This article originally appeared in the March issue of Customer Interaction Solutions
Recently consumer products manufacturer P&G – one of the largest advertising spenders at over $9 billion – announced it will cut its marketing headcount in part because advertising on Facebook and Google (News - Alert) is more efficient. The maker of Gillette and Pantene products is not alone; in fact, the business world is focusing heavily on social media including Google+ and Twitter (News - Alert).
But while it is understood by many web-savvy companies that social is important – how many of them are embracing social CRM? My informal analysis shows the numbers are very low, meaning there could be huge room for growth.
That is, of course, if you don’t ascribe to the idea that it is important for companies to help shape the dialogue about themselves online, and more importantly, you don’t believe that tying social media into CRM systems can boost sales and service levels and perhaps even increase productivity.
One person who believes in the power of social CRM is Nimble founder and CEO Jon Ferrara (News - Alert). Around 1991 or so he told me at a dinner that his new contact management/CRM company Goldmine has lots of potential because, “There is no Lotus in the market.” Ironically, Goldmine did in fact become a major player in the space while Lotus faded from the scene.
Last year Nimble rolled out its initial cloud-based social CRM solution, and there are now 30,000 users and 3,000 of them spend almost half their day on the platform. The newly released Nimble 2.0 aims to increase the first, if not both, of these numbers. In Ferrara’s own words, “Nimble is an integration of social listening and engagement platforms, internal collaboration with sales and marketing capabilities of traditional CRM, and elegance and simplicity of contact manager rolled into one easy-to-use system.”
He contrasts the look of Nimble – which is similar to a Facebook page to Salesforce which he says looks like a mainframe screen. Additionally, he believes that while Hootsuite is useful, it’s limited because it doesn’t allow you to drill down on specific contacts.
Successful salespeople have always known that information related to a certain prospect could help increase the chance of a sale. In other words, if you know where a potential customer went to college, that information could be helpful in relationship-building, which in turn could give you the edge in a competitive sales situation. Although people like to believe they purchase based on objective facts, likeability and/or trust of a salesperson is a major factor in pulling the purchasing trigger.
And one of Nimble’s objectives is to boost relationships by enabling companies to get a better overall picture of their prospective customers.
Ferrara likens Nimble 2.0 to fishing in the social river where salespeople can find a needle in a haystack. By tying in traditional CRM data, a company can ascertain which people on social networks have also downloaded documents from the corporate website. Moreover, companies can also determine who in the social stream is interested in which products.
For a few years now I have swept all my Twitter follow e-mails into a special folder, and I’m frankly amazed at the quality of the follows on this network. Not only do I find numerous related companies I never heard of and are worthy of coverage, often these follows turn into prospects and sometimes become new customers of TMC (News - Alert).
Tying these follows into a CRM system makes infinite sense if for no other reason than to justify the spend companies are making on social media. In other words, if you are to put aside the passion that Jon and I share for the future of commerce being closely aligned with social CRM, then at least you should be onboard with using an integrated social CRM tool to evaluate the ROI of the effort your company is putting into social networks.
In using the platform I am happy to report it has proper hooks into a number of social networks including Google+. A number of other social aggregation platforms don’t yet connect to Google+ for some reason. Moreover, although I am a Nimble dabbler, not a frequent user, I find its daily e-mail digest of job changes from my social networks very useful.
Jon also feels his company’s integrated solution is better suited to the world of social CRM than a CRM system with social bolted on. While this is a logical statement, I wouldn’t count out Oracle (News - Alert), Salesforce or any other CRM vendors as social integration should be straightforward. Sure, some will always do it better, and Nimble is a pioneer, but that doesn’t mean the CRM world won’t be watching like a hawk and emulating like a cheetah.
Nimble is free for standalone personal users and business and multi-users can sign up for $15 per user per month. At that price it is certainly worth trying.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi