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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.
The Order to Cash Subscription Process
March 05, 2014
Subscription companies face many of the same challenges that more conventional companies face, but the nature of these businesses puts an entirely different spin on the challenges. All companies have to acquire new customers, make products and price them attractively without leaving money on the table. Once a product is purchased, a company needs to get the cash in house as quickly as possible.
Big Data and the Process Revolution
February 26, 2014
A wave of change is now making its way through the front office with uneven results. CRM is moving from a data capture and retrieval solution to something that supports end-to-end processes -- and as with ERP, data analysis is helping to improve what once were purely manual processes. The trick is in producing knowledge from data. Alone, data is useless.
Transition State
February 20, 2014
The CRM market appears to be experiencing a transition state -- something betwixt and between, a time of high energy and great possibility, above all a time of change. A ball bouncing around a spinning roulette wheel is in a transition state; chemical reactions go through transition states as reactants become products. The key concept is indeterminacy.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM Gets a Fuel Injection
February 18, 2014
Microsoft on Tuesday unveiled a set of Microsoft Dynamics CRM features that will be generally available in the second quarter of this year. There are three main areas of change in this latest iteration: new marketing functionality; enhanced customer service options; and the introduction of a unified service desk for call centers. There are also additional social listening features.
Completeness Is the New Black
February 12, 2014
Are we collecting enough data? It seems like a weird question given the glut of it at most companies, and perhaps it is. Perhaps a better question is, are we collecting the right data? We could get into a long philosophical discussion of just what the right data is, but that would only happen if we made the mistake of thinking all data was the same.
'Nontraditional' Is the Name of the New CRM Game
February 10, 2014
Fueled by its recent infusion of $40 million by Goldman Sachs to invest in sales and marketing, SugarCRM plans to focus on "the nontraditional use of CRM," said VP of Marketing Jennifer Stagnaro. "That is, we plan to go beyond the traditional uses of sales force automation and customer service and marketing automation," she said, noting that nontraditional uses of CRM are on the rise.
Google Glass Could Bring CRM Into Focus
February 06, 2014
Google last week debuted several trendy eyeglass frames for Glass, shedding its dorky look while accommodating prescription lenses. The more natural look means consumers likely will be more accepting of Glass once it becomes generally available -- assuming the price is right. The new Glass frames and support for corrective lenses are also a boon for CRM.
Give Customers a Buying Experience They Can't Resist
January 31, 2014
When people talk about the customer experience, the thinking gets lofty quickly. The word "delight" is dropped a lot, people cite things like the American Girl Store or Nordstrom -- and soon over-the-top seems like what the norm should be. The experiences provided by the very best at creating experiences are great because they fit their product, their customers, and the objectives of both groups.
Nextbee Gives B2Bs CRM Integration Links
January 20, 2014
NextBee has spent the last several months developing integration links to connect its referral and customer service products to the major CRM applications, including Salesforce, NetSuite and Microsoft Dynamics. The general idea of the integration is to combine NextBee's ability to track activities and provide incentives with the CRM system's customer service touchpoints.
Winning the CRM Race
January 17, 2014
"Customers do not want a relationship with your business, they want the benefits a relationship can offer to them." Mitch Lieberman, managing partner at DRI and an all-around bright thinker, first said this around 2009. He wasn't trying to smash anyone's illusions about the value of CRM. He was trying to reset business' thinking back to reality about the nature of buyer-seller relationships.
CRM's Collaboration Conundrum
January 07, 2014
CRM has gained significant attention and adoption among businesses eager to enhance their processes for building and maintaining customer relationships, thanks to industry visionaries such as Salesforce, Oracle and Microsoft. However, there's a major element of effective sales strategy that CRM systems neglect to address: collaboration. True collaboration requires more than data.
Teach Your Channel Partners Well
December 20, 2013
Companies that sell direct have it easy. They have control over hiring their salespeople, control over marketing messages, and control over service and support. There's only one entity to blame if the buyer's unhappy, and that's the seller. When you mix in an indirect channel, however, things get a little more difficult. Now a third party has an impact on the buyer's satisfaction as well.
CRM's Frayed Ends
December 06, 2013
The buyer-seller relationship we most often think of is one in which all the responsibility is loaded on the seller. The seller convinces the customer to buy, then provides support and further marketing to keep the customer loyal. Not every selling relationship works this way, however. When both ends of the sale have a responsibility, things get a little cloudier and more complex.
Top of the Funnel
December 04, 2013
The new customer era accepts that the direct contact between a vendor and customer or potential customer is being augmented by non-human intermediaries like websites, software robots that triage customer issues, e-commerce systems, social media, and who knows what else. The good news is that customers leave data trails like ants leave trails of pheromones to a candy bar on a sidewalk.
TreeHouse Brings Content Marketing Into Its CRM Fold
December 02, 2013
TreeHouse Interactive recently updated the core functionality in its Marketing View marketing automation platform by adding a new tool called "Content Marketing Manager." Marketing automation -- along with TreeHouse's other play in the CRM space, partner relationship management -- is one of the company's raisons d'Ítre. "We shipped our first marketing automation platform in 1997," said CEO Erich Flynn.
Dreamforce Debriefing
November 26, 2013
OK, we survived Dreamforce and that has enabled us to limp home exhausted by all the information we accumulated and the parties we attended just in time for the holidays. I have a lot of thoughts about the show. If I try to share most of them, the result will be a stream-of-conscious rant that will make little sense, so some discipline is in order.
Zoho Sets Its Sights on Large Businesses
November 25, 2013
Zoho recently deepened the functionality in its CRM suite and upgraded Zoho Support with high-end and high-capacity telephony and mobile-app features for large businesses. The moves are part of the company's strategy of migrating upstream to service a larger customer base. "Zoho started off marketing our CRM application to small businesses," said Zoho evangelist Raju Vegesna.
Dreamforce 2013 Notebook
November 22, 2013
There's always a lot to digest after Salesforce.com's annual bacchanalia, Dreamforce, which drew 135,000 registrants this year. Some of it is about Salesforce's announcements, but a lot more of it is about the implications of those announcements, the people who attend, and what goes on around the show. Despite its peculiar name, Salesforce1 is an important step for Salesforce.
Keep Holiday Shoppers Happy, in 3 Easy Steps
November 21, 2013
This holiday season, everything from Nerf N-Strike Elite Hail-Fire Blasters to Doc McStuffins dolls and even diamond jewelry will be purchased via mobile devices to a greater extent than ever before. In fact, mobile shopping will surpass the growth of all other channels during the upcoming holiday season, eMarketer has predicted, as more and more consumers change they way they purchase gifts.
The Class of '14
November 20, 2013
The story of this year's Dreamforce might best be told through the partner community and AppExchange, and that makes it a story about the platform. Appropriately enough, Salesforce teed up the platform topic in Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff's Tuesday keynote and the press conference immediately following it, where he announced Salesforce1.
Tablets and CRM, Part 2: Revolution in the Making
November 19, 2013
GE Capital has an iPad app, based on Salesforce.com, that integrates geospatial data to let mobile sales reps know which customers need attention and where they are. It is a simple, yet impressive example of a company using tablets and CRM functionality to improve its internal productivity. While appreciating its capabilities, many companies would not put the necessary energy into developing it.
Demandbase Puts a B2B Spin on Retargeting
November 18, 2013
Building on the B2B targeting and personalization ad platform it launched about a year ago, Demandbase last week debuted a new ad tool called "B2B Retargeting." Like the Company-Targeted Advertising solution Demandbase launched in 2012, B2B Retargeting is a rare breed of online ad software in that it focuses specifically and solely on businesses -- not consumers -- as customers.

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