To blog or not to blog?
To network socially or…anti-socially?
Salesforce.com or Zoho or Infusionsoft?
During the “good old days,” i.e. before Socialism really took hold of our great country in late 2008, I had to suffer through Onyx, Siebel, SFDC, Zoho, Highrise, “Outlook as a pseudo-CRM,” Cardscan and ACT disasters, I mean, implementations, as the companies I worked for and with attempted to better manage their customer relationships.
Sidebar: do you manage customers like you do inventory? I’ve heard of Just In Time Inventory (JIT) that Dell really mastered but I’ve never heard of Just In Time Customers. If you must provide more value today to less trusting clients shouldn’t in order to open a lasting relationship instead of close a sale and run like hell maybe there is room for both Social Networking and CRM to play together. But I digress.
Sometimes I even had to endure the implementation of 2 or 3 of these CRMs at more than one company. Boy oh boy. They REALLY wanted to manage some good customers more gooder. (Oh how I long for the good old days!)
While the management and the bean counters and those that never left the office may have enjoyed the raw spreadsheet-producing horsepower of these various tools, as far as the sales force was concerned none of them lived up to their hype. The bean counters eventually saw the flaws in their thinking as well, which is why most changed platforms at least once.
Case in point: In 2004 I took over a large territory from a sales rep that was moving to England to help open an office there. Despite the company running an expensive CRM he handed me a manila folder stuffed with printouts from the customer record that was originally created in the CRM but never updated. All of the updates were hand written on the printout.
SHAZAM! Boy-howdy was I motivated to get that manila folder!? I had MY WHOLE TERRITORY right under my arm and there were only a couple of cofee mug stains on the folder. Imagine the power and the possibilities. (AURGH?)
The excuse was that the company was moving away from that platform because it was too hard to use and they were rolling out another in 2-4 months time so why update what’s going away?
Besides, they had a great Excel macro built for quoting and that’s where the important information was kept anyway.
In the end, every CRM I’ve seen installed since 2000 became little more than an expensive calendar to schedule conference calls and a tool management used to inspect every orifice – even the hard-to-reach ones – of their sales people and then beat those same sales people over the head about the poor quality of their pipelines. (Why am I thinking of Kevin Bacon murmuring “Thank you, Sir, may I have another?” during his frat initiation in “Animal House?”)
Companies – by that I mean, bean counters, desperate/worn out managers and/or clueless sales VP’s that have no idea what their sales people do all day but think they just need to get out there and “give more presentations” –
iopUAY 987YTADSF;K –
Sorry about that. I just fell off my soap box. I’m ok. Where was I? Oh yeah,…
– these poor people think a CRM will solve all that ails them.
After thousands or even millions of dollars and months or years of tweaking they all realize that garbage in equals lost opportunities, lost revenues, lost sleep, lost sales people, lost capex, lost opex, lost market share and lost customers.
While I admit that CRM-type tools are needed to enable snapshots as well as deep-dives into the health of the organization I think the acronym, “Customer Relationship Management” is a huge misnomer that must be changed.
In reality, the big CRMs more closely resemble “Nag the Customer Incessantly So Management Can Get Paid Their Bonuses” or NTCISMCGPTB.” (I guess CRM does roll off the tongue a little easier.)
So is your goal to “manage” a customer or open the lines of communication with them?
If you want to “manage the relationship with your customers” you need tools to automate and standardize your correspondence with them. (You do understand Message to Market Medium, right?)
You conduct webinars & seminars, attend trade shows, produce white papers and application notes, have press releases and product upgrades that you would like to tell the marketplace about.
What are the 3 or 5 or 25 steps that can be built into a sequence that includes email, a letter, a postcard, a voicemail blast, a fax blast, a phone call or even a visit every 1, 3 or 21 days to better “manage” the relationships that will evolve into happy cleints that invest in high margin solutions from you over and over again?
You see, most business owners and enterprises haven’t wrapped their brains around the idea that you must open up a two-way dialogue with your customers. Those that know they must do this come to the harsh realization that it’s hard to figure out what to say, it’s harder to say it well and it’s either impossible or unaffordable to set up the type of required sequence that will say deliver the right message at the right time and run in perpetuity on time, every time with no human intervention after it is created once.
So they revert to beating the sales people for their pipeline update. “Thank you, sir, may I have another?”
It took me 9 years to find that type of software that automates my marketing and what a difference it has made to my consulting business. I liked it so much I became a certified implementer and reseller of it. If you’d like to know more about it just drop me a line.
To answer the question, CRM or Social Media, the answer is both.
They are just two sides of the same coin. The proper usage of Social Media will get people to raise their hands and express and interest. A good “Automated Marketing Platform” that takes old-school CRMs to the level they were meant to be, will help maintain the dialogue with those in your marketplace until enough trust is established that they gladly buy on their own terms and sing your praises from the mountain tops.
It can happen but it will take a new perspective, a willingness to grow and a little time. The good news is that your competition is too lazy to do this because they’re worn out from shivering in their hunkered-down bunker waiting for this storm to pass.
The thinking that got you into your mess won’t get you out. It’s time to come out of your cocoon and Seize the Day.
Life is good. It’s gooder when you’re selling.