B2B Sales Benefit From Social CRM People Focus


Share on LinkedIn

Using Facebook, B2B marketers can target their advertisements at very specific groups — even just people who work at particular companies or organizations.

When it comes to social CRM, this seems to be a question I get nearly every day: “What’s the business case for using social tools for selling in a B2B environment? I get that social technology is changing everything. Yes, there are 800 million people on Facebook, now more Tweets per day than emails. I know that when the Pope, Lindsay Lohan, Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama all agree on something, it’s got to be big.

“Now, that’s great. But how can it help my company? Because my company isn’t Disney, Toyota or Coca-Cola. We’re not a consumer company — we sell business to business. So, what’s my business case for social CRM?”

Making The B2B Social CRM Business Case

The short answer is that any company that sells B2B can use social CRM tools to increase efficiency, improve sales, or refine the customer experience.

As an example, take Superbig Medical Technologies (all names have been changed to protect the innocent). Superbig sells medical equipment to hospitals and healthcare purchasing groups. Most of the people that Superbig sales reps call on are doctors. Furthermore, 84% of doctors now use social media, and the vast majority of them are on Facebook, while about 19% also use LinkedIn.

So, let’s assume that Superbig has invested serious time and energy on its social strategy, and has even implemented a “social contact profile” in its CRM application. That way, sales reps can see doctors’ LinkedIn profiles and updates, as well as the public activity stream from their Facebook feeds. (Provided, of course, that they have accounts on these services.)

What advantage do salespeople now have? Well, one of the hardest tasks for a Superbig sales rep is simply to score face-time with doctors. Accordingly, getting information from Facebook and LinkedIn can help them know when they’re more likely to be able to connect with a doctor. Furthermore, gathering information from these social sites can help a sales rep build a better relationship with the doctor, thanks to understanding their “social graph” (aka who they know). For example, if you’re a sales rep and spot the fact that a doctor you’re trying to connect with went to Cornell Medical School, and you have another client — who happens to be an enthusiastic advocate of your products — who’s also a Cornell Medical alum from the same class, might not that be an effective conversation-starter, or even reference?

How Superbig Adds Social Value

Of course, given people’s privacy concerns, many doctors have opted to restrict the information they share on social sites to people and applications that they really trust. Continuing with my example, that’s why Superbig has built multiple Facebook applications, in this case using Ruby-On-Rails technology, with hosting on Heroku. These applications provide answers to doctors’ most frequent questions about the Superbig product family. In addition, they can order product samples, additional product information or related supplies. All that’s required to use these applications is for doctors to grant Superbig some access to their profile information. The benefit for Superbig, of course, is that they now have a richer social contact profile for all participating doctors.

Taking this one step further, sales reps at Superbig can use social searching tools, such as Artesian, to monitor blogs and various medical forums and review the types of questions that doctors are asking about its medical devices. These types of tools can also serve as prompts for sales reps, so they can actively answer questions on these forums, providing not just information but potentially helping to influence future sales. Later, sales reps can even approach doctors directly — via social technology, or simply by calling — knowing that they’ll have a reputation for being able to field the doctor’s queries.

The Social CRM Business Case

What’s the best way to put social CRM tools to use for B2B? Based on Innoveer’s extensive CRM project experience, we’ve developed a best practices framework for social CRM, dubbed the Social Business Excellence Framework. Built on our CRM Excellence Framework, our Social Business Excellence Framework allows us to analyze the many different customer-facing functions within an organization, and detail ways in which social media and technologies can lead to measurable marketing, sales, and service program improvements.

As that suggests, the business case for social CRM should be measured largely in “traditional CRM” terms — marketing, sales, and service results — as well as from within the business itself, through improved collaboration and idea-sharing. Each of these advances will rest on this simple premise: B2B (like CRM) still involves people, and people are social. Meaning that the Superbig sales rep isn’t selling to a hospital — he or she is selling to a person at a hospital, who happens to be a doctor (or a purchasing manager). And these people are just as likely be engaged by the same social platforms and technologies as any consumer customer of a business like Disney, Toyota or Coca-Cola, provided that there’s a compelling social experience on offer.

Social CRM Enhances Marketing, Sales, Service

What other compelling B2B experiences can social technology offer? Here are three more examples:

  • Marketing: Enable B2B marketers to run very targeted social campaigns on Facebook. Did you know that you can microtarget Facebook ads to people who work at certain hospitals in the Boston area? Obviously, this would offer big upsides to an organization such as Superbig.
  • Customer service: Enable B2B customers to create support cases and receive help via Facebook or Twitter. Since over 25% of people’s Internet time is spent on social sites, opening up social channels for service means that people can make these requests from wherever they happen to be. (Really, how much of a typical person’s “Internet time” is spent at work anymore?)
  • Collaboration: Why not empower sales teams to share in-progress opportunities, and collaborate on proposals? At Innoveer, we’re using Chatter for this purpose and it has greatly decreased the time our reps need for sharing references and developing killer presentations together.

Again, social tools and technology offer numerous opportunities for enhancing how B2B organizations handle marketing, sales and service. The world is social; don’t be afraid to put that to use.

Learn More

Innoveer helps organizations assess their existing social CRM strategy, sales, marketing, service, and collaboration capabilities. Contact us to learn more about Innoveer’s Social Business Framework, based on the best practices of hundreds of CRM practitioners, which we use to help businesses rapidly develop a social CRM adoption strategy.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adam Honig
Adam is the Co-Founder and CEO of Spiro Technologies. He is a recognized thought-leader in sales process and effectiveness, and has previously co-founded three successful technology companies: Innoveer Solutions, C-Bridge, and Open Environment. He is best known for speaking at various conferences including Dreamforce, for pioneering the 'No Jerks' hiring model, and for flying his drone while traveling the world.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here