted.
    Like I said, looks great on paper.

    Mark

  2. The technology is already there! Its just in discrete pieces needed to be assembled or package for use. We use a lot of these features everyday so I would say acceptance is already there. Remember it is the “enjoyable” shopping experience that make shoppers repeat buyers. Today the virtual shopping experience is not anything comparable to the real shopping experience. With the integration of technologies such as avatars, social networks, and telepresence in the next couple of years the online shopping experience will become phenomanal unlike any thing we know.

  3. You are correct. A digital character (in our language, a CodeBaby) can have a huge impact. The dynamic is the ability to the character to make an emotional connection. There is a significant and growing body of research that both validates and explores how and why this works. But I can tell you that from our experience with actually customer implimentations, we see a dramatic impact on lead capture rates, click to close rates, cross-sell/upsell, and other core web sales metrics. While what we are doing is clearly leading edge, category making stuff, it’s real today. Check out what we’re doing at CodeBaby.

    FYI, we’re going to be leading out with some of the foundational research, learnings, and CRM implications within the next couple weeks.

    But just wanted to lean in with a comment because I think your blogg is insightful.

    Patrick Bultema

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