Psst, Wanna Buy Some Social Sales for that SCRM Implementation?

We have been having extensive discussion on Social CRM and (as Mike Muhney puts it) the three Amigos: Sales, Marketing and Customer Service.  We talked about Service extensively, and Allen Bonde (from Evoke CRM) has given us something to think about with his initial post on Social Marketing.

What about Social Sales?

I reached out to Joe Galvin, a former Gartner colleague who not only writes about it but also has led global Sales teams; he walks the talk in a very big way.  He is currently with Sirius Decisions, the leading research firm focused on sales and marketing integration, where he continues his passion to improve Sales departments around the world.  I asked for his perspective on Social Sales and below are his answers:

1.  You have been researching and doing sales for quite some time and your perspective on what works and what doesn’t is ground in the real world. How do you see Social CRM meshing with Sales?

I think that the notion of SCRM specific to SFA is still in its infancy. There are two aspects to using social tools for sales. First is for external use, where today still remains the wild-wild-west with very little structure and where most people freelance. With these external communities where customers and sales people interact– we have seen little organizational focus on that front. Second we have internal communities where Subject Matter Experts (SME) will provide support for sales people, where we see access to competitive intelligence and real time tactics, and where sales organizations share strategies using collaboration tools to reduce the amount of time they search for answers and improve the quality of the answers they get. Collaboration is totally absent in core Sales Force Automation (SFA). Social media can offer better access through tools that sales forces can leverage to collaborate better with each other and the subject matter experts they need within their companies.

2.  Are there are any early examples you could share with us of how Social Sales works?

For the most part we have seen deployments on the prospecting side, using social media to create or enhance opportunities. The concept has been termed “social calling” by Nigel Edelshain of Sales 2.0 and is using social media to research and collect intelligence about prospects. We can find more information about them, their networks, their preferences and actions. We can then use that information to put together better profiles and help better target the products or solutions we offer to them. We can also collect and sift through all the intelligence it to find information we can use to improve our products and services as well. The knowledge gathered can be used by the SME to increase their exposure to the market. Most of the problems today have been generated by individuals in sales forces that put their own needs ahead of their organization’s and end up using the data for different goals that they organization requires. This is a traditional problem for sales forces and social media cannot simply make it disappear.

3. Social CRM and Sales seems to be limited to internal team needs. Do you see this changing to incorporate sales as a potential function via the traditional social networks and social channels like Twitter?

I have seen examples where individuals use twitter and social networks to collect leads, contact’s information, product and customer intelligence. The jury is still out whether you want a salesperson communicating to prospects through these mediums. Some organizations have implemented micro-sites for some time to connect with clients, but they are very limited and sales people are not interested in learning the skills necessary to make good use of them or developing original, customer specific content for them. Communications with prospects and customers are better left to marketing, not for social networks. If I have a relationship with a customer or prospect, I can call them or email them – I don’t have to use twitter or another limited tools that carries restrictions with it on what I can do and how. That relationship gives me the right to email or call, engage in a one-on-one personal dialog. Communities may work for B2C or real estate agents, but BtoB clients want sales people to work with them directly one-on-one, not via novelty channels.

4. What is the biggest obstacle to Social CRM and Sales evolving in the next couple of years?

First is digging out from the Great Recession. Organizations are not going to invest in innovation or new initiatives until after they have repaired what the recession destroyed. Second, need to incorporate the notion of communities into their strategies and sales methodologies, build the proper analytics and reporting, and create the proper control levels. There is an opportunity to create the internal communities I mentioned and to use them to further sales – but not before we rebuild. Social CRM and Social Sales are not the top priority right now.

5. What is the Future of Social Sales after all is said and done?

It won’t be radically different. The purpose of sales is to identify, qualify and close prospects and that won’t change. Social calling is something that will be real, but it will be a compliment to the existing tactics used by sales to identify and attract prospect to their products and services. Another area would be accessing the collective tribal wisdom of the sales organization, SMEs and other people who know how to get things done inside their organization or have the information that customers need, is available via social channels for instant communications. Still don’t think that social media where it is today will be radically different tomorrow, we’ll just have a better handle on how to harness it. Sales organizations are still struggling to get value from their current SFA tools or adding automated capabilities for knowledge management or methodology automation. Until we can get the social productivity tools better defined and implemented – social media will remain a tool of individual use.

15 Replies to “Psst, Wanna Buy Some Social Sales for that SCRM Implementation?”

  1. Dear Esteban,

    Nothing wrong with looking into awakening developments, on the contrary. But 98% of the companies I work with or for in developing customer value are still working on the basics of CRM.

    Getting to know their customer’s requirements, working to build a strong value proposition and finding a way to convert that proposition in a deal and moreover, a long term relationship. I can see social CRM change aspects of this process, but is does not change the process.

    I think we have to maintain a good overall view before we think social CRM is the only road to greatness.

    Best Regards,


    1. Robbert,

      I could not agree with you more. If you look through my blog you’ll see I never changed my tune – this is an improvement in CRM. And we need to focus on that. Create a strategy that manages the “new” things and makes CRM better is what is necessary. There are going to be changes as a result of the social channels being adopted, but not as dramatic as changing the business function (as Joe describes very well in the interview).

      We can argue the long-term relationship later 🙂

      Thanks for the read


  2. Great post…some excellent stuff here. I see the word ‘relationship’ is included in here (which is a very good thing).

    In my opinion, the problem with previous attempts at sales ‘tools’ is that they make it difficult to build a relationship…social sales tools might help more in this regard but at the end of the day, the relationship is what matters.
    .-= Eric D Brown´s last blog ..Links for Oct 11 2009 =-.


    1. Thanks Eric!

      I agree that the relationship is what matters, the issue is getting used to the new relationships model that went from 1:1 to 1:1:M when you throw in communities (not only forums). It will be interesting to see how organizations adapt to the new model of relationships and how they use the tools that are being provided (social analytics, communities, feedback) to make the business functions better (and improve the relationships).

      Thanks for the read!


    1. Mike,

      There never was a Paradigm Shift (I thought so for about 2 weeks, then did my research). There is a generational shift, but that does not affect the business function – only the way we do business with people with different priorities and interests. As for Service, Paul Greeneberg posted an article on today saying pretty much what you are saying ( I am still sitting that prediction out, I think that we have not been innovative and creative enough yet — there is value for Marketing and Sales in this new model. Just maybe not at the same level as Service (then again, service transactions are always more than anything else in B2C environments).

      Thanks for the read!


  3. Esteban, fantastic post. One of my favorites. There are so many wonderful “money quotes” such as:

    “BtoB clients want sales people to work with them directly one-on-one, not via novelty channels.”

    I think the 1:1 observation is key. What Social CRM really does well is 1:Many and Many:Many. Sales is more of a 1:1 game in its later stages, but not in the earlier stages.

    The interesting social interface for sales is in the introduction and the personalization of content (as Joe mentions). For most organizations, it’s up to sales to personalize content for a particular customer. It doesn’t have to be up to sales, but typically marketing has neither the resources nor the focus to take that on.

    Personalized content does not have to mean it has no value for others or that it isn’t social. On the contrary, many times I’ve seen personalized content turn out to be extremely valuable to a broader audience, often making its way back into the broader marketing collateral line up.

    I would therefore look to have whomever is responsible for personalized content leveraging Social CRM. It will turn out to have value beyond the immediate prospect the content is prepared for. A corporate community such as what Helpstream and others offer is an ideal medium to disseminate such content. If nothing else, the Social Media make it easier for the customer to request the desired content.

    The second area I touched on is in the introduction. Here again, seamlessly meshing sales into the social until the introduction is made, and then moving that discussion to email or telephone are excellent tactics to pursue.

    This is an area I’ll blog about more this week on the Helpstream blog.


    .-= Bob Warfield´s last blog ..The Experience Portfolio: Thinking about Customer Experience Strategy =-.


    1. Bob,

      Thanks for a great comment! I am beginning to change my approach to the numerality of the relationships slightly. I don’t think we are going from 1:1 to 1:M or M:M – that is not a good thing to have for business if you think about it. There is no way you can personalize a 1:M and nothing you can for a M:M other than provide a platform and pray. I think the new relationships are actually 1:1:M where the users are members of communities (the M) and the business has to worry about two things (like we did in the old B2B2C model): the customers and a personalized experience and the community that the customer is a member of and their needs. Think about it, it becomes an issue of addressing the needs of the community and the customer separately – which is a lot easier than trying to personalize a 1:M or M:M experience.

      Going back to the theme of this post (sorry), I agree that the community-based content like Helpstream and Fuze provide among others is a great way to create and improve content for use by communities (the many) and by organizations (to serve the one).

      Looking forward to your blog, I think that the cross-channel and channel-hopping experience is prime for a better solution.



  4. I would echo Bob’s comments about the ability for SCRM or Social Marketing to facilitate an introduction to Sales. Yet, with the buyer now asserting more control it is increasingly up to Marketing to ensure that these prospects are handed off to Sales when ready to engage. Social Media affords another channel for marketing to invite and engage with these potential customers. ( CEO David Thomspon wrote about the importance of listening to these channels in a recent ZDNet post

    Much like eHarmony and how they do all the leg work in selecting the perfect online match, and hopefully long-lasting relationship bliss, there are solutions emerging to help marketers automate this in the B2B world. Yet like in most relationships, timing is everything and no amount of automation can replace the 1-1 chemistry that happens when the salesperson makes that all important connection.


  5. Great insights here, both in the post and the follow-on conversation. I like this community! I’d like to provide a sales manager’s (now consultant’s)perspective. When we see measurable results – in our world this means a repeating stream of qualified opportunities and closed revenue – coming from social channels, we will find a way to incorporate their usage in our sales process. As mentioned by Joe, there are not many examples to point to yet (beyond DellOutlet’s use of Twitter), but they are emerging. For example, I’m following one innovative sales rep’s use of LinkedIn to leverage referral selling and shorten his sales cycle. He closed 50% of his monthly quota last month using “social selling”. There are good results coming from the early part of the sales cycle, too. A marketing professional used blogs, Twitter, and LinkedIn in addition to traditional channels to generate leads for a new product launch and generated 2/3 of his $3M pipeline from the social media, 90% of which were qualified (compared to 50% from traditional channels including PR and email). For more detail, go to My own biggest client (a large company going through a massive sales transformation and building a new, centralized phone/Web sales organization to serve their lowest annual volume customers) was initially introduced to me via a Facebook connection: evidence that customers and prospects are using social networking to communicate with us.
    Now we just have to figure out how best to capture and share successful practices like these across sales organizations and scale them. Any thoughts or experiences on that?
    .-= Anneke Seley´s last blog ..Oracle OpenWorld: A Sales 2.0 Perspective =-.


  6. Anneke’s commentary is by far the bravest and most forward looking here – and I’d bet more in tune with what’s actually going to emerge for Sales in the context of SCRM as we get into 2010 and beyond.

    I read most of Joe Galvin’s responses above with a hint of disbelief – reminded me of when someone said back in the 80’s that ‘640K ought to be enough for anybody’.

    To pick up on just one of Joe’s insights – ‘First is digging out from the Great Recession’ – what he misses is that SCRM can be used as a relatively low cost approach to recovery by a business if applied intelligently and staged according to a well planned strategy. The real cost savings being achieved by real businesses for customer support & product improvement via community feedback are well documented – the direct sales impact via social channels is certainly a reality (as Dell via Twitter) and will continue to do be as companies realise that (at least in B2C) a loyal community brings the hallowed ‘customer for life’ who buys more and responds to offers and campaigns fed through the community – can this ‘loyal community selling’ happen in B2B? – why not?

    Three things are converging here:

    1. Global Recession
    2. Emergence and mainstream acceptance of ‘cloud’, ‘saas’ platforms
    3. Explosion of social/community networks – 96% of Generation Y are members of at least 1 network, most are members of 2

    When this type of significant convergence happens – at anytime in history – it usually brings huge change and opportunity.

    None of this means that 1-1 relationships, a firm handshake and a steady look in the eye don’t matter anymore – what it does mean though is that new ways of doing business, ‘selling’, whatever you want to call it, ‘change’ is with us now – today.
    .-= Sean Greenan´s last blog ..Beaterator Rocks the Playstation Portable !!! =-.


    1. Sean,

      Thanks for the read and the comment. I think that you got some nice ideas and make some interesting statements – but ultimately the entire sales model needs to change for it to become social. The entire dependence on the 1:1 relationship between the sales person and the customer must go. Yes, even in a B2B situation. This is where I strongly disagree with Joe and mostly everyone in the current sales process. Do I think it is going to be a short process? no, it will probably take a long time.

      Alas, until we see an end to the sales-owns-the-customer-and-the-relationship attitude we will not see sales become social.



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