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How Many Pipelines Do You Have?
July 16, 2014
It's general practice to have multiple sales forecasts, and that typically means low and upside potential as well as what's committed -- but the idea of teasing those threads apart only at forecasting time might no longer applicable. Long before you compile a forecast, you have a good idea of which deals might be prone to a typical divergence -- so it makes sense to group like with like.
Why CEX Thinking Stimulates Indirect Sales
July 10, 2014
As much as we may wax on about engaging, enchanting and delighting our customers, most of them are not expecting such an experience. In most cases, their purchase is prelude to something else pleasurable, if the purchase is B2C -- or profitable, if it's B2B. If there's some service they're purchasing in addition to a product, then experience becomes very important.
Break the Language Barrier by Learning Your Customers' Native Tongues
June 19, 2014
If you live in the English-speaking world, you've been exposed to the stereotype of the snotty Parisian who refuses to speak English. The idea is that Parisians know how -- but they won't -- and they turn up their noses at anyone who won't speak French. In my experience, that stereotype is largely wrong -- if you make an effort to communicate in any way, most Parisians are perfectly friendly.
You Can Improve Your Sales Forecast
June 18, 2014
I don't know anyone who was ever great at sales forecasting. This is not to say that it can't be done, but it's a hard problem -- like forecasting the weather. Today, we can get weather forecasts for many days in advance with temperatures accurate within a few degrees, because we've invested in many data gathering and analysis tools like satellites, computer modeling and analytics.
Conspiracy of Culture: 5 Contributors to CRM Failure
June 12, 2014
Most companies of any size have a CRM application. Every company says it wants to build great relationships with its customers. Almost as many businesses say they want to be "customer-centric." However, as any customer can tell you, the companies that attain these goals are few and far between. What is it that's keeping businesses from doing what they know they need to do? It's not one thing.
Cloud Providers Profit by Serving Nonprofits
June 06, 2014
One of the sure signs of a maturing company, or even an entire industry, is the ability to offer free services to nonprofit organizations in order to demonstrate benevolence. However, such charitable acts aren't just about being altruistic. As a growing number of cloud providers are discovering, there are plenty of new revenue and profit opportunities in the nonprofit sector.
Subscription Economy Gold: Retention
June 05, 2014
The idea of the subscription economy is not new -- at least not to anyone who's familiar with the idea of software as a service -- but it's an idea that can sneak up on businesses. Many in the SaaS space started as more traditional vendors that saw subscriptions as simply a different delivery mechanism and a way to reach customers who couldn't afford massive upfront cash layouts.
What's the Future of Selling?
June 04, 2014
I think about the future -- perhaps too much. I recently read Jeremy Rifkin's new book, The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism, and it made me think about the future of work. Rifkin's thesis is that automation is taking on more and more jobs that once were thought to be the province of skilled labor.
Microsoft Dynamics Steps Out of Shadows
June 03, 2014
Microsoft on Monday announced global availability of the latest feature set in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, which was introduced earlier this year. It offers new marketing functionality, enhanced customer service features, a Unified Service Desk for call centers, and additional social listening features. The marketing functionality in this version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM has been rebuilt.
SAP Seeds the Cloud With Industry-Specific CRM Applications
June 02, 2014
SAP has updated its cloud-based CRM portfolio with the rollout of three industry-specific applications. These applications, designed for the insurance, utilities and retail sectors, are the first cloud-based verticals for CRM, aside from a broader-based application with functionality tailored for consumer goods. In addition, SAP has introduced a cloud-based marketing performance dashboard.
Kudos to Xactly
May 28, 2014
Xactly, the SaaS-based incentive compensation solutions provider, has kicked it up a notch. The user meeting I attended last week in San Francisco was very successful -- but more importantly, it made some real news in the compensation space. Conferences like this often are news generators -- or, more precisely, they're PR engines. Everybody with a show announces something.
Salesforce1 Mobile App Drives Internet of Customers
May 27, 2014
Salesforce.com has announced that its Salesforce1 Mobile App will be generally available in the company's summer release. The app will be accompanied by an enterprise ecosystem consisting of some 65 partner apps, a new connector for SAP, and a slew of new features around sales, service and marketing functionality, said Michael Peachey, senior director of mobile products for Salesforce.com.
5 Ways Social CRM Builds Indirect Channel Relationships
May 23, 2014
The concept of social CRM has been around so long now that, if you listen to the pundits, we should stop saying it and just include it as part of CRM. That assumes most companies have fully digested what "social" means and have made plans to use it effectively -- which is assuming a lot. That said, there's another area where social media needs to be incorporated: partner relationship management.
Zero Patience, Zero Wait: The New Customer Reality
May 19, 2014
Gone in half the blink of an eye. Online customers, that is. Visitors are less likely to return to a site that is even 250 milliseconds slower than a competing site, according to Harry Shum, a Microsoft executive who led research and development efforts for the Bing search engine. That's an increment of time equal to about half the amount of time it takes a human to blink. Milliseconds matter.
Maximizing a Product Rollout
May 14, 2014
Bringing a new product -- or even a new version -- to market is not what it used to be. Back in the day your market was probably empty, a green field where you could find opportunity under a rock. Everybody needed what you had, and selling was relatively easy. Things don't stay that way for long, though, and today you have to work hard to insert a new product into a crowded market.
FirstRain Mobile Showers Sales Reps With Data
May 13, 2014
FirstRain has released its third iteration of the mobile version of its personal business analytics app, enhancing it with social sharing functionality and building in a new contextual layer that gives users more information about the data they receive. FirstRain also debuted a version for Windows Phone with this rollout. These changes are preceding what FirstRain is doing on the desktop.
Is a Poor Portal Ruining Your Partners' Experience?
May 08, 2014
Selling direct is a breeze -- kind of. You control everything -- you choose the salesperson, you provide the training, you establish the payment structure, and you decide on the marketing message used to reach customers, among other things. When you sell through the channel, howevr, things get complicated. You need to depend on your partners to hire, train and motivate sales people.
Sub-Ledger for the Hybrid Enterprise
May 07, 2014
There is a business problem that comes up in the life of every company, and these days it seems that a lot of companies face it at once. It's the question of how to transition from one business model to another without clobbering your current revenue flow. Even if a company's executives really want to change its model, there is always a faction that says, "not yet."
OnSip Invites Customers to Push Its Buttons
May 05, 2014
Amazon's Mayday button has intrigued CRM industry users as well as consumers. Introduced about a year ago, Mayday is a button customers can press on their mobile devices to get service or tech help. Salesforce.com last month debuted its version of Mayday. Now other tech providers are introducing variations on the theme. One such company is OnSIP, which has just debuted InstaCall.
Whodunnit? 4 Suspects in CRM Murder Mystery
May 01, 2014
CRM is often mistakenly viewed as a technology, but it is really a discipline -- and it's not a solo discipline, like a martial art or meditation. It's a team discipline in which every customer-facing employee can make a contribution. Whether those contributions are positive or negative depends on the teammates. In most cases where CRM is decreed to have "failed," the cause isn't the technology.

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