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I’ve spent an interesting and educational few days this week at Sugarcon 2011 in San Francisco. (RelayWare and SugarCRM are business partners and mutual customers and for the record, SugarCRM is the best CRM system I’ve ever used.) I’ve written here several times about the fundamental differences between CRM and PRM and also about how complementary they can be. Through close system integration, you can effectively automate a symbiotic customer and partner lifecycle management strategy.

Sugarcon covered so many topics connected with CRM that it was impossible to see and hear all of the sessions but one topic I was really interested to explore again was “social business” and how “social CRM” as a business strategy was evolving, maturing and gaining clarity. Many customers we encounter have really struggled to understand how social media can be “harnessed” to complement their CRM and marketing strategies. Of course, you can’t harness or hijack something you don’t own or control and I think that marketeers are coming to terms with that. So talk of marketing has shifted to talk of engagement.

Another interesting topic was “social selling” covered in a keynote by Umberto Miletti, CEO of InsideView and discussed in a panel session with Paul Greenberg and Esteban Kolsky. It explored the use of the vast data resources that we have at our disposal today to take a more personalized approach to selling to our customers. Building empathy, trust and establishing connections. It occurred to me while listening that good sales people have been doing this for centuries but the data available to us all via the internet makes social selling possible on a massive scale and with minimal time and effort expended.

But I can’t help wondering how long it will be though before customers tire of salespeople contacting them and assuming intimate knowledge of their lives based upon their social interactions and Google’s database before getting to the close.

By way of an example, I received a call only yesterday. The caller had done his research and assumed that as an Englishman and a northerner at that, I must enjoy soccer and must devote some of my attention to the daily life of Wayne Rooney (Manchester United striker in case you don’t know him). As it happens, I hate soccer and loath soccer celebrities even more. So not much of an ice-breaker then. A good try but proof that effective social selling like social conversation still requires you to avoid politics, religion and sport!

Next time… “Social PRM”.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Mike Morgan
Mike has over 20 years of ICT, OA and CE channel sales and marketing management experience and is responsible for Relayware's global go-to-market strategy as well as the sales and marketing functions while overseeing the company's operations worldwide. Mike is recognized as one of the industry's leading experts in indirect go-to-market strategy best practice.


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