Best One-on-One Conversations of 2011: Social CRM, Entrepreneurship and Connecting with Real Influencers

December 22, 2010
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Over the past couple of months I’ve been hosting a conversation series over at SmallBizTrends.com (thanks Anita Campbell!) called One on One. The goal of the series is to pick the brains of successful entrepreneurs, best-selling author, and executives with organizations serving the small business community, to provide entrepreneurs with their valuable business insights. A transcript of each conversation is included with the audio recording.

Over the past couple of months I’ve been hosting a conversation series over at SmallBizTrends.com (thanks Anita Campbell!) called One on One. The goal of the series is to pick the brains of successful entrepreneurs, best-selling author, and executives with organizations serving the small business community, to provide entrepreneurs with their valuable business insights. A transcript of each conversation is included with the audio recording.

Each person I had the pleasure of speaking with had some really compelling insights to share with respect to doing business in today’s world. Below are snippets from each of the one-on-ones. If you want to check out any of the full conversations just use the links included here.

Jon Ferrara: pioneer in the CRM industry, co-founder of Goldmine (one of the first contact management apps), founder of Nimble.com, a social CRM service for small businesses.

Question: Do you think successfully implementing CRM hinges on being able to integrate social media into a CRM strategy?

Jon Ferrara: Without social, CRM is a stale database. Goldmine helped create the first model of networkable relationship management. Today, what’s different is the social aspect. If all you are going to do is CRM, you can do databasing with anything. But combining the ability to communicate and collaborate, to listen and engage, transforms a business.

Check out the full conversation with Jon by clicking here.

T.A. McCann: Serial entrepreneur, founder and CEO of Gist.com, formerly ran the Exchange business at Microsoft.

Question: A year from now, where are we going to be in utilizing all of these different services-e-mail and social networks-in gathering information?

T.A. McCann: Having all of your data in the cloud, accessible anywhere and anytime, will continue to proliferate. Therefore, the value of desktop applications will continue to lessen. And no matter what app you are in, you are going to have access to the other data that’s relevant to that application. There will be more integration.

The preponderance of location-based [services], whether Foursquare, Gowalla or others, and being able to do a query like, “I am in place X – show me all of my most important people who are nearby”-those kinds of queries are going to start to show up, whether in Gist or other applications.

When you think about building relationships, it is still about physically connecting with people. Having systems that are smart enough to say Who is important to me? Who’s nearby? and How can I quickly connect with those people? are some of the scenarios that [will be] natural and easy to do for a year from now.

Check out the full conversation with T.A. by clicking here.

Scott McMullan: Partner Lead for Google Apps

Question: There seems to be a very vibrant CRM application store for the Google Apps Marketplace. As I saw on a recent blog post on the official enterprise over at Google , CRM is one of the hottest areas from a customer perspective.

Scott McMullan:We’ve got 2 million businesses using Google Apps – businesses that need to serve their customers. They need to sell and engage with their products to keep the lights on and to grow. These businesses are turning to Google and saying, “Google, we love the way you are bringing ease of use and messaging collaboration. We would like you to help us with our customer relationship management.” Again, we are not building those applications. There are a lot of great CRM applications out there. Our goal is to make it easy for our customers to discover and use all of these different CRMs.

Check out the full conversation with Scott by clicking here.

Robin Carey: CEO of Social Media Today and veteran of the publishing industry

Question: You’ve built a number of excellent online communities, such as SocialMediaToday.com, MyVenturePad.com, TheCustomerCollective.com and TheSocialCustomer.com. What do you think people should be concerned about when it comes to creating active communities online?

Robin Carey: First and foremost, content, content, content. Keep the content flowing. That’s the beauty of user generated content or crowd-sourced content-if you moderate it or curate it properly, you can have it 24/7.

The other critical part is people. Find the right people to come to your community. Find those who are not only the most influential (and that’s easy enough to measure these days) but also have the most intriguing way of looking at things. We read people’s blogs before we invite them to become part of our community. You cannot automate that yet. [Identifying and creating] really good content requires human intervention.

A combination of content and contact makes a strong online community. After getting it launched, you have to continually nurture it.

Check out the full conversation with Robin by clicking here.

Jim Fowler: Founder and former CEO of Jigsaw

Question: What do you think this type of acquisition and integration does for Salesforce customers?

Jim Fowler:You can have the world’s greatest data container, i.e. a CRM solution, but without great data to drive it, the system has significantly less value-[even] zero value. Salesforce was remarkably prescient in their vision of combining the container and the services and cloud, as well as the data. What we had done before we were acquired, and [have done] even more since, is make it seamless and automated for Salesforce customers to get the value of account and contact data, the two foundations of all CRM databases. The ability for us to go in and automatically deliver, clean, and maintain data in a real-time way just doesn’t exist anywhere else. I think it is going to help Salesforce continue to be the market leader in this field.

Check out the full conversation with Jim by clicking here.

Greg Gianforte: Founder of RightNow Technologies

Question: If you could leave the audience with one or two pieces of advice, what would they be?

Greg Gianforte: Sales is Number 1. At the end of the day, if you haven’t sold something you haven’t done much. I would start by immersing myself with my target customers. Go in, talk to them, and decide if your skills can be applied against their problems. Once you have a clear path to some value you can create, go off and build a product or service.

Don’t go build a suite of applications, or a product, or even build a feature. Build a featurette you can charge money for to get cash flow started. You have to get the wheels on the bus turning, even if it’s a tiny fragment of what you are going to do eventually.

Check out the full conversation with Greg by clicking here.

Dan Siroker: CEO and Co-Founder of Optimizely and formerly Director of Analytics for the Obama presidential campaign

Question: What were some things you took from your role as Director of Analytics that would apply to a small or mid-sized company that’s just starting to analyze how impactful their website is?

Dan Siroker: First, define quantifiable success metrics. Very early in the [Obama] campaign, we identified what we were trying to optimize. We looked at things like average dollar per page view on our donation sites, or dollars per recipient of our [outbound] e-mails. Defining and measuring enabled us to know whether we were going in the right direction as we made changes. Without a quantifiable sense of what your goals are, it is very easy to optimize for the wrong thing.

Check out the full conversation with Dan by clicking here.

Andrew Zuckerman: Photographer, documentary film director and author

 

Question: Your book Wisdom includes interviews with Nelson Mandela, Clint Eastwood, Robert Redford, Billie Jean King and many others. How did you not only get in front of these folks, but really connect with them?

Andrew Zuckerman: Getting in front of them is a very pragmatic series of steps. One major influence on my project is the support of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who has extended letters to subjects that I am interested in. I travel all over the world to find my subjects and slide surreptitiously into their schedule. That’s the “getting.”

Connecting with them- that’s an abstract thing. People can smell and feel dishonesty right off the bat. If you are looking for something, an angle or any desire, they are going to pick up on it and most subjects are not going to give that to you.

It’s very important to have no expectations. Go into these engagements with an absolute purity and sense of honesty about what you are looking for. It is [in] that meeting place where everything happens. Like anything, you continue learning every single time and rejecting the things that do not work.

Check out the full conversation with Andrew by clicking here.

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