Sales is Ready for Social CRM, are you?

There have been some really good conversations, and thought provoking questions in the SCRM Pioneers Google Group, the latest topic “Is Sales ready for social media?”  got me to thinking. The real question to me is: “is Sales is ready for Social CRM?” By just just focusing on Social Media, it sounds like marketing and technology, Social CRM incorporates much more. Since there are so many definitions floating about, you may not even know what I am talking about, so we should quickly establish a baseline. Without throwing a definition at you, the essence of Social CRM is how companies need to extend their current CRM solution (read technology and processes) to account for extremely knowledgeable, hyper-connected, vocal customers. In the case of Sales people, they are not yet customers, they are potential customers.

I will start with my answer

Sales is absolutely ready to leverage Social (read Networks, Media and Business). Sales individuals will not utilize social technology the same as others. Sales will methodically leverage what they need to in order to get deals done. This includes:

1 – Knowing how to solve the specific problem their customer is having,
2 – Understanding the personal value the purchaser has tied to the ‘deal’
3 – Learning as much about the customer, and competition as possible
4 – Leveraging personal networks for the same

Interestingly, this list is not all that new. Sales people have been doing all of this for years, in theory they can just do it more easily now. I do not think Sales people by nature are very collaborative, at least not in the way many of the people using Social Media tools do, though this is visceral, I do not have good data here.

Social CRM brings value back to the individual Sales person

This is new. I am calling a spade a spade here. For years, a centralized CRM application was more about organizations making sure that the contacts were centrally managed, that the sales team was keeping the status of deals up to date (for management). That the reports being run by management were accurate and that finance could manage the cash flow. I have been known to say it before, CRM 1.0 was about managing money, not customers.

Donal Daly wrote an interesting piece a few days ago, which takes my approach and makes it sound gentle. He goes after the Forecasting piece pretty hard. I sent the article to a C-level friend, told him to take a look at the article, but here is my summary:

1 – Each sales person spends up to 2.5 hours each week on a task that is worthless
2 – For most companies, the forecasts are less than 75% accurate (survey data to back this up)
3 – This includes the standard hedging, sandbagging, massaging, etc.,…

What if a sales person had more confidence in their information? What if, monitoring and alerting of social channels notified Sales people when something was going on – like a job shift, a colleague leaving a company, a client posting jobs for a competing product? What would the result be if Sales finally started to see the value of CRM?  To me, they would be willing to put more in to the application. They might be able to spend more time on the most important type of Social Networking, you know a phone call, or some time on the golf course.

We would love to hear your thoughts!

2 thoughts on “Sales is Ready for Social CRM, are you?

  1. Ah, my favorite topic – the socialization of the enterprise! It’s a challenge, and one that I am personally working on right now – how to get the organization aligned and position social media as a value-added activity for the various stakeholder groups inside the organization – be it sales, marketing, product, customer support, and so on. Everyone has his / her own motivations. For salespeople (based on personal experience training salespeople how to use Twitter), research and intelligence gathering (and thus producing accurate forecasts) is only part of the equation. The other part of the equation is actually the very delicate balance between building long-term relationships and more immediate revenue opportunities.

    Twitter, for example, may seem like a goldmine of people who are looking for your product (after all they have expressed interest by tweeting about your product category), but if your approach is not “dialed into” the collaborative non-selling spirit of Twitter, you will be considered spammy for reaching out. So if you are using this tweet to take immediate and overt action by reaching out in response to the tweet vs. making it part of a longer-term client research and planning strategy, you need to have a solid understanding what the do’s and don’ts are for that channel. Coaching, training and alignment are key to make sure that all the groups are harnessing information, using it and engaging when appropriate in ways that are appropriate. It’s not easy :)

    Maria Ogneva
    @themaria @attensity360

  2. Great points Maria…Esteban Kolsky is great at explaining how you have to socialize internally before you can effectively create any external SCRM strategy. I think you have similar thoughts, expressed in a great real world example.

    We are seeing it is just as hard to drive adoption and adherence to scrm standards as it was to get sales reps to start using CRM 1.0 years ago.

    It takes champions, and a well-outlined business case among other incentives.

    Thanks as always for the great insight…

    -Martin

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