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Back to the Old School With Zoho
April 13, 2019
Customer relationship management keeps expanding, and some people might wonder why we never seem to get all the way to some mythical goal of perfection. One of the chief reasons is that the goal posts are moving away from us and always will be. This isn't some plot by the software companies to drive demand. From what I've seen, most companies simply try to keep up with demand with increasingly diverse products that meet real market needs.
Stocks and Flows, in Brexit and CRM
April 4, 2019
In one way or another, CRM is the heart of the digital disruption, or the modernization of business. CRM was the first front office system to help organize significant staff doing important but far from routinized things for the business. You could rely on back office apps to organize various aspects of production, but the front office was the Wild West before CRM.
Extreme Customer Experience
April 2, 2019
CRM guru Samson Lee has a new idea about customer experience. I don't know that I agree with it, but Lee has a way of making you question your assumptions and possibly change your viewpoint. Lee describes extreme experience as the inevitable pain you have to go through to reach nirvana -- that is, get the product or service you want from the vendor you want.
Millennial CRM
March 13, 2019
Trying to do business without also having a modern CRM system is like walking around naked. You can do it, at least for a little while, but people will begin to think you're weird -- and the trouble is, those people are all potential customers. CRM is essential today because, despite our reverence for the free market, it's really more like free markets -- plural.
Modern Selling
March 7, 2019
Looking at the current assortment of CRM functionality, including AI, machine learning, voice recognition and chatbots, you might conclude that the tools are evolving to remove salespeople and others from direct customer contact -- and you wouldn't be wrong. What's surprising to me, though, is the amount of sales angst among senior people about the division of salespeople's time.
Salesforce Reflections
February 26, 2019
Salesforce will be celebrating its 20th birthday on March 8. Where did those decades go? "Time flies like an arrow," said Groucho. "Fruit flies like a banana." There it is. A respectable chunk of the analyst community that follows Salesforce converged last week in San Francisco inside the company's cavernous new headquarters to hear about its plans for the year ahead.
Top CRM Blogs of 2018: Countdown, Part 2
January 18, 2019
The Top 10 blogs on our top 20 list are written by people well known to CRM professionals. There's a reason for that: In order to understand and appreciate the discipline of CRM, you must be a person who values other people, and part of valuing people is being able to communicate with them. As a result, these bloggers bring a unique combination of insight and personality to their posts.
Top CRM Blogs of 2018: Countdown, Part 1
January 10, 2019
After several years of instability on this list, 2018 saw things settle down a bit. In past years, blogs would make the list for a flurry of great posts one year, then fizzle the next. Sometimes, bloggers would change careers and their CRM content would dry up. Once in a while, a great blogger would get hired by a major vendor and see his or her output bent to fit the corporate line.
2019 CRM Wish List
January 3, 2019
I've been writing a forecast column every year at least since W was president. Nothing's wrong with that, lots of people do. However, I often find that my forecast is more of a wish list than a true prognostication, so this time I'll dispense with the fiction of analytical rigor and just say what I think needs to happen. First, the industry is consolidating. The big and successful companies are competing on a different plane than the smaller ones.
Oracle's Customer Transition Challenge
December 19, 2018
Oracle narrowly missed its number last quarter, so it was good to see the company come roaring back -- it made a lot of money. More importantly, many analysts have conceded that Oracle has reached a point in its infrastructure deployment where it can mount a serious challenge to other providers and supply the needed cloud services for its ERP and cloud database businesses.
Sales Chatbots Tell a Story
December 11, 2018
You can roughly chart a product's lifecycle based on how it is sold, and this may be having a profound effect on CRM. In general, product categories start with disruptions but commoditize over time, and because of this, the economy needs to be refreshed with new disruptions to drive it. Disruption dominates the early phases of category growth, and the best use case is not always apparent.
Salesforce IoT Insights Could Turbocharge Field Service
December 6, 2018
Salesforce has announced the addition of IoT Insights to Field Service Lightning. The new tool permits signals from IoT devices to show up directly on Salesforce Service Cloud and Field Service Lightning mobile app consoles, alongside CRM data. Service organizations can draw on those IoT signals to anticipate and diagnose issues remotely, determine the source of the problem.
One-of-a-Kind CRM
December 5, 2018
The hoopla over vertical market or industry CRM might be eclipsing a similar move that does the same kind of thing but with less fanfare. In the end, we might be discussing two iterations and just a difference of degree. The proliferation of CRM development platforms by companies like Microsoft, Oracle, and especially Salesforce, is changing how we regard core functionality.
Governance: An Overlooked but Critical CX Solution
November 20, 2018
Today's customer feedback world is extremely complex with data coming from a variety of sources. With the growing number of cross-functional teams and silos within an organization, leaders have been finding it increasingly difficult to capture the full 360-degree view of the customer to drive true change within an organization. While it's clear that problems exist, what's less straightforward is why.
Digital Disruption Pathways
November 5, 2018
Digital transformation means a lot of things to different people, but if you do it right it should be virtually unique to your circumstance. The other day I caught up with Rip Gerber, CMO at Vlocity, the Salesforce partner that specializes in vertical industries like telecommunications and insurance. Of digital disruption, Gerber told me, "Nobody changes anything without a strong business case."
Turning a Corner in CRM
October 19, 2018
For the last 20 years, CRM has occupied a preeminent niche in enterprise software. It has been the hip, up-and-coming solution in the front office, brimming with innovation and new approaches to some difficult problems. CRM applied basic database technology to a business' chaotic collection of customer data, streamlining business practices and boosting productivity in sales and service.
The CRM Oligopoly
October 4, 2018
As markets mature, they trend toward oligopoly or even outright monopoly. There isn't much difference, because an oligopoly has several members instead of just one. Examples include electric power generation, an oligopoly made up of vertically integrated monopolies in most areas, and the airline industry -- an oligopoly made up of many airlines that may have monopolies in regional hubs.
Dreamforce 2018
October 1, 2018
Salesforce has been very good at skating to where the puck will be, to paraphrase the great Wayne Gretzky. As a result, the company has a long line of firsts, beginning with its initial disruption and continuing through its early adoption of social media and analytics. So it's no surprise that it is pursuing some very different issues now than it did almost 20 years ago -- or even five.
Nimble CEO Jon Ferrara: The Beauty of the CRM Beast
September 6, 2018
"The reality of relationships is that people buy from people they like, know and trust," said Nimble CEO Jon Ferrara. "In the old days, before we ever engaged in selling, we made a connection by looking at books, things on the shelves, that kind of thing. Today, we're doing that more and more electronically. Social is the perfect way to know more about somebody, and that's actually your job."
Is Weak Data Integrity Killing Your CRM?
August 29, 2018
American companies spend an enormous amount of money on training. Spending reached more than $90 billion in 2017, an increase of over 32 percent from 2016. It's unlikely that even a small share of the billions spent on training last year were devoted to educating and motivating employees to regularly and accurately input data into a company's CRM. Maybe it should have been.
Dreamforce Considerations
August 28, 2018
The Salesforce people whom I speak with are all heads down and breathing hard in the big push to Dreamforce. In other words, things are normal for this part of the cycle. The big questions for each show are, "What will the vendor emphasize this time?" and "Will that be a tone set for the industry for the year ahead?" Sometimes the announcements set a tone but not always.
Pulling a Thread
August 25, 2018
There's an emerging theme in sales and marketing that I expect could influence some of the messaging associated with upcoming events like Salesforce's Dreamforce and Oracle's OpenWorld. Each company will have lots to say about security, analytics and machine learning, the IoT, and blockchain, but what's under the radar is the practical application of much of this to marketing and sales.
Oracle's Bad Boy Image
August 21, 2018
No one at Oracle will ever be nominated for sainthood, and that's probably OK with them. Over the years the company has developed a bad boy image that in some cases is richly deserved, while in others it has been embellished by events. Much derives from the brash doings of founder and longtime CEO (now CTO) Larry Ellison, who may be a charter member of the "never explain, never complain" club.
Optymyze SVP Arturo Bentin: Give Your Salespeople Options
August 21, 2018
If you want to boost sales performance, "there are a few things to think about," said Optymyze SVP Arturo Bentin. "One is, what behaviors are you trying to drive? When you're talking about sales performance, you're talking about a lot of things. You need to think about the metrics and the tools you can use to drive those specific behaviors in your salesforce."
What Your CRM Data May Not Be Telling You
August 4, 2018
The ability to collect massive amounts of data represented a huge leap forward in customer service and communication when CRM first hit the market as a marketing, sales and data management tool. However, CRMs aren't a holy grail. Data management is one thing. Using data to understand what customers really need -- not just what you think they do -- and how to engage them is another thing entirely.
Wheat and Chaff
July 31, 2018
I fear CRM could be tainted by the failings of social media and the bad actors who exploited social platforms. Today it seems especially important for CRM to separate itself from the worst aspects of social to the extent that we can. There's certainly a lot to say -- from continuing to talk about the care we take of customer data to explicitly renouncing some of the tactics.
New AI-Driven Strategy Aims to Heat Up B2B Sales
July 26, 2018
EverString, a San Mateo, California-based startup that offers artificial intelligence software for business-to-business sales, marketing and operations teams, hasy released FIRE, a four-point strategy to improve sales performance. The FIRE methodology is designed to unite and simplify the goals of sales and marketing teams. "FIRE" stands for Fit, Intent, Recency and Engagement.
A Trade War in the Cloud?
July 14, 2018
So far, the looming trade war is limited to actions and reactions related to durable things that trade throughout the global economy. Will that remain the battleground? Or should we expect greater contentiousness around services -- specifically, SaaS, and CRM in particular? Retaliation for U.S. trade initiatives so far has been aimed at things produced by Trump-leaning industries and states.
New B2B Customer Experience Dashboards Promise Better Business Visibility
July 12, 2018
MaritzCX has unveiled preconfigured B2B CX templates that monitor key financial indicators; metrics for customer touchpoints, including NPS and OSAT; business-specific outcomes; and overall account performance. Integrated into the MaritzCX Technology Platform, "the dashboards become a hub that aggregates all of the data being monitored," said Jennifer Rubin, MaritzCX associate practice leader.
Miller Heiman CEO Byron Matthews: Stay Tuned for the CRM 4.0 Revolution
July 11, 2018
"There's a gap in performance across B2B selling, because buyers are innovating faster than sellers are getting better at selling," said Miller Heiman Group CEO Byron Matthews. "Sales enablement's function is to try to close that gap. It's not sales operation ... . It's more strategic, in terms of trying to drive sales performance by getting better content and coaching services for salespeople."
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Salesforce Commerce Solution Guide
What is the state of the Linux desktop?
It's edging its way into the mainstream.
It's wildly popular -- but only with open source fans.
It's in trouble due to fragmentation.
It never had a shot in a Windows-dominated PC world.
It's too cumbersome for most computer users to bother.
I'm not familiar with the Linux desktop.
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