First, please allow me to introduce myself; Mitch Lieberman here, making a guest appearance on CRM Outsiders. Some of you may know me already, and for some I am an unknown. I do lots of different things for SugarCRM, among them is to beat up the regular author of this blog, asking him to write about this or that…So, Martin said in his best mannered Philadelphia tone – “Mitch, if you think it should be said, then start typing” (For those of you who know Martin, that might not be exactly what he said, but we are trying to keep this blog PG-13).
It is interesting that my first post is about an upcoming event in Boston. The interesting part is who the keynote speaker at the event is going to be and if I read and understood the book he co-authored, my job is to make this post as interesting as possible, without being too pushy. I am confident that I can do that, and even went so far as to interview him for this post. Throughout the next couple months, I will be joining Martin here more frequently to help set the stage for some of the events SugarCRM will be attending or hosting. Call it the pre-game show if you will. I have been known to bring March madness into the commentary for the US folks and maybe we can even weave a little World Cup into the discussion as we get closer to June.
The first stop is in a few weeks, in Boston, MA on March 23rd to be exact. The event theme is bridging the gap between Social Media hype and business value. I am excited about all of the upcoming events, but this one in particular is a great way to kick things off. Keynoting the event is Dharmesh Shah, Co-Author of Inbound Marketing and Founder of Hubspot. Full details of the Agenda and other presenters can be found here:
As a lead-in to the events, I conducted a few short, informal, interviews with the presenters. First on the list is Dharmesh, who I was able to catch-up with prior to his trip to the SXSW conference in Austin. I suppose that I am a bit jealous, SXSW would be a great time! To all that are planning a trip to Austin, safe journey but I might just unsubscribe to your plancast for a few weeks. But, I digress, back to the topic at hand:
It is about business value, it always has been and it always will be
For those of you that have not read any of my posts before, while I am a technologist, I am much more interested in people and process first. The technology should facilitate and augment your most prized asset as a company – the people. Since the objective is always to derive business value from all investments (make no mistake, people and time are investments too) we make as a company, it is important to understand where investments can and should be made. Being on the ‘bleeding’ edge is not always the best place to be, nor is being a laggard. With this in mind, I asked Dharmesh where on the traditional Geoffrey Moore adoption curve (Crossing the Chasm) businesses are with respect to acting (culture) and being (tools and process) Social. Here is what Dharmesh had to say:
“I don’t think we’ve quite hit the early majority quite yet as it comes to social media marketing. Though there are millions of users joining services like Facebook and Twitter, much of this activity is still individuals making connections — often with no commercial agenda or motive. Many businesses are discovering the potential of the new media and the more ambitious ones are already finding ways to connect to their prospects and customers through these channels. Forward-thinking businesses will capitalize on the shift and encourage their employees to interact online. “
Next I wanted to explore a bit more on the specifics around sales, sales process and engagement. Here is my (long winded) question:
Inbound Marketing (getting found) and leveraging Social Networks (alerts, notifications and process) seem to be two sides of a very important coin. In the context of business to business, the process from getting found, to Prospect, to Lead, to Opportunity, to Customer is not always simple. Since trust is such a big factor, how do you envision a hand-off from Marketing (team) to Sales (team)? In BtoB Lead nurturing might need to be a little more personal 1 to 1 than other consumer types of business, no?
“Absolutely. In a B2B selling environment, the need to allow the prospect to move through the sales funnel at a pace that makes sense still exists (with or without Inbound Marketing). My position here is: Online channels can be used very well to “educate” the prospect in a non-threatening way. This helps build trust and allows the person to engage the business in ways that are comfortable. For example, in the “old” B2B selling context, the sales professional would often hold much of the power and release information slowly and deliberately to help “push along” the process. It was very one-sided. Now, people expect to find much more information about a business and its offering on the web — without the need to have to go through a gatekeeper. Whitepapers, customer testimonials and case studies are all content that helps the prospect make a more informed decision.”
There are lots of great ‘nuggets’ in his answer, but there is one that needs highlighting. Online channels absolutely need to be used to educate in a non-threatening way. In other words, we are working to create buyers not sell to people. This approach is what allows you to build and create trust. Gatekeepers, command and control are things that get in the way of building trust. Help people to find what they need, do not simply tell them what they need. This is what the Social part of CRM is about – treating people with respect, as you would a friend.
I would like to thank Dharmesh for his time. If you are in or around Boston, I hope you can join us!