The evolution of sales intelligence and social CRM

rolodexBIZMOLOGY — Remember the days of the yellow pages, the Rolodex, and rotary dial phones? Sales intelligence and customer relationship management tools have come a long way in a short time. Companies like Oracle, salesforce, and D&B/Hoover’s are working feverishly to meet the rapidly evolving market demands for reliable and actionable information that sales and marketing professionals can depend on to do their jobs.

The Modern Sales and Marketing Landscape

In today’s hypercompetitive marketplace, businesses need to know everything possible about their customers — and they need to know it now. Timely and accurate marketing and sales intelligence data is more essential than ever, and businesses rely heavily on their customer relationship management (CRM) systems to deliver it.

Companies are still trying to navigate the vast ocean of customer information being generated on sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Many businesses recognize the sales and marketing potential, but distilling down all the noise on social media and harnessing it into timely, useful, and digestible insight is an immense challenge.

Competition Heats Up

Last summer Oracle and Salesforce proved the race was on to develop a more viable and reliable social CRM product when the two CRM software heavyweights bought up multiple social media-focused technology startups. Oracle purchased Vitrue for a reported $300 million in May 2012 before buying cloud-based social intelligence company Collective Intellect two weeks later for an undisclosed price.

Salesforce acquired social media marketing platform Buddy Media for about $689 million in August 2012 after paying roughly $326 million for social media monitoring platform Radian6 back in 2011. The acquisitions gave Oracle and Salesforce ownership of innovative social media monitoring technology.

The challenge for the major players in the CRM space in 2013 is to figure out how to more successfully integrate social data and customer data into increasingly user-friendly CRM systems.

Setting the New Standard

D&B is leading the way with excellent content and usability, especially with its D&B360 product offering. The company’s solutions deliver sales and marketing teams the latest social media and news integrated with data from the world’s largest commercial database.

D&B aggregates data from more than 30,000 sources including RSS feeds, legal filings, telephone interviews and other sources, and enhances that rich D&B record with social media content right within the CRM. D&B products now include alerts related to key events that trigger sales opportunities such as M&A activity, title changes, and product launches.

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Photo by TOKY Branding and Design used under a Creative Commons license.

Michael McLellan

Michael McLellan covers the business of restaurants, marketing, media, technology, and more for D&B and Hoover's. He is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin's Radio-Television-Film program. Follow him on Twitter.

Read more articles by Michael McLellan.

Comments

  1. Tracey Panek says:

    Thanks Michael. I found Social Media Examiner (http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com) a helpful site for ideas on using social media for marketing purposes. While software can track usage for analytics, it’s up to the marketers to turn that data into new business!

  2. Brad Hodson says:

    “…increasingly user-friendly CRM systems.”

    I’m not sure if you’re referring to Salesforce and Oracle making their systems increasingly-user friendly, or if you’re talking about the companies they purchased, but I would say that neither are really working towards a user-friendly interface.

    Since the beginning their software has been atrocious. Sure it works and has all those features that nobody uses, but with every new feature they add they have no idea how to put it in. They’re just a modge-podge of terrible design choices and confusing UI.

    Now, if we were talking about something truly easy like Nimble for Social CRM or JobNimbus (http://www.jobnimbus.com), then I would understand the user-friendly interface remark.

  3. Brad made a point about CRM interface not being user friendly enough but I believe the problem may be elsewhere. There’s currently an ‘over-customisation’ phenomenon taking place in today’s CRM systems and this is affecting the overall CRM performance of a lot of companies.

    ‘Over-customisation’ normally happens when a system is easy enough for users to customise it and even causing users to over-do it. This is in contradiction to Brad’s point about CRM systems’ interface being too complex these days.

    D&B (one of the industry leaders that Michael McLellan mentioned in this post) recently released an infographic about current issues around ‘CRM failures’: http://www.dnb.co.uk/dnb_files/CRMInfographic.pdf

    any views?

    J.

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