Before I talk about how social media comes in to play – let’s define it. We all know business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) sales models. And how they have worked in the past in terms of distribution, or sell through. Also, a lot of what I am going to write here will be very basic and a given for those social media experts – but for many B2B sales types, there is a shift happening that you must understand.
But times are changing – and in the B2B world, getting more in touch with the consumer or end-user of your products is what will drive adoption and the perception of value in the buyer organization. (To be honest, this post is going to be heavily skewed towards B2B tech selling models – for obvious reasons.)
The problem with most B2B CRM systems – they tend to focus mainly on the decision-maker. This makes sense (or I should say made sense) as in the past a sales rep cared only for the person that was going to help him close the sale. Now, however, smart selling organizations understand the value of creating a buying culture among their targets – not simply pushing products to those deemed “decision makers.”
For example, instead of going after VPs of Sales for a CRM product – seeding the market with a free end user targeted version that creates stickiness and adoption in sales organization based on the value it provides, the usability, etc. – will create innate demand for a product and initiate a buying culture. But instead, today many companies still simply sell to contacts in a CRM database that may never actually touch the system they are responsible for purchasing.
This is what I mean by B2U CRM. It is the notion of selling B2B products with the user in mind – and augmenting a traditional account record with dozens of contacts (with behavioral history gleaned from social media). The role of CRM in general is changing.
This is because the way we interact with each other, and with brands and products is changing. We as marketers and sales organizations must understand that we cannot make a single connection into a business and be 100% successful. Instead, we must manage micro-communities inside each organization – with the idea that these microcosms are talking to other user groups.
So, by providing a distributed but consistent face across these groups – we can do a lot of really great things. We can better market and sell to our targets – because we understand the true value of our offerings and how they are leveraged. We can illicit more realistic and relevant feedback from our customer communities – knowing that we are talking to real stake holders and not simply decision-makers divorced from the actual use of these products or services. And finally, we can actually be in a position where the customer KNOWS they are part of this process, and not just given pro-customer lip service.
The latter is actually huge – because once a customer feels empowered and involved – from that is where true collaboration and advocacy are born.