Social CRM and lead generation : headaches ahead !

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Objectively, to my mind, Social CRM is the first concrete and operational formalization of the wider enterprise 2.0 concept. But it won’t go without bringing many questionings for marketing people as well as  possible disputes.

One of the social CRM principles is to create attention, then relationship in order to “pull” the business. It’s not about jumping at the first comer and try to make him buy something but to make people come by themselves, in a trusted context, in order to build a relationship that goes far beyond the only fact of quickly reaching a sale transaction.

On the opposite side, the traditional marketing approach has one main goal : generate leads, that’s to say a list of qualified names ready to be wolfed down by a starving sales team.

Two cases to understand the difference.

1st case : imagine a store where the salesclerks are nice, give you all the information you ask for without trying to “flog” anything you don’t want to you. Imafine another store, where a vulture jumps at you at the moment you open the door and asks you to give your name, address, phone number, email address to bring you into the logic that will make you buy something, whether you need it or not.

2nd case. Imagine you are managing a company’s online presence (large business, no good or bad repution, b2b market) and, above all, the social networks side. Imagine you managed to develop the brand, deliver your message, that people are getting interested in what the company is, what its business is. And imagine that, one day, Directors X and Y rush into you office and say : we need the phone numbers and emails of all our “Facebook Fans”, of all our followers on twitter…then disqualify, block,  all those who don’t have the power / the position to make their company buy our products. What would your reaction be ?

Some may argue that, things will have to change whether businesses like it or not anyway. Even IBM tells us that advertising as we used to know is dead. Conclusion : the goold old lead generation is dead, goodbye vultures and welcome teddy bears ! I have to admit that I would really like it to happen (as for me, I can’t stand giving any personal information to know more about a product…rather contact the contenders if they are more open and friendly…and don’t try to contact me…I’ll find you if I need to)…..but I’m quite skeptical about that.

Maybe both methods could lead to the same results. But there’s nothing sure, and even if it was possible it would take more time, what is something businesses are running out of. So should we throw the baby out with the bathwater ? No, there are indisputable trends that will make businesses change the way they behave. But the answer is not in choosing the one and the other, it’s to find the right balance according to the context, the need, the target. Territories will have to be well defined and “traditionalists” will surely have to learn some good manners.

According to me, both will co-exist and will be assigned to different people who will have to learn to understand each other and work together. Extremists will have to make concessions anyway. At the end, it’s the action of selling that will be deeply transformed. You didn’t know ? Traditional selling is dead and salespeople will have to learn how to be counselors instead of haggling over everything.

More questions than answers here…but a surely a future hot topic.

And you, marketing and sales professionals, what do you think about that ?

lead generation, marketing, social crm, vente,attention