What Will The Social CRM Look Like?

A few weeks ago, we published an infographic illustrating how CRM giants salesforce.com and Oracle are spending billions on social startups in a play to make their products more social. This shift to a more social CRM was confirmed when Microsoft acquired social networking service Yammer for a staggering 1.2 billion earlier this month. Although Yammer’s assets can be applied to several of Microsoft’s offerings, Microsoft Dynamics CRM is one of the specific platforms that will undoubtedly benefit from the acquisition.

Even though the media has swung the spotlight onto these major acquisitions, there still has been no official word on what a social CRM will actually look like.

Large acquisitions like these will take time to integrate and productize, but we can make a few predictions in the meantime.

Social Sales Intelligence
Based on the types of social acquisitions being made by the largest CRMs, it seems probable that the primary integration of social data into the CRM will be in the form of sales intelligence. Companies like Radian6 and Collective Intellect are designed to monitor social networks and relationships for sentiment and intention. It’s likely that both technologies will be employed to uncover leads and provide detailed prospect information based on their social profiles.

What will it change?
Sales representatives are already turning to social media profiles to scout out potential prospects and determine their pain points and areas of need. Recent acquisitions will bring this research process directly into the CRM and existing workflow of their users. Sales professionals will have more information about prospects than ever before, taking the chill out of cold calling.

When salesforce.com released Chatter in June of 2010, they were the first CRM to implement a peer-to-peer social network for their users. However, it looks like other CRM providers won’t be far behind with internal social networks of their own. Microsoft’s purchase of Yammer was as close as the company could get to a prepackaged enterprise social network for their CRM.

What will it change?
Peer-to-peer networks like Chatter and Yammer are designed to make sales teams more productive through the quick and easy exchange of information between sales professionals. This means that the sales process could become a lot more collaborative. Sales is a notoriously solo profession, but the advantages of a more collaborative approach could dramatically impact the success of a team.

Professional Image
The wildcard in the Social CRM picture is the use of social media outlets for individual sales reps. This would undoubtedly be the hardest piece of the Social CRM to put into place, but acquisitions of social relationship management companies like Vitrue and Buddy Media indicate that this is definitely a direction CRMs are looking to head.

What will it change?
Thought leadership and social reputation are certainly becoming huge selling points for social companies and sales professionals. An integrated social CRM would likely be able to suggest topics to post in order to engage certain prospects and provide analytics for engagement, influence, and reach.

The full-fledged social CRM described above is still in the works, but it will likely have a few, if not all, of the features listed above. Brace yourself for a radical change in the way you use your CRM and the way you engage with your prospects.