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Posts Tagged ‘Knowledge’

The Social Business Engine (part 3 of n) – Sales

February 2, 2010 Leave a comment

“If you see a fork in the road, take it” Yogi Berra made this statement many years ago. What is  great about this quote is that he was simply giving directions to his house. His house (at the time) was located on a loop at the end of the road leading to it. It did not really matter which way you turned, you ended up at the right place. Many people have joked about the quote, as it can be interpreted many different ways. Here is the relevance in the statement:

Yogi had a destination in mind!

I know that I am preaching to the choir, but when you are faced with a decision – the fork in the road – be sure that you understand the ultimate destination (not just the tactical one). Evolving your current business into a Social business will involve many decisions. Good friend and colleague Esteban Kolsky posted what I jokingly said to him could have been my third post in this series. Please take a look, his words are worth reading. I do not think that I will take as firm of a stance as he did, but as you design your own Social Business and the Engine that drives it, the function of sales needs serious evaluation.

The Destination remains the same – creating buyers and adding value

Notice, I did not say “sales force” or “sales person” I am speaking to the function, not the person. If the destination is to create buyers, and add value does it matter who ‘sold the deal’. It is mostly about ‘Trust’. There is the trust in the person who advises the buyer and there is the trust by association when that buyer is introduced to the company with whom they would like to do business with, the exchange of value.

I wrote previously, something Esteban referenced as well:

“As a buyer, people are more likely to trust someone who they feel is an ‘expert’ – oh and someone they know. In the eyes of the buyer, the seller must display professionalism, an understanding of the need, empathy.”

So, who is this person and do they need to be directly associated with the company? That I believe to be at the heart of the issue. Trust now appears to be about two things – trusting an intermediary, who is compensated as well as establishing trust with the company who the buyer would like to transact with. Since the compensation is based solely on the transaction, is a 3rd party really a value add?

Esteban also states the following:

“In this new model, a sales person is the one who brings the right customer to the right transaction, not by secretive manipulation to extract the maximum value possible — but to ensure that both sides receive and even value exchange for the transaction.

They become trusted advisors to the client and to the organization, brokering the relationship.  They change their roles from distrusted information gatekeepers to trusted brokers.”

I do not have strong arguments to counter what Esteban is writing. However, I do not believe that in order to transition from the “information gatekeepers” to active participants in the Social Business the sales function is required to live outside of the company four walls. That said, it might be better for them to be there – the decision is yours, make sure you have the data to help make that decision.

It is possible that sales people could simply change their behavior. The qualifications to meet the needs of the role are the same, if they exist outside, right? This will be an industry, cultural and business size decision. What Esteban describes sounds a lot like partners in the ecosystem. If we solve the convergence of  Enterprise 2.0 and Social CRM (and/or Social Business) this is less of a problem as well. They can be either place – it does not matter.

The exact path is not as important as the destination, I cannot prescribe. I believe that Esteban and I are in agreement that what the buyer really wants is to get past the barriers and walls and directly to the people and information with whom they can understand the true value proposition of whatever it is they are trying to buy.

Bringing this home a bit, regarding the Social Business Engine. As your business becomes more social, it is now more than a simple alignment of sales and marketing. It is an alignment of People and Processes who support these functions, whether they are inside your four walls or not.

To end with another great Yogi Berra quote: “If you don’t know where you are going, you might end up someplace else.

What I have discovered because of Twitter

December 21, 2009 2 comments

That is the title, I am sticking to it, but I do not really like it. The title should be “Who I have discovered because of Twitter”. A slight bit of ‘who I am’ might be in order, to make my point. I tend to take a more pragmatic, with a dash of logic, approach to most things. Even my kids are acutely aware of this point… Recently, my oldest (18) noted to the youngest (9), during a father daughter ‘conversation’: “Watch out Emma, dad just went logical on you, you have no chance”.

Twitter is anything but logical or pragmatic, defining exactly what it is depends upon who you are and what you do. Many have noted that personal acceptance of Twitter (as useful) may take a while, and may be a little steep (and  you may not get there). Considering the value I place on my time (work life balance and all that), I look back and I am a little surprised I made it through…

Since Venessa Miemis started the trend topic, I figured I would quote her, to start (a Tweet): “imagine twitter as the collective ideas & knowledge of everyone on planet. trick is to build ur network so u can access it” So, with that as my backdrop, I prefer to talk about ‘Who’, not ‘What’, there is a chance that ‘How’ will enter the conversation as well. The members of the network have had a greater impact on how I use the application. It is possible that an interesting outcome might be what I have discovered, but that is for you to decide.

The list (of who) is not huge, but the broad spectrum (background, location, interests) of cool people is impressive. The type and level of engagement runs from people I already knew, but I learned a whole lot of new stuff about them, to people I had never met, and I doubt I would have! I have been fortunate enough to turn 140 characters into dinners, drinks, social breakfasts, blogs, comments, business, questions, answers, collaboration. It sounds a bit like community, as @ekolsky notes in his post

Twitter is a community.  Shocking, I know.  There are no forums or ideas or structure (well, you could try hashtags — it worked very well for the #SCRM Accidental Community), but it is a community.  I wrote about this a couple of times.  The main difference, and the great part about it, is that each person gets to build and mold their own community

From a geographic perspective, I have met dozens of people who live in my own backyard (Burlington, VT) to regions far an wide.  I have been lucky enough to begin collaboration projects with great minds from Virginia to California, and London to Bangalore (noting Amsterdam and Paris fit in there somehow).  Which by the way, leads me to my favorite Twitter description, Mark Tamis @MarkTamis – A “Parisian Dutchman with Enterprise 2.0 and BPM background. Management Facilitator. Excited by potential of Social CRM as an organisational change agent!”

To further help the point hit home, I was hit by a little bit of writers block, and noted to Esteban last evening (through Skype, the next ‘what have you discovered’ post) “I promised myself I was no longer going to write about Twitter”. I went on further and said, “I am unhappy with what I have written. I may or may not post on the topic – I am going to stick to Social CRM” – Yep, an excuse. Unable to get a good nights sleep, I awoke to find that both Esteban and Wim Rampen (@wimrampen) – one of the great minds who I have been lucky enough to become friends and learn a great deal from – wrote his post (excellent Wim) earlier than me there are points which warrant repeating here, no need to reinvent the wheel.

..it has been Social Networking in the fourth dimension. It has brought me new friends, connections, thoughts, insights and ideas in a pace I could not have thought possible as little as one year ago.

You could say that I cheated a bit and borrowed from some like minded folks who, by virtue of living 5 or 6 timezones earlier allowed me the luxury of taking a peek at what they wrote first. Uh er, wait, Esteban live 3 timezones behind me, oh well, he does not sleep anyway. Based on some other types of interactions, I may put a motion on the table to rename the “Accidental Community” to the “Sleepless Community”. But, I digress… The key point is that Twitter has allowed me to expand my horizons, learn, collaborate and engage. Is that a ‘What’ or a ‘Who’ I guess I am not really sure.

I feel a bit guilty in not sharing more specifics on the many many folks who have influenced my thinking as of late. I suppose the list is longer than I thought, a good thing.

Have a Twitter story to share? Please do so on our own blog or in the comments . Don’t forget to tweet the link and tag it #MonTwit

The Long Tail of Knowledge

October 14, 2009 19 comments

This might be one of my more esoteric posts, but it has been bugging me for a couple weeks.  Putting my thoughts down may help me get past it. Possibly, a couple of my online friends have some advice.  It started with this Tweet

@rotkapchen: RT @business_design: the more you know the less you understand -I then added “Long tail of knowledge? Is trendy though”

and sent it back into the ether that is Twitter. As an aside, apparently this phrase was also stated last night at OOW09.

Most who might come along this blog likely understand what the Long Tail theory espouses, but I will not assume.  You can check Wikipedia for details, but the summary version is a businesses strategy that works to sell a large number of unique items, each in relatively small quantities. If you think about this, it goes against the mass production model, and it is not easy to accomplish.

What is bothering me is a concern that as a culture, especially with the likes of Twitter, we seem to be ‘skin deep’ on too many topics. What does the Long Tail principle do to knowledge systems? Is that a good thing or not? Do you agree with the statement, “The more you know, the less you understand” ?  Do we get caught up in proving what we know (ie Blogs) and not spending enough time really digging in and making sure that we think through that which we are saying? It is possible that this is really two issues;  the first what we know, the second what we are willing to state that we know.

This does play into the topics we are all discussing, the leap is not too big. There may be a difference between speaking or writing beyond what we truly understand and thinking out loud, but that difference is subtle. I am personally cautious as are many of us…sorry if this was a bit of a ramble, but I do feel better now 🙂

Anyone willing to offer some advice? Give an opinion even…

In Order to realize Social CRM, get your Enterprise 2.0 in Order

September 29, 2009 9 comments

We have all pushed; each other, as much the world around us, to try and wrap our head around the changing nature of a customer’s relationship with a company.  We discuss what they want, changing expectations, immediacy, co-creation, loyalty….there are many opinions, not what I would call agreement. The one topic where there is some level of consensus, is that CRM in its current form is simply not equipped to handle the change. With respect, I am personally, not ready to throw in the towel on what we have called Social CRM.

The Best Defense, is a Good Offense

As I suggested a few weeks ago, Enabling Social CRM is a convergence of Enterprise 2.0 and CRM, Prem also made some compelling arguments in his post – SocialCRM v Enterprise 2.0 Fight or Tango – While the arguments made do have validity, we need to go one level deeper. We need to lay of the foundation that supports the premise of my thinking:  Social CRM within an organization can not be fully realized until the core principles of Enterprise 2.0 are realized. Yes, I am hedging a bit because not all businesses are large enough to fully realize ‘true’ Enterprise 2.0. In smaller organizations, I believe it is acceptable to ‘get it done’ however it needs to get done. Many small businesses are in fact MORE social, with respect to their relationships.

Enterprise 2.0 is the use of emergent social software platforms within companies, or between companies and their partners or customers.

In the context of Social CRM, Enterprise 2.0 meets the specific technology needs which not only enable a company, but mobilize the workforce and facilitate information sharing (ie no more silos) required to support Social CRM. In my previous post, Social CRM is a Journey, as well as Esteban Kolsky’s the Slow Path to SocialCRM, we both suggest that this is not an overnight occurrence, and companies must take baby steps in order to get there. Many tried to extend the metaphor, and asked what vehicle – I am not sure, but maybe paving the road is the first step?

I will repeat my rallying cry “It is not about technology, but about the best use of technology. It is not about the platform, but about the people who are the platform.” If tools and technology can be used to leverage the knowledge within and across the Enterprise, if the Enterprise is able to adapt and communicate efficiently, then  meeting the needs of the customer will be that much easier; Then SocialCRM can be realized.

I believe that we need to figure this out, from the inside out.  Therefore,  In order to realize Social CRM, get your Enterprise 2.0 in order.

In the weeks to come, I look forward to exploring just how to accomplish this large task? What are your thoughts?