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The more digital we become (define and measure that how you will), the more advantage we can gain from being ‘human’ in our communications and sales approach.

As community and privacy is eroded, social skills and the ability to network become high-value attributes, where once they may have been called soft skills. 

I think everyone would agree with that. Here’s my attempt to define human in business

  • Taking note of, and raising in conversation, another person’s professional and, where appropriate, personal tastes and interests.
  • Having some knowledge of a person’s career trajectory, their past, present and future.
  • Communicating with a person on a regular basis, neither too frequently, nor once in a blue moon.
  • Prioritising the most relevant people to your business (to avoid wasted time on both sides).
  • Maintaining good relations with a person, no matter where they sit in the lifecycle of value connoted to your business.

So, if this is the ideal, how does it translate to social CRM? How close are we to a time when B2B sales can be done on a decent scale, across multiple communication networks, whilst retaining a focus on engagement?

Recently I spoke to Jon Ferrara about social CRM platform Nimble (he’s the CEO). (BTW, we have a great free report discussing some of these issues of changing sales - The Sales Organization of the Future).

Jon was founder of Goldmine, and has been the industry long enough to have seen the advent of digital CRM systems and the splitting off of contact data (email, calendar etc) from CRM.

In Jon’s words ‘the way we engage with networks is broken’.

Traditional CRM systems are designed to log detail. Not enough employers empower their staff to undertake their own personal branding, building out their own networks.

Nimble is one of the leading social CRM SAASs, and seeing it in action is fairly impressive. So here’s a rundown of what it does, for those who haven’t seen or used a social CRM platform.

Please allow me to point out that there are other social CRM platforms available, notably Sugar CRM, but Nimble appears to be the new force, when it comes to combining contact, social and sales.

Social and email on the same profile page for each contact

Essentially, a unified inbox and also contact profile pages that display each contact. Here, email in the system can be across an open group, if all sales people need transparency.

Engagement opportunities flagged up

Insights across your comms that allows you to see opportunities for engagement you might previously have missed.

Plug-ins (Salesforce, Dropbox, Outlook, Zendesk)

A properly platformised SAAS with tie-ups with other very useful tools such as Dropbox, allowing you to stay within your social CRM platform and send files to contacts, or add detail of contracts to Salesforce, or add a customer service ticket for another department.

List upcoming deals

A central place to track engagement around a particular deal.

Social listening

Within the platform, undertake social search. Track influencers. Get directed towards people you don’t know, but who may be of interest (used for PR or sales). 

Reminders to contact people of high value

Top people to contact today, from your list, and reasons to engage with them e.g. birthday, just tweeted about something etc. Managing your contacts effectively.

If the outcomes of a well-integrated social CRM platform are quicker contact and higher engagement with your prospects, on a human tack, then this kind of SAAS is going to take off in a big way.

Let me know if you’re using social CRM or have any comments below. If you're interested in data or multichannel marketing, Econsultancy runs CRUNCH and JUMP respectively, as part of the Festival of Marketing, October 8-10th in London.

Ben Davis

Published 14 August, 2013 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is a senior writer at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at ben.davis@econsultancy.com, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (3)

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Brad Hodson

I have a ton of respect for Jon. The guy really knows his stuff and understands the needs of companies and customers alike. He's a big inspiration for me as we build out our own, less social-focused CRM software.

about 3 years ago

Ben Davis

Ben Davis, Senior Writer at EconsultancyStaff

@Brad

Agree, Jon was great when we chatted with him. His understanding of relationships/sales means he sort of approaches data and platforms without fear. The point about personal branding in sales is really important.

There's a nice thought piece by Minter Dial on the subject, that's free to download. Here's the link. I've added to the post, too.

http://econsultancy.com/reports/the-sales-organization-of-the-future

about 3 years ago

Jenna Anderson

Jenna Anderson, Freelance Digital Assistant at Intellicore

Cheers Ben, Jon is clearly an expert when it comes to CRM. I agree few employers currently have the vision to let their employees develop popular twitter and pinterest accounts etc. That's a shame as this social currency can be used to retweet and pin the employers content, sending those social signals that Google in particular loves.

almost 3 years ago

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