At the end of every year (and hopefully the end of every quarter) sales and marketing teams eagerly produce reports to highlight wins and soften losses. This reflective period is also a perfect time to audit processes and look holistically at what took place over the last 90 days or 12 months. Did your business have the right overall strategy? Were business goals aligned with customer expectations? Are your team and tool selection ready to scale with your business?

These are meaningful questions to ask yourself as a business professional. But before we get actionable lets be clear about what exactly social customer relationship management (sCRM) is and why it’s important. There are varying definitions available. Here is mine:

Social CRM is a business mindset that is supported by technology allowing the integration of social conversations into overall business processes.

Short and to the point. And when executed well, social CRM has immense business benefits.

They include forging better relationships, achieving more positive brand associations, actually making quota and higher sales, among other things.

But let’s not forget what is the driving force behind the success of a social CRM strategy – your team. The human element of business has always been a driver of success. And now more than ever, relationships are the what, why, how, and sometimes even when deals are made.

Social is undeniably the most powerful communication channel in our recent history. Connecting social conversations to your CRM — the heart of your business — allows it to beat in real time and provide ongoing insights that enables your team to engage with prospects and customers at the right time. Layering social data with the business information already available in your CRM, in layman’s terms, makes your sales team and your business look like rock stars.

Helping Is the New Selling

Social CRM is fueled by employees with a service-oriented mindset. You may have heard the phrase “helping is the new selling” around the water cooler recently. Other buzzwords such as social selling, social engagement, or sales sharing all have one thing in common — relationships. Social is all about relationships and when you can reinforce that behavior with sales management processes in your CRM, magic happens.

Does Your Business Have the Right Overall Strategy?

This is a difficult question to answer for some. Others are looking at the hard data and smiling. Most are opening a new browser window and typing “business strategy” into Google. Jokes aside, if you are truly unsure – open your CRM and reach out to a few contacts from won deals. And after that, reach out to a few contacts from lost deals. Quickly probe for what you did right and what you did wrong. Strategy is all about choices– carrying out a specific plan to achieve a goal.

No doubt this quick strategy audit will be educational. Typically, you have better rapport with contacts from won deals so do not be surprised if they are candid and forthcoming on what can be improved in your business processes. This is valuable information. Be sure to act on the feedback.

How does social play into this strategy audit? On a larger scale listen to what your ideal customer is saying on social networks. What are their communication channel preferences? What triggers their need for your product or service? Once you have identified all of these persona criteria, enter them into your CRM, and use it to correctly classify and engage with future prospects.

Are Your Business Goals Aligned with Customer Expectations?

Customer buying preferences have changed greatly in the last few years. Undeniably, we are at the beginning of a sales model evolution and keeping your business goals aligned with customer expectations is critical to business success. Customers want non-disruptive communications — at any time or place of their choosing. Your goal may be to increase the number of likes on your Facebook page but your customers are on Twitter — and specifically engaging via Twitter’s mobile interface. Your fan count will not increase and your customers are wondering where you are on Twitter.  And if you are on Twitter, your customers are perplexed because your tweet graphics are not optimized for mobile viewing.

This all comes back to knowing who your ideal customer is and what they expect from you. Good CRMs will have native support for all major social networks, and you should be able to profile contacts, monitor feeds, like/reply/comment, or connect directly within the CRM itself.

Is Your Team and Tool Selection Ready To Scale With You?

Your business is made up to two key things. People. And tools. And both need to support your overall business strategy to be successful. If you feel you are lacking in the people or tool department — end of year or new year is a great time to make changes.

Social CRM is the mindset and tool of the future, if not for the reasons stated above because of this poignant fact: To be interesting you must be interested. Having easy access to social information and business data allows a salesperson to personalize their communications on the fly. Personalization shows interest and therefore you are now both interesting and on the prospect’s radar. A quick glance into the social CRM enables an employee to select just the right article to share with a prospect and continuously wow with value and benefits without seeming overly sales-ey. Right time communications is spurred by social insights.

Your passion–showing your human side and being authentic–is critical in the sales industry. Today there are ever-more-inventive ways to incorporate your humanity into your business life. A social CRM combines process with your ability to synthesize what your prospects will respond to. It’s no different from an offline conversation where the give-and-take is spontaneous, but topical. It’s human.

This post originally appeared on Maximize Social Business.

Rachel Miller
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Rachel Miller

Rachel Miller is Chief Listener at Pipeliner CRM where she manages all digital communications including social selling initiatives and influencer, advocate, and partner programs. She is also Excellence Officer at BroadSuite Media Group and Community Strategist at Talent Culture.
Rachel Miller
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