Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category
Yesterday, comedian Steve Coogan (“Tropic Thunder,” “The Other Guys,” “24-Hour Party People” and many other things) was a guest on the National Public Radio show “Fresh Air.” At the end of the interview he was asked if it was true that comedians were really sad, insecure people when they weren’t “on.” Of course, he denied that he was, but he also backtracked a bit. “You need to have hangups and neuroses to be creative,” he said. “If you’re just in a state of nirvana, you’re not going to be very interesting or funny.” As I was thinking about social CRM and the channels social businesses need to monitor in order for it to work, Coogan’s observation kept rattling around in the back of my head – in an oblique way, it also applies to the people who run social CRM efforts, up to and including the executives who champion these programs. It’s not that these people are sad and neurotic – in most cases, you’re good at relationships in order to be good at CRM, and sad and neurotic people usually don’t fit that criterion. It’s the other part – the “being in a state of nirvana” that Coogan mentioned. In these cases, I think it’s the state of contentment. Contentment is a nice feeling, but it’s also the equivalent of kryptonite to a lot of business initiatives, including social CRM. The minute you allow contentment to take over is the minute you stop evaluating, evolving and innovating. Here’s what that will look like with social CRM: you have all the channels your customers use covered, and you’re drawing actionable data from them. Mission accomplished, right? Well, no. It’s never mission accomplished. CRM is always a work in progress – if not from a technology vantage point, then from the point of view of the people and the processes. If you become content with your social CRM effort, you’re going to miss the fact that your customers have evolved, found a new social media channel, adopted a new set of terminology for their problems, and have made you irrelevant to their conversations. You have to be constantly vigilant about understanding your customers’ behavior – studying this was why CRM came about in the first place, and it’s even more critical in the social CRM era Striving to get social CRM right is admirable, but even if you knock it out of the park you should shift from happiness back to insecurity very quickly. Just as you can’t afford to let conversations sit unattended, you can’t afford to allow the mix of channels you engage customers to remain static. And, since technology can’t make those mix decisions, it’s up to the people managing that mix to avoid complacency. So how do you do that? Do you schedule regular reviews of social channel usage? Do you get daily reports from a monitoring tool? Do you check in with your customers to do a periodic social media usage review? All of the above? Or something else? Having a process is the best way to pay attention to this over the long haul. It’s really easy to assume you know what you’re doing if you’re doing it successfully, at least to the best of your knowledge. A process of shaking up these assumptions periodically will be more effective than your good intentions. And it’s probably healthier from a mental standpoint, too – you’ll be doing the smart thing not because you’re sad, neurotic or insecure, you’ll be doing it because it’s what will make your social efforts more successful.
When discussing the advent of the social business, I always hear questions like “where do we start?” and “what departments will/are most affected by social media?” The answer, to be a bit pat, to both these questions is “everywhere.” Social is a transformative phenomenon – one that is taking businesses from yesterday’s approach to scale (one-to-many relationships and broadcast mentality) – into today’s world of scaling (or at least attempting to) personalized engagements. So, where does sales fit into all of this? In a well-thought out article, InsideView CEO Umberto Milletti talks about sales and social in a recent Mashable post. Umberto points out an obvious “near paradox” in the sales/social development evolution: that while many sales people are “not technogeeks” – at the same time “sales has always been social.” (Side Note: I do hope and expect that Umberto will discuss these ideas in greater length during his SugarCon keynote next month.) So, are salespeople ahead of the curve from a behavioral standpoint? Or are they behind the social media learning curve from a technology standpoint? I don’t think there’s an answer here, at least not a simple one. For many seasoned sales executives, they probably have the “in real life” social angle of sales nailed down pat: great at cold calling, soft closing skills, relationship management understanding, etc. But many of the new generation of sales people might have some great technology chops: building great online networks, scaling their reach while “keeping it real,” and creating effective outreach strategies to generate interest. Both of these aspects seem highly complementary – but will one win out over the other? Also, in time might we be in danger of losing old school “sales skills” due to upstart sales people relying too much on social technologies and not actually being “social” in the true sense of the word? It seems a fitting irony, but one with potentially drastic consequences. Ultimately, people buy from people, and make purchasing decisions for emotional reasons. So, we can scale our reach, foster social channels as engagement platforms, etc. – but at the end of the day, the sales person with the best sales skills (whether they come from instinct or cool tools like SalesView) are the ones who will prevail.