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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.
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.
Xactly: From Transaction to Process
May 20, 2015
It is subtle, but in the spring conferences I see a pattern emerging around the importance of process. Admittedly, my analysis in this case is less than scientific, and I have no statistics to support my idea, but I my instinct says a trend toward process is beginning. Two conferences that support my contention include Xactly and Zuora, both of which are taking place this week in San Francisco.
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?
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.
Marketing's Next Act
April 28, 2015
Marketing continues to heat up as the next big thing in CRM. It's so big that I can see it splintering in multiple ways to accommodate all the permutations that are suddenly possible, thanks to big data, analytics, and a determination to get beyond using marketing technology as a glorified accounting system designed to limit "losses" due to marketing. You can't win by limiting your losses.
Oracle Modern Customer Experience
April 8, 2015
Oracle did some smart things at last week's Oracle Modern CX Conference and user meeting in Las Vegas. The company has been making strides in organizing its messaging and products around customer experience in the wake of its RightNow Technologies acquisition a few years ago. It's been taking on the CX mantra whole hog. Today, Oracle CX is a full-featured tactic.
Oracle Aims to Wring More Sales From Marketing Cloud
April 6, 2015
Oracle last week trumpeted a set of new Marketing Cloud features designed to improve the customer experience. Oracle ID Graph, Rapid Retargeter and AppCloud Connect aim to boost sales by aggregating data from multiple sources and reacting to it in near-realtime. However, they fall short of the cutting edge in CRM -- predictive analysis.
Quosal Lets Salespeople Add Video Spiels to Quotes
March 20, 2015
Quosal has announced a new feature that lets salespeople record a personal explanatory video to go with their quotes and proposals. Videos can be posted directly to Quosal's proprietary Order Porter purchasing experience for clients. "If the video can take the load off of having to read all of a proposal -- or, more likely, explain some gray areas -- then great," said analyst Denis Pombriant.
Record Systems as Deal Savers
March 11, 2015
Transaction systems have all the fun but systems of record do all of the work; at least it seems that way. Maybe you've never thought of it this way but unless both kinds of systems are working well -- and working together -- your results will suffer. Record systems can tell you what happened, but by themselves they don't bring in business.
CPQ's Time to Shine
March 2, 2015
Last month, Salesforce Ventures, Salesforce's corporate investment group, swung into action. They led a Series B round of funding that garnered US$41 million for Apttus, a high-flying CPQ vendor. Salesforce Ventures also participated in SteelBrick raising a series B round of $18 million. That's two CPQ vendors that Salesforce has taken an interest in. The question is, why?
Changing Sales Behaviors Through Creative Compensation
February 20, 2015
The idea of using incentives to drive business behaviors is not a new one. It happens in all areas of business, but it's most obvious in sales, where compensation is tied to performance. This is the most basic type of incentive, and it's used to get people who sell for a living to sell. However, other incentives can drive behaviors more complex than simply selling.
The Rhyme and Reason of Sales and Marketing Tech Adoption
February 18, 2015
For all the breakthroughs in technology and process, and for the vast amounts of money invested in making sales and marketing more productive and better aligned, we still face a staggering adoption problem. Sales and marketing pros answered a lot of questions in a recent survey. One of them was this simple query: How much of your sales team has adopted and regularly uses your current solution?
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 7, 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 8, 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.

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