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Vertical Ventures
September 29, 2015
I'm always looking for emerging trends at Dreamforce, the kinds of things that are hiding in plain sight. They might never amount to much, but given that it's Dreamforce, many likely will bloom. A case in point is the emergence of vertical market CRM. Its time is now because application development tools have become so good, and because customers need fast, budget-friendly deployments.
Volkswagen's Fines - Billions; Lost Customer Loyalty - Incalculable
September 25, 2015
There's a rough road ahead for consumers strapped into Volkswagen and Audi diesel cars kitted out with software to fool emissions testing. Many of VW's loyal customers feel let down and even duped, said Agnes Huff, CEO of the Agnes Huff Communications Group. Many of them now question the brand's overall integrity. "Regaining customer trust will be an ongoing challenge."
Gmail Blocking Tools Narrow Email Marketing Channel
September 24, 2015
Google on Tuesday announced new block and unsubscribe features for Gmail that will make it easier for users to manage their in-boxes and harder for marketers to creep out of the spam folder. "Sometimes you get mail from someone who's really disruptive," said Sri Harsha Somanchi, product manager at Google. When that happens, "you should be able to say, 'Never see messages from this person again."
Dreamforce and Then Some
September 21, 2015
What a difference a decade makes. Ten years ago, the booths on the Dreamforce show floor were little more than outposts for widget-makers. Fast-forward to Dreamforce 2015, and one is struck by the number, variety, and size of the partner community. That's only part of the story, though. Often out of sight is the sizable display of talent that has consolidated around Salesforce.
On Selling
September 16, 2015
For a long time I have been uneasy about the selling discussion's direction as it relates to CRM and SFA. Something didn't relate. We talk a lot about accelerating the sales process and freeing up sales people's time so that they can spend more time selling, but it all made me wonder. Several things occurred to me as I contemplated selling -- a job I did for about 15 years.
Salesforce IoT Cloud Makes Thunderous Debut
September 15, 2015
Salesforce has launched IoT Cloud, an Internet of Things offering designed to connect billions of events with Salesforce, which the company says will help its clients' bottom line. IoT Cloud is powered by Salesforce Thunder, the company's new massively scalable, real-time event processing engine. "Salesforce is turning the Internet of Things into the Internet of Customers," said CEO Marc Benioff.
The IoT's Data Prioritization Pearl
September 14, 2015
The era of digital transformation and the digital business, the customer experience as a key differentiator, and the movement toward smart machines are some of the common themes Gartner Distinguished Analyst Don Scheibenreif touched on in his keynote last week at the Gartner Customer 360 Summit in San Diego. These are all phenomena that have been on their way for a little while -- like a glacier.
The Tyranny of Spreadsheets
September 10, 2015
As a former sales and marketing guy, I am more than familiar with spreadsheets as a not-so-good tool for managing the avalanche of data generated by the front office, even before the big data craze. Name a department or function in business and it's easy to find people using spreadsheets to manage it -- often poorly, but through no fault of their own.
SaaS' Next Wave: Customer Lifetime Value Management
September 4, 2015
Salesforce's latest quarter, along with the buzz surrounding its upcoming Dreamforce lovefest, have showcased CRM's rapid migration to the cloud. However, today's SaaS CRM solutions deliver limited value-add if the organizations that use them are unable to realize marketing and sales promises. This is especially true for those guiding prospective customers on an omnichannel journey.
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.
Salesforce Lightning Strikes Twice
August 31, 2015
Salesforce last week launched Salesforce Lightning, combining its new Lightning Experience and new Lightning Design System with its Lightning App Builder and Lightning Components released last month. Lightning Experience ensures that information is tailored to suit the screens of desktops, tablets and smartphones as required. There are consistencies across devices, but slight differences as well.
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.
Spredfast Gets Something to Shout About
August 25, 2015
Spredfast last week announced its acquisition of Shoutlet, a social data aggregator. Shoutlet has been a "huge innovator" in the social CRM space, said Spredfast CEO Rod Favaron. "With this acquisition, Spredfast gains that technology as well as the team that built it. It's a game changer. ... Customers will have more ways to understand their audiences and impact the customer journey."
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.
Dearth of a Salesman: Does Technology Erode Sales Talent?
August 18, 2015
For many years, provocateurs have been able to stir people up by proclaiming the death of the salesperson. Ten years ago, in fact, Marc Miller authored the book Selling is Dead. It must be a lingering death, because I still know lots of salespeople. I sure hope they have their affairs in order, what with their impending demise foreshadowed for so long.
Full Circle's 80-20 Rule
August 14, 2015
I recently talked with Bonnie Crater about changing her company's name, and something really struck home. Crater is CEO of Full Circle Insights, and I've known her since her days as an executive at Salesforce. As I was listening to Crater, I recalled that old aphorism, often attributed to John Wanamaker, that half an advertising budget is wasted, but we just don't know which half.
Salesforce Extends Marketing Cloud to Instagram
August 7, 2015
Salesforce has extended its Social.com, Active Audiences and Social Studio marketing tools to Instagram. These tools let marketers buy and manage advertising, publish content, participate in and review discussions with customers, resolve customer service issues, and analyze conversations. Marketers already are using these tools on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube.
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.
Data and Design Can Drive Customer Loyalty
August 3, 2015
In the past, enterprises controlled the times, policies and marketing funnel for customer interactions. When things went wrong, customers reluctantly picked up the phone to call customer support, fully expecting not to be recognized, to be put on hold, to have to repeat the same information several times, and to have to spend a lot of time and effort to receive "customer service."
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.
Wrangling Big Data: When in Doubt, Think Like a Customer
July 13, 2015
As businesses gain new insights about the power of data, they're discovering new sales and marketing tactics that go far beyond what previously was possible. It's not just big data and a technology-driven revolution -- it's also a shift in attitudes about data's place in sales, its role as a guide or reality check, and its ability to fuel new processes that drive greater sales performance.

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