Craig M. Jamieson has been in sales in many capacities for many years, developing a treasure trove of great advice for small businesses. He has been a sales manager, a business owner, a consultant, a trainer — and has taught salesmanship at the university level. He has seen social business evolve — and has seen social CRM become the absolute hub of sales and marketing efforts. With that expertise, he has written a seminal book to help small businesses understand the social landscape — The Small Business’ Guide to Social CRM.
Question: Welcome, Craig! What can you tell us about your book, The Small Business’ Guide to Social CRM?
Thank you, Alyson! This book has been designed to take any small business step by step through the process of understanding Social CRM, helping you to define how you conduct your business, choosing the right product, and then successfully implementing your solution. It’s not a bunch of fluff and new age theories. I’ve been a CRM user for close to 30 years so I try to keep it simple, practical, and real.
Question: Would you share with us a little bit about what Social CRM is and why small businesses should care about it?
Contact Managers (the precursors to CRM) automated my tickler file and brought order to my chaotic filing systems some 30 years ago. Yet, for most, traditional CRM has been little more than an electronic Rolodex. Now Social CRM is providing us with critical organizational capabilities plus new, powerful, and exciting ways to expand our circles, develop richer client relationships, and exponentially increase our revenues.
The development of Social CRM has been in direct response to the advent of social media (which presents real opportunities) but, at the same time, raises new challenges including the necessity of managing multiple communication channels (social networks). Deployed correctly, Social CRM will allow us to listen to, engage with, and to learn more about those who we already do business with as well as those who we would like to do business with. People will always buy from those who they like, trust, and respect and Social CRM is finally putting the “R”, relationship, into CRM.
For a small business, I strongly feel that Social CRM is very much sales centric. I also believe in the concept that everybody within an organization sells. That is to say, we are all responsible for finding new sources for revenues while protecting, and further developing, our existing resources … our customers. As such, client support and marketing are other increasingly popular Social CRM applications.
Question: I’ve heard you say that a book is just like a blog, only fatter…but it’s got to be quite an intimidating project. How did you get started writing?
With the exception of business letters and proposals, I hadn’t written much of anything since I got out of school and that was a long, long time ago. This changed in December of 2008 when I began to get serious about investigating social media. I was fortunate enough to connect via LinkedIn with a local businesswoman — an early adopter who took pity on me. When I asked her to tell me what I needed to do, she told me … “Get on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and start a blog.” After she explained to me what a blog was, I did it. Thus began my writing career.
Question: So you didn’t actually set out to write a book on social CRM?
Writing a book was probably always on my bucket list but it was placed well behind swimming with dolphins and sky-diving and I have yet to do either of those. While many people had told me that I needed to write a book, I had little-to-no idea of how to go about it or even what to write about. Just as I was starting to get serious about figuring that process out, a publisher approached me with an offer and a working title/topic. Problem solved.
Question: How was the process of writing a book? Was it what you expected?
I honestly had no idea of what to expect but I’ll just say that the process was far more cumbersome and time consuming than I could have ever imagined. The whole thing took damn close to a year. Whether or not that is normal for writing a book, I couldn’t tell you. If you have a high degree of urgency and are short on patience, like me, then a book probably won’t be much fun. I spent a lot of time waiting and drooling.
Question: What were the biggest challenges?
Given the subject matter, my biggest concern was figuring out how to make sure that the book would remain relevant even a year from now. Because of this, I talk very little about specific CRM’s and tools. The focus of the book is squarely placed on the major goals that every business has (should have) and how sCRM might best be used to reach those. These concepts should remain constants. I think that we (myself and my editors) managed to achieve this.
Question: How are you promoting it? We’re so proud to host an excerpt in our sales library!
I have been extremely blessed to have developed some very good friends, like you Alyson, and your collective willingness to help me to get the word out about the book has been most appreciated! There have also been an awful lot of people who have provided me with the opportunities that I needed in order to even be in the discussion of someone who could write a book. God, and social media, work in mysterious ways.
Question: How do you feel about the idea of salespeople writing content and providing expertise to prospects?
I’m a salesperson first and foremost and I can tell you that writing content was absolutely the best advice that I was given when I was getting started with social networking. Of course, I did not realize that at the time and I’m not even sure why I kept at it.
Starting out it feels like you are only writing for yourself which, coincidentally, is probably quite accurate. Building an audience does take time. Still, it’s one of the best ways for a salesperson to demonstrate their expertise and to attract others to their services. It does not, however, replace your traditional sales and marketing tools and techniques. It augments them.
Question: Last chance to pitch your book! Why should business owners read it?
If you are a small business, any kind of business, and have not at least investigated CRM or Social CRM, I think that you are seriously missing out on business opportunities. One of your biggest challenges will be that the marketplace is a veritable jungle and there are dozens of companies — good companies — who are going to be competing for your business. Competition is only getting more pronounced. Making the right choice will be critical and this can be confusing, time-consuming, and difficult. Buying my book will not only save you time, it will guide you toward making the right choice for your business and doing so the first time. Differentiating yourself from the herd is critically important, and social activities are key.