Archives For March 2013

With social CRM a well-established concept, increasing numbers of businesses are looking at social media as a source of customer information, a tool for collaboration on new product ideas and a source for sales leads. But getting to those goals means first listening to what is said in social media – and how do you do that?

To get started, we suggest attending the session “Smarter Social Monitoring with SugarCRM” at SugarCon 2013. The presenter is SugarCRM’s own Simon Chapman, who’s been eyeing this space for several years and, at the same time, paying attention to the ways that a good CRM application can help you pay attention to your customers.

Simon promises to share ways to use LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to drive greater value from your CRM efforts. We decided to give you a sneak peek at the contents of his session with a few questions:

SugarCRM: LinkedIn is a natural tool for networking – around jobs, around knowledge within groups, etc. But how can salespeople use it in generating or qualifying leads?

Simon: LinkedIn is all about who you know and who they know – that’s the key. By using LinkedIn to effectively mine your network, sales professionals can potentially get introductions or get connected with the key influencers. Qualifying people is even better with LinkedIn in that not only can you put a face to a name, you can also see whether they’re the right person you need to be speaking to or whether someone in their network would be more beneficial to speak with. The average well-connected LinkedIn user has at least 750,000 people in their network, as a first-, second- or third-degree connection. Just think of how many leads could be generated by mining your LinkedIn network better?

SugarCRM: How do you get information from social networks into your CRM customer records – and how does Sugar do this better than other CRM applications?

Simon: Sugar allows you to automatically search for social network information without the need to keep two or three windows open at once. On an account level, maybe you want to do business with a particular company but don’t know who you potentially know. With Sugar, you can embed this information on the account or opportunity level, and by just knowing what the company name is, drill down into the connections you could potentially make. Because all of these elements can be embedded quickly and easily into all aspects of the system, Sugar’s strength is exactly that – its flexibility.

SugarCRM: Brand reputation is a scary idea for businesses, now that customers own the conversation. What can businesses do to protect themselves – especially when things are going awry?

Simon: Sugar can take information from Twitter, for example, and allow not only lead generation activities from when someone simply sends you a tweet, but also to instantly respond to someone who has an issue – protecting brand reputation. This is important as marketing managers or social media monitors will be keen to make sure that any issue or negative statement isn’t allowed to proliferate. Sugar can put that information directly on the homepage, rolling in the latest Tweets or Facebook posts with the ability to instantly respond.

SugarCRM: Some salespeople – and business leaders, in general – are leery of social media; what do you say to motivate them to go from doubt and fear to results?

Simon: This is a question that’s often asked when we speak to potential customers and existing customers alike. Our view is that it’s better to be informed than not, and embracing social media, developing relationships and managing messaging, good and bad, helps to create brand and company awareness. Developing clear messaging and setting clear targets on what you want to get out of each target social media network, as well changing that messaging to match the types of people that frequent that network, is something that I would personally recommend. Aimless communication may be viewed negatively rather than clearly outlining your social media strategy with carefully-worded messaging.

SugarCRM: Are there sales talents that social media replaces, or is it a case where social media amplifies sales talents?

Simon: Social media can only amplify sales ability. It’s all about communication and managing that communication, that stage presence, well online. Twitter forces you to think in clever ways about how to get your message into a set number of characters and sometimes this can be beneficial – get the most important words in there first. Social media can also provide that reach which you may not get from your existing networks. Maybe someone finds your tweet and thinks that you’re someone they can do business with and decides to follow you.

See Simon’s session at SugarCon 2013 April 9 at 1 p.m. For more details on the SugarCon agenda, visit the event page.