Social Selling: Does it Work?

Social Master Data Management (Social MDM) has been on my radar for quite a long time. Social MDM is the natural consequence of Social CRM and social selling.

Social MDMNow social selling has become very close to me in the endeavour of putting a B2B (Business-to-Business) cloud service called Product Data Lake on the market.

In our quest to do that we rely on social selling for the following reasons:

  • If we do not think too much about, that time is money, social selling is an inexpensive substitution for a traditional salesforce, not at least when we are targeting a global market.
  • We have a subscription model with a very low entry level, which really does not justify many onsite meetings outside downtown Copenhagen – but we do online meetings based on social engagement though 🙂
  • The Product Data Lake resembles a social network itself by relying on trading partnerships for exchange of product information.

I will be keen to know about your experiences and opinions about social selling. Does it work? Does it pay off to sell socially? Does it feel good to buy socially?

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Connecting CRM and MDM with Social Network Profiles

As told on DataQualityPro recently in an interview post about the Benefits of Social MDM, doing social MDM (Master Data Management) may still be outside the radar of most MDM implementations. But there are plenty of things happening with connecting CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and social engagement.

While a lot of the talk is about the biggest social networks as FaceBook and LinkedIn, there are also things going around with more local social networks like the German alternative to LinkedIn called Xing.

Xing02

Last week I followed a webinar by Dirk Steuernagel of MRM24. It was about connecting your SalesForce.com contact data with Xing.

As said in the MRM24 blog post called Social CRM – Integration von Business Netzwerken in Salesforce.com:

“Our business contacts are usually found in various internal and external systems and on non-synchronized platforms. It requires a lot of effort and nerves to maintain all of our business contacts at the different locations and keep the relevant information up to date.”

(Translated to English by Google and me).

Xing01

We see a lot of connectors between CRM systems and social networks.

In due time we will also see a lot of connectors between MDM and social networks, which is a natural consequence of the spread of social CRM. This trend was also strongly emphasized on the Gartner (the analyst firm) tweet chat today:

GartnerMDM chat and social MDM

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More Social Master Data Management

Yesterday my American cyberspace friend Jim Harris was so kind to send an invitation for Google+ – the new social network service you must hook into. Thanks Jim, now I had to fill in yet a profile, upload the same picture as always and start networking from scratch once again 🙂

As many people I have several profiles in different social network services as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. As I’m doing business also with German speaking countries I also use XING as alternative to LinkedIn as told in the post LinkedIn and the other Thing.

In a comment to that post my Austria based French connection Olivier Mathurin noted: “Disconnected duplicated siloed professional profiles, mmm…”

In a post on this blog called Social Master Data Management made one year ago it is discussed how social CRM will add new sources from social networks to the external reference data sources we already know from old time CRM.

With all the different faces everyone are wearing in the social media realm this isn’t going to be easy and one may consider if social master data management is a wrong path giving the individual nature and built-in privacy in social networking services.    

Well, Gartner (the analyst firm) says that increasing links between MDM and social networks is one of the Three Trends That Will Shape the Master Data Management Market.

So, acknowledging that Gartner predictions are self-fulfilling, you better get moving into LinkedIn, Xing, Viadeo, Twitter, Facebook, (forget MySpace), Google+  and what’s next.

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Social Master Data Management

The term ”Social CRM” has been around for a while. Like traditional CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is heavily dependent on proper MDM (Master Data Management) we will also see that enterprise wide social CRM will be dependent on a proper social MDM element in order to be a success.

The challenge in social MDM will be that we are not going to replace some data sources for MDM, but we are actually going to add some more sources and handle the integration of these sources with the sources for traditional CRM and MDM and other new sources coming from the cloud.

Customer Master Data sources will expand to embrace:

  • Traditional data entry from field work like a sales representative entering prospect and customer master data as part of Sales Force Automation.
  • Data feed and data integration with external reference data like using a business directory. Such integration will increasingly take place in the cloud and the trend of governments releasing public sector data will add tremendously to this activity.
  • Self registration by prospects and customers via webforms.
  • Social media master data captured during social CRM and probably harvested in more and more structured ways.

Social media master data are found as profiles in services as Facebook mainly for business-to–consumer activities, LinkedIn mainly for business-to-business activities and Twitter somewhere in between. These are only some prominent examples of such services. Where LinkedIn may be dominant for professional use in English speaking countries and countries where English is widely spoken as Scandinavia and the Netherlands other regions are far less penetrated by LinkedIn. For example for German speaking countries the similar network service called Xing is much more crowded. So, when embracing global business you will have to acknowledge the diversity found in social network services.

A good way to integrate all these sources in business processes is using mashup’s. An example will be a mashup for entering customer data. If you are entering a business entity you may want to know:

  • What is already known in internal databases about that entity – either via a centralized MDM hub or throughout disparate databases?
  • Is the visit address correct according to public sector data?
  • How is the business account related to other business entities learned from a business directory?
  • Do we recognize the business contact in social networks – maybe we did have contact before in another relation?

If you are entering a consumer entity you may want to know:

  • Does that person already exist in our internal databases – as an individual and as a household?
  • What do we know about the residence address from public sector data?
  • Can we obtain additional data from phone book directories, nixie lists and what else being available, affordable and legal in the country in question?
  • How do we connect in social media?

Of course privacy is a big issue. Norms vary between countries, so do the legal rules. Norms vary between individuals and by the individuals as a private person and a business contact. Norms vary between industries and from company to company.

If aligning people, processes and technology didn’t matter before, it will when dealing with social master data management.

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LinkedIn and the other Thing

I have a profile in two different business oriented social networking services: LinkedIn and XING.

I have far more connections in LinkedIn than in XING.

My connections in LinkedIn are mainly from English speaking countries (US, UK, IE, IN, AU) and from Scandinavia (DK, NO, SE) where I live and where English is widely spoken not at least by people in white-collar.

The connections I have with people in XING are almost only with people from Germany.

This picture matches very well how these two tools are positioned.

The US based LinkedIn is strong in “English speaking” countries with most profiles per capita in:

  • Denmark, Netherlands and USA followed by
  • Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom and Australia

(I have some figures from last year when LinkedIn passed 50 million profiles).

XING is strong in Germany, where XING was founded, and through acquisitions also in Spain and Turkey.

Now, it’s not that you can’t operate LinkedIn in German and Spanish; you can. Also you can operate XING in English.

It’s about meeting your connections where they are.

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