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Posts Tagged ‘Marketing’

Social CRM, Perspective Matters

April 25, 2010 3 comments

When you take a look at the picture below, what do you see? Do you see an older woman, or a younger woman? In case you have not seen this picture before, they are both there, trust me. OK, what is the relevance? The realization I have come to, and it is likely that others are there ahead of me, is that much (not all) of the debate regarding definitions – nit-picking words is simply due to our own myopic perspectives.

When an experienced marketer, social marketer, CMO or someone within traditional public relations looks at Social CRM, what do you/they see? I suspect, based on what I have been reading for the past year, is they see an old school system that is going to suck the life out of modern, cool, hip and social marketing efforts. When the more traditional information technologist, CIO, or 15 year CRM veteran looks at Social CRM and they see the young beauty – something that will finally breath life into what CRM was supposed to be 15 years ago – Customer Centric. There are a spectrum of perspectives, I chose only two, to illustrate my point. We need to bring these perspectives into alignment, and stop trying to prove we are right.

Know Your Audience and Lead them to Success

When someone tries to explain what Social CRM is, it often starts with a definition, followed by a talk about what it is, or does, surrounded by a few examples or case studies. Looking objectively at this, if the audience is mixed, then each person may leave the discussion with a very different idea of what exactly is Social CRM. The unfortunate truth is that within each organization there will be a bit of battle surrounding who should own this new “Social CRM” initiative. Before many people work to understand what is in it for their customers, they are likely going to ask “What is in it for me?”, sorry, tell me I am wrong. Friend and colleague Graham Hill wrote a post about 9 months ago: Who Should Own Social CRM? Graham suggests the following:

“In a business new to social CRM, this may be a disparate social network of individuals doing their own thing across the business. A self-organising group with no formal authority, but a lot of social authority. In a slightly more advanced business it might be a cross-functional team formed specifically to look at Social CRM and containing many of the earlier social network. Further on it might be a formal Social CRM Coordinator given the role, responsibility and authority to promote Social CRM across the business. In some organisations, it might even be the Chief Customer Officer (although organisations have a few hoops to jump through before they get that far!).”

Maybe you should figure out first what Social means to you

Another friend and colleague, Esteban Kolsky spoke about Social Business and specifically, he keyed in on the word ‘Social’.  You can find the full post here, but, my biggest takeaway is that we all need to figure out what Social means to our business, then we can figure out what Social CRM is and who should own it. My favorite line is “Social is not about Kumbayah”, ok, that is what it is not, but, what is it?:

“Social is about leveraging the customer willingness to work with us, as a business, to achieve better products, better services and have better relationships.  Social is about collaborating in a win-win environment where both customer and business achieve maximum value in each and every interaction, regardless of how it was planned and executed.”

This description does not force social efforts into one department. The ownership, in my opinion is by the business, for the business. We all need to be able to view the topics from other parts of the organization, as well as here in the blogosphere, other disciplines. What is your perspective? Have you been guilty of looking at this from only one perspective, and are willing to share?

Does Control of the Conversation Equal Control of the Relationship?

April 19, 2010 3 comments

Starting with the basics; If Social CRM is about the company’s response to the customer’s control of the conversation, I suppose we should first ask: Does it matter that the customer is controlling the conversation?  Of course it matters! However, your response to the conversation matters more.

Keep the ordinary, ordinary

As Paul Greenberg reminded us last week during his keynote at SugarCon. “Keep the ordinary, ordinary”. When conversations happen, there is a time to jump in and time to leave it alone. Listening in for while is important, to gauge trends and build up experience. If someone (Prospect, Customer, Partner) asks a question or makes a request in  a public channel, answer appropriately. My point is simply that controlling the conversation is not the same as controlling the relationship and that sometimes letting the conversations happen without you is ok, really (please do not interpret this as ignore).

Are customers like your kids?

Before I get lambasted for suggesting such a thing, work with me for a minute. This is more about communications than anything else, I have a ton of respect for my customers (as well as my kids). I have 3 awesome kids, really! – I am a lucky man. Are they perfect? No. Do they complain about me and/or their mother (my equally awesome wife) to their friends or to each other? Yes. Why, because we are not perfect parents either (or, we are being parents and saying “no”). Now, when they are talking among themselves or their friends, should I jump in and try to make sure things are ok? Sometimes, I suppose, more often than not, ‘no’, actually, but it depends. Sometimes an immediate reaction is necessary, sometimes it is not.

(Yes, I am a bit of a geek, but no, I do not have neither a KRM  or a Social KRM system – you can figure it out)

Taking a bit of leap, this begs the question ‘do you need tools to practice Social CRM’? My answer is the following: No, they are not required, but they will certainly help. The consultative answer is ‘it depends’. I would suggest that sometimes the tools are not new tools though. I can share with you the need to engage on the channels where you customers are talking. This is a lesson learned from my kids as well – My 15yo son shares a whole lot more with me (especially when I am traveling) via text messaging than voice (btw – email, NO WAY). Talk to your customers where they are comfortable!

Social does not demand a public conversation.

At SugarCRM, where I hang my hat, if someone writes something on our forums (4+ years of Forums BTW), answering there, or changing channels is fine. In other words, our forums are still quite active (we are thinking of making some changes though). If your customers are not on the new fancy channels, Twitter Facebook, yeah I am talking about you – then you may not need to be there either. This is a slight word of caution to companies – if the marketing group decides to jump onto a new channel, then you will need to listen appropriately on that channel as well.

A good practice would be for the whole company to agree on the social channel strategy. According to Denis Pombriant (someone who I have great respect for), the proper balance of talking to listening is around 25/75; plus/minus. As he states “The ratio of outbound to inbound need not be 50/50, in fact, most of us don’t want to provide input to our vendors most of the time, and vendors don’t want all of that input. ” Kira Wampler, of Intuit, shared the example that the most important Social Channel for Intuit is Amazon – where customer reviews happen. That channel has been around for a long time, it is where their customers are, makes sense to me.

In further reading Denis’s post; The Relationship Entity he also makes a great reference to the old CRM 1.0 world, and offers some sage advice: “When CRM was a new idea companies — large, respectable companies — ran out and bought Siebel for no other reason than it was what other large, respectable companies were doing.  I know because I asked them.” Skipping ahead, I love this line from the post, so I needed to include it “I just reading the labels looking for nutrition” – As a vendor, the message to me is ‘I better be part of a balanced diet’

I do believe there is a difference though, this time around the customer is driving the change. Companies are put in a position of needing to change, exactly how is not 100% defined yet. The change is both cultural, internal processes as well as technology. Does this change mean Social CRM for everyone? No, probably not. Friends have said to me “If you are a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail” – point taken. From a Social CRM perspective, there is buzz and hype – I am on record as stating we need to get past that, but companies are already doing ‘it’. Sometimes the effort is organized, sometimes, not so much. The key question is, who is doing the organizing?

By the way, I most certainly did not answer the question – but control is a very strong word. I suppose you could say it was a bit of trick question, as I do not think there is a right answer because independent of the first clause, no one really controls the relationship, because ultimate control is ending a relationship, and either side can do that.

Is Social CRM a house of cards?

April 7, 2010 9 comments

I am not simply going for shock value, I am asking a tough question where one of the possible answers is ‘yes’, and that scares me a bit. If we choose to ignore 20 years of knowledge, experience and best implementation practices, then we are setting ourselves to repeat the same mistakes that gave CRM a bad name. This pushes the answer towards ‘yes’, how can we push it towards ‘no’? Is this post an about face for me personally? No, I do not think so, call it a prequel – something I knew, felt and should have said a long time ago.

There are some great ideas, even some really awesome technology components that can make up the pieces of a solid Social CRM strategy. However, at the core, there needs to be a well architected, flexible CRM application that will serve as the foundation for the Social CRM strategy. There are certain things ‘the basic blocking and tackling’ if you will of CRM which cannot be ignored.

You cannot jump to Social CRM if you do not understand CRM

Without a proper foundation, adding more layers and more cards simply adds to the instability. Recent posts (and some not so recent) are well suited to help me describe my concerns. (They are listed at the bottom, to avoid hyperlink hypnosis). If we first look at Paul’s definition of CRM and then Social CRM it should be clear that Social CRM is an extension – by process, culture and/or technology– of CRM. The change was and is required due to the changing needs of the customer.

Since the customer changed, the companies also need to change. But, If you change the focus (who and how), it is very easy to forget the battle scars of CRM 1.0 implementations. As Esteban points out in his recent post, the ownership of the concepts of CRM have moved from one part of the organization to another. Because of this change, the institutional knowledge regarding what it means to build a holistic customer strategy may not be all there. Some is lost, or worse, some is being ignored.

Social CRM is not simply a set of CRM bolt-on modules

Getting past definitions and focusing on what it is, Michael Fauscette says it quite well: “CRM is a customer strategy and many companies have chosen to use SW [software] and technology as a part of that strategy. SCRM [Social CRM] just extends that customer strategy in a few ways.”

Again, I am not talking about definitions, I am talking about practice. Is technology a part of the extension? Yes, it probably is, but it will not work if you do not make people and process changes first (think attitude!). If you use technology as a part of your CRM strategy, then you will likely need technology to extend it to a Social CRM strategy. If you do not have a well organized technology strategy for CRM (meaning it is not simply email and spreadsheets) then adding new technology for Social CRM will NOT be effective.

The Process of Social CRM is dynamic

It is dynamic because where and how the conversations happen will change. Brian and others speak a bit about ‘changes in centricity’ – I am summarizing, but the sentiment should not be lost. Customer centric versus management centric; Conversation centric versus Process Centric – Centricity, Focus whatever the best name for it is, needs to evolve and meet your business need – what do your customers want. Regardless of what you call it, both sets of data are still important. Can anyone tell me that what I purchased, when I purchased it and my buying patterns have stopped being important? I know Brian was not going there, I am illustrating a point. Please read his post, it is important.

Jacob posted the Social CRM process, is it right I am not sure, actually it is probably wrong – hold on, I am not coming down on anyone! I applaud Jacob because anyone should be able to take his diagram and use it as a baseline model (not a best practice) and move the arrows, fill-in the boxes and make it work for your business. People, Process and all that… Jacob is spot on for highlighting process – look at what you have, and where ‘Social’ should fit into the company. Do not force Social in, just because it is cool.

Ok, maybe a little bit of shock value

If at least made you stop and think, I feel a bit better. I really like Social CRM. I enjoy thinking about, writing about, talking about and even well debating a bit. Here is my mea culpa, I have a CRM application, I use it everyday. To me, thinking of Social CRM as an evolutionary step, not revolutionary as assumed. My apologies. If this seems like a change of course, well the Blog does not have a title for a reason…

This list is not just a WordPress – blogs you might also like to read! These specific people, posts and comments on the posts influenced my own thoughts – what are yours?

Paul Greenberg’s – Traditional CRM v Social CRM: Is There a Difference
Esteban Kolsky’s – Why We Cannot Get CRM (and SCRM) Quite Right
Brian Vellmure’s – Traditional CRM vs Social CRM: Expanded
Michael Fauscette – What makes “CRM” Social
Bob Thompson – Can you do “Social CRM” w/out Social Media/Networks
Jacob Morgan – The Social CRM Process

6 Degrees of Social Interactions

March 26, 2010 5 comments

I penned a post yesterday, on the CRMOutsiders, blog titled Are all Interactions Social Interaction? The post was a little more sarcastic than my usual rants and I think it caught a few folks who do not know me a bit off guard. I start the post with the following:

“SugarCRM is holding its annual customer, developer and partner conference, April 12-14, in San Francisco. The venue is the cool Palace Hotel. It is going to be a great event, with some really great presenters, panelists, as well as an awesome evening event at the California Academy of Sciences.”

I went on further to suggest that I did a little bit of a ‘bait and switch’. I even posed a question to myself: “is what I did appropriate?” My idea was to draw people in with a topic intended to create some conversation, but was it really a marketing message in disguise? – not a very Social thing to do. The post was prompted by a question posed by Bob Thompson, the CEO of CustomerThink. The question is: “Can you do Social CRM without Social Media/Networks?” In order to answer that question, first the question of what determines if an interaction is a Social interaction needs to be answered.

Is every Interaction a Social Interaction?

The conclusion I reached, possibly prematurely, is “No” not every interaction is a Social Interaction.  The post did have some back and forth with people willing to share their thoughts. I may need to retract my conclusion, or at least alter it. It it not really binary, it is a continuum, and there are degrees of social. Phil Soffer, Vice President of Product Marketing at Lithium Technologies wrote a great post which I think gets to the heart of the matter. Phil suggests the following:

“a more rigorous definition of the forms that Social CRM interaction takes. I’m not talking about channels here: Facebook versus Twitter, or whatever. I’m talking more about norms and expectations that govern the interaction.”

Phil went on the discuss the Typology of Social CRM Sociability. I agree with the concept, and even some of the specifics. I would like add a bit to this and state the following, the intent of an interaction speaks much more to the Sociability than the channel used. I can broadcast a commercial on YouTube, do nothing but send spam links on Twitter just as easily as I can pick up the phone or send an email to a group of people – which is Social which is not?

The 6 Degrees of Social Interactions

Here are examples of the 6 Degrees of Social Interactions from the Customer perspective. Since this is a continuum, as you progress from 1-6, the characteristics suggest that the customer is becoming a Social Customer.

  1. I said what I am said, really not hoping for a response, just action – monologue
  2. I am talking, hoping for acknowledgment, not necessarily a response, but might be nice – venting
  3. We are talking, but the conversation is a bit one sided – skewed
  4. I am actively asking for information, will not be happy until I get it – social pressure
  5. We are engaged in a conversation and others may join in to push things forward – objective
  6. A community of conversations Many to Many – icing on the cake

Here are examples of the 6 Degrees of Social Interaction from the Business’s Perspective. Since this is a continuum, as you progress from 1-6, the characteristics suggest that the Business is becoming a Social Business.

  1. Here is my press release, look at me – broadcast
  2. Register and Download my whitepaper – broadcast with bait
  3. We are listening, but I am really waiting to talk – pretending
  4. We are blogging and hoping the message makes it out untarnished – comment, nicely please
  5. The Facebook Fanpage is set up, I hope everyone is nice – <fingers crossed>
  6. A community of conversations Many to Many – objective

Is 6 Degrees enough? Probably not, the title sounded cool though. This is analog, not digital. How does this play into Social CRM and answering Bob’s question? Share your thoughts, mine are still gelling and I will share my thoughts in my next post. The short answer is yes, Social CRM can be done without Social Media/Networks, because Social CRM is as much about culture and other soft – but important – change management ideas.

Social CRM is a Journey, not a Destination – Revisited

March 8, 2010 1 comment

I wrote the following in September 2009 – 6 months ago.  But, I could have easily written it yesterday, and it would not be too different:

“There has been a tremendous amount great conversation during the past couple weeks, regarding Social CRM. What it is as well as what it is not. I am not sure we have reached any conclusions yet, but we have all become smarter for the insights of a great many individuals. Interestingly, I am usually a bit opinionated, but I sat on the sidelines, just observing – for the most part.

As my title suggests, I do believe that we are all (customers, businesses, implementers and vendors) on a journey.  As a group, we are working (struggling) to compartmentalize, as that seems to be human nature. We are treating the landscape as binary, you either have it, or you don’t.  You will get there, or you will not. The economy is evolving, business is evolving, customers’ needs are evolving. So as all the components go through this evolution, yet, we are suggesting this needs to be a revolution, why? Very few of us subscribe to waterfall development methodology, therefore, we should be able to iterate through this as well, no?

The difference, among my peers, who are having the conversation, do not seem to be as much about where we are going (ok, first chance for a comment), rather how we get there. We all want very similar things. As Graham reminded us all today, in quoting Peter Drucker on his post (which is a must read). The end game is already defined for us.”

I tend to get a little philosophical at times – why, I am not sure, but it happens quite often, I am afraid. Mostly, because my purpose in writing is to solidify my own thoughts. In my previous post, I went on to say:

“If Social CRM is the destination, then what is the vehicle to get us there? Is it strategy, or technology? Answer: It is both. It is the proper introduction and combination of technology, in support of the evolving processes, created by the empowered customer. Like the business trips we all take – trains, planes and automobiles – each client requires a slightly different itinerary. Exactly, each client requires a slightly different approach.”

I have a lot of great comments from the previous post, by some great folks who have pushed my thinking further than I could have ever hoped. To start, friend Mike Boysen made the following observation (Last September) “Why are there Social CRM software solutions on the market if we do not know what it is” That is a very important question to be answered, and I am not sure how much further along we are, frankly.

As many have noted, we run the risk of Social CRM being dominated by the vendors (full disclosure, I am one). We also run the risk of having the same failures we did with CRM, but I think the chances of that are smaller. Kathy Hermann pointed out (last September) “I don’t think we’ll ever reach a final SCRM destination nor should we expect to…because of the diversity of the social media field of opportunities.”  This is also an important point, by putting Social on the front of CRM, the static nature of reporting transactions has changed to understanding where customers are talking, what they are saying, and where they are saying it – this last one (where) is dynamic and will keep us all on our toes!

Through the journey (personal and professional), there have been a tremendous number of great posts, papers, and exploratory ideas. Without a doubt it is a journey, spattered with some self reflection as well.  So, with all the posts, conversations and thoughts, are we any closer to the destination? Or as Kathy points out above, do we need to worry about the destination at all, and we should be focused on helping customers get their jobs done?

I wrote in November, “Social Just is…” This was right after friend Graham Hill released his Manifesto for Social Business.  At the time, I was thinking along the lines of the Social Customer – I summarized with the following:

“The key message here is to be cautious, all too often the “gurus” and “experts” pretend to be King, as did the the one-eyed man in the land of the blind. Challenge the gurus with the Social Media strategies, not just to challenge, but to ask them how they did it. How many times have they done it, if they have done it. These experts need to have a solid grounding in Marketing, and Media (not necessarily ‘Social’) first.

The current hype cycle that is Social (Media and by extension Networking) is very much about creating that feeling of closeness (emotions) and changing behaviors, between your organization and your customers. Make no mistake, while there is some hype, there is a new bar, and expectations have been set and reset.“

My point in revisiting this is because there is a wave of Buzz surrounding Social CRM at the moment, and the journey has just become quite interesting.  The smart folks over at Altimeter  have just released  the 18 Social CRM Use Cases report, which is an important read. This is great work, but also keep in mind the other really great posts and ‘road maps’ if you will. For Example Esteban Kolsky’s SCRM roadmap post and Brian Vellmure’s 5 Stages of Customer Acquisition. These (among other works) are a tremendous value add to the thinking within the space. It is up to us to turn these ideas and concepts into customer focused actions.

But, it is important to remind everyone that the Customers jobs come first, and the focus needs to remain on the relationships with the Customer – as defined by the customer, not us. As Wim Rampen states in his great post from earlier this year:

“Because a Customer does not value a relationship with the company, but mostly values the outcome generated from the experience of using your product or service, it should not be difficult to understand that Customers value knowledge or information on how to improve that outcome, over relationships (with the company).”

I have said it quite often within my talks, blogs and participatory comments of all kinds – There is no one size fits all here.  I do not believe that there are best practices to carried from organization to another – except, keep you customer in mind in everything you do. There are best approaches, and ways to think, but social may just be the new differentiator – thus it is different from place to place. Not a differentiator in technology, but in your approach to your ecosystem.

Best of luck on your Journey, god speed!

Rapid Social Sales Response by Intelligent Aggregation

March 7, 2010 4 comments

This is a follow-up post from last weeks interview with Dharmesh Shah, Co-Author of Inbound Marketing and Founder of Hubspot, The series itself leads up to an even in Boston on March 23: Bridging the gap between Social Media hype and business value, sponsered by BrainSell. In addition to Dharmesh, we have an equally compelling presentation by Umberto Milletti, CEO and co-founder of InsideView, who I caught up with via email last week.

Before I get to the interview;  I wanted to mention the great report put out by The Altimeter Group, this past week. The content of the report includes 18 well described Use Cases for Social CRM. If you are in this space (CRM, Social CRM) this is an important read. In full disclosure, part of the title of this post is Use Case S2 – Rapid Social Sales Response. Listed as a “Vendor to Watch” (one of only 4) InsideView is very well positioned in this space. The timing is great for me, as I needed a title, and I was in process of interviewing the CEO!

Monitoring key channels and integrating this into your processes

I started out with a simple question (along with my usual long winded set-up): On the one side of the coin there is the need to “be found” and “get noticed”. On the other, there is the need to search, find, alert and insert that into a process. Do you see these as discrete processes? How can teams work together to make sure there are no silos and we are all seeking to achieve the same end goal – happy, new and engaged customers?

Engaging customers in a productive conversation and driving them [to an] outcome requires multiple touch points. For those in sales and marketing, the key is being relevant in all points of this conversation.  Relevance requires knowledge” I agree wholeheartedly – a very important statement we all need to keep in mind. Umberto went on further to highlight a point made by Dharmesh as well: “Since prospect and customers are more educated than ever about your products, services, strengths and weaknesses, they will only value the conversation if you can bring something useful and relevant to the table.” As Altimeter points out their report, “participating in in the right conversation at the right time a sale can be intercepted from a competitor’s hand”. I would like to think that ‘right place, right time can also prevent it from even going there, but that is just me. Silos will get in the way as well, the message needs to be consistent.

I wanted to dig a little deeper, so I followed up with a question or two to get some details. Even with the sophisticated filtering, aggregation and analysis, do some organizations feel that there is just too much data? In speaking with your customers, what kind of cultural changes needed to be made within the organization in order to effectively take advantage of the “Social” era we have entered into?

With respect to the first part, Umberto had this to say “Information overload is a real issue. It is crucial to filter information to its most relevant bits and ensure usability by delivering it in existing workflows, easily accessible in the business productivity applications we spend most of our time in.” To this end, very often SalesView (the InsideView product) integrates the aggregated information into an existing CRM or SFA application. If knowledge workers, specifically sales types try to go after the information directly, there may not be enough hours in the day! ” Attempting to access social information from the increasing number of sources – and trying to determine what’s relevant to further business goals – is too time consuming and adversely impacts productivity.”

The name of the game is “Intelligent Aggregation”

Umberto stated the following, and I see no reason to alter his words: “What we need is “intelligent aggregation” of both very dynamic social data as well as the more static but still important basic business data (revenues, industry, phone, email addresses…) . “Aggregation” addresses the “too many sources” issue by delivering a single go-to place…”Intelligence” ensures accuracy and relevance at the individual user level through innovative use of technology and filters.”

I have been doing a bit of thinking on the cultural changes required to make this all work. I posted about it last week. In response to my question about culture, Umberto’s comments were very much inline with my own thinking (phew). “The main cultural change required of sales and marketing organization is a shift from the traditional selling processes (cold calling, feature-selling, low-yield marketing campaigns) to a selling process based on relevance and value-add. The education on [ or provided by] social media is happening every day for all of us in our consumer lives, and since sales organization tend towards younger demographics they are very open to using social tools.”

While the conversation is done for the sake of this interview, the journey has just begun. As Umberto states, “Fortunately, the social web provides ample information on people and companies.” There is the understatement of the day!  The real challenge for the practitioners is “to make this information available to all customer-facing employees in a productive fashion.” that is the intelligence part!

I want to thank Umberto for taking the time. Please join us if you are in the Boston area, the discussion is going to be very informative and quite fun! In case anyone is wondering, yes we are going to see all of this in action.

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.

Sales is much more than just sales people

October 27, 2009 12 comments

There was an interesting thread on Twitter this morning, and it has become difficult to push the conversation to where it needs to go in 140 characters.  This is not a naming debate, by any stretch – this is probably better described as a process debate – among friends and peers (in other words, play nice!)

The conversation started with:

@PaulBuchtmann #sCRM can help #sales by building trust and loyalty with customers. Not help if UR focus is short term or “transaction” based (posted by Dr. Harish Kotadia)

@hkotadia Be interestered in see how U can achieve this given my survey results show less that 1 in 50 #sales people use the tools (response by Paul Buchtmann)

.@PaulBuchtmann: @hkotadia Sales is much more than just sales people. Unless they are cold calling, the leads come from everywhere (My comment)

@mjayliebs Got to weigh in on #sales #marketing #scrm. Leads are marketing domain, sales is closing (simple, yes, true, mostly) (John Moore – @johnfmoore – comment)

Then John Moore and I started a separate thread, which became more detailed and hard to convey the true thoughts in 140 characters. So, just as Leads transition from Marketing to Sales, we are transitioning from Twitter to a Blog. Interesting metaphor in and of itself. John pointed me to a post he wrote a few months ago, a fair reminder

Core to the issue that more and more vendors are putting the ownership of the process to obtain customers in Marketing’s capable hands (duh, it has always been there). But, who owns the relationship with the prospective customer? Is there a cold hand-off, a warm hand-off? What is the sales persons role? When do they take ownership of the relationship?After all, people like doing business with people they trust, so this is the sales person, right? What are the dependencies?

So, inviting an open debate, so that I am able to learn with everyone, please add your comments below.