Todd Martin

Todd Martin

Sales Strategy

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You’ve Invested in a Social CRM Solution: Now What?

August 7, 2014

Knowing how to use a word processor doesn’t make you a good writer. Some tips on getting the most out of your social CRM application.

I’ve been watching the AMC show, Halt and Catch Fire. Set in the offices of a fictional, very ambitious computer manufacturer in 1983, it chronicles the chaotic early days of PC clone development.

It’s hard to believe in these days of the web, smartphones, tablets, and even wearable computers, but it was only 30 years ago when companies were scrambling to just get those big clunky boxes to respond to input quickly enough that users wouldn’t turn away and do something else.

I’ve read many definitions of the actual phrase “Halt and Catch Fire” (HCF) because I find the concept so intriguing. It’s a decades-old computer command that, according to one definition, “…sent the machine into a race condition, forcing all instructions to compete for superiority at once.” The “catch fire” part wasn’t literal; it simply meant that the computer wore itself out. No instruction won, and the system eventually just up and quit.

Taming the Terabytes

Using a social CRM system can have a similar effect. You can pull your contacts’ social streams into many of them, which can be a very good thing if used wisely. But there’s a temptation to keep following threads and venturing into new social networks. You’re taking in an enormous amount of information and trying to process it in a meaningful way, but eventually you hit a wall, and your prospecting/relationship-building/learning session was for naught.

I was guilty of this kind of energy-sapping exercise in the early days of the CRM-social media marriage. I’m still excited about the possibilities it offers, but I remind myself that social CRM is just one element of my comprehensive business strategy. I’m getting smarter about using my social CRM system, and have established rules for myself for the time I spend on social networking to minimize time and maximize effectiveness. Here are some of them:

I set goals for each online session. What am I trying to accomplish? Am I scoping out the competition? Looking for leads? Finding references to my company?

I create lists of related people and companies. Or Groups, or whatever a particular social network calls them. I can draw on some of these when I do a targeted campaign.

I respond quickly to the comments that I can. Or I make sure that the right person sees them. Where possible, I include links to problem-solving pages on my website, not product-ordering screens.

My tone and content match my brand. This is always in the back of my mind, wherever I go online.

I don’t particularly like the word “influencers,” but I do take note of prominent people who write frequently, intelligently, and fairly about my field.

I set time limits. It’s easy to get caught up on conversations and interesting threads. I schedule my social networking time like I would an appointment.

Turning the Tables

Before social CRM applications became available, I spent a lot of time scribbling notes and sending faxes and emailing other departments. And manually updating my traditional CRM system.

Once I settled on a solution, I spent whatever time I could free up really learning it. And I use every feature that makes sense for me, including:

  • The collaboration tools (keeps co-workers in the loop)
  • The data import and consolidation (helps me maintain comprehensive contact records)
  • The search tools (to discover relationships), and
  • The reports (to understand my sales and activity history, identify potential sales, and adjust my workflow).

Without a social CRM solution, the rules that I set for myself would occasionally produce leads. But by using all of the tools this application offers, I can blend what I discover in the wild world of the web with my existing customer and sales data.

The internet, with all of the information and opinions it publishes to the world about my company’s products, has given more control to prospects and customers in the sales relationship. Social CRM can help salespeople even out that new balance of power.

What do you think?

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Brad Friedman

August 10, 2014