We have been having extensive discussion on Social CRM and (as Mike Muhney puts it) the three Amigos: Sales, Marketing and Customer Service. We talked about Service extensively, and Allen Bonde (from Evoke CRM) has given us something to think about with his initial post on Social Marketing.
What about Social Sales?
I reached out to Joe Galvin, a former Gartner colleague who not only writes about it but also has led global Sales teams; he walks the talk in a very big way. He is currently with Sirius Decisions, the leading research firm focused on sales and marketing integration, where he continues his passion to improve Sales departments around the world. I asked for his perspective on Social Sales and below are his answers:
1. You have been researching and doing sales for quite some time and your perspective on what works and what doesn’t is ground in the real world. How do you see Social CRM meshing with Sales?
I think that the notion of SCRM specific to SFA is still in its infancy. There are two aspects to using social tools for sales. First is for external use, where today still remains the wild-wild-west with very little structure and where most people freelance. With these external communities where customers and sales people interact– we have seen little organizational focus on that front. Second we have internal communities where Subject Matter Experts (SME) will provide support for sales people, where we see access to competitive intelligence and real time tactics, and where sales organizations share strategies using collaboration tools to reduce the amount of time they search for answers and improve the quality of the answers they get. Collaboration is totally absent in core Sales Force Automation (SFA). Social media can offer better access through tools that sales forces can leverage to collaborate better with each other and the subject matter experts they need within their companies.
2. Are there are any early examples you could share with us of how Social Sales works?
For the most part we have seen deployments on the prospecting side, using social media to create or enhance opportunities. The concept has been termed “social calling” by Nigel Edelshain of Sales 2.0 and is using social media to research and collect intelligence about prospects. We can find more information about them, their networks, their preferences and actions. We can then use that information to put together better profiles and help better target the products or solutions we offer to them. We can also collect and sift through all the intelligence it to find information we can use to improve our products and services as well. The knowledge gathered can be used by the SME to increase their exposure to the market. Most of the problems today have been generated by individuals in sales forces that put their own needs ahead of their organization’s and end up using the data for different goals that they organization requires. This is a traditional problem for sales forces and social media cannot simply make it disappear.
3. Social CRM and Sales seems to be limited to internal team needs. Do you see this changing to incorporate sales as a potential function via the traditional social networks and social channels like Twitter?
I have seen examples where individuals use twitter and social networks to collect leads, contact’s information, product and customer intelligence. The jury is still out whether you want a salesperson communicating to prospects through these mediums. Some organizations have implemented micro-sites for some time to connect with clients, but they are very limited and sales people are not interested in learning the skills necessary to make good use of them or developing original, customer specific content for them. Communications with prospects and customers are better left to marketing, not for social networks. If I have a relationship with a customer or prospect, I can call them or email them – I don’t have to use twitter or another limited tools that carries restrictions with it on what I can do and how. That relationship gives me the right to email or call, engage in a one-on-one personal dialog. Communities may work for B2C or real estate agents, but BtoB clients want sales people to work with them directly one-on-one, not via novelty channels.
4. What is the biggest obstacle to Social CRM and Sales evolving in the next couple of years?
First is digging out from the Great Recession. Organizations are not going to invest in innovation or new initiatives until after they have repaired what the recession destroyed. Second, need to incorporate the notion of communities into their strategies and sales methodologies, build the proper analytics and reporting, and create the proper control levels. There is an opportunity to create the internal communities I mentioned and to use them to further sales – but not before we rebuild. Social CRM and Social Sales are not the top priority right now.
5. What is the Future of Social Sales after all is said and done?
It won’t be radically different. The purpose of sales is to identify, qualify and close prospects and that won’t change. Social calling is something that will be real, but it will be a compliment to the existing tactics used by sales to identify and attract prospect to their products and services. Another area would be accessing the collective tribal wisdom of the sales organization, SMEs and other people who know how to get things done inside their organization or have the information that customers need, is available via social channels for instant communications. Still don’t think that social media where it is today will be radically different tomorrow, we’ll just have a better handle on how to harness it. Sales organizations are still struggling to get value from their current SFA tools or adding automated capabilities for knowledge management or methodology automation. Until we can get the social productivity tools better defined and implemented – social media will remain a tool of individual use.