#SCRM Empower sales teams 2 strengthen relationships, understand needs, collaborate across company boundaries 4 predictable mutual success.
A lot has been said about Social CRM and what it may be. For some it is just a strategy, for other just some social features added to traditional CRM. For some it is about business rules, workflow, processes with social characteristics and for some it is just a reaction to market changes, and then it includes attributes like trust building and loyalty. Do we need yet another definition?
Well, if we are going to build a S Y S T E M to S U P P O R T any of the strategy, philosophy or processes and more importantly include the social and collaborative aspect, we need to make some sound considerations:
First off I have to say “Engaging a customer in anything” feels still like a definition from the past. Today the customer is more engaged and the producer has a hard time to keep up with the customer.While trust and loyalty are very important attributes – no system and no process can create either. Trust and loyalty is the result of the respective company’s culture.
So here is our longer version of what is Social CRM:
Social CRM is a solution that supports a “Business Strategy” (not a social crm strategy) that most likely tries to create a better customer experience measured by increased advocacy for brand, products and services. Social CRM needs to interface with Social Networks, Social Media Monitoring, Branded or non branded online communities on the outside and traditional IT on the inside. Only if the actual customer has access to that Social CRM system, the attribute ‘Social’ is appropriate.
An important fact is that we work with people outside our respective company’s “control system”. That means we may have procedures to better administrate our work but we can’t expect our clients to “comply with our procedures”. So if we say we want to “collaborate with our customer” the very first thing we have to give up is our focus on processes, automation, work flow and rules. Sound impossible, not practical? I’m not saying ‘throw out all rules and any processes’ – but I’m saying when it comes to customer engagement and collaboration – stop the command and control system.
Now let me explain in details what we mean with “Empower sales teams to strengthen relationships, understand needs, collaborate across company boundaries for predictable mutual success”
Empowering Sales People To Strengthen Relationships
The best sales people in the world are natural networker, have relationships to the right people and rightfully guard their relationships as the single biggest asset they have. The mid level sales people obviously are less connected and compensate the lack of connections with precisely following processes that were “copied” from the top notch sales people. With the new and much more open social web, we can bring networking capabilities to even mid level sales people to grow and accelerate. That should be one of our most important task. And therefor it should be one of the core functionalities of social CRM: “Empower Sales People To Strengthen Relationships“.
With the empowerment of building and strengthening more and better relationships we enable sales teams to know more about prospects and clients, their needs and when to engage and be present and helpful in the buying process. That requires a Social CRM system to help sales teams to reach out to clients where they are because only THERE a sales person will be able to identify needs, desires, interest and the mood of the client or prospect. And so “Understand Needs” is something a Social CRM system needs to help with.
Collaborate Across Company Boundaries
Almost in every Social CRM discussion we hear “collaboration” but we also hear “Expand your CRM system with social functionality”. How can you honestly collaborate across your firewall? How can a customer be part of your CRM solution when he or she can’t even access the system? This was our biggest challenge and we were forced to create a solution because co-laboration means both work TOGETHER. And so the Social CRM system needs to provide a way to allow sales teams to “Collaborate Across Company Boundaries“.
Now, with the new dynamics we need new ways to predict the outcome of the sales engagement. Not only for the sales people but for production, logistics, investments and much more. Predictability has been decreasing rapidly in the past five years and would have been an additional indicator for change. With a new understanding, new alignment to the customer base, new ways to predict revenue unfold. The Xeesm team developed a predictive model that uses not only the sales teams judgment but relationship strength and sales progress as inputs to create a more accurate sales forecast. And so Predictability would need to be one additional requirement for the new Social CRM system.
Now while everything above was focused on the joint effort of sales team and customer to work together I feel it is paramount to mention the outcome: “Mutual Success“. And while in a traditional CRM system a closed deal is closed – literally – a Social CRM system must provide ways to continue the engagement and at least indicate mutual success. An ongoing relationship development component will indicate long term customer advocacy and is the ultimate gauge for mutual success.
And putting it all back together. we came up with the definition for a Social CRM system: “Empower sales teams to strengthen relationships, understand needs, collaborate across company boundaries for predictable mutual success”
Social CRM Is A Technology
A final word on “Social CRM is a strategy not a technology”: We see Social CRM a product or technology like CRM, ERP, Accounting, CAD and all the other technologies that are tools to execute a strategy. If you call your customer engagement strategy “Social Customer Relationship Management Strategy” that is totally up to you of course. And hopefully that strategy is a carefully developed strategy and execution plan dedicated to your business, your customers and your market. It’s just a personal opinion but I find it odd to give a strategy a name and hope that everybody is no developing THAT strategy. And so to me Social CRM is a tool that empowers sales teams to strengthen, understand needs, collaborate across company boundaries for predictable mutual success. And that tool is selected based on a business strategy that you can give any name that suites your needs and internal nomen clature.