As part of the marketing team at SugarCRM, I am charged with defining and communicating our social CRM strategy. And interestingly, I do so on two levels – what we sell as a social CRM provider and what we DO as a social savvy company.
Both are very related actually. And in an unusual manner for CRM, the product actually led our adoption of stronger social strategies; we did not facet the product to adapt to our existing social strategies. This is important to note – because we do a LOT of social and non-traditional marketing and community building as a company with open source roots.
However, from a corporate sales scenario, we were a bit disconnected from “social” in a lot of ways, and were acting like any other B2B sales team: heads down in the CRM system, following up on leads and managing opportunities. But as Sugar the product started sporting all these cool facets: the LinkedIn connector, the Twitter connector and the social feeds inside the app – things started changing. Sales reps were more connected – to both each other and to their leads and opportunities. And the great thing about it was that they were doing all this in a system they already knew how to use, and all that data was available right inside a central app – not locked in seperate silos.
Just as the data silo approach of products like Act! made it difficult for early CRM initiatives to show value, social silos can present the same problem. If your CRM users are going to three or four different sites to find out about prospects, talk and collaborate with each other, and leverage tools like Twitter for discovery and support – it can drain productivity. In addition, with all the data “somewhere else” it can be hard to get any insight into how your teams are using the information, which data or source is most relevant, etc.
That is why I am in such strong agreement with the analysts and observers who are so skeptical of “social CRM” as a concept in its own right. Rather, social CRM (or SCRM) is just a channel or branch of a core CRM strategy that leverages these emerging mediums.
It is pretty simple, really. Many companies already have – or should have – a CRM platform in place. The more flexible ones can now accept new data sources and types (social data) and leverage new marketing, sales and support channels (social networks, tools like Twitter) as part of existing overall CRM processes.
Just as we see the value of keeping all of our prospect and customer data in one place, social is no different. Do yourself a favor early on and ditch the silo approach and look to merge these new-fangled CRM data and processes with your existing CRM initiative and technology. It may take a bit of thought and in some cases creativity (depending on how suited your existing technology is to accept new data and sources) – but I am positive in the long run it will save you more time and resources.