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CRM Selection: Getting Requirements to Reflect Reality
October 24, 2014
Perhaps the most important thing you can do before buying business software is to understand what you really want. Software is different from buying a car -- a physical thing you can inspect and whose operation you understand. It's different from buying a commodity, whose characteristics are already clear and there's little variation from purchase to purchase.
The Customer Science Revolution
October 23, 2014
Bluewolf, the consultancy that was founded to assist customers implementing and deploying Salesforce.com, has released its annual State of Salesforce report. There is very little that's controversial. Salesforce is a juggernaut at this point, growing at an exceptional and exponential pace. My only quibble with the account is that it does not look very far beneath the surface of the statistics.
Aviso Helps Sales Managers ID the Real Deals
October 20, 2014
Aviso has launched its first product, Aviso Insights. It is a sales forecasting analytics tool that uses machine learning and portfolio management frameworks to help sales managers answer a fundamental question: What deals can I expect to close this quarter? The application has a mix of features that allow a manager to forecast, analyze and prioritize leads in the pipeline.
Salesforce's Wave Is Only Half the Analytics Answer
October 17, 2014
Salesforce.com's major Dreamforce news was, as the company itself admitted, the worst-kept secret at the show. Marc Benioff, no less, spilled the beans about it during the summer; the crowd for his keynote was there largely to see it in action. It's a beautiful-looking analytics program. The graphic representations of data are simple, clean and automatically animated.
Jottings on Dreamforce 2014
October 16, 2014
Dreamforce has always been about many things happening at once -- a three-ring circus, in a good way. There are announcements about applications, platforms, philanthropy, entertainment and, importantly, parties. This year there was all of that and then some -- I was a guest with a ringside seat. Perhaps the worst-kept secret of the event was the company's announcement of Wave, its analytics cloud.
SalesMesh Bridges Rep-Corporate Information Gap
October 15, 2014
AppMesh recently came out of the gate with Version 2.0 of its flagship product, SalesMesh -- a major leap in functionality. "CRM has made a lot of advances over the years," said cofounder Thomas Tobin. "What it hasn't addressed, however, are the needs of reps as individuals." Problem areas range from cumbersome and repetitive manual entry of data, to keeping track of conversations and leads.
Salesforce.com Unleashes Cloud Analytics Tidal Wave
October 14, 2014
Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff last month tweeted about the tentative agenda for this week's Dreamforce, and caused a tizzy revealing a keynote session entitled "Analytics Cloud." Although the company immediately denied that it was planning to unveil such a thing or that Benioff intentionally spilled the beans, Salesforce.com did indeed launch its analytics cloud, called "Wave."
Shooting for Sales? Give Marketing the Right Weapons
October 10, 2014
The old saw is that sales is a numbers game. That's kind of true -- but less so every passing year. In reality, it's becoming a productivity game: How can we make the sales people in our businesses as productive as possible? The key is to make marketing people as productive as possible, too -- which they're becoming, thanks to the advent of better software and smarter ways of using it.
Facebook Sharpens Audience Network Targeting
October 08, 2014
Facebook on Tuesday further opened its Audience Network to third-party developers and publishers. It debuted the platform in April, positioning it as a mobile monetization tool that would leverage Facebook's 1.5 million advertisers and the millions of users who sign into apps using their Facebook credentials. The platform is now available to developers and publishers around the world.
Salesforce.com Debuts Faster, Smarter Social and Mobile Tools
October 07, 2014
Salesforce.com on Tuesday unveiled two new products: Sales Cloud1 and Service Cloud1. The company has a long history of product offerings in these areas, but these new iterations have been designed to address the radical changes in the sales and service space -- namely, the emergence of social and mobile. They also are primed for action when the Internet of Things goes mainstream.
5 Ways Data Denial Hurts Marketing and Sales
October 06, 2014
Other parts of business have reoriented around data, but sales and marketing have been allowed to function as though they're black arts, with their practitioners going about their trades mysteriously, doing things for reasons only they know. Sometimes the result is a great quarter. Other times, not so much. Sales and marketing generate metrics, but many managers rely on instinct and experience.
A Lot to Like in the Midwest
October 01, 2014
There was a lot to like at Salesforce ExactTarget's Connections 2014 user conference in Indianapolis last week. Now all that's needed is a shorter name. The words "marketing cloud" need to be fitted in there too, but I forget how. Perhaps it's ExactTarget's Midwest roots, but I can see a genuine concern for the customer emanating from the ExactTarget Marketing Cloud and it plays well.
Facebook Launches Atlas to Shoulder the Whole Digital-Advertising World
September 29, 2014
Facebook on Monday announced Atlas, a rebuilt ad platform that gives marketers access to its vast troves of user data and helps them direct highly targeted ads across the Web. "Atlas delivers people-based marketing, helping marketers reach real people across devices, platforms and publishers," explained Erik Johnson, head of the new Facebook service.
Debunking the Lead Numbers Myth
September 29, 2014
Sales people love leads. They want lots of them, and they want them now. The more leads, the more money -- because sales is a numbers game, right? Well, yes and no. Some believe in an equation that says X number of leads will produce Y number of closed deals. If you make X greater, Y will be greater, too, right? That's a quaint thought, but it's not the way it works.
The New Forecasting Era
September 24, 2014
Sales forecasting never has been easy, and over time it has gotten a lot harder. This brings up a couple of points that every sales manager and CEO has to deal with: how to forecast deals and how to track them. Forecasting has gone through several generations of approaches that have been tied directly to sales practices. Unfortunately, some of us have been reticent to change practices.
The Growing Allure of E-Commerce Systems Integration
September 24, 2014
The power of e-commerce lies in the simplicity and ease of use delivered to customers. Giving customers the ability to quickly find a product, buy it and have it delivered -- without visiting a store or even speak with a salesperson -- lets companies sell on a massive scale with little overhead. However, behind the simple purchasing process that the customer sees is a very complex set of systems.
Giving Your B2B Customers an Experience That Fits
September 23, 2014
Just as businesses used to fool themselves into believing they controlled the customer conversation, many businesses today think they define the customer experience. They think that by assembling the right combination of processes, environment and people, they can develop an experience that will delight the customer. The B2B customer, however, typically has a well-defined experience in mind.
Jive Software Tightens Its Connections
September 22, 2014
Jive Software recently unveiled upgrades to its Summer Cloud release of its two flagship products -- the Jive and JiveX communication and collaboration suites. There has been a slew of improvements to both suites, ranging from better UIs, mobile optimization and third-party integration to new community management tools. In particular, there has been a great deal of energy around JiveX.
IBM's Watson May Change the Face of Business Analytics
September 17, 2014
IBM on Tuesday announced Watson Analytics, a natural language-based cognitive service designed to provide businesses with instant access to powerful predictive and visual analytics tools. It runs on desktop PCs and mobile devices. Watson Analytics automates data preparation, predictive analysis, and visual storytelling for business professionals in data-intensive areas such as marketing and sales.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Tears Down Sales, Marketing Walls
September 16, 2014
Microsoft on Tuesday unveiled Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015, along with updates to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online and Microsoft Dynamics Marketing. All will be generally available in the fourth quarter of this year. This release will focus on knitting together the sales and marketing functions. The goal is to provide users of the app with more opportunities for collaboration.
Analytics: The Tie That Binds Sales and Marketing
September 15, 2014
If you want to make an old-school salesperson flinch, just bring up the idea of data-driven selling in conversation. To sales pros, especially those who started in the game more than 10 years ago, the idea of data driving the sale is sacrilege. It minimizes the sales person's talent, and it suggests that sales are driven by a bunch of desk bound propeller-heads who never talk to customers.
Monetizing the IoT From A to Z
September 10, 2014
There is no question that one of the hottest topics in the tech industry is the rapidly evolving world of the Internet of Things. The seemingly infinite variety of use cases for capturing data from a widening array of connected devices and objects is inspiring the imaginations of corporate decision makers and fueling a new wave of innovation among established and emerging players.
The 5 Worst Blunders of CRM-Destroying Execs
September 09, 2014
One of the CRM secrets to success is executive buy-in. That typically means the support of a high-level executive for the deployment and use of CRM technology. That executive often is an SVP of sales, or maybe a chief revenue officer or a CMO. The support of multiple executive roles is critical to implementing and supporting a CRM strategy. Having the buy-in of one executive is not enough.
Salesforce's Investment Bodes Well for the Mobile IoC
September 08, 2014
Salesforce.com's vision of the Internet of Customers is getting clearer, and it has a decidedly mobile orientation. The company on Monday announced the launched the Salesforce1 Fund -- a dedicated fund in its newly renamed investment unit, now called "Salesforce Ventures" -- that will pour $100 million into companies building mobile apps and connected products based on the Salesforce1 Platform.

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