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The Lego-ization of Software, or the Rise of Snap-On SaaS
November 20, 2015
Here's a bold proclamation: Internally-developed IT software is a decelerator to business. When the need is specialized and you have a fully staffed IT team, there's a natural temptation to put everyone to work on a custom development project. For today's companies, however, this is often the slowest and most expensive path to the market, and it isn't necessary.
Are Your Sales Tools Turning A-Performers Into B-Performers?
October 19, 2015
Some things in business are clear and binary: A company succeeds or fails. A customer buys from you or from someone else. A customer returns for additional sales or leaves for a competitor. Other things are indeed relative: Sales numbers may be double the previous quarter but still fall below expectations. A customer returns for additional sales but resists buying more due to satisfaction issues.
Customer Engagement in the Age of the Silent Traveler
October 9, 2015
The rise of social media has given customers a new platform for interacting with travel and hospitality companies, from airlines to car rental agencies. Today's travel customers primarily use these digital technologies to coordinate logistics and log complaints; gone are the days of calling a reservation specialist to book flights or running through seating options at the check-in counter.
Stop Competing on Price, Start Competing on Customer Experience
October 6, 2015
Target may be implementing price matching, but there are other ways to compete. Customer experience is the new battleground in retail sales, and winning this battle requires winning over customers with truly personalized service. Despite all the advancements in technology, personalized customer service and efforts to build customer loyalty have all but disappeared.
3 Ways CRM Can Help Sales in the IoT Era
October 5, 2015
It's becoming increasingly clear that the nature of the sales profession is changing. Salespeople are no longer the ones who introduce products to their customers -- in most cases, especially in business-to-business settings, customers have done a lot of research on their own and are close to a decision before they talk to a salesperson. This trend has some people in sales panicked.
The IoT's Data Prioritization Pearl
September 14, 2015
The era of digital transformation and the digital business, the customer experience as a key differentiator, and the movement toward smart machines are some of the common themes Gartner Distinguished Analyst Don Scheibenreif touched on in his keynote last week at the Gartner Customer 360 Summit in San Diego. These are all phenomena that have been on their way for a little while -- like a glacier.
Customer Support in the Digital Age: Collaborative, Personal
September 8, 2015
Apple made a bold move on the customer support front this summer: The company started publishing customer support videos for its Beats by Dre headphones via the product line's Twitter account. The strategy is notable primarily because Apple published how-to videos natively on Twitter, taking a proactive approach to deflect service calls and ensure user satisfaction.
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.
Advertising Online? How's Your Viewability?
August 10, 2015
Viewability -- that is, a display or video ad's ability to be viewed effectively on a Web page -- is the most critical factor in any video or display ad campaign. However, a surprisingly large percentage of display and video ads lacked either visibility or longevity, the two most important pieces of viewability, in recent studies. How exactly can a marketer ensure short- or long-term viewability?
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.
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.
Leverage Big Data to Get Rid of Network Attackers
July 21, 2015
Up to 30 percent of their firms' security incidents this year should have been detected by perimeter security measures -- but weren't -- said 55 percent of respondents to a SANS Institute survey. The truth is that today's attackers have become skilled at bypassing conventional defenses, which no longer can be counted on to protect enterprise networks on their own.
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.
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.
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.
Steer Clear of Sales Forecasting Traps
June 16, 2015
Sales executives, managers and reps spend countless hours in forecast meetings, yet often find their actual closed revenue falls far from the mark they predicted. With the advanced CRM technology and sales forecasting tools available today, it's a wonder this trend continues. There are four common pitfalls that take place during the forecasting process that every sales leader should avoid.
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.
Dodging Disorganization: Showing Sellers a Sharper Image
June 4, 2015
Despite vendors' claims, CRM is not all about technology. Technology helps it scale, but CRM is really a discipline. It's the discipline of creating relationships that benefit both buyers and sellers. CRM is really great at organizing the data that makes it possible to build relationships. However, many things that aren't driven by your CRM technology can have a major impact on relationships.
A Stellar Progress Report for Mobile Retail
June 3, 2015
Any industry player sitting at the vortex of mobile marketing and retail has a great deal to be excited about at present. The marketplace is witnessing an incredible growth and innovation surge. At the end of last year, mobile technology clearly upped the ante -- creating fresh, breakthrough marketing opportunities for a merchant community looking to increase revenues while better controlling ROI.
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.
Containing the Zombie Malware Outbreak
May 22, 2015
Your computer could be operating as part of a botnet, sending out email spam, stealing confidential information, or furthering the spread of malware at this very moment. Computers can become zombies in many ways, but the most common technique is through a Trojan virus installed via malicious email attachments or drive-by downloads from infected websites.
Order Taker, Meet Undertaker: What Sales Pros Must Do to Survive
May 21, 2015
Within a few years, 1 million B2B sales roles will be eliminated, according to a recent Forrester Research report. That's 20 percent of them gone, thanks to the evolution of technologies like self-service and customers' increasing desire to avoid the hassle of speaking to sales reps. Personally, I think that's a bit overstated -- or rather, a mischaracterization of an ongoing trend.
5 IT Security Implementation Myths
May 19, 2015
There's a common perception that implementing comprehensive IT security to protect against today's sophisticated threats and attacks is a difficult and expensive task, and that the benefits of replacing current solutions (even if highly ineffective) are seldom worthwhile. This mindset has resulted in many businesses dealing with a virtual patchwork of disparate systems.
If You Build a Structure, Sales Enablement Will Come
May 18, 2015
There's a lot of devalued sales jargon out there, but the phrase that makes me wince the most is "sales enablement." First, it's misleading -- there are lots of things that equip sales people to close deals, but when people say "sales enablement" they usually mean content, portals, playbooks and on-boarding. That only "enables" part of the sale. Second, most companies are abysmal at managing it.
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?
The Cloud's Threatening Legal Storm
May 8, 2015
With the ever-increasing use of the cloud by more and more businesses, there is good reason to be concerned about legal risks, which are an inherent part of the cloud. The term "cloud" may be relatively new, but the concept of remote computing started more than 60 years ago, when Dartmouth University first launched "time-sharing." The remote computing risks have not abated.
5 Ways to Stop Stressing Out Your Customers
May 7, 2015
Company executives -- especially customer service leaders -- will tell you that the customer is the most important person on the planet and that the company is focused on making the customer happy with a laser-like intensity. Take a look at a typical mission statement -- it's all about the customer. Yet many customers would rather have a root canal than contact a company for support.
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.
The Business Power of Empathy
April 24, 2015
In our high-powered, win-at-all-costs business environment, the word "empathy" often evokes derision and scorn. Who has time to be a squishy, touchy-feely wimp overflowing with empathy? We're all busy closing deals and kicking butt! Kicking, closing, etc., is great and all -- but empathy has genuine business value. Don't forget that CRM has "relationship" right in the middle of it.
Sleek Ad Tailoring for Online Apparel Shoppers
April 21, 2015
Consumers are on board with the concept of buying apparel online. Especially in this era of free returns and nifty sizing tools, buying clothing and shoes off the Web has become mainstream. However, some advertisers have been slow to respond. While most of us have at some point been served ads displaying items we browsed the day before, dynamic creative has the power and potential to do much more.
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I plan to do my holiday shopping…
Online only -- I like the convenience and comfort.
Online only -- I'd shop in stores if their stock weren't so limited.
At brick-and-mortar stores only -- I like to see what I'm getting.
At brick-and-mortar stores only -- I enjoy the holiday shopping atmosphere.
At brick-and-mortar stores only -- I want to support local merchants.
Online and in stores -- I want the best of both worlds.
I'm not planning on doing any holiday shopping.