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Nucleus Research: Social, Mobile CRM Boost Sales Productivity

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Posted March 21, 2012 By Ann All     Feedback

According to a new Nucleus Research report, adding social features and mobile access to CRM applications increased the productivity of sales people by 26.4 percent. Beyond productivity, social and mobile can help align CRM with broader corporate objectives.

There is little question that companies are beginning to see social and mobile features as increasingly integral additions to CRM applications. As Vinay Iyer, vice president of SAP CRM Global Marketing and co-author of “The Customer Experience Edge,” told Enterprise Apps Today in December: “Using mobile and social channels will evolve from a ‘nice-to-have’ to a critical component of interacting with and gaining insights about customers and prospects."

But while there has been plenty of talk about insights and interaction, little has been said about bottom-line benefits of social and mobile CRM. Until now, that is. According to a new Nucleus Research report based on interviews with more than 220 CRM decision makers, adding social features and mobile access to CRM applications boosted the productivity of sales people by 26.4 percent.

According to the report, sales people with social capabilities are 11.8 percent more productive. Twenty-one percent of respondents cited productivity gains of more than 20 percent, with just 7 percent reporting no productivity enhancement. The numbers are even better for mobile CRM, with a 14.6 percent increase in productivity for sales people using mobile apps. Nearly a third of respondents cited a productivity increase of more than 20 percent, and only 2 percent said they saw no productivity benefit from mobile CRM.

Rebecca Wettemann, vice president, Research, said this isn't surprising, given that mobile CRM tends to be driven by users while social CRM initiatives are more likely to require the involvement of IT organizations. Also, she said, social benefits tend to grow with the number of users while mobile can yield strong results for individuals.

Social CRM Benefits, Challenges

Still, that doesn't mean social doesn't offer significant potential benefits. As the report points out, the line between CRM and social collaboration is blurring, which will help spread CRM from the sales/marketing function throughout the rest of a company. Social apps are already beginning to bridge the gap between sales/marketing and customer service organizations, Wettemann said, "and we're seeing more and more people not directly involved in sales getting sales information from applications like ('s) Chatter." This added involvement from other business units can help raise CRM's profile and better align it with strategic business objectives, she added.

In addition, social apps reduce the amount of email, which can drain the productivity of folks with stuffed inboxes

Social apps do present some challenges. In contrast with mobile apps, users may need an illustration of the value they can derive from social software. Also, the enhanced flow of information can create information overload. Companies may need to help their employees with filtering strategies, "coaching them on how many accounts or objects they should follow," Wettemann said.

Vendors are scrambling to capitalize on interest in both mobile and social CRM. In recent months acquired Model Metrics, a systems integrator focused on mobile app development for Salesforce, and announced, a new HTML5-based version of Saleforce optimized to work on touchscreens. Microsoft also recently announced Dynamics CRM support for iPhone, iPad, Droid and BlackBerry.

Mobile CRM is rapidly moving beyond apps used mostly to help sales people keep their pipelines up-to-date to more sophisticated apps with more sophisticated functionality. The Nucleus report cites several examples of companies that quickly added more capabilities after adopting mobile. A manufacturer of dental equipment, for example, added integrated reporting and geomapping to a mobile app that initially was deployed simply to help sales people enter basic call information while in the field.

The result, according to the report, was a 9 percent increase in sales productivity as well as enhanced visibility that allowed sales people to more readily identify accounts they need to contact based on location and pipeline and helped managers keep better tabs on which accounts need to be managed proactively.

Define 'Social'

Social apps are less well defined than mobile ones, Wettemann said. Unlike mobile., not everyone can agree on what constitutes social functionality. In fact, 16 percent of respondents said they did not know what social CRM was.

In the report, Nucleus lists three key concepts for social CRM: integrating external social networking data with internal CRM applications, using "push" mechanisms or activity updates to deliver information, and incorporating internal social networks with functions such as instant messaging and public and private sites. Wettemann said companies tend to take one of two approaches to social software: using an application like CRM to drive an initiative or employing a broader, portal-type approach like the one used by the American Hospital Association.

Nucleus found the integration of external social networking data is the most common use of social CRM today, with 47 percent of surveyed companies saying they offer it to employees. Thirty-six percent offer some kind of internal social network, while 22 percent employ push updates such as activity feeds.  Nineteen percent said they weren't using any social functionality

Mobile CRM adoption  is well ahead of social, with 74 percent of respondents  to the Nucleus survey saying they've enabled access to mobile CRM apps.

Nucleus believes the adoption of both mobile and social CRM will continue and will drive interest in capabilities such as improved analytics and reporting functions and better integration with other enterprise apps.  And, Nucleus concludes in the report:  "Given the significant productivity benefits driven by mobile CRM access and social CRM capabilities, and the relatively low cost of implementing them, all organizations should be evaluating their mobile and social CRM strategies to drive additional returns from their CRM investment."

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