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Dreamforce: Still the One
September 2, 2015
We watched as Salesforce emerged from the crowd in the dot-com era to become a massive company with a $7 billion run rate. We also changed perspectives several times on what to expect from Dreamforce. We used to be interested mostly in cool new technologies and business models, but as Salesforce has grown, it has acquired a following of financial analysts as well as industry analysts like me.
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.
To Personalize or to Be Authentic
August 26, 2015
You might ask what the difference is between personalization and authenticity in CRM, and the answer is subtle. For a long time I have said that we overemphasize personalization when what customers really want is authenticity. However, examples are hard to find, especially with our current culture's strong emphasis on personalization and the tendency to give authenticity quizzical looks.
Back to School
August 20, 2015
It felt like back to school this week at the CRM Evolution show in hot and muggy New York. The first week or two of the school year is always like that. Though it still feels like summer vacation, you know you have to get focused, because the first exam will be here before you know it. Cramming begins almost immediately, because there seem to be a lot of new ideas percolating.
Gamifying Sales Comp
August 5, 2015
Microsoft earlier this week announced that it has bought FantasySalesTeam, a sales gamification platform. The intent of the product is to boost sales productivity. The gaming part is designed after some aspects of fantasy sports leagues in which participants build a team from known professional athletes and try to beat other teams. The team aspect makes everyone more competitive.
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.
The Process/Platform Revolution
July 22, 2015
I've been looking at process as the next big thing in CRM for a while. It only makes sense, for several reasons. First, as we move to conducting increasing amounts of business online, we lose the intimacy of personal contact between vendor personnel and customers. In its place we need accurate and authentic processes that treat customers in ways they appreciate.
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.
Bridging the Front and Back Offices
July 9, 2015
I've written many times about how conventional, premises-based ERP seems to be evaporating. Configuration, pricing and quoting are business processes that illustrate the point. First, let's all agree that enterprise resource planning isn't going extinct as it evaporates -- it's too valuable -- but it is getting a haircut. Many of the functions leaving ERP are condensing back into the front office.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Shrinking ERP to Grow It
March 31, 2015
The surround strategy for legacy ERP is real. It's been going on for several years, and if I was a legacy ERP vendor I would be concerned. The strategy refers to the idea of leaving legacy ERP in place while implementing cloud ERP to handle specialized parts of a business, like a region with currency conversion issues, subscriptions, or something like that.
Self-Service and the 'R' in CRM
March 25, 2015
Self-service is generally considered a good thing, especially in CRM, where there has been significant investment in empowering people to take on more responsibility for provisioning service or making purchases. But it's not all great, and there is some interesting blowback that is causing vendors to reconsider how their offerings work. In sales, self-service has resulted in truncated sales cycles.
5 Crafty Customer-Retention Strategies
March 23, 2015
Remember all those hours you spent at the mall just hanging out, not buying a thing? Well, a lot of us just never grew up. We just moved our hangout from the local mall to the Internet. We meet our friends online, we order food online, and we window-shop online. It's a good life. That is, it's good unless you are at the receiving end of this online voyeurism.
Importance of a System
March 18, 2015
I was telling a friend recently about some of the ideas in my book, Solve for the Customer. He was interested in my belief that customer science has evolved from a general emphasis on process in business, especially in the back office. His company does a lot to ensure that its customers are happy and loyal, because their business involves long-term relationships and agreements that renew for many years at a time.
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.
The Easiest Path to CRM Failure
March 9, 2015
One of the pitches sales reps selling CRM make the mistake of dropping into conversations is that it's easy to use. "Users can practically train themselves, it's so intuitive! Just start clicking! And did we tell you -- we just introduced a new UI to improve the UX!" It's a line of discussion that really does CRM a disservice. Yes, today's applications are easier to use -- but there's a "but."
What the Buyer Sees
March 4, 2015
Partner Relationship Management gives a lot of attention to the vendor and partner relationship, and it should. But it's worth remembering that as important as this relationship is, the one that really counts involves an end customer. So what does the end customer need from a channel partner that a PRM system can uniquely provide? I'd say the most important partner deliverable is intangible -- trust.
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?
Customer Science
January 28, 2015
Part of my new year routine has been ordering new business cards. In this electronic age, they are the only things I actually print, and I'm a writer! In a few weeks I'll publish a book, Solve for the Customer, in paperback, and the two are related. I made a discovery while writing the book that fundamentally changes what I do for a living and the title I use, hence my need to reprint.
Engage.cx Makes Customers an Offer They Can't Lose
January 27, 2015
Engage.cx just secured $2.9 million in Series A financing. The round of participating investors is noteworthy, but for the CRM industry the real intrigue lays in Engage.cx's premise -- or rather, promise: how to present a unified cohesive customer service operationr, no matter which channel is used. Other vendors claim they can do this, but Engage.cx is taking a novel approach.

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