By francisco.casas on Jul 14, 2008
The first generation CRM applications suffer from three fundamental flaws, which have resulted in much lower user acceptance of CRM than projected by their vendors.
First, the consideration that sales reps are elective users of CRM applications is generally completely missing. Sales reps made their quotas before the CRM term even existed and have continued to make their numbers while CRM applications continue to provide little “personal value” to the sales rep.
Second, the assumption that reps would be willing to enter volumes of data without penalties from their management and get little in return from the system is mostly off the mark.
Third, dealmakers, like sales reps, are the most social of people. Yet, although some CRM implementations acknowledge that sales reps work in teams, the vendors completely missed implementing extensive social, collaborative mechanisms that allow for the best skilled people and most useful content to emerge.
Some CRM applications tack on business intelligence (BI) to show pretty dashboards of how things are. This is very valuable for sales managers, but typical BI implementations do not add value to the individual sales rep trying to make their quota.
Social Intelligence (SI) is the notion of analyzing data collected from a group of people allowing visibility into past and future behaviors in a social group, but adjusted with the anecdotal knowledge of the individual sales reps. This allows the social network to adjust the behavior of the application itself while users of the social network benefit from the members. To sales reps, this means that they benefit from the collective intelligence of their peers, while at the same time reducing the burden of heavy data entry by high value people like sales reps. This has the significant potential to personal value to the next generation of CRM consumers.
How can social networks help sales reps? Social networks do not have a rigid form of any kind. So, social networks can be created to mimic sales territories, or sales reps can choose to form their own social networks of the top sales reps, or their peers that sell similar products. The social groupings can be endless. Reps can belong to any number of social networks and should be able to leverage multiple social networks to achieve their objectives.
Social intelligence can help individual sales reps identify prospects. How can this be? Social intelligence allows predictive analytics to propose new prospects to the sales reps. These techniques can be as simple as what shopping sites do when they propose items to purchase or as sophisticated as understanding the customer well. Social intelligence then takes things further by allowing the predictive engine to adapt to the behavior of the social network by capturing the anecdotal knowledge and behavior of the sales reps to improve the proposed products. Moreover, social intelligence should be able to account for current events such as social movements within a company like when a sponsor leaves the company or catastrophic events such as Katrina occur.
The promise of social intelligence is significant. It allows sales reps to leverage each other to achieve their numbers. It treats sales reps as elective users by providing them personal value. It allows the most successful sales reps to identify hidden prospects quicker. It allows less successful sales reps the ability to leverage the expertise of overachievers.
The timing for Social Intelligence is almost at the perfect storm pitch: Business Intelligence is well developed, social networking is taking off for enterprise use, Web 2.0 techniques are getting more advanced, and companies are realizing that sales reps are indeed, social and elective users of computing.
In future posts, I’ll drill down on other use cases for social intelligence.