My good friend Paul Greenberg makes a lot of excellent points in his CRM 2.0 about the notion that while a useful tool in the sales process, injecting social media into your CRM will not necessarily help you close deals.
I agree. The purpose of augmenting your CRM data with information from external systems (social and other types) is to learn more about your prospects and leads prior to the engagement. (This is in a sales scenario – for support/loyalty marketing etc. I see these tools as extending the conversation and providing insight into cultures and behavior of your customer segments.) The end game here isn’t to close deals with ease, it is to put sales teams in a position to close more deals in less time.
And that is essentially traditional CRM’s goal as well. Look, a piece of software, no matter how easy to use and no matter what cool features it has – can replace the act of closing a sale. Sales is a skill – and closing is perhaps the most refined art inside that skill set – and not all people have it. And simply by throwing some software and social media at any regular Joe – you are not going to instantly convert them into a top performing sales agent.
That does not mean we just throw out CRM and social media from the equation. Again, these are highly valuable tools for sales teams. The core value of CRM (whether it is 1.0 or 2.0 or whatever) is to make it easier for sales teams to spend more time on selling and closing (the art of sales), and less time on the everyday minutia of business (the mechanics of sales).