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Archive for the tag “CRM 2.0”

Two things to monitor in social media: CRM perspective

How CRM can absorb messages from social media
A quick follow up on my last post; not least because I want to bring the focus back on CRM and also touch upon what is the current rage; what is sometimes very loosely defined as linking social media with CRM.

At a very philosophical level; I do not see a contradiction between the two ways of connecting with customers. CRM helps in profiling your customer base so that you can tune your message and value propositions as close to the actual needs of the customer as possible. It recognizes, through its alter-ego, Closed Loop Marketing (CLM) that:
1. Customers at different stages in the buying process/ awareness of your products and solutions have different information needs.
2. An “installed base” customer needs and wants to be treated differently than someone with no “history”.
3. A successful sale (or a botched one!) is not an end but the beginning of another sales cycle.

The social media landscape conjures up visions of many customers, individually or as part of a group, talking and sharing experiences with direct and indirect bearing on your product, market or technology. It is as possible to have a one on one conversation or participate in a large group. Here is a very interesting post that shares some of the exciting possibilities in that space. I have talked about some of the challenges before,  here and here (CRM 2.0: Limited to campaigns?).

When you say integration, which way is important for you?
Simple question: do you see value in capturing the conversations to enrich the customer profiles in the CRM system or would you rather use social media to engage the contacts in the CRM system who need more long-term hand-holding, information sharing and so on?
If your answer is the latter, it is relatively easily done.
If your answer is the former, I have further questions:
Are you capturing incidents (meaning someone mentioning you or your product in a blog or a tweet) or are you interested in knowing what they said and using that information to influence your customer profiling?
Both are useful; the latter more so.
Making changes to the CRM application:
– creating fields to capture incidents: easy; automating the capture: not easy, but not impossible.
– creating fields to capture actual snippets of the conversation: easy; automating the capture: not at all easy, but not impossible either.
What to make of the information thus captured? Well, the “customer profile” is a lot richer now and you now get to see, what your key contact is concerned about in addition to the limited interactions with your company or product. You can mine this data within your CRM application and turn up leads, potential issues or just rich engagement opportunities.


A better way to recognise “leads” in CRM

… why we need to re-define “leads”

In most common CRM systems, a lead is what marketing produces for its labor and a deal is what the sales guys make or chase. The system treats them differently.

If this is your worldview as a B2B marketer, be ready for strife, disagreement and worse across the great sales-marketing divide.

First up, let us agree on a few things:

Sales-guys may be rock-stars but, they could not do much without the company, its products and the reputation that precedes them. And, we like to think of sales as a linear process, with customer moving from a stage of low awareness to high engagement and making the transition from being hand-held by marketing to sales.

Worse, when a “lead” is exclusively “tainted” with the marketing origin, sales do not take it seriously. When faced with a lead-inbox full to the brim on a Monday morning, the impulse of the sales executive is to do one of the following:

1. Trash the lot

2. Scan through the lot and mark most as useless and the rest as “already existing in the system”.

Sales leads are a result of many factors (company brand name, past experience and purchases) and activities undertaken to make the customer aware of our products and services. In B2B scenarios, sales and marketing both have a role to play.

Why not recognize that?

There is a reason. Over a period of time, B2B marketing departments, under pressure to justify their existence, have bought into a metrics system that recognizes only “lead generation” from marketing campaigns as a measure of success.

So, marketing is eager to tag every little sneeze from the customers as a lead and ascribe that to the cold they caught from the aircon running in their own office. This has led to the exact opposite of what was intended. The more numerous marketing leads have become, the less useful they are.

We define a lead as a signal coming from a buyer organization which needs follow up. A lead, upon qualification can become an identified opportunity for a sale.

A lead is NOT an individual. However, a lead arises out of actions taken by one or more contacts working in a buyer organization (account).
In this view,
1. A lead transforms into a deal
2. We recognize that many activities jointly contribute to creating a lead. It is no longer  “we ran a seminar and we got 200 leads”. Now it is more like “we have logged customer activities (attending a seminar, asking for literature, asking for a salesman’s visit or wanting to see a product for evaluation purposes) all showing interest in a certain product/ product category of ours in the past month. Something is happening here; let’s have our sales guy investigate.”

A CRM system’s job is to log activities. A lead should be created automatically as an aggregation of those activities related to a certain product or class of products.

Involve sales managers in scoring the activities that make a lead, and communicate to the sales that each lead is recorded because of multiple validations from  activities. I expect this process will be a winner.

What do you think?

CRM 2.0: limited to campaigns?

In my earlier post on Social Media and CRM integration, I had pointed you to a “great discussion” that is on right now. Now, I am a little unsure.
Having read all the posts so far, I wish these guys will hurry up and get to the point. At least the point which deeply interests me. ;)

How do you make CRM “social”?

1. Is it by capturing all the myriad customer voices on Facebook, Twitter and blogspaces, by monitoring millions of conversations and winnowing those that are relevant to your product, company and brand? Is it by being able to drill down to an individual customer’s comments and relate it to his profile on our database?
2. Is it trying to create a “complete map” of an individual contact by using his profiles and activities on sites such as FB, LI and Twitter? These ideas have a lot of wow, how do you do it in a way that is not so expensive as to drive Citibank into bankruptcy? :) And, how do you manage this without employing an army of intelligent, empowered and motivated marketers who will be needed to participate-in, mentor, or seed those thousands of relevant conversations?

So, guys, hurry up. I am waiting to know. In the meantime, check out this post by Mario Pergolino of Marketo which details the state of the art ):
If you do not have the patience, let me summarise:
Mario essentially advocates using social media as another channel of disseminating marketing messages. It does not answer my questions above; but, to be fair, the article is not seeking to. It had a limited brief of summarizing how e-mail can work with social media, and it does just that. Social media is virtually an advetrtising platform and since this article is from Marketo, it calls for deeper engagements via email (“give your e-mail recipients the inside scoop”).

From here, to Social CRM or CRM 2.0 is a long way. There are still many posts left of the promised 30 on the CRM Magazine blog. I will wait.

CRM 2.0: Why the challenge is actually in adoption

Truth be told, CRM softwares have different uses for different people.

Marketing folks want to run their campaigns, generate leads and create reports which profile segments and activities. Sales managers like the management features especially being able to pull out reports on the state of the “funnel”. Most sales managers I have known, do not go much beyond this; they certainly do not use it as an acitivity monitoring tool. Some “advanced” sales managers do sometimes pull out reports on the health of the database or even the account-wise or segmentwise analysis on technology or product adoption. But, those are truly advanced managers!

It is not technology, it is not feature set. It is not even “ease-of-use”, except partially. CRM implementations run aground mostly owing to a fundamental issue with ownership. Ownership of the customer and ownership of the tasks.

In most B2B companies, sales “owns” the customer. But, sales does not want any part of the grunt work related to ownership. Like inputting, updating all of the profile data related to their customers. Sales does not really care for the use marketing puts these profile data to. Sales does not see why they should log interaction histories with their contacts. Sales does not get paid for transactions done; they get paid by “results”; read won deals. Sales also has no appetite for reporting opportunities lost; but, that’s another discussion!

Marketing, on the other hand, selects a software that is heavy on campaign management and analytics. Now, campaign management extracts a price in terms of profile data needed for targeting. Who inputs this data?
After many years of CRM 1.0, I would say the acceptance level within a typical B2B organization varies. It is fair to say that the closer you are to the customer, the least enthusiastic you will be. Higher management is the most committed; marketing is enthusiastic and sales is anything but.

Now, as we move into designing  CRM 2.0 systems, we need to worry as we will  deal with data which is many orders of magnitude greater and much less structured to boot.

Implications for SMEs
SMEs are placed in a tough situation. They, more than big businesses benefit from aggressive use of social media. But, I doubt, in today’s state of the art of the CRM softwares, they can afford integrated CRM 2.0 software implementations. One, such softwares are likely to be expensive and two, the demand they place on the size of the organizations implementing them, will be large too. Monitoring so many social media outlets, deciding appropriate responses, integrating tracking and monitoring of results are all manpower intensive. This manpower needs to be empowered and high quality manpower as well.
I would not advise using social media as a unilateral and unidirectional broadcast medium. As an example, you might set up a Twitter account and send out half-hourly twits on your products, service or other company news. But, if you did not monitor the response or handle feedback, the negative fallout can be very bad.

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