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To Personalize or to Be Authentic
August 26, 2015
You might ask what the difference is between personalization and authenticity in CRM, and the answer is subtle. For a long time I have said that we overemphasize personalization when what customers really want is authenticity. However, examples are hard to find, especially with our current culture's strong emphasis on personalization and the tendency to give authenticity quizzical looks.
Spredfast Gets Something to Shout About
August 25, 2015
Spredfast last week announced its acquisition of Shoutlet, a social data aggregator. Shoutlet has been a "huge innovator" in the social CRM space, said Spredfast CEO Rod Favaron. "With this acquisition, Spredfast gains that technology as well as the team that built it. It's a game changer. ... Customers will have more ways to understand their audiences and impact the customer journey."
Back to School
August 20, 2015
It felt like back to school this week at the CRM Evolution show in hot and muggy New York. The first week or two of the school year is always like that. Though it still feels like summer vacation, you know you have to get focused, because the first exam will be here before you know it. Cramming begins almost immediately, because there seem to be a lot of new ideas percolating.
Dearth of a Salesman: Does Technology Erode Sales Talent?
August 18, 2015
For many years, provocateurs have been able to stir people up by proclaiming the death of the salesperson. Ten years ago, in fact, Marc Miller authored the book Selling is Dead. It must be a lingering death, because I still know lots of salespeople. I sure hope they have their affairs in order, what with their impending demise foreshadowed for so long.
Full Circle's 80-20 Rule
August 14, 2015
I recently talked with Bonnie Crater about changing her company's name, and something really struck home. Crater is CEO of Full Circle Insights, and I've known her since her days as an executive at Salesforce. As I was listening to Crater, I recalled that old aphorism, often attributed to John Wanamaker, that half an advertising budget is wasted, but we just don't know which half.
Gamifying Sales Comp
August 5, 2015
Microsoft earlier this week announced that it has bought FantasySalesTeam, a sales gamification platform. The intent of the product is to boost sales productivity. The gaming part is designed after some aspects of fantasy sports leagues in which participants build a team from known professional athletes and try to beat other teams. The team aspect makes everyone more competitive.
Data and Design Can Drive Customer Loyalty
August 3, 2015
In the past, enterprises controlled the times, policies and marketing funnel for customer interactions. When things went wrong, customers reluctantly picked up the phone to call customer support, fully expecting not to be recognized, to be put on hold, to have to repeat the same information several times, and to have to spend a lot of time and effort to receive "customer service."
Monitoring the Sales Metrics That Matter Most
July 30, 2015
I recently conducted a simple, one-question survey, using sales pros as my target audience. The question was idiotically simple: What is the most important metric for people in sales? In this era of big data, deep analysis and predictive analytics, you might have thought that some new, performance-based metric would have surfaced as the new secret weapon.
The Process/Platform Revolution
July 22, 2015
I've been looking at process as the next big thing in CRM for a while. It only makes sense, for several reasons. First, as we move to conducting increasing amounts of business online, we lose the intimacy of personal contact between vendor personnel and customers. In its place we need accurate and authentic processes that treat customers in ways they appreciate.
Wrangling Big Data: When in Doubt, Think Like a Customer
July 13, 2015
As businesses gain new insights about the power of data, they're discovering new sales and marketing tactics that go far beyond what previously was possible. It's not just big data and a technology-driven revolution -- it's also a shift in attitudes about data's place in sales, its role as a guide or reality check, and its ability to fuel new processes that drive greater sales performance.
CRM's New Era
June 24, 2015
It recently occurred to me that CRM has come full circle in a fundamental way. I was never a fan of labels like "CRM 2.0" or "Social CRM" or whatever else came along, principally because those monikers didn't signify anything new in doing business. Certainly you could make a case that those names described some new attributes for the traditional set of apps but that just invites a "so what?"
Correlation, Causation and CRM
June 17, 2015
If you read a lot, like me, you might notice almost daily there's a new study that contradicts some earlier research. Something causes cancer -- then it's good for you. You know the drill. What's going on here? Do we simply not know what our research is saying? Can nobody correctly interpret the data? None of this would mean much to CRM if not for the advance of big data and analytics.
What Buyers Want
June 12, 2015
Technology is giving companies an unprecedented view of their customers: demographic data; buying preferences; behaviors that signal the intent to buy; and analyses that enable them to develop expectations about how customers are likely to act during the buyer-seller relationship. Those abilities are new, and they hold a lot of promise. However, customers have changing expectations as well.
Pega Healthcare CRM Promises 360-Degree View
June 9, 2015
Pega last week announced enhancements to Pegasystems Customer Service for Healthcare, an application that integrates customer service and care management to provide a 360-degree view of all customer interactions. The application provides call center agents with data across administrative, health and care management interactions with the goal of enabling them to provide better service.
5 Modules That Will Rock Your Business
June 3, 2015
Zuora two weeks ago announced its first acquisition, Frontleaf, and a new product, Z-Insights. This marks an important moment for both Zuora and what it has called the "subscription economy." The subscription economy has spawned a culture in which people have been conditioned to expect subscription-like performance from all their vendors -- even the conventional ones.
Message for Marketers: Always Be Engaging
June 1, 2015
In sales, we know customer retention is critical for success in the subscription economy. For many tech companies in the SaaS space, it takes three years to break even. In insurance, which has toiled in the subscription economy for more than a century, the average break-even time is an incredible seven years. Because of that, sales compensation is starting to change.
Salesforce Makes Splash With Wave for Big Data
May 28, 2015
Salesforce on Thursday launched Wave for Big Data, a tool that will help marketers and salespeople leverage customer data in the Salesforce Analytics Cloud. Powered by the Wave platform, the Analytics Cloud will let business executives discover correlations and patterns across any combination of transactional data, as well as unstructured or semistructured big data sets.
Customer-In, Not Seller-Out: 5 Realities of the Customer Journey
May 11, 2015
I was doing a little reading about the concept of the customer journey. I have distinct opinions about it, and I was looking for things that might challenge or validate those ideas when I stumbled across a blog post from a major CRM vendor that got my goat. The post proclaimed that 2015 was "the Year of the Customer Journey!" Really? This year? What about the many years before this?
It's the Customer Experience
May 5, 2015
Bill Clinton won the presidency with the mantra, "It's the economy, stupid," and I think CRM could borrow heavily from that pithy bit of logic. If you can check your preconceptions at the door and actually perceive the information in front of you, there's no telling what you can figure out. Such is the case with the tired phrase "customer experience."
Satisfying Customers in the Digital Transformation Era
April 29, 2015
Customers are changing the rules of business. They are well informed and well connected, and they have high expectations. Business success in the digital world depends on individuals who make recommendations based on their personal experience. These customers expect a seamless and consistent experience, regardless of which device they are using. They demand intelligent digital interactions.
Marketing's Next Act
April 28, 2015
Marketing continues to heat up as the next big thing in CRM. It's so big that I can see it splintering in multiple ways to accommodate all the permutations that are suddenly possible, thanks to big data, analytics, and a determination to get beyond using marketing technology as a glorified accounting system designed to limit "losses" due to marketing. You can't win by limiting your losses.
Digital Disruption and a Great Gap
April 21, 2015
You can tell when the economy is doing well, because instead of worrying about how you're going to make the next mortgage payment, you worry about the next disruption in business. The big worry on the horizon now is the digital disruption, a nice piece of alliteration designed to make you question your worth. The DD is the confluence of a lot of wonderful new technology.
Big Data Drives Change if You're Ready to Be Driven
April 20, 2015
In an earlier chapter in my career, I had the seemingly lofty title of "software and intelligence editor" at a telecom trade magazine. Even back in 1996, telecom was experiencing a "big data" problem. It wasn't a problem of collection -- no, telephone companies collect more data than almost any other industry, recording call times and durations, as well as the numbers their customers dialed.
Shopping for Algorithms and APIs in the Cloud
April 10, 2015
Now that cloud computing has made it economically feasible to capture and collate large volumes of data, many organizations are trying to find an equally economical method to analyze and move the data across various business applications. Enter Algorithmia and Bedrock Data, two cloud-based companies offering online marketplaces to remedy these age-old issues.

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The publication of Ashley Madison members' information online...
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Is a vicious crime, and the hackers should be caught and punished.
Is a frightening sign of the times -- no one and nothing is safe online.
Has nothing to do with me, and I couldn't care less.