Salesforce’s Disruptor Won’t Be A CRM Company

For sales people, social proof is one of the most powerful forms of influence, as Robert Ciadini proved in his seminal book on the topic. It’s no secret that the best leads are referrals. Second best is the friend who is a customer in common: “Oh, Peter chose Salesforce for his CRM. Maybe I should consider them too.” Social proof confers the trust of a relationship to the salesperson improving close rates.

But social proof is entirely absent from sales software. Salesforce which generates $3B in revenue and has amassed a market cap of $25B is the most successful CRM software of our era. But neither of the two innovations Salesforce brought to market, CRM delivered over the web and a bottoms-up sales process, help salespeople close more business. In fact, if you speak to Salesforce users, many will complain the data entry slows them down.

The startup that disrupts Salesforce will be worth much much more because instead of simply recording leads and sales, the next CRM will create business for its customers leveraging social proof.

It won’t be enough for a CRM to inform a salesperson which potential customer to call the way Salesforce’s task list operates today. This new CRM will scour the web to find potential customers, discover points of social proof with potential customers increasing close rates and finally record the transactions in the system. Today, Salesforce only solves the last problem, which is by far the least valuable of the three.

Imagine if you could log into a system each morning, see a list of potential customers, understand how you are connected to those people through friends of friends, work colleagues, college affiliations, common interests. Once on the phone with a prospect, you might inform them of friends who use your product or even competitors. Your close rates would skyrocket because of the social proof at your disposal.

To call this software customer-relationship management would be describing only a fraction of the value such a product would create. Salesforce’s disruptor won’t be a CRM company. It will be something much, much bigger.

Published 2013-02-14 in Trends 


Tomasz Tunguz is partner at Redpoint. I write daily, data-driven blog posts about key questions facing startups. I co-authored the book, Winning with Data. Join more than 20,000 others receiving these blog posts by email.


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