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SaaS' Next Wave: Customer Lifetime Value Management
September 4, 2015
Salesforce's latest quarter, along with the buzz surrounding its upcoming Dreamforce lovefest, have showcased CRM's rapid migration to the cloud. However, today's SaaS CRM solutions deliver limited value-add if the organizations that use them are unable to realize marketing and sales promises. This is especially true for those guiding prospective customers on an omnichannel journey.
Dreamforce: Still the One
September 2, 2015
We watched as Salesforce emerged from the crowd in the dot-com era to become a massive company with a $7 billion run rate. We also changed perspectives several times on what to expect from Dreamforce. We used to be interested mostly in cool new technologies and business models, but as Salesforce has grown, it has acquired a following of financial analysts as well as industry analysts like me.
Salesforce Lightning Strikes Twice
August 31, 2015
Salesforce last week launched Salesforce Lightning, combining its new Lightning Experience and new Lightning Design System with its Lightning App Builder and Lightning Components released last month. Lightning Experience ensures that information is tailored to suit the screens of desktops, tablets and smartphones as required. There are consistencies across devices, but slight differences as well.
3 Ways Great Customer Experiences Boost Sales
August 27, 2015
Hardened sales veterans may hear the expression "customer experience" and shrug or scoff. What has it got to do with them, they may ask? A lot -- because it can add dollars directly to their commissions checks, even if they're not the ones creating the experiences. There are three specific ways that meeting or exceeding customer expectations improves sales.
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.
Salesforce Extends Marketing Cloud to Instagram
August 7, 2015
Salesforce has extended its Social.com, Active Audiences and Social Studio marketing tools to Instagram. These tools let marketers buy and manage advertising, publish content, participate in and review discussions with customers, resolve customer service issues, and analyze conversations. Marketers already are using these tools on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube.
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.
Are Your Spreadsheets Leaking Money?
July 21, 2015
We all use them. They're the default system for listing and tracking things. And no one -- except, maybe for that one weird guy in finance -- really likes them. I'm talking about spreadsheets. Whether it's Excel or Google Sheets or some other lesser-known variation on the theme, a lot of spreadsheets are created every year. There are at least 1 billion users of Excel in the world.
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.
Bridging the Front and Back Offices
July 9, 2015
I've written many times about how conventional, premises-based ERP seems to be evaporating. Configuration, pricing and quoting are business processes that illustrate the point. First, let's all agree that enterprise resource planning isn't going extinct as it evaporates -- it's too valuable -- but it is getting a haircut. Many of the functions leaving ERP are condensing back into the front office.
Customer Experience Is Everyone's Department
July 6, 2015
Customer experience is more than the act of trading money for a product or a service. It's the experience leading up to that, and the experience customers have with what they've purchased, all the way until they stop using it. Why is it, then, that the concept of "customer experience" seems to exist primarily in the marketing department? Marketing is but a small part of what makes an experience.
The Art of E-Commerce Site Search
July 6, 2015
Providing an effortless shopping experience is a key driver to the success of any e-commerce business. E-commerce search is a big factor in this experience and when done right can provide a significant competitive advantage. An effective on-site search experience leads to higher sales and increased customer loyalty. A substandard search experience can lead to the permanent loss of a customer.
Red Hat, Samsung Ramp Up Enterprise Mobility
June 24, 2015
Red Hat and Samsung Business Services on Tuesday announced a strategic alliance to deliver the next generation of mobile solutions for the enterprise. The alliance, announced at the Red Hat Summit 2015, combines the strengths of each company -- Samsung's mobile device portfolio and Red Hat's open source middleware, mobile and cloud technologies.
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?"
Choosing the Right Level for Multitiered Customer Success
June 22, 2015
Customers are more empowered than ever before -- they have unlimited access to information with the click of a button. How does this affect businesses? How are they reshaping their strategies to account for the recent rapid shift from business-centric to customer-centric? SaaS businesses and enterprises alike are restructuring their platforms and focusing on customer success initiatives.
Salesforce Fluffs Up Next-Gen Marketing Cloud
June 18, 2015
Salesforce introduced its next-generation marketing cloud at the Salesforce Connections digital marketing event held in New York this week. The new release has enhancements to Journey Builder that let companies work with the customer journey across sales, service, marketing, custom apps and more. Salesforce also announced the addition of LiveRamp, LiveIntent, Neustar and Viant to Active Audiences.
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.

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Should humans colonize Mars?
Yes. It's human nature to explore.
Yes. Earth is running out of resources.
No. It's too impractical and risky.
No. We should focus on saving Earth.
Maybe -- but not until a round-trip is possible.