Andrew Yates, CEO of Artesian Solutions, writes for CBR on how organisations can incorporate social channels into the sales lifecycle to help eradicate cold calling.
The news that Richard Herman successfully charged a claims management company for wasting his time with cold calls about PPI reflects the changing nature of business within today's networked economy. Today's customers demand relevance and expect suppliers to understand their wants, needs and preferences long before they are even contacted by businesses.
Rather than cold calling a prospect, businesses need to take a 'bottom up' approach to customer relationship management (CRM) whereby they gather relevant customer information before making contact. By adopting this approach, businesses will be able to obtain commercially valuable insights that will transform how they operate.
The evolution of a networked economy
The rise of social channels, cloud computing and mobile devices means that we live in a world where everyone is constantly connected. According to a recent report by IMS Research the number of internet connected devices is set to reach 9.6 billion devices by the end of 2012, whilst Oracle has recently warned that 50 billion devices will be connected to the internet by 2020; driving a twentyfold increase in the amount of information generated and meaning there will never have been more ways to get to know your customer, prospect, colleagues, market sector, industry or competitor.
In a networked economy where information is being generated across a range of digital devices and through a variety of web channels, businesses need to discover new ways to take advantage of the amount of data available to help inform their business decisions.
As we move towards the introduction of Web 4.0 where search is becoming more social, semantic and context aware, businesses need to rethink information and processes to cope with the explosion of information. Organisations need to use the power of natural language processing to determine context and relevance in a way that seamlessly deals with the complexities of managing social data and uncovers the specific information that businesses need to know.
The rise of 'social' businesses
To make sense of the growing amount of information available, organisations need the ability to filter relevant information from the web. Organisations that are truly going 'social' are using today's interactive power channels - everything from internet forums and blogs to social networks - to gain insight into brand sentiment, customer preferences, and recent activity. This enables businesses to use this information to ensure their interactions with customers revolve around cultivating customer intimacy to increase sales, rather than intruding through cold calling.
As a result, it's vital that new technologies (and social media in particular) can be integrated into the sales strategy so that organisations can listen to their customers effectively, and better understand where the opportunities and issues exist. With this approach, businesses can use the internet to gain commercially valuable insights that transform the way in which businesses can engage with their existing contacts and prospects. Social CRM can provide businesses with a prime opportunity to engage customers in a conversation based on their past interactions.
The benefits of going social
Social CRM can now provide businesses with sophisticated insights into existing customer relationships and help them to connect with new audiences in a meaningful way. Social CRM also enables a much more personalised experience, since it can provide businesses with intelligence about their customers' and prospects' opinions, behaviour and actions, which in turn can be used to shape conversations, review the brand, and enhance services. This approach can help organisations to build strong and deep relationships with customers, and then translate those relationships into revenue.