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Posts Tagged ‘Staffing’

People. Process. Results

March 17, 2010 2 comments

I had the pleasure of speaking with Chip Meyers, Sales Operations Manager at Insource Performance Solutions. Insource, in addition to being both a SugarCRM customer and an InsideView customer, they have a really cool tag line! My own mantra has been “People, Processs and Technology – In that order” for many years. But, looking at the Insource tag line, I had to take pause, and think – ‘hmm, that one is a bit more powerful’. Insource is about helping companies ‘get it done’; “refine, manage and execute labor-intensive processes within our customers’ manufacturing and distribution facilities.” But to take it even further;  “Insource is accountable for increasing throughput, improving quality, and reducing cost.”

My conversation with Chip was not as much about what Insource does, but the early stages of customer engagement, the sales process. However, I became a little nervous when I began doing a little bit of research, as the bar seems quite high, based on what Insource itself, does for its clients. I am not sure I am ready to change my own personal tag line just yet, but if I do, I know where to look! What I began to realize is that Insource is implementing parts of Social CRM as well as parts of Enterprise 2.0.

Expectations

In speaking with Chip, I started off simple and light and asked; with respect to the implementation of the system (SugarCRM and Salesview), what are the expectations?:

“Our corporate culture is all about performance; that is what we sell.  So with anything we do; be it a new customer engagement or implementation of a new resource, there is an expectation of success.”

That pretty much says it. In order to dig in a bit, I further asked how success should be (and is) measured throughout the organization. Chip’s answer here surprised me a little, but then discussing it further it was more clear. To save you the same confusion, I will give a little bit of background. Insource does not consider itself a “transactional sales company” rather, Insource is more focused on “long term engagements with customers, and to become part of their organizations”. So, back to the measurement of success:

“Although we are a metrics driven company I’m going to focus on the subjective way we are judging CRM success.    I am not that interested in activity metrics of a typical SFA (although Sugar can do that) I am interested in results.”

During the course of the conversation, Chip relayed to me that the cycles are typically three to six months, sometimes longer. This falls squarely in the Business to Business realm. During the sales cycle, there is an accumulation of a tremendous of amount of customer information. This information needs to be captured, shared and the users need to adopt the application if they are going to find value. The sales cycle is not simply long without cause, the products and services provided need to match the needs of the clients. Customers will speak with many different parts of the Insource organization, including Sales, Engineering and Operations:

“The data capture starts with Sales, and transfers through to Engineering and ultimately to the Operations team who manage the ongoing relationships.  Sugar has enabled that flow of information to be much more efficient and that ultimately improves our ability to serve our customers.   As everyone has seen this happening, adoption has improved.  I call that success. “

How smart are the customers – Very!

I wanted to bring my conversation back around a bit, to some topics we will be talking about with Chip at the event in Boston. This is also very high up when the topic of Social CRM or Inbound Marketing are discussed. I asked Chip his perspective on whether “prospects are more educated than they used to be, just a few years ago?” Chip has a great answer, worth reading in full. The interesting part is the transition over time:

“Without a doubt!  We are one of the original innovators in our field.  So, years ago, our challenge was just explaining to people what the business model was and why it made sense.  Now there are a number of companies trying to do what we do, and therefore more general awareness in the marketplace.  We are now at point where we are seeking to cut through the clutter and get our message heard above the din. In our business, like many, it is all about serving the customer and making ourselves invaluable to them. An effective CRM strategy and aggregating market intelligence so our business development team can be better informed than our competition is critical.”

I cannot add much to that, so I will leave well enough alone. I am quite impressed with how Insource is approaching the process. As Chip relayed to me a couple times, it is about culture. With a strong focus on customer success, any technology decisions simply need to fit in, enable and scale what people are already doing. I am hoping that you will join us at the event next week, where Chip will be demonstrating the applications in action!

This post was the 3rd in the series, the first an interview with Dharmesh Shah, Co-Author of Inbound Marketing and Founder of Hubspot, The second an interview with Umberto Milletti, CEO and co-founder of InsideView, (about Intelligent Aggregation) – all leading up to what is shaping up to be an awesome event in Boston on March 23: Bridging the gap between Social Media hype and business value, sponsered by BrainSell.

This post was supposed to be done Monday, however, I was a bit waterlogged! For those not located on the east coast of the US, Boston picked up between 5 and 7 inches of rain, and if that was not enough, I traveled to  New Jersey to enjoy the rain….again. I did make home, where it is nice and dry – Mitch

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Bridging the gap between social media hype and business value

March 2, 2010 6 comments

This is a cross post – with the primary post being my first on the CRM Outsiders blog. Since the location is different, I am altering the introduction a bit (you know content is king and context is queen and all that).

I do lots of different things for SugarCRM, among them is the beat up the regular author of the CRM Outsiders 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 PG-13).

It is interesting that my first post (on CRM Outsiders) is about an upcoming event in Boston. The interesting part is who the keynote speaker is at the event is, and if I read and understood his book, 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 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 know 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.

I am not sure if I will cross post all of these, but I felt an interview with Dharmesh is a worthy post, given just how much he has to offer!

The first stop on the journey is Boston, MA on March 23rd. 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 event, I conducted a few short, informal, interviews with the presenters, which I will intertwine with my own thoughts through a few blog entries. First on the list is Dharmesh Shah, 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! But, I digress, back to the topic at hand:

It is about business value, it always has been and it always will be!

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. Some of my peers in the AC might suggest it is really about helping customers get jobs done, and preparing to be an outside-in organization. Yes, that too, but I will address that in another post ( or reference yours).

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 (Crossing the Chasm) adoption curve 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. We will also be having very similar conversations at SugarCon in April – more on that soon!

The Social Business Engine (part 1 of n)

January 21, 2010 6 comments

Before any of my friends ask, or slap me silly on the back channel, I do not know the value of ‘n’. The reason is simple, this is not a closed loop process, it is a journey, and we are simply going to need to alter the design as we go along. Second point, I am not trying to add another hashtag, or acronym, that is so 2009!

My thoughts are guided by lots of great folks – many of whom are in my scrm blogroll, affectionately known as the Accidental Community. Influence does not stop there, Clint Oram, a good friend, and one of the founders of SugarCRM is a strong influence as well. I always wanted to hit Clint up for an interview, maybe now is my chance. Finally, the most obvious, witnessing the changes in business large and small, public and private, academia included.

What are the components of a Social Business?

Simple really, they are the same components of every business you have read about for the past 20 years, just with the word “social” stuck in front. Maybe that was not very helpful, my point is that while everything seems new, nothing within is really new. (yes, tech changes and all that, but work with me) The difference is that now whatever we do, we do with an audience, who can talk back. We are no longer afforded the luxury of screwing up in private. Thus, the word “social” is, at its core, a daily reminder of this fact. When we all have that burned in sufficiently, the term will disappear. No ‘Social’ Service Communities, just Service Communities, no ‘Social’ Media Monitoring, just Media Monitoring. Eventually, the Social part of CRM may even go away too…But it will not become Social Relationship Management – sorry, not happening.

But, for now, the word social will stick, not to use it would confuse everyone, not my goal. In order to be successful in the context of a social business, your choices are fewer – no that is a good thing! You know, the ultimate freedom is lack of choice. There is no more trying to hide a product flaw, a price discrepancy, no chance, do not even try – isn’t that a relief?

So, I have trashed the word social, told you that whenever you screw up it is public and added that nothing is new it is just different. I am a ‘glass is half full’ kind of guy, really? If you understand the difference, empower your employees, and align your business to leverage this environment and have some fun along the way you can succeed, and really thrive!

Roles, responsibilities and expectations need to be aligned

Have you ever tried to teach someone (or learned yourself) to drive a stick shift? OK, paint this mental picture – new driver,  stopped on an uphill, a car right behind you and one in front waiting at a red light – sorry, rush hour (of course) – ok, got that picture in your mind? This is how many companies felt about Social in 2008 and 2009. Having my dad start trying to describe how a transmission works, at this point in time, was really not appreciated, followed by the command to focus on the road! This is your CEO telling you that hurry up and “get social”.

The mechanics of this involve the proper alignment, timing and of course giving the engine some gas. Am I talking about a business or a car? Both. We all know the result if things do not go as planned. A crash and burn, in a very public way, with all the neighbors talking. Like I said, screwing up in private is no longer an option. We can play with the metaphor, too much gas, wrong gear, not enough gas….feel free to share. I hope I was able to make my point – The alignment within an organization has always been important – but now that alignment is even more important than ever.

The main reason, because everyone is listening, watching and talking. You need to be ready.

Part 2 of the series will focus specifically on the Sales role within a Social Business. I recommend taking a look at Mark Tamis’s post on the role of Sales, I will build on that, and some of the discussions there.

Why do people think Twitter is a good Customer Service platform?

October 29, 2009 29 comments

Because Twitter helps customers solve problems and they can vent – there a simple answer. But, the current approach will not scale!

I believe the following statement to be true:

The need to broadcast a problem to the world would not be necessary if the customer had confidence that their issue would  be solved timely and to their satisfaction.

There are lots of and lots of good reasons to broadcast, this post is not about all those good reasons: Co-Creation, Innovation, Community, Collaboration, to name a few. This post is also not about Service Communities like Lithium and Helpstream, Parature and others. While not about them, they might be part of the solution.

Using Twitter for support masks a larger issue. Therefore I believe the following also to be true:

If your customers are trying to get your attention on Twitter to solve a specific ‘me only’ problem, your processes are either horribly inefficient, broken or you have product issues.

Twitter is not SocialCRM. Twitter is immediate gratification meets CRM

There are lots of companies who are taking the opportunity to try and make things right, by watching for issues on Twitter and helping those in need. Unfortunately, this also promotes bad behavior, let me paint a mental picture:

In order to get your cable box fixed you needed to go down to the local service provider office. It just so happens that you have your 5 yo daughter in tow. The drive is 20 minutes, you figure the line should not be too bad – ooops, wrong, you need to stand in line for an hour or more. While in line, after 1/2 hour the person who just came in the door starts to yell really loudly about poor service.

In the real world, we all know what would happen (or what should happen anyway). The person yelling would be asked to quiet down, or leave. This would be done nicely of course, but that is what would happen. Right? How do you suppose it would go over if after the second ‘rant’, the best technician in the company walked over and opened up a new station at the counter, and called that individual over, fixed their problem, then left? <rhetorical>

But, this is exactly what happens on Twitter, day in and day out. No scenario or metaphor can perfectly represent the Twitter scenario in real world. Are Twitter users playing the system or cheating the system? Or simply taking advantage?  I am aware of the United video (this fits into the broken category), as well as some really great uses of help and support, like Best Buy.

The Reality

Companies who are responding well are putting the best and brightest Customer Support people in the  role of Marketing and Support, and calling them Support. They have a direct line to anyone who can help solve your problem.  This will work for a while, maybe even a year or two – but then everyone will have the secret number – and we will yell and scream, but still be stuck in the queue. Support communities may very well help here – but not for all industries, company sizes or geographies.

The key is turning the data into information and turning the information into insights, then the insights into action. When this really gets mature 3-5 years, we will be able to predict – but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. As the Twitter user population grows as well as Facebook and others, the call center and help desk models will simply not be able to scale. Organizations use predictive models to determine staffing and there only so many ‘A’ players (the ones the vendors are using to filter and watch Twitter).

Take the opportunity to learn and figure out what is broken or wrong, and fix it. In order to learn, you need to put processes in place to learn. Am I wrong?