A consultant sent me a link to look at a CRM solution. (I don't know why because she was researching blogging platforms when I spoke with her Tuesday). The site is intriguing and makes some big promises:* Manage contacts and build relationships.
* Engage, import contacts on social networks.
* Track sales pipeline and view analytics.
* Organize projects, tasks, and events.
* Monitor customer & team activity in the stream.
* Google Apps Integration
First off, in my experience, you have to force people to use CRM. Unless you withhold pay, most salespeople will fight you on the use of CRM. I know Salesforce.com makes a billion dollars, but that means companies are buying it - that doesn't mean it is being utilized fully or at all. Just saying.
Now CRM will be Social. So you can engage your contacts. That's great if people knew what it meant to "engage". Read some of your stream on Facebook or on twitter. Isn't it a litany of links to read something? Or someone complaining about something? Or checking in somewhere? That's not engagement. That's hardly even social.
So you are going to entrust your sales team with the social engagement? I hope there is training and guidelines and monitoring.
Having a good dashboard has helped Salesforce reach heights that Microsoft had hoped for with its Great Plains purchase. (I still think Landslide has a great concept with the admin feature.) It is also customizable - something that the open-source SugarCRM just couldn't match. Clunky is how I have heard it described.
"Monitor customer and team activity in the stream" - I guess that you can watch in real-time all the social engagement. You have a dashboard. Who needs to shadow employees and customers all day? Who has the time?
The key for CRM usage is that it helps the sales team close business, manage a funnel, and allow for management reporting. That's a lot to ask of employee involvement before adding the social piece.
I can see salespeople tweeting, "Did you get the contract I sent over?" The other side is when the prospect tweets that a certain salesperson doesn't know his product. That will be a bummer. (True experience here). Everyone gets upset. But that's the social part. That's the digital life. I can tell five people via email and phone - and you won't know. But when I blog it or tweet it, you WILL know. (And so will many more people). But deleting it doesn't solve the problem or take it out of the digital footprint either.
Just some thoughts today on where we are heading in sales. And I didn't even touch on the difference between a Hunter and a Farmer and these systems.