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What's the Future of Selling?
June 04, 2014
I think about the future -- perhaps too much. I recently read Jeremy Rifkin's new book, The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism, and it made me think about the future of work. Rifkin's thesis is that automation is taking on more and more jobs that once were thought to be the province of skilled labor.
Microsoft Dynamics Steps Out of Shadows
June 03, 2014
Microsoft on Monday announced global availability of the latest feature set in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, which was introduced earlier this year. It offers new marketing functionality, enhanced customer service features, a Unified Service Desk for call centers, and additional social listening features. The marketing functionality in this version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM has been rebuilt.
SAP Seeds the Cloud With Industry-Specific CRM Applications
June 02, 2014
SAP has updated its cloud-based CRM portfolio with the rollout of three industry-specific applications. These applications, designed for the insurance, utilities and retail sectors, are the first cloud-based verticals for CRM, aside from a broader-based application with functionality tailored for consumer goods. In addition, SAP has introduced a cloud-based marketing performance dashboard.
Kudos to Xactly
May 28, 2014
Xactly, the SaaS-based incentive compensation solutions provider, has kicked it up a notch. The user meeting I attended last week in San Francisco was very successful -- but more importantly, it made some real news in the compensation space. Conferences like this often are news generators -- or, more precisely, they're PR engines. Everybody with a show announces something.
Salesforce1 Mobile App Drives Internet of Customers
May 27, 2014
Salesforce.com has announced that its Salesforce1 Mobile App will be generally available in the company's summer release. The app will be accompanied by an enterprise ecosystem consisting of some 65 partner apps, a new connector for SAP, and a slew of new features around sales, service and marketing functionality, said Michael Peachey, senior director of mobile products for Salesforce.com.
5 Ways Social CRM Builds Indirect Channel Relationships
May 23, 2014
The concept of social CRM has been around so long now that, if you listen to the pundits, we should stop saying it and just include it as part of CRM. That assumes most companies have fully digested what "social" means and have made plans to use it effectively -- which is assuming a lot. That said, there's another area where social media needs to be incorporated: partner relationship management.
Zero Patience, Zero Wait: The New Customer Reality
May 19, 2014
Gone in half the blink of an eye. Online customers, that is. Visitors are less likely to return to a site that is even 250 milliseconds slower than a competing site, according to Harry Shum, a Microsoft executive who led research and development efforts for the Bing search engine. That's an increment of time equal to about half the amount of time it takes a human to blink. Milliseconds matter.
Maximizing a Product Rollout
May 14, 2014
Bringing a new product -- or even a new version -- to market is not what it used to be. Back in the day your market was probably empty, a green field where you could find opportunity under a rock. Everybody needed what you had, and selling was relatively easy. Things don't stay that way for long, though, and today you have to work hard to insert a new product into a crowded market.
FirstRain Mobile Showers Sales Reps With Data
May 13, 2014
FirstRain has released its third iteration of the mobile version of its personal business analytics app, enhancing it with social sharing functionality and building in a new contextual layer that gives users more information about the data they receive. FirstRain also debuted a version for Windows Phone with this rollout. These changes are preceding what FirstRain is doing on the desktop.
Is a Poor Portal Ruining Your Partners' Experience?
May 08, 2014
Selling direct is a breeze -- kind of. You control everything -- you choose the salesperson, you provide the training, you establish the payment structure, and you decide on the marketing message used to reach customers, among other things. When you sell through the channel, howevr, things get complicated. You need to depend on your partners to hire, train and motivate sales people.
Sub-Ledger for the Hybrid Enterprise
May 07, 2014
There is a business problem that comes up in the life of every company, and these days it seems that a lot of companies face it at once. It's the question of how to transition from one business model to another without clobbering your current revenue flow. Even if a company's executives really want to change its model, there is always a faction that says, "not yet."
OnSip Invites Customers to Push Its Buttons
May 05, 2014
Amazon's Mayday button has intrigued CRM industry users as well as consumers. Introduced about a year ago, Mayday is a button customers can press on their mobile devices to get service or tech help. Salesforce.com last month debuted its version of Mayday. Now other tech providers are introducing variations on the theme. One such company is OnSIP, which has just debuted InstaCall.
Whodunnit? 4 Suspects in CRM Murder Mystery
May 01, 2014
CRM is often mistakenly viewed as a technology, but it is really a discipline -- and it's not a solo discipline, like a martial art or meditation. It's a team discipline in which every customer-facing employee can make a contribution. Whether those contributions are positive or negative depends on the teammates. In most cases where CRM is decreed to have "failed," the cause isn't the technology.
Partner Selling
April 30, 2014
If there's one thing that vendors and channel partners agree on, it's selling. Everyone agrees that more selling is better, but the discussion can diverge greatly from there. Vendors and their partners are not immune to the virus that affects direct sales people. We often hear direct sales people say their leads are no good and we hear marketing say that sales doesn't follow up. Sound familiar?
Marketo's Show
April 16, 2014
Marketo put on an interesting show last week at Moscone West in San Francisco. Still basking in last year's IPO, the company attracted a large and diverse audience of marketers who wanted to learn about modern marketing automation, and it was a good opportunity to take stock of where marketing has been and where it is going. The impression I got was that modern marketing is in its early phase.
SugarCRM Refines Customer Analytics for Sales
April 14, 2014
When SugarCRM debuts version 7.2 in the coming weeks, users already will have had a taste of one of its main themes: tighter integration around productivity tools aimed at better understanding a customer base. That is because SugarCRM has previewed two such integrations over the past month -- one with Marketo and one with Dun & Bradstreet -- both designed to improve the user experience.
Setting Goals and Rewards
April 09, 2014
You should check out The Second Machine Age, by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee. It's a thoughtful analysis of the technology progression handed to us by Moore's Law and its effect on every aspect of our lives. Their thesis is simple yet powerful. Over the last 10 years or so, the pace of innovation has accelerated. Processes that were only imaginable before are becoming easy.
Clari Sharpens Its Focus on Data-Driven Processes
April 07, 2014
Clari is bursting onto the CRM stage with a mobile sales productivity platform that is coming out of stealth mode, thanks to a $6 million infusion of funds from Sequoia Capital. The product, says CEO Andy Byrne, marries "a beautiful design," with data analytics and mobile tech to create a system that helps reps close deals faster, while cutting down on productivity-killing data entry tasks.
Digging Deeper Into CRM Data
March 21, 2014
CRM is sometimes described as the place where all your customer data resides. That's a nice image -- all that helpful data, chilling in its own hangout. That data works for you, though -- if you're just storing it, it isn't helpful. It's important to think about what you want to do with and learn from that data. We talk a lot about what we want to do -- less about what we should learn.
Developing Customer IP
March 19, 2014
Sales people have been demanding better leads for a long time, and marketing today is in a position to provide them. At the same time, marketers have discovered that the kind of data they collect is as important as its volume. Marketers need to provide rich prospect profiles that answer many of sales people's most important questions: Is there a need? a budget? an executive sponsor?
The Fine Art of Belly Scratching
March 12, 2014
I was at a dinner at a working cattle ranch outside of Denver not long ago, but it was a ranch with a difference. Rather than raising cattle for the table, the business raised breeding stock and sent animals and other products, like embryos, all over the world. Every animal on the ranch had its genetic makeup tracked in a database and a unique ear tag that told something about it.
Salesfusion Bumps Up Lead Scoring in New Marketing Automation Release
March 10, 2014
Salesfusion has released a new version of its marketing automation platform enhanced with the lead-scoring capabilities it acquired with its purchase of LoopFuse. The end result of this newly integrated product is a marketing automation application that has predictive lead scoring and is priced and configured to be used by mid-market companies, said Salesfusion CEO Christian Nahas.

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