What Social CRM is all about

PRISM Consulting (UK) Ltd
Share this content

I went to Oracle for some social CRM wisdom, to find that "It's all about the salesperson" and to learn "The Art of Social Sales". 

And I naively thought that CRM was all about the Customer and about... (if you pardon the rude word) relationships... How stupid!

I never learned my lesson when, all those years back, we were told that CRM is not a business philosophy and strategic approach, neither is it a set of fundamental business processes. Every school kid knows that CRM is a technology.

Now we know that 'Social' is about Sales and salespeople. Repeat with me:

"Social CRM is all about the salesperson!"

(Write this 500 times in your homework notebook)


P.S. Now I know why this site has the wrong name: because someone is squatting on the mysales.com domain. Hurry up, while mysales.biz is still available - and rename this outdated, old-fashioned site!


Please login or register to join the discussion.

04th Dec 2009 10:40

Thanks for your (tongue in cheek...I hope!) comments, Vladimir.

Certainly the early days of CRM misguidedly focused on sales, with CRM systems essentially consisting of salesforce automation.

The industry has come a long way since then - although it has not been an easy journey by any stretch of the imagination! - and there is no excuse to think that the "customer relationship" part of "customer relationship management" is interchangeable with the word "sales".

And with an increasing number of organisations making the transition  to the concept of social CRM - which acknowledges the empowered customer and the new channels that he/she inhabits and which to some extent can filter out traditional sales/marketing efforts - those businesses that don't acknowledge this will surely perish.

Thanks (0)
04th Dec 2009 12:02

Thanks for the comment, Neil -

I was conscious, while writing the original post, that there are some undeniable truths in the sales-oriented approach. Selling is the single action in a business that can be linked directly to shareholder value and succeeding in this action is most widely encouraged and rewarded. The people who perform this action aren't always equipped with the best methods and tools, and socially aren't viewed to command the solid weight of accountants or the creative panache of marketers. A deserved focus on them and on enhancing their capabilities is only to be respected.

Excessive focus on Sales, however, tends to ignore the fact that a business is a rather complex organism where every part has a vital function and is meaningless and impossible without the other parts. Sales wouldn't make much sense without great product development and delivery. Even with a great product, Sales would struggle an uphill battle if nobody had heard of the product or the company behind it - something Marketing takes care of. Similarly, if the experience of a great product was ruined by a pathetic support form Customer Care (horror stories abound in everyday life), then Sales would promptly dry out. Do I have to explain all this in such kindergarten format? Apparently many corporate decision makers would benefit from regular refreshment...

In the big puzzle of building blocks that make a business possible and successful, Technology is a critical enabler nobody can afford to underestimate. But abnormal focus on Technology can similarly distort perspective. In the early days of CRM, technology vendors (helped by industry analysts like Gartner) very successfully misled the public that CRM is just another name for SFA and the deployment of such technology is a guarantee for competitive advantage and business success. Having bought the concept, companies bought the software, too - and implemented it at a considerable cost. Only to find out that this didn't result in fantastic customer satisfaction and loyalty. Or even in decent sales, in many cases! This discredited CRM to an extent that people turned away from it, because "it doesn't work" (?!)

Now the "industry" is just about to discredit the concept of Social (not only Social CRM, but Social Marketing, Social Media and everything that makes the headlines at the current peak of the hype cycle). With a distorted perspective and wrong focus, many will find that "social doesn't work" (some already are). And the world will be off on a chase of the Next Big Thing.

I have enormous respect for Oracle as a leading technology company. The products and concepts I referred to undoubtedly have their place, utilising some aspects of social networks to enhance the Sales process. Yes, salespeople are just as 'social' as other human beings and, yes, they can work better by harnessing the myriad of synergies that occur in interconnected entities. But this is just better SFA enhanced by social networking. To call it "Social CRM" is a disservice to both 'social' and 'CRM'.

It's not all about the salesperson. It's all about the Customer - and only when we embrace the understanding of connectedness among our numerous customers, and the effect of that on their awareness and motivation, and when we succeed in making our business a part of their social world - can we talk about Social CRM. The software to do this hasn't been written yet. The strategic vision exists, but the operational processes are being trialled (and errored!) as we speak. When consistent methodologies emerge, delivering predictable results - only then can we automate some (or most) of those processes and call it 'Social CRM technology'. Applying the term to single point tools (like interaction platforms or SNA analytics) that help with one or another small corner of the Big Puzzle, is premature. IMHO it is a poor-taste marketing trick trying to ride the hype wave.

And, yes, CRM is not a technology, it is a philosophy.

Vladimir DImitroff,

Chief Philosopher*

PRiSM Consulting

(* I had this motto and job title printed on a mock business card in the 90-s when I first argued the case :)

Thanks (0)
04th Dec 2009 12:07

Many excellent points in your post, Vladimir. It's particularly worth emphasising your point that true social CRM has yet to actually emerge - at the moment all we're really dealing with is integration and bolt-ons. I suspect we're start seeing what social CRM really has to offer us next year - and then things will get really interesting...

Thanks (0)
By bearddd
10th Dec 2009 18:19

Connected to your ideas, in my many years of watching CRM initiatives, the best implementations are where three key points are addressed. 

The requirements of the CRM implementation are directly & visibly linked to a company's goals. Participants in the strategy should have direct input to the way system(s) are to work.  That means involvement from the initial planning, through to the implementation cycle & then on to "champion" roles within the organisation. Finally, where employees are willing to invest the discretionary effort, they need access to the right resources to do their job. 

As most business processes typically cross more than one department, enabling "good (social) CRM" in just one department, scuppers any discretionary effort by one team.  With that, collaboration falters & a typical customer journey is interrupted.

To me, it's obvious.  Any social strategy needs to be company-wide & have employees at its' heart.  
Anything less just dilutes strategic effort & spend.

-= David


Thanks (0)