Social CRM: The Latest Evolution for Managing Customer Relationships

Marketing Technology


The days are long gone when sales representatives could rely on their ability to “read” prospects to make the sale, thanks to buyers researching their purchases online.

The need to better understand online behaviors to convert leads jump-started the evolution of customer relationship management (CRM). With CRM, organizations benefit from increased operational effectiveness, easier access to data and improved collaboration.

Now, as the CRM evolution continues, the notion of social CRM has empowered organizations – especially sales adn support departments within these organizations – to connect with customers and prospects on an even greater level.

Integrating social media with traditional CRM has enabled organizations to:

  1.  Focus more on conversations than strictly on automated processes.
  2.  Progress beyond tracking and reporting on prospect information, and instead become integral parts of communities.
  3.  Attract prospects online who are searching for answers to business challenges by providing relevant content and information.
  4.  Activate the intersection of marketing, customer services and sales to attract hotter sales leads.

“Social CRM isn’t just about bolting on a new plug-in to your system like a new air foil on your minivan, but instead a new way of doing business,” Jeremiah Owyang wrote in a recent blog post on his Web Strategy blog. “The promise of social CRM says that companies are truly listening to their customers wherever they are, responding, anticipating and making the commitment to improve products and services.”

One very vital element of social CRM is social selling, which leverages Web 2.0 technologies to provide sophisticated sales insight. That insight enables sales to act as experts in the product selection process instead of negotiators.

True social selling tools enable sales to better understand, prioritize and interact with the hottest leads and opportunities to quickly close more business by:

  • Receiving updates about lead activity via email or mobile device
  • Using Outlook to reach prospects and sending data to their CRM
  • Providing the option to pass back leads to marketing for further nurturing
  • Using RSS to send different types of prospect information into one system
  • Accessing sites like Demandbase, LinkedIn and Jigsaw from the tools already in use
  • Sorting leads in their CRM by priority, allowing sales to contact leads when they need the most attention
  • Monitoring key moments and behaviors that matter to sales, and notifying them of such behavior

When engaging with customers socially, they have a high propensity to share that experience with their networks.  And the efficacy of this is strong – according to Marketing Sherpa, 87% of consumers trust a friend’s recommendation over a critic’s.

With a predicted 34% compound annual growth rate of social media spending through 2014 according to data from Forrester, our prediction for 2010 is the growth of social CRM will be strong.