Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

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.

Twitter Lists, good or bad?

October 18, 2009 3 comments

I was lucky enough (or random enough) to be given access to a new Beta feature within Twitter called Lists. The Lists feature is similar to a compilation of features available by other means – create a list of interesting people to follow. For some details, and an interesting discussion, Robert Scoble shared some thoughts on Posterous.  What is novel, is that Lists can be shared publicly. The public part can also be done by some other third party sites, like – but the user still follows people at the individual person level.

By creating and controlling Lists at the source, the equation has changed.

Sharing publicly, also means that if I use your list, I relinquish some amount of control to you. There is a ripple effect to this subtle change in control. Suppose I get a little lazy and decide to follow a list for local tweeps (near Burlington, Vermont, where I live). Someone spends the time to make the list, and I do not want to repeat the effort. Did I just give up control? I will now follow the Burlington Tweeps that that person decides (they can add and remove people).  Currently, I keep my own eye out for new folks, using a variety of hashtags – will I still add them to my list? Think about the impact to you and who you follow?

Will Twitter be creating a pseudo class system?

After reading the post, there are a number of interesting comments, but one caught my eye, by Andrew Mueller:

Lists make the utility of twitter much greater for the casual user who can identify a few highly curated lists and simply follow the list stream rather than the people. Once Tweetdeck, Seesmic and others integrate lists into their apps this could be done in columns in single streams. In this scenario it make sense that follower growth rates will decline. This may have broad implications for the twitter ecosystem. After all why should I curate a list of “Web Innovators” when Robert Scoble has done it for me!

…it will limit the discovery of new people to follow and could result in two classes of twitter citizens – those who are on list that are followed and those are not.

What are the implications of this change, for new users, and brands? I think that Brands will have a much tougher time, especially new entrants, as they will have a tougher time engaging. Andrew and I had an interesting interaction on Twitter based in this, which lead me to this post. The core problem is that for power users, who are creating the lists now (or when Twitter releases the function publicly) will represent a snapshot in time. Robert’s list of great programmers may grow, or possibly remain static. Hashtags offer a similar function, but they are not exclusive, they allow for new entrants.

It is not all bad

  • There are some interesting uses for lists as well. For conferences and events, the coordinator can create a list for people to follow. They could publish the List name far ahead of the conference and add potential twitters to the list.  No hashtag to worry about, and up to 5 more characters to use.
  • Brands and Companies will be able to share lists within an organization without everyone having to know who to follow. Marketing sends out a message “Hey, just follow” Big benefit to Social Service Communities.
  • Follow Friday and follow counts may go away, or be reduced in importance. With lists, you may not have follow counts that have the same meaning. You may have a lot more people following you than you know (blocked people will still not be able to see your tweet stream).

This will play itself out, for sure. But, the impact is bigger than it first appears. I know some of the people I interact with might not use lists, or might not use them extensively. Innovation and collaboration with NEW people will take a hit. New people will start with lists and might be less inclined to interact one on one.

What are your thoughts? What are the impacts to transparency (you can add to list without a follow)?

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…

Do Giraffes make noise?

August 4, 2009 8 comments

When my kids were very young, we played a little game while on long car rides. ‘Let’s make different animal sounds ‘ We would joke with them that if the back seat were very quiet, that “there must be a giraffe in the car” as the misconception goes (more on that near the end), a giraffe does not make any notable sounds. It was also a bit of trick to quiet the car, as silence during a long trips is sacrosanct.

For modern businesses, customer silence is not a good sign. As the data points below suggest interaction and conversation are extremely important. My question to group is, how can/should SocialCRM facilitate a change? A study by the Strategic Planning Institute (I do not have access to the original work)  suggests the following:

  • The average business does not receive complaints from 96% of its unhappy customers;
  • At least 9 out of 10 non-complainers will not do business with the company again – they are gone forever;
  • Of the 4% of unhappy customers that do complain, 7 out of 10 will do business again with the company so long as their concern in handled properly, and 19 out of 20 if the grievance is dealt with swiftly.

Without the original study, I may need to take a couple ‘leaps of faith’ or rely upon others who have read the original study in order to push the conversation. We can therefore consider this more a of qualitative discussion, versus pure quantitative.

Kevin Lawrence (2000) author, speaker, and business building coach suggests “Businesses encounter real problems far more often because customers don’t complain, and the absence of customer complaints is usually a bad sign” as they don’t feel comfortable voicing their concerns or not enough is being done to obtain their feedback. He believes that “If people feel that they are being listened to, understood and valued, they will usually give you a second chance”. (reference)

The real question now is how can Social Media, or more importantly, the combination of Social Media and CRM – aka SocialCRM alter the basic behavior? I believe that it can, but the path the customer takes may not always be the path we would like. We used to have a saying at work, called “Brave behind email” This is a person, you know the type, often sending damning emails, full of finger pointing, emotion and a couple of loosely tied facts – oh, their boss was either copied, or worse BCC. But meet them face-to-face and they are as nice as can be, all smiles.

In the current world, the new (or alternative to) ‘brave behind email’ is Facebook, Twitter, Blogs or YouTube.  In the social realm people are more empowered (they feel it, they act it).  Does this empowerment remove the barrier to confrontation? My take is that while it does not remove the barrier, it does allow people to make their opinion known by a very vocal, but more indirect means – Social Media.

There is no doubt that for the 4%, good CRM practices, listening, acting quickly showing empathy will indeed help companies to continue to work with that 4%, but that is a small number. The real benefit is to get to the 96% and alter their thinking, how can SocialCRM help there? Do you think that within the 96% some subset are actually now going to be more vocal through indirect means? Giraffes do make noise, just not that many, and not that often.

I also owe a bit of thanks to John Moore for a ReTweet that got me thinking, thanks John.

SocialCRM Data – Let’s get the conversation going

August 2, 2009 1 comment

Given Paul Greenberg’s profound and accurate ‘stake in the ground‘ – it is now time to move forward and focus on making it all work, not on what it is called! The data (type, quality, quantity, immediacy) is a crucial element to making it all work (work = offers significant business value), and the issue has been nagging at me for most of the week.  I typically take a logical, business value focused and pragmatic approach to operational systems. But this data question is taking more thought. Social Data does not always – ok, barely ever – fits into the standard patterns we have defined, the reason is actually simple, data in the ‘Social’ realm encapsulates emotions, and emotions are complex (ie, they do not usually fit into rows and columns).

A very brief, review to catch people up to my thinking

Most business analysts and consultants, when talking about customer data, draw diagrams or charts. Within the charts the data elements are grouped into bins. Examples of the bins are: Demographic Data, Transactional Data, Service History Data, etc.,… In the new SocialCRM or Web 2.0 world, we have more (new?) bins; Clickstream (Google Analytics type of output)  Social Media (Youtube, FaceBook, LinkedIn, Jigsaw, Twitter to name a few). Then we typically start trying to put the data bins into one of two buckets – Operational or Analytical.  Traditionally (don’t beat me up on this), Operational data is readily available, and Analytical takes a little time (days at least). This is where the old world and new world collide – In the realm of SocialCRM, what used to be in the realm of Analytical, now is important day-to-day. Not only is it important day to day, but some suggest that it should be available offline. Offline means = I am at my computer, and it is as if someone turned off the Internet. (I will tackle my thoughts on that another day).

Actionable data – Sales and Service

There are some really smart people who spend time thinking about data analysis, (Radian6 for example) for the Analytical bucket I described above. Marketers love the data, and lots can be learned when the data is ‘sliced and diced’. Since I am not a pure marketer, the focus of my thinking is in the area of 1 to 1. What can one sales person do with the data, or what can one Customer Support person do with the data? I also know there is a sub-topic of taking marketing type data and using it to offer 1 to 1 advice – I am not going there either (just yet).

Taking a look at the ends of the spectrum:

Twitter – “@mjayliebs I want to buy your product, it is awesome” – Well, that seems pretty obvious; figure out who wrote it, route it to a sales person and sell them something. (Pure Operational)
Twitter – @mjayliebs “Check out my [6 minute] video about how great your company is [by a nearly broke college student] (Er Ah, Um…not so obvious what to do with it).

What about a couple more middle of the road:

Twitter – “@mjayliebs – One of my clients is thinking about your product, but it is way too expensive, lower the price” Operational or Analytical? Actionable? Or, not?

Twitter – “@mjayliebs – I like parts of your product, but there are issues, check out my blog review”

Yes, I focused on Twitter, but tried to incorporate some others Social Media channels as well.  I am also sure that people could offer many examples the run the spectrum from useful to useless. The question is what processes do you have in place to organize the Social data to make it actionable? I know that there are products and services available, and more coming soon. But, what about for small business? Can sentiment (or sentiment analysis) be made useful and/or actionable to the Support folks? What about to the Sales folks?

One could easily argue that first defining the types of data we are talking about is a more important first step, but hey, it is a Saturday, it is sunny and I am at the keyboard (I am outside) – my prerogative!

My Filter is broken – Please Help

I read and appreciated an article in the WSJ this morning – “Facebook: Can it be Tamed?“. Combined this with a many of the great discussions taking place on Twitter via #scrm and Blogs and it got me to thinking. How can CRM learn from a personal approach to Social Media, are they really that different?

Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter for personal use represent a microcosm of the evolution of CRM within an enterprise. Too much information, not enough filters. In the case of Facebook, the article speaks to the redesign causing angst and too much data. I have posted before, each of us need to consider our own Social Media strategy. For me, LinkedIn is strickly business, Facebook is strictly friends (some busines associates do fall into that category, and it is where we have fun). Twitter, for me is business, with color commentary.  From the article:

“In essence, the News Feed was my own personal Google search. Like Google, Facebook calculated the relevancy and authority of information before deciding to display it to me. The News Feed was shockingly complex – calculating and ranking more than a trillion items per day – and the results were very satisfying.”

It is interesting, as we are all treating social media platforms like our own personal CRM systems. Not trying to be cras, but we are making determinations of the ‘value’ of our time and what is important for us to hear, and whom to listen to – sound a bit familiar? In case you were wondering, Mom is a Platimum partner!

Enterprises have this exact same problem, as they try to jump into the next generation of CRM (SocialCRM or CRM 2.0, naming battle at 11) As @TriSynergyLL posted yesterday, while at a conference (I will use full words) “A point was made that Customers do not ask nor will they ask you (company) to join a social media (platform), they start without you”. This begs the question, which platform(s) should an Enterprise monitor? That is the hard part, International companies will not have only one, two or three answers.

What to do?

Another playa from the #scrm space is A Prem Kumar – I like his approach and he has put forth a logical foundation for all of this, you can find his musings on his blog, or follow on Twitter @scorpfromhell. Each business needs to develop their strategy. A tactical approach will fail, for sure. Once you jump in, you are in. You have just reset the expectation with your customers, backing out would be a bad idea.

To jump in without a monitoring strategy (where are my customers?) and filtering strategy (how do I pull information from data or make sense of noise), would be a mistake. While there seem to be a whole lot of tools on the market that help the analysis from a marketing perspective, putting the right tools in place from a true CRM perspective are not yet there.

David Baker says it quite well in his article, The Last Quarter Mile of CRM:

The skeptics and measurement-minded professionals scoff at the vagueness of measuring influence through social media interactions in a traditional CRM view. While the principles of CRM don’t change with social media strategies, the control of the content, message and interaction can leave strategists grasping at straws when they try to measure results — or, better yet, consider how and what to optimize.

It seems that I offered more questions than answers, but that is what keeps it interesting I suppose.