Beyond Chatting: What ‘Social’ Means for CRM
By Divya Malik on Mar 23, 2012
In a recent post on the Oracle Applications blog, my colleague Steve Boese asked three questions related to the widespread popularity and incredibly rapid growth of Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. Steve then addressed the many applications for collaborative solutions in the area of Human Capital Management.
So, in turning to a conversation about Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Sales Force Automation (SFA), let me ask you one simple question. How many sales people, particularly at business-to-business companies, consistently meet or beat their quotas in their roles by working alone, with no collaboration among fellow sales people, sales executives, employees in product groups, in service, in Legal, third-party partners, etc.?
Hello? Is anybody out there? What’s that cricket noise I hear? That’s correct. Nobody! When it comes to Sales, introverts arguably have a distinct disadvantage. While it’s certainly a truism that “success” in most professional endeavors requires working with people, it’s a mandatory success factor in Sales. This fact became abundantly clear to me one early morning in the late 1990s when I joined the former Hyperion Solutions (now part of Oracle) and attended a Sales Award Ceremony. The Head of Sales at that time gave out dozens of awards – none of them to individuals and all of them to TEAMS of individuals.
That’s how it works in Sales. Your colleagues help provide you with product intelligence and competitive intelligence. They help you build the best presentations, pitches, and proposals. They help you develop the most killer RFPs. They align you with the best product people to ensure you’re matching the best products for the opportunity and join you in critical meetings. They help knock the socks of your prospects in “bake off” demo’s. They bring in the best partners to either add complementary products to your opportunity or help you implement a solution. They work with you as a collective team.
And so how is all this collaboration STILL typically done today? Through email. And yet we all silently or not so silently grimace about email. It’s relatively siloed. It’s painful to search. It’s difficult to align by topic. And it’s nearly impossible to re-trace meaningful and helpful conversations that occurred among a group or a team at some point in history.
This is where social networking for Sales comes into play. It’s about PURPOSEFUL social networking versus chattering. What is purposeful social networking? It’s collaboration that’s built around opportunities, accounts, and contacts. It’s collaboration that delivers valuable context – on the target company, and on key competitors – just to name two examples. It’s collaboration that can scale to provide coaching for larger numbers of sales representatives, both for general purposes, and as we’ve largely discussed here, for specific ‘deals.’ And it’s collaboration that allows a team of people to collectively edit and iterate on a document like an RFP or a soon-to-be killer presentation that is maintained in a central repository, with no time wasted searching for it or worrying about version control.
But lest we get carried away, let’s remember that collaboration “happens” among sales people whether there is specialized software to support it or not. The human practice of sales has not changed much in the last 80 to 90 years. Collaboration has been a mainstay during this entire time. But what social networking in general, and Oracle Social Networking in particular delivers, is the opportunity for sales teams to dramatically increase their effectiveness and efficiency – to identify and close more high quality and lucrative opportunities more quickly. For most sales organizations, this is how the game is won.