You might be thinking you landed on the wrong blog or be asking yourself “What does this have to do with CRM? Now this Brian guy is telling me that I need to hire a CIA Operative? I’m moving on. I’ve got real business to tend to. “

Wait! Yes, you do…have real business to tend to, and this will help. And Yes, you do…need to incorporate not one, but three new roles into your business as soon as possible that you probably haven’t thought of before now. The first one is the CIA Operative role.

Ok. This might be a slight stretch. But hear me out on this.

If I could reduce CRM down into three words (other than customer relationship management), it would be to “Know your customer”, or “Serve your customer”. (Feel free to add your own 3 letter descriptions of CRM in the comments section at the end of this post).

For as long as your company has been in existence, individuals have been talking about your products and services. They’ve been talking at the grocery store, at church, at the water cooler. Word of mouth spread, but you have been unaware of 99% of the conversations that were out there. The CIA has not been so unaware. Now they’re likely not so interested in conversations about your latest volumizing shampoo, meat products, blade servers, or whatever your company happens to produce, but they’ve been listening to other kinds of conversations for quite some time.

Imagine if you could listen to all of those conversations about your products and services. If you are a company of any size, there are conversations happening right now about you. Some of them are happening right here on the internet. Those conversations are being enabled by the social web.

Wouldn’t you like to know what your customers saying about you, your company, your products, your services, your marketing campaigns, your receptionist, your customer service…?

The CIA knows a lot about what people are saying about the USA. In fact, they probably now know about this post. Hi guys – thanks for stopping by! :)

What if your organization had its own CIA operative? What if someone is blogging, or tweeting, or making a song or video that mentions your company or brand right now? How would you know?

Check these free tools out to see what people are saying, and then come back for the rest of the post:

Now there are a number of enterprise level tools that exist out there as well. Some primary examples include companies like Radian 6, Scout Labs, and Visible Technologies, which, oh by the way, received an investment from an organization called In-Q-Tel, which, oh by the way is funded by the CIA.

How’s that for tying the loop?

Forward thinking companies are listening, but that’s just the first step. Want a case study? Here’s an interesting one about Avaya, who turned listening not only into more data about what people are say about their brand, but actually closed a $250,000 sale because of their CIA Operative tacticts.

  • http://custservicestories.blogspot.com/ Barry Dalton

    Clever take on social media monitoring & listening Brian. Here’s three words

    Listen, understand, follow-through

    (if you grant me license to count the liberal use of the hyphen)

    I had some fun with this recently over on my blog in response to another smart customer service guy’s post called “The Simple Truth”. Here’s that post

    Looking forward to reading about roles #2 and 3

    • http://freecrmstrategies.wordpress.com brianvellmure

      Thanks Barry for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

      Hyphens absolutely accepted. Nice artwork, by the way.

      Brian

  • http://www.radian6.com/ Lauren Vargas

    I can already see the new wave of community coordinator/monitoring position titles…operative…love it! Thank you for the shout out.

    Lauren Vargas
    Community Manager at Radian6
    @VargasL

    • http://freecrmstrategies.wordpress.com brianvellmure

      Lauren.

      Thanks for stopping by! Radian6 wins the unannounced Social Media Monitoring vendor contest.

      Next time, I’ll have to make it more explicit in the post.

      Feel free to use Operative – just remember where you heard it first. ;) More to come.

      – Brian

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  • http://www.synthesio.com Synthesio

    Our 3 words are Listen, Analyze, and Engage ; the best is not just knowing what people are saying about you, but who they are, what their level of influence is online, where they’re from, and how to use this knowledge to your company’s/brand’s advantage.

    Great post, Brian; looking forward to seeing what other 2 roles you have in mind ;)

    Best,
    Michelle
    @Synthesio (Internet Monitoring and Analysis)

    • http://freecrmstrategies.wordpress.com brianvellmure

      Michelle, thanks for stopping by and participating in the conversation.

      Great point regarding measuring influence. We can’t listen to everyone (and probably shouldn’t). Having the ability to assess whose voice we should listen to most just adds to the insight needed to make critical business decisions and engage with our customer base (which I didn’t even touch on in this post).

      Best regards,
      Brian

  • http://www.intellicore-design.com Kathy Herrmann

    Brian,

    Love your metaphor. It’s bang on!

    CRM = Collaborative Relationship Management.

    CIA position in the C-suite = Chief Intelligence Agent (trenchcoat optional. Ha!).

    Looking forward to next roles.

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