B2B Social Selling Meets CRM

I recently wrote about how intelligence is different, and much more valuable, than data for the B2B sales professional. I described intelligence as going far beyond the basic facts and figures about companies, and creating a broader view of the prospect, which incorporates recent business events, social conversations and social relationships.

In other words, social intelligence.

What do B2B sales professionals need to boost their productivity? The answer: easy access to this social intelligence within their workflow, at the point of need and at the time they want to engage the prospect in a relevant conversation. In-context access will render social intelligence an empowering tool for sales teams, instead of the distraction that it can easily become.

Social Intelligence: It’s more than just CRM
Naturally, this is where one would expect CRM to come into play because it is intended as the ubiquitous technology infrastructure to facilitate customer-facing interactions. Unfortunately – and to the disappointment of many sales organizations – CRM hasn’t delivered on its promise of significant sales productivity gains, or on its ultimate promise of synchronizing the business process between two key stakeholders (the sales professional and their target buyer). Instead it has remained mostly in the ranks of workflow automation. This makes CRM useful for automating structured processes and reports for management, but not for enabling effective relationship building or customer engagement.

I believe social intelligence, integrated into the CRM workflow, has the opportunity to move CRM beyond its current limited application (and thus adoption) into a highly effective customer engagement platform, and in the process transform selling as we know it.

Social Selling: Enabling Customer 2.0 Engagement
Adopting this new model of social selling is not optional for businesses, rather a requirement if they want to meet the demands of a new breed of informed, socially-engaged customer who has taken control of the conversation. Integrated social intelligence can level the playing field for businesses by making it easy for sales professionals to listen to and participate in the conversion in a timely and relevant manner for successful customer engagements. Put simply, integrated social intelligence is an essential enabler for businesses in the quest to successfully engage Customer 2.0.

Powered in part by new methodology and in part by new technology, the usage of social intelligence by sales organization is one of the three primary use cases of what many are calling Social CRM (the other two being marketing and customer support). While there is much debate about the ultimate definition of this next generation approach to CRM, here are a couple of good ones that support my point:

Of course, the success of a Social CRM strategy for sales requires much more than access to social information about prospects. It requires a fundamentally different selling process. As Wim Rampen states in a post at CustomerThink, “Implementing social tools, and doing absolutely nothing differently than before, would not make it…a Social CRM [or Social Sales] strategy.” We now have access to vast new avenues to gather customer data and insights, but how the data is aggregated, transformed into intelligence and integrated into the sales workflow are the primary factors in determining the success of a sales organization “going social”.

So how exactly is social selling enabling a more successful outreach and engagement with the socially-savvy Customer 2.0? Next week, I will lay out three tips for implementing intelligence into your sales workflow, and will elaborate on the effectiveness and applicability of social selling as an integral part of a business’ Social CRM strategy.


  1. says

    Great post, Umberto. A close friend of mine who sells corporate travel for an airline was just telling me about how his company set up Twitter and Facebook accounts for him, and sends him leads from those two platforms, which he then follows up with. He’s thrilled with the ease of conversing via social media as compared to phone calls. This is an important side of B2B selling that more companies need to be getting up to speed on.

  2. James Feeney says

    I have both used and sold many different CRM systems.
    They were effective at first but now do more harm than good to most sales organizations productivity.
    They should be a great tool for professional sale people.
    All the other features and benefits used my management should be seperated. The CRM”s have become a mirco managemt tool used by non selling executives but there only as good as the sales input.
    They are an expensive time consuming bad joke because the majority of sales people are managed so poorly. Many have no choice but to protect themselves by putting whatever is necessary into the company CRM in order to get the know desk jockys off there backs while they find another job. Their replacements will then waste more time following up on months of the garbage built up.
    Sales management and sales organizations were far more effective prior to the CRM’s becomming such a sophisticated but usless micro management tool.

  3. Nash says

    Great article and very incisive. Initially, we struggled with finding ways to add social media systems but eventually we realized that we should actually approach the problem from the opposite direction. If your company is still struggling with these questions, i’d recommend this article: http://blogs.carouselindustries.com/general/has-your-contact-center-gotten-social/ Read it a couple of times if you have to. It’s a great way to get the gears turning the right way.

  4. says

    Great insight. There was a big buzz on Marketing departments setting up a Customer Intelligence Group (CIG), and as much profiling and customer intelligence we felt we had, it still lacked the social engagement you highlighted so well. Look forward to you upcoming tips

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