Social CRM: Connecting your sales force to the social web


Mike Schneider (@schneidermike)

Notes from "Social CRM: Connecting Your Sales Force to the Social Web" at the Social Media Business Forum

The problem: The sales force is busy, they're under pressure, they've got quotas and are presented with different methods.

Social CRM: "The company's response to the customer's control of the conversation." - Paul Greenberg

This stuff isn't new. It's an opt-in world. Old media is still effective but as time passes we need to evolve. People are using Hulu, YouTube, social media, etc. We've gone from being content consumers to content creators. We're critics. We're collecting content and passing it on.

Sales is a social game. We buy from people we like and have a relationship with.

Brand personification: As a brand you can facilitate, provoke and participate in conversations. You need to create a community or participate in a community that actually exists. You'll mine the information and create a segmentation strategy.

Conduct a brand identity exercise. What does your brand care about? Mike worked on a grocery store brand that wanted to promote conversations with the characteristics easy, healthy and affordable.

Control: Since it's an opt-in world and messages are really easy to ignore, the customer controls the conversation. You need tools to go into your communities and pull out the conversations that people care about. Ask yourself who you care about. Use the available tools to mine the data and plug it directly into your platform.

What we really need, Mike said, is natural language processing via text mining, and sentiment models that tell whether it's positive or negative. (My colleague Manya Mayes responded and gave some background on this. This is a topic that SAS is working with. Here's a post from Manya on the topic of sentiment analysis).

How? Participate, facilitate and provoke the conversations. You have to get in tune with the conversations that matter, participate in the communities, mine the data, add the people who matter to you to your CRM system and create a separate channel of communication to them through your CRM. The conversations they're having become an additional data point in whatever model you use.

Question from @JeremySaid: What about the ability to pull these conversations in from social media and sort out who they're talking about, and pull them back into a CRM system and filter them?

That's what we're trying to get at, and it's not automated right now. We have teams of people who pare through the data. We're not the only people doing it that way. Katie Paine does it this way, Mike pointed out. She has blog readers who go through the content.

The big problem right now is that many of the systems available are expensive and are not integrated. "People like me are begging Radian6 to go down a natural language processing path."

Manya offered some further information in response to Mike's question about what SAS was doing and gave some background about SAS' sentiment analysis and the solution focus and integration we're trying to bring to this issue.

"The person who hands out business cards at a picnic never wins. The person who drinks brews, hangs out and plays lawn darts does." - Gary Vaynerchuk

Mike said social CRM isn't just about sales, but more of a marketing function designed to generate leads that can be passed on to sales.

If a sales person understands social media and the audience is in the community, Mike is not against sales people being active there.

The big deal, Mike said, is mining the community and doing the analytics.


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