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Principal of Chess Media Group, a social business consultancy. Jacob works with mid and enterprise organizations on developing customer and employee engagement strategies. He is also the co-author of Twittfaced, a social media 101 book for business. Jacob authors a Social CRM and Enterprise 2.0 blog.

8 responses to “Multiple Perspectives on Social CRM: The Consultant, Analyst, Vendor, and Client”

  1. Mitch Lieberman

    One of the differences is that as consultants or analysts, we are often more read (not always) that the clients we visit. It is up to us to lead the discussion, and focus not on definitions, rather the jobs people need to get done in support of their business. I wrote on this exact point last April on CustomerThink, quoting others in my post. No reason to put the link in, not looking for traffic. To quote myself from the article:

    “The realization I have come to, and it is likely that others are there ahead of me, is that much (not all) of the debate regarding definitions – nit-picking words is simply due to our own myopic perspectives.” The basic idea is that there is no right answer, nor is there a wrong answer, so why waste the time. To your participant who asked the question, understanding the perspective of that person asking is in fact more important to actually help them gain the insights they need.

    Central to the issue is that it does not matter to anyone other than consultants or analysts what it is called. It only matters a little to the vendors, as the analysts try to put them into a bucket and the analysts to guide the customers. Generic use cases are only interesting if you really really understand their business, otherwise, they are nothing more than a guide. If I understand your perspective correctly, you are saying that generic use cases are more valuable than primary research, is that correct?

  2. Jon Ferrara

    Hey Jacob,

    I like your post on an issue that’s been bugging me lately; acronyms, definitions and making things that are are truly simple too complex.

    I hate acronyms and I’ve never liked the term CRM! Who actually belives that they “Manage” thier customers? I think the vast majority of prospective CRM users don’t even know what CRM means, let alone what Social is. Most people think social is something that goes on at church or at a dance. If they are smart enough to know that social means Social Media most people think this about #SocialMedia.

    ‘Facebook is a place to hook up with their High School sweet heart, LinkedIn is a place to get a job and Twitter is a place where a bunch of propeller heads tell each other when they are going to the bathroom.’

    ‘Social CRM’ has become a magnet for all of the various vendors, analysts and bloggers in and about the Collaboration, Enterprise, Listening and Relationship space to converge on. I’m afraid that once they all get there the term #sCRM will be gone.

    The funny thing is that Social is and has always been a part of everything we as human beings do and #Social interactions will become intertwined into most of the apps we use.

    Social is about relationships which are developed over time via Listening and Engagement.

    Let’s all stop trying to define #Social CRM and figure out how to educate the masses about the promise of Listening and Engagement and empower them to be successful with it.



  3. jacob morgan

    No no, research is extremely valuable heck we use it all the time to show clients trends, help justify recommendations, etc. Both are valuable but both look at things differently. Focusing on use cases, pain points, and solutions makes more sense to the client because it is something that they can relate to. Using data and research from analysts to support those use cases and recommendations is where the pieces fit. It doesn’t matter to clients what the terms are so as consultants we don’t use those terms. It’s like going to a doctor that starts using medical jargon to explain things to you. As a client all you really want to know is that the consultant understands the symptoms and can provide a solution. We use primary research all the time to support what we do, it is quite valuable.

    I definitely hear what you’re saying Jon, it’s frustrating to vendors and consultants alike. That’s why I don’t really care about anything else other than the client and speaking to them on their terms 🙂

  4. esteban kolsky


    I am sure that generalizations like the ones you are making are much more valuable than actually making things work for the client. I wish you would stop writing this posts that only aim to spread fear and divide camps that are never divided. There is no one I know that belongs in any of those groups alone, they all cross groups constantly — there is not a separate club where all end users meet and ignore everyone else. Everyone with any modicum of professionalism work with analysts, vendors, and consultants and get exposed to all these views constantly. No one has simple views like the ones you spouse in your post.

    Before you go on talking down anyone in the groups you mention, let me share my experience — and I would totally welcome others to do the same. Maybe this way you can understand best how an analyst creates confusing answers.

    I talked to over 1,000 organizations this year, split between vendors (from product managers to CEOs), other analysts (both independent and large research house), consultants (again, big-3 and single person), and end users (across all sizes and industries — probably close to 800 different organizations).

    I take this information I collect, analyze it (that is where the name comes from), synthesize it and share it – part on my blog, part on my presentations, and a larger part with paying clients (this is where they see value and where i make a living). Everything I do is about simplifying my client’s lives and jobs, helping them understand how whatever is going on in the world of enterprise applications applies to their specific situation.

    Not a single one of my discussions with clients is about who has a better definition, who has explained it better, or who has the best product. They are all about how to use what is available (products, examples, case studies, lessons learned, etc.) and apply it to their specific situation. Yes, all my answers start with “it depends” — because it does.

    The only time I engage, most of them against my best judgment, in discussions on definitions and who is more right is in the echo chamber of social networks and the internet. Usually, as in this case, I do it to debunk someone who is claiming something very wrong, or trying to spread fear that has no place and would only set us back even more, while the people who read their stuff get more confused.

    Can you explain to me what is so confusing about that? It is because you only see a very small portion of what end-users, analysts, consultants, and vendors do and say? Would engaging deeper with them give you more perspective?

    Probably, I would recommend you engage in deeper discussions than just definitions, then we can talk about how to help users, not confuse them.


  5. Mike Boysen

    Wow. So much to think about. The clue train has finally arrived.

  6. Blake


    When I was producing business conferences for IQPC, we had to be very strict about who was on stage. Practitioners wanted to hear from other practitioners. Vendors or consultants who “sponsored” and wanted to generate leads had to bring end-user clients. We had to keep it separate like church/state or else we would lose our attendees. Everyone wanted to hear stories. Most of the sessions presented by vendors/consultants were not as loved as those presented by other practitioners–who were in the trenches–struggling with a given business challenge.

    While the vendors/consultants didn’t want to hear this–we had to carefully control who was on stage. Vendors and consultants came with their own agenda–you couldn’t blame them–they were running a business themselves. This business model for IQPC–who largely focused on conferences discussing timely issues (like social CRM) has thrived for 30 years. Businesses want case studies.

    Every business has a different social CRM challenge–getting a second opinion, or a third opinion–will help the business. At the end of the day ONLY the business/brand can decide who has the best ideas on how to apply social CRM. They will be the one to decide which solution will soothe their business challenge.

    Ultimately the CUSTOMER will vote with their wallet.

    In all honesty I am very jealous of your insanely high blog traffic and re-tweets.

    Keep up the great thinking/writing.


    p.s. Jon good call on your comment-I never thought of it that way.

    “‘Facebook is a place to hook up with their High School sweet heart, LinkedIn is a place to get a job and Twitter is a place where a bunch of propeller heads tell each other when they are going to the bathroom.’” (nice)
    Yes everyone has a different definition of social CRM. And no one person can define, control or own the space. It’s bigger and beyond that now.

    It’s all about the customer.

  7. Ted


    I am a marketing exec who works for a large consumer package goods co. I can confidently tell you I am a fan of your blog and I never feel dizzy with fear or confusion after reading it.

    Quite the opposite. Thanks for simplifying this stuff for me.


  8. Karl Mamer

    I think at some point we’ll drop the social just as we dropped http:// and www when giving web sites. Being able to use CRM to engage customers and prospects across social networks will just be a standard feature of any CRM package.