Social CRM: Opportunity out of Fear?

Recently there has been some debate as to  whether organizations are implementing Social CRM out of fear or opportunity. In other words, are companies actively monitoring what their customers are saying about them online because they are afraid of what might they might be saying? Or are organizations actively involved in social networking because they see Facebook, Twitter, and everything else as an opportunity to engage with current and prospective customers?

In certain scenarios both can apply. Social CRM can be an opportunity born out of fear. An opportunity to say, ‘hey, we’re not perfect, but guess what? We’re listening and we want to correct this problem we share and make it right.’ Here’s an example: last week my Kindle slipped out of my hand and the screen cracked. I Googled “cracked screen Kindle” and found nothing but horror stories. Apparently Amazon wasn’t doing a great job dealing with this issue, so people were making a lot of noise about it. I called Amazon, wondering how I could have it repaired and what the costs would be. The woman on the other end of the phone surprised me and responded by saying they were sorry this had happened and that they were going to replace it for free – even though it was my fault for having dropped it in the first place. I can’t help but wonder… Is their new policy a direct result of customers voicing their complaints on the socialshpere? Does Amazon monitor blogs, forums, and social networks to get a pulse of their market? You bet they do. And they listen. In my book, they’ve created an opportunity out of a problem. They’ve wowed me so much that I tell people about it every chance I get. Well look, here I am doing that right now!

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Tracking a Second Rep

After speaking with clients and prospects, the topic of tracking multiple reps on a deal comes up frequently.  We have decided to fast track this feature.  Starting in September every intelecrm Premium and Enterprise customer will have the capability of tracking a second rep on an opportunity. This feature is in addition to  recent commission module that we released which lets you track commissions on an unlimited amount of users against an opportunity or contract.  If you would like to have this feature in your instance, please send in a support ticket requesting the multiple assigned user feature.  This way you will get to the top of the list for deployment.  Here is a quick picture of it in action:

CRM: A Sales Person’s Perspective – Part Six

When is Social CRM appropriate and why?

As I mentioned before, Social CRM is not for everyone. However, it can be an invaluable tool for companies who can gain from tapping into their clients’ conversations regarding shopping preferences, purchasing and decision-making behavior, perception and attitudes surrounding brands, and other more intimate customer insights. SCRM is, in essence, a new layer of tracking and marketing capability, allowing companies to penetrate into social networking sites.

When done right, Social CRM can help companies get closer to a true 360-degree view of its customers. This clearly will allow any business to more precisely optimize its marketing, sales and customer service efforts.

For anyone who still doesn’t understand what Social CRM is, it’s best described as: the convergence of conversations and relationships born out of social media with customer data and information found in traditional CRM applications.

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Understanding and Harnessing the Power of Social CRM 
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CRM: A Sales Person’s Perspective – Part Five

What are your thoughts on Social CRM?

I think it’s great. I love the concept. Social networks are taking off and there is no doubt the model is leaning towards a paradigm shift. Monitoring social networks is an excellent way to forecast market trends. Active social participation is terrific for building brand collateral and engaging with your account base.

But that being said, I’m going to be honest here. Aside from being a marketing tool, I don’t see much value in the sales cycle. Call me a cynic, but I’m skeptical.  I think there is a lot of hype surrounding Social CRM and not a lot of room for practical application. One of our clients told me the other day that social networking is great, but that her sales reps were interested in closing deals, not building communities. Fair enough. I have to hand it to her; she called a spade a spade.

I think it can be beneficial for a CRM to include certain social components. We’ve developed a Twitter integration tool for intelecrm and we’re working on integration with Facebook, Linkedin, and Hoovers. But again, this goes back to the bells and whistles. If your business model requires hyper-engagement with a certain market or community, then yes, you should be thinking about Social CRM. But really, think about your use case and your overall strategy first.

Now I’ll probably be crucified by my peers in the CRM industry for this response, but it’s my honest opinion.

CRM: A Sales Person’s Perspective – Part Four

Do you ever find that a company needs to improve certain, non-technical business practices during this initial phase?

Often times, yes I do. For example a company might be forecasting an unrealistic percentage of opportunities won based on lead data. The CRM sales process is great at determining close rates based on certain indicators along the way.

I’ve just implemented a CRM solution. What are some new ways in which I can now engage with my customers?

Once your systems are aligned with your customer focused approach, you can send weekly email campaigns based on what is important to the client. You can trigger workflows so that clients that you have not contacted in 30, 60, 90 days, etc. can receive a phone call or personalized letter asking about their well-being (we miss you, how is your family…).

You can also set up a web portal where your customers can do something as simple as update their contact information or as complex as submit a trouble ticket related to a certain product. This information, once submitted online, is automatically routed to the right area (such as the contact’s record in the CRM) or the right person (a tech support agent in the case of the trouble ticket).

CRM: A Sales Person’s Perspective – Part Three

What is the biggest mistake a small business makes when approaching CRM?

Focusing on the trees and not the forest. Every day I have conversations with well intended CRM buyers who are dead set on a certain technology or a certain feature, but have little idea of what their overall strategy should be.

For example someone might call me up to talk about implementing a CRM for their company. Within the first two minutes, they are already steering the discussion towards caller ID phone integrations. If they are not a call center employing 100 + people on the phones all day, these bells and whistles have no place in a strategy discussion. People constantly focus on the little things when they have not mapped out something crucial like how their marketing department finds leads and passes them along to sales. These are the conversations that need to occur first. Technical aspects come later.

So you are a sort of business consultant too?

Absolutely. Unlike other IT consultants, CRM professionals need to first focus on business processes. In an initial discussion with a client, I listen to what a company does, what their goals are, and the approach they take towards working with their customers from both the front and backend. Then we map it out, discover room for improvement, and finally marry strategy with technology.

CRM: A Sales Person’s Perspective – Part Two

What is your response to someone who says, I just need software to manage leads.

Before looking at software, focus on your primary use case. Will you be doing email marketing, pipeline forecasting, or sales force automation (such as scheduling meeting, calls, etc).? What departments will you roll out in the first phase? What are the business objectives of implementing the system? Once you frame in your requirements, THEN you can go to the marketplace and select the right the system.