The era of the “social customer” is making a lot of CRM providers, SugarCRM included, change the way their products and messaging are put together. This is not a bad thing. But I think a lot of people are confusing the execution methods, or what it means to be “2.0” in the CRM world when you are a B2B and not a B2C company.
There is some good stuff on this at 1:1 Media’s web site, the article is here.
But to summarize my point, B2C in the web 2.0 world is more about enabling your customers to engage with each other, and mining those interactions for valuable insight and product ideas. B2B companies can certainly leverage many of these concepts as well.
I see the initial use of web 2.0 technology in the B2B world as more about “discovering relationships” inside and outside the organization. This is where I see social media and networking tools actually having meaning and value. In the B2C world, I see social networking as simply an advertising venue – and a place to monitor and glean the data used for the core purpose mentioned above.
One of the great things about social media for B2B is that is can be handled mostly by technology, and somewhat un-intrusive. Data mining and other tools can run underneath existing systems easily, and mine contact data and other large sources for valuable data. I think this is where a lot of CRM vendors should be placing interest and investment/development…because this type of information can make the sales cycle shorter and strengthen B2B relationships over the customer life cycle.
But ultimately, everyone has to be making some moves into this type of capability, as there is simply too much value out there in the social web to ignore…