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How social media adds value to CRM

Bruce Harpham | March 24, 2016
If CRM platforms want to connect with front-line sales and marketing staffers, tapping into social signals is not a ‘nice to have,’ but a ‘need to have’ feature.

Sales and marketing increasingly rely on digital tools to achieve their goals. IT leaders have the opportunity to support these functions by enhancing CRM tools. Delivering social media capabilities to CRM platforms is an excellent way to help these groups. Effective solutions, however, require more than a technology connection.

CIOs and their staff need to build process and people strategies to ensure tools are used effectively. In many areas, the “build it and they will come” approach is going out of fashion. Social media, despite its popularity with the general public, still requires a strategic approach if these channels are to be used effectively for sales and marketing ends.

“Currency, correctness, consistency and completeness are the key factors needed for CRM success,” says John Oechsle, CEO of Swiftpage. Swiftpage offers several CRM products including the popular Act package. Act is popular with professionals that use a “book of business” approach to their business such as financial professionals at Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo.

“Data completeness is a major challenge to execute in today’s CRM. Completeness includes logging every interaction whether that meetings, calls or social media,” Oechsle adds. Data management processes and tools smooth the process of gathering and using information effectively. IT has the opportunity to contribute as data subject matter experts and discover the root causes of poor data. Without that IT insight, sales managers are reduced to reprimanding individual sales professionals.

The B2B case for marketing automation

Successfully selling to large companies requires organization and coordinating multiple stakeholders. Dan Radu, the founder of Marcomator, a marketing consulting firm in Toronto, helps B2B clients improve their sales and marketing processes. Radu’s work involves implementing Salesforce, Marketo, Pardot and other services.  “Before CRM adds value, it is important to understand both the buyer persona and the sales process,” Radu says.

“Without marketing automation and integration, sales representatives will not know what content, white papers or emails a lead has received. That means either manual tracking is needed by the sales representative or they head into sales meetings with flawed information,” he says.

“Recent research by Gartner found that chief marketing officers are forecasted to become major spenders on marketing technology. That means technology decisions may occur independent of the CIO. A proactive IT organization still has much to add to the process of selecting and evaluating CRM vendors,” says Radu. If the organization already has extensive marketing activity in email and social media, improving CRM functionality is likely to yield significant benefits.

Improving CRM: analytics and process improvement opportunities

“Low adoption rates are the single greatest threat to CRM effectiveness,” Swiftpages’ Oechsle explains. “If sales staff perceive CRM usage as ‘something extra,’ it’s unlikely they’ll use it. IT’s role is to understand sales processes, work on usability and make CRM available on multiple devices,” he says. “Historically, a number of CRM vendors have done well at connecting with senior company leadership and less well at connecting with front line sales staff. That also contributions to the adoption gap.”


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