Salesforce.com’s New Social Strategy is Brilliant, Here’s Why
September 21, 2012 5 Comments
Reposted here with the author’s permission …..
Mark Fidelman is the Social Strategist for harmon.ie, a Social Business software organization, responsible for social, partner and strategic initiatives. (note: views are strictly his own) – Author of an upcoming social business book and creator of several high performing presentations – www.slideshare.net/fidelman – follow him on Twitter @MarkFidelman or Circle me on Google+
I recently arrived in San Francisco to attend Marc Benioff’s Dreamforce event with 90,000 other people, and I’m thinking about one of my most difficult Salesforce.com implementations.
A few years ago I was leading an effort to implement Salesforce.com at a publicly traded company that, remarkably, was using spreadsheets as their CRM solution. I soon learned why.
One of the standard lines in this organization about any new technology requests related to IT was, “deny, deny deny – that’s what IT offers when it comes to new projects.” It’s not in their nature to help; I was told, and the evidence seemed to reinforce it.
My first attempt with replacing an outdated spreadsheet as CRM model with Salesforce.com was met with swift and harsh resistance. “The cloud isn’t safe,” the CIO told me. “Salesforce.com is an unproven solution,” an IT Director said. “It takes too much effort to implement and manage,” an IT manager exclaimed.
That was followed by months of IT raising red flags, red herrings and red alerts about my supposed ridiculous decision to implement Salesforce.com. I finally won, but not without spending significant political capital and losing some close allies.
Certainly CIOs and IT have moved on from battles like those and Salesforce.com should be given a lot of credit. But Benioff has picked a new fight, this one with the entire C-Suite, and he’s developing the next generation of technologies to win it.
But will a new generation of change agents risk their careers to support his vision?
Salesforce.com Wants the Social Enterprise to Become a Reality
“Companies that really do a good job of focusing on their customers, training their employees, nurturing the right culture, and that develop a free flowing information style, are going to be today’s big winners,” George Hu, Salesforce.com’s Chief Operating Officer told me.
Hu is right; this is a new world. It’s now a more open and social system. Companies that choose to maintain their command and control leadership models and don’t adapt to new market realities are going to be wiped out. More than ever, organizations need to adopt social and mobile technologies along with new leadership models, to build strong connections with their customers and stay ahead of the competition.
The truth is, if you want to remain profitable in today’s hypercompetitive economic conditions, you have to collaborate more effectively internally, regularly engage with your customers, build a community of influencers and thought leaders, measure success and improve. That’s not a bumper sticker, but a new reality that Salesforce.com recognizes.
I get to meet a lot of talented sales and marketing leaders from companies around the world, and I am stunned by how much their jobs have changed. Here’s what one salesperson did in a typical day: received a high scoring lead from Marketo (a Salesforce.com technology partner); researched the prospect’s social profiles on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter; sent a message to the prospect via email, Twitter and Facebook; asked a friend to connect with the prospect on LinkedIn; looked to see who was connected to the prospect on Twitter; asked the rest of the organization on Chatter if anyone knew the prospect; added the prospect to a drip campaign; noted the behavior and demographics of the prospect, and then sent her content that best matched her circumstances.
You want to be a best-in-class salesperson today? You need to work smarter and more effectively than your competitors. That requires new tools. Tools that Salesforce.com will be announcing over the next few days.
Giving me a sneak peak at what’s going to be announced this week, Hu hinted, “We’re laser focused on delivering new technologies to support the social enterprise. In fact, when you look at our major announcements coming out at Dreamforce, it’s going to be very exciting and differentiated.” From what I’ve seen, he’s not exaggerating.
But like my confrontation with IT just a few years ago, will Salesforce.com’s new challenge to the command and control organization be met with considerable resistance? Probably. But the 90,000 strong at Dreamforce seem to indicate that there are thousands willing to fight for the cause.
Which is why betting against them isn’t a good idea.