Thursday, October 28, 2010

My CRM is Anti-Social

Oh, how I loved my Contact Relationship Management (CRM) software program 5+ years ago. As our marketing efforts expanded, contacts were added and our lead management processes were smooth.  The majority of our inquiries came from traditional marketing like print advertising, direct mail, and tradeshows.  Then these contacts made their way back on to a targeted direct mail or email list, so we could tell our prospects about our products and hopefully earn their trust and turn them into customers. It was pretty simple.

Today, my CRM (an outdated version of
Goldmine) needs a drastic makeover. Our needs are nothing like they were five years ago. It reminds me of a similar feeling I had when I finally let go of my old PDA.  Yes, I thought I was so tech-savvy for that short time.  But soon I realized I still was carrying around a cell phone, camera, video camera, and my PDA.  Today it is all integrated into our phones!

Like my PDA of yesterday, my CRM software may soon be dead if it does not evolve. I need a way to integrate our conversations with customers who are on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin into our CRM. I need a CRM that doesn't  just have a one-way "talk" to our customers via direct mail and email, but also helps us to listen to and understand our customers via the many venues of social networking. In a sense, Facebook has become a second CRM for me, limited in some ways, and more flexible in other ways. How powerful it would be to actually be able to integrate our Facebook fans/connections as contacts in our CRM, where we could build a contact's history of touches they made on our Fan page, such as wall posts, photos, and "Likes" along with the traditional lead qualifying information.

In my research to replace or upgrade our CRM, I ran across
Nimble.  Nimble, which is in private beta stage, is being designed with social marketers in mind by Jon Ferrara, who also developed Goldmine over twenty years ago.  I talked with Jon about Nimble and even got to beta-test it.  Although it is just the foundation for a great Social CRM right now, it has the potential to be awesome.  It may be a while before the Nimble capabilities match my current needs, but for marketing companies who do most of their prospecting via web and social networking, it will be a great match.

I also ran across a few other CRM companies who are trying to be more social, such as
Microsoft Dynamics CRM with the Social Media Accelerator (which currently only integrates Twitter) and SalesForce's Chatter. Sales Force has some integration with Facebook and Twitter but seems to be mostly focused on collaboration between colleagues.  It is also interesting to note that Facebook recently chose Sales Cloud 2 by SalesForce as their CRM. It will be exciting to see how this relationship could turn into more collaboration between Facebook and SalesForce in the future.

I don't think the CRM software that I am looking for exists - yet, but I am hopeful there are other software companies out there working on it. We need to discover a strategy for managing the contacts made via both traditional marketing and social marketing to harness the value of our customer relationships.

How do you manage your prospects and customers? Have you found a CRM that works for your social networking and/or traditional marketing needs?  How do you manage the relationships that are made with your brand thru your corporate Facebook Page or Twitter account?

Jackie Kaufenberg is the Marketing Manager for Altimate Medical Inc. in Morton, Minnesota. They manufacture standing frames for people who use wheelchairs and also have a blog for people with disabilities, and medical professionals. You can reach her via Twitter @jkaufenberg.

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Keith Privette said...

I do believe you should take a second look at and apply a new way of processing information. Instead of applying the processes and the way you did things in Goldmine, you need to apply a different perspective. I have implemented and I can tell you this SaaS is top notch to keep up with the rapid world of ever changing marketing needs. The one thing I learned though you can not rebuild your current processes or technology how's in this world. You may even throw out your current processes and adopt the one sorta built in the way the technology is put together. This is not a bad, you just have to be comfortable letting technology dictate a little about how and why your doing the activities.

Your value add and competitive advantage is salesforce worries about the technology lifecycle and you as a customer get to keep up with the lastest and greatest with very little churn. It is pretty reasonably priced also. When looking at the cost try and figure the soft costs of managing technology yourself (psst you will run a negative ROI in your investment).

If you would like to talk more about this reach out and we can dive deeper if you would like. I am salesforce fan boy for the last 5 years and no affiliated with company or companies that implement. just a huge fan!

Jackie said...

Hi Keith,
Thanks for taking the time to provide some input. I especially like your comment about getting a new perspective on our current processes and not trying to "rebuild" what we are currently doing. I have seen that there are new (and better) ways of doing things! I may take you up on your offer and get your point of view, as we have not narrowed Sales Force out yet. Thanks

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