Before there was CRM (Customer Relationship Management) there were Contact Managers (CM) and good contact management practices are neither dead nor are they old-school. The CM features that I grew up with are still valid 30 years later. Social CRM (SCRM) will now allow us to leverage our social relationships as well our traditional ones. Same rules, new tools.
SCRM, in my mind, should be your most important social selling tool. It is the database of all things customer. Since I like to keep things simple, how about this? Here are four activities that are guaranteed to make you more money. Performing them is a lot like learning to dance the waltz … “One, two, three, four … one, two, three, four”. Practice makes permanent.
Engage socially to build relationships
Selling has always been relationship centered and your SCRM should be your dashboard to do this. While SCRM functionalities, particularly when it comes to their social aspects, can vary quite widely by application, at the very least, your SCRM should allow for links to social profiles to be a part of a contact’s record. These links may be discovered by your SCRM or you may need to add them manually.
While LinkedIn and Facebook no longer allow for third-party application access (there may be exceptions), they are merely two pieces of the social puzzle. Both Twitter and Instagram, as examples, still provide this access to a contact’s activity stream and both can be important tools for relationship building as they will quite likely highlight an individual’s personal interests. You could even use LinkedIn as a CRM.
As you engage on the social networks, or as you visit a contact’s social profile(s), pay close attention to common interests. These can be important stepping stones in relationship building. Commonalities will often lead to being able to quickly establish a level of rapport.
Take and review good notes
Make it a priority to document and review (prior to your next engagement) all of your activities. You already take notes on scraps of paper and throw them in a folder (you, at least, do this, don’t you?). Now you will have legible notes, in chronological order, neatly stored electronically in customer folders (records) that you can easily find, review, and take with you anywhere and probably on any device.
When you next speak with your customer, you can now start the conversation by stating “When we last spoke on December 17, you shared with me that your department was undergoing some major changes [insert specifics] that could necessitate a need for my services and you asked me to touch base with you now. Well, here I am!” Compare this to “Just checking back.”
I started out in B2B selling with a shoe box of 3 x 5 cards that served as my tickler file. At the time, it was the best way that we had that would ensure that we got back with customers in a timely manner. I have never seen any SCRM that will not allow you to perform this system (tasks and events) electronically and most will sync bi-directionally with your calendar (certainly with Google).
Having an SCRM that will enable you to set recurring reminders (on a variety of schedules) and that will alert you when it is time to reach out to your customer will guarantee that you will make consistent touches with your clients. It is not very often that we call on any prospective customer and to have them exclaim .. “I was just about to call you!”. It’s about being there when the opportunity presents itself.
Regular and personalized progressive touches will keep you top-of-mind and are critical elements to building relationships and securing new business and referrals. This axiom holds true with both your existing customers as well as your prospective ones. The beauty of social selling is that you are now presented with a virtual plethora of tap and touch options including …
- Comment, like, share forward, reply, and retweet
- Share an Internet article of interest to them via email
- Uncover a digital opportunity for them and share that
- Facilitate a digital introduction for a potential client
- Educate your customers and prospects
The list goes on and on. Variety is not only the spice of life, it is what will separate you from those sales weasels who covet, and who are competing with you for, your contact’s limited attention.
Work your pipeline
I don’t like getting caught up in semantics. Whether you call it your pipeline, your funnel, the hopper, or your forecast … you simply must have an accurate record of deals that you have in progress. It is very difficult to know where you are going if you don’t, at least, have some good idea of where you are … right now.
A properly maintained pipeline will allow you and your company to accurately predict revenues and having this information is critical in multiple areas of business operation. Wouldn’t it be nice to know what your commissions are actually going to look like (or not look like) so that you can plan accordingly? There are three things that will kill a pipeline surer than a well-aimed bullet …
- Deals are not added to or are not deleted from, your pipeline. What you are counting on is either artificially bloated or anemic.
- Deals get stuck at any given stage and go nowhere. There is no strategy to determine why they are stuck, how to move them forward, or if they are even still valid.
- Your predictions for the likelihood of deals closing and their associated closing dates have been sprinkled with pixie dust.
Keep your pipeline up to date, plan your next steps, and then use a variety of social and traditional tactics to move your deals forward based on what is required in this specific opportunity in order to do so. Tactics might range from offering forms of socially delivered proof to educational materials, to discovering and engaging socially with additional deal influencers.
Through the years, I have maintained pipelines on worksheets, excel spreadsheets, and now on my SCRM. Whatever works for you, work it but, once you have done so in your SCRM, and do so consistently and accurately, there will be no going back. Even better, your commission checks will no longer resemble the roller coaster at Coney Island.
At its core, SCRM really is that simple which is why I have always been amazed by how many salespeople will chafe at its mere mention. Cost should not be an issue since today’s cloud-based SCRMs start at … free. Sure, you will have to adopt and establish some routines and then stick to those. “One, two, three, four … one, two, three, four”. So, what’s holding you back?