Social CRM: The Next Wave of the Future?

08/25/2011

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Social CRM is mentioned on a frequent basis by social media professionals, SEO consultants, and CRM experts but what is it exactly? Currently there isn’t a clear cut definition of what it encompasses but the general theme we read is connecting Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools with social media networks. The concept in principle should help sales executives find new customers in a natural, organic approach. Previously CRM was used to manage contacts in a database that were targeted decision makers of an organization. However the sales professional needs to create a style and pitch that separates them from the crowd. We all have gotten calls from the pushy sales representative that doesn’t listen to our needs at which point we tune them out.

With the creation of Social Media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and now Google+ relationships can be built from a conversation online. If used the correct way social media sites can help forge relationships with important contacts in an organization about many non-work related topics. Rather than constantly pushing a product or brand people can make connections with business contacts about a wide variety of subjects whether its sports, politics, or a particular hobby they share. LinkedIn is a great way to find contacts within an organization but it becomes difficult to engage with someone that is outside of your network. The key to any marketing campaign is get in front of people that don’t know of your company or product.  

The idea of relationship building is not a new phenomenon. In many industries deals have been completed over a glass of wine or pint of beer. The more we interact with colleagues outside of work the more comfortable we are to trust that individual. Social media provides that outlet but meeting the right contacts to socialize with can be next to impossible. If I’m a financial advisor that wants to meet the VP of a Fortune 1000 company, social media doesn’t allow for that introduction to occur at the right time. However if one can use the same methodology in CRM in managing contacts in social media then that person can have the right conversation with the right person at the right time. Every marketer and sales professionals know that sometimes timing is the element needed to get a deal done.

The next few years will be interesting to see who will be the Social CRM leaders. Some have thought enterprise companies like Microsoft, SalesForce.com, Oracle, or SAP will come to dominate this market space. Others believe that start-up companies will emerge as the industry experts. Whatever the future may hold the tech companies need to understand that firms have already invested technology dollars into their current CRM. The concept should allow those organizations to simply integrate their current CRM suite with a Social CRM component. Technology should never be a barrier to simple human interactions. Rather it should be the bridge to connect people from all over the world that want to share their unique perspective.

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