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The Top 20 CRM Blogs of 2014, Part 2
January 20, 2015
The second half of the Top 20 Bloggers list is the half that holds the most surprises and fresh faces. This year, it also has the most variety -- from non-English speakers to blogs targeted at small businesses -- as well as plenty of marketing-oriented content. There also are some re-entries to the list who have rediscovered their blogs and come roaring back.
What SMB CRM Shoppers Want
January 19, 2015
CRM is expected to grow at a steady pace, and CRM customers are sending some specific signals about the functionality they need. Thirty-seven percent of small-and-medium-sized businesses that participated in its annual survey want an integrated suite of multiple CRM applications, Software Advice reported last month. That's up from 7 percent in 2013.
Compensation Is the Window on Business
January 15, 2015
The continuing rollout of platform technology is bringing many applications together to support better business processes. Not long ago, it was nearly impossible for back-office people to know what the front office was doing. It was hard for marketing and sales to know how they were affecting each other. It's now easier for different areas of the business to understand operations as a whole.
The Top 20 CRM Blogs of 2014, Part 1
January 12, 2015
The field of CRM bloggers is like the start of a marathon: There may be thousands of entrants, but there are only a few elite runners. Spotting them in the rest of the pack is not always easy -- especially as their enthusiasm for blogging waxes and wanes, or as they move into other formats, like becoming regular columnists in publications. However, there are a few things that identify the elite.
Better and Better
January 07, 2015
James Surowiecki, author of The Wisdom of Crowds and business and finance columnist for The New Yorker, published an article in the magazine's Nov. 10, 2014, issue entitled, "Better All The Time." The piece connects the importance of culture-wide continuous incremental improvement using data and analytics -- what the Japanese call kaizen -- to business and employees.
Sales Kaizen
December 17, 2014
CRM makes several promises to its users: selling more or selling faster; resolving service issues faster or at least quickly; and generating more leads. If you do root cause analysis, however, you can quickly conclude that at least in some cases, you are looking through the wrong end of the telescope. For instance, the best way to resolve service issues is to avoid them in the first place.
Year-End Thoughts
December 11, 2014
We are now through almost 15 years of the century, and for all of that time I have been analyzing the CRM industry as it has evolved. This year, rather than simply reviewing some of the progress we made in the industry during the last 12 months, I'll take a broader view of the decade and a half, which might be more interesting. It certainly gives us a great perspective on how far we've come.
Sales and Marketing Aren't Aligned - but Their Problems Are
December 08, 2014
The numbers prove it: Sales and marketing just aren't playing well together in most organizations. A not-so-small industry has sprung up to attack the issue of sales/marketing alignment, but the problem is so deeply entrenched that it may never be fully eradicated. That's a little weird when you think about it. The two sides are confronting problems that parallel each other.
The Terrifying Numbers Behind a Whopping Marketing Failure
November 17, 2014
There are lots of scary things out there -- killer viruses, Earth-smashing meteors, the possibility of yet another Real Housewives show. But those are easy to dismiss and push to the farthest corner of the back of your mind. What's really distressing? Numbers. Numbers are really scary -- specifically, the numbers around things marketers know they should be doing but aren't.
Journey Map
November 12, 2014
The journey map and the tools used to make one might be the sleeper part of CRM in the year or two in front of us. The reason is simple: Journey maps enable you to figure out your processes, and they are useful in much more than just marketing. The key element of the emerging customer science idea is that the random and highly reactive approach to front-office business rapidly is being eliminated.
5 Promises CRM Can't Keep
November 10, 2014
Don't get me wrong -- I think very highly of CRM. I've been making a living writing about it for almost a decade, and I would highly recommend it to anyone. Still, covering CRM is a little bit like writing an honest biography of a complex person. Yes, there were moments when your subject achieved great things and was covered in glory, but there were also times when he didn't behave so well.
Cortana Goes to Work for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Users
November 05, 2014
Microsoft on Tuesday announced a slew of new features and functionality for Microsoft Dynamics CRM. One of the most striking is the addition of Cortana, Microsoft's intelligent personal assistant. The company also added the ability to create predefined and configurable processes using branching logic, near real-time calculations and roll-ups for business information, and client API enhancements.
A Customer Experience Secret Weapon
October 31, 2014
There aren't many areas in business where processes used to save money and maximize deal sizes also result in a better customer experience. The exact opposite is usually the case -- the drive to save money by making an internal process more productive or to increase the amount being sold to the customer usually impacts the customer experience for the worse. A notable exception is CPQ software.
Analyzing Big Data
October 29, 2014
Xactly continues its pioneering ways by analyzing anonymous data collected by its customers in compensation management. If you aren't familiar with the company's groundbreaking market analysis, you might be in for a treat. Its approach is relatively simple but extremely powerful. With the permission of the data owners, Xactly strips out identifying information and conducts sophisticated analyses.
Tact Premium Goes With the Flow
October 27, 2014
Tactile has debuted Tact Premium, a paid version of its Tact for Salesforce CRM mobile app, that offers ramped-up functionality. Tactile showed it off earlier this month during Salesforce.com's annual Dreamforce show. "The biggest challenge with CRM systems is that they do not follow how a typical sales person goes through his or her day. We have solved that problem," claimed CEO Chuck Ganapathi.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.

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