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Zuora Moves to the Center
April 20, 2016
Zuora, the company that made its bones in subscription billing and payments, held its annual Subscribed user meeting last week and staked out some new turf. It always has been focused on the back office, but its latest messaging included elements of the front office. Perhaps it's no surprise given CEO Tien Tzuo's history as an early luminary at Salesforce, rising to the CMO position.
Chatbots Drive Shopify's Kit CRM Deal
April 15, 2016
Shopify on Wednesday announced that it has agreed to purchase Kit CRM, whose Kit chatbot automatically sends out marketing text messages for online stores. It also lets businesses run targeted ads on Facebook and Instagram, make recommendations based on store activities, post on social media and use functionality provided by other social media apps, Shopify CMO Craig Miller said.
The Sales Process Starts With Retention
April 5, 2016
Despite the numbers that show how lucrative retention is in an increasingly subscription-driven economy, the emphasis has been on new customer acquisition. That is still true, according to a recent study. Forty-two percent of the firms surveyed said they were increasing their budgets for customer acquisition, while only 33 percent said the budget for retention would increase.
CPQ's Challenge
March 31, 2016
Virtually every CPQ -- configuration, price and quote -- software vendor on the planet has a credible solution for the processes from which the category gets its name. That's the good news. Unfortunately, the world has moved on. Most CPQ is effective for helping promote transactions, especially the sales transaction, in which a buyer or buying entity makes a one-time purchase of a bill of goods.
A Future Without Work?
March 17, 2016
Periodically, a blatantly silly idea gains currency, spreading throughout society, and it has one of two effects: Either it scares the heck out of people, or they become enraptured with its seeming plausibility. Last week, The New York Times published a piece set as a dialog between two economics writers, titled, "A Future Without Jobs?" I thought it fell into the silly category.
Mining the Customer Base
February 24, 2016
One of the biases inherent in CRM is its orientation toward new business. This might sound strange to most people, but really, I think of it as the startup echo chamber. It's a bias in part because CRM was invented by new companies for new companies. However, the "C" part, customer, involves more than simply acquiring new ones, especially for established companies.
The Right Sales Technology Buys Time to Turn B Players Into A Players
February 24, 2016
In sales, A-B-C does not simply refer to the Alec Baldwin scene in "Glengarry Glen Ross." It's the system that sales managers (and salespeople themselves) use to categorize performance. A players smash their quotas on a regular basis; B players battle to deliver results, and usually do; C players have a history of missed objectives and should consider work in another field.
Marketing Quantification
February 10, 2016
It has been fun watching the rapid improvement of the marketing function over the last decade. The advance was in no small part due to the advances in marketing automation, and the marketing revolution is not over by a long shot. However, I think we're bumping up against a ceiling, and the improvements we can expect that make marketing faster will plateau.
Birth of the Modern
February 5, 2016
Nearly every generation sees the birth of what, for it, will define modern life going forward. As uncertain as the twenty-teens have been, in retrospect economists may point to this decade as being as important as the tipping points of the 1870s and 1920s. If so, there may be no better event to symbolize the beginning of the era than the Salesforce fiscal-year kick-off this week.
Why Is Sales-Marketing Alignment Getting Worse?
February 1, 2016
We're almost a quarter century removed from the coining of the phrase "sales and marketing alignment." Businesses have been wrestling with the idea of coordinating two teams of people with different skill sets, ideas and goals since the emergence of marketing as a profession. Meanwhile, business leaders often cite the need to use data to unite sales and marketing around a single mission.
The Top 20 CRM Blogs of 2015, Part 2: The Top 10
January 25, 2016
Almost a decade ago, the first edition of this list was tough to compile. There simply weren't that many CRM blogs that were consistent (we set the annual minimum number of posts at eight), vendor-agnostic and -- most important of all -- high quality. That number has increased over the years, but one interesting phenomenon has been that the people at the top have held onto their spots.
The Top 20 CRM Blogs of 2015: Part 1
January 15, 2016
What makes a great CRM blog? Generally, the same things that make a great CRM implementation: good planning, thoughtful responses to a changing market, consistent posting (the "adoption" part of blogging), the right technology, and people with the right personality. It's the classic "people, processes and technology" trilogy, really. The blogs that made our annual list of the best blogs and bloggers are one in a million.
CRM to Get Emotional in 2016
December 17, 2015
Temkin Group on Tuesday predicted 2016 will be the year of emotion. That's one of 11 customer experience trends to watch for in the coming year, managing partner Bruce Temkin wrote in a blog post. "Emotion is the component of customer experience that has the largest impact on loyalty, but it is also the area where companies are least adept and often seemingly ignore," he wrote.
2015: The Year of Intelligence
December 9, 2015
This year we traded in terminologies going from big data and analytics to digital disruption as the market-moving meme. I am not sure either one hits the spot, but they give me something to write about. Other things happened in 2015 too, but I'm just going to focus here. It seems to me we focus on the symptoms and not the root causes too often in this business.
End of Year Goodies
December 8, 2015
The end of the year brings out some interesting goodies from various workshops competing with Santa for big kids' attention. Some of it is pretty good stuff. Here's a sampling of the best end-of-year product announcements from the cloud community designed to put you in the post-holiday, already-back-at-work spirit. For starters, cloud sales compensation firm Xactly announced Xactly Inspire.
Engagement at Moments of Truth
December 2, 2015
Lost somewhere in the pile that is a current research project is an article on customer loyalty that says that more than half of customers who recently exhibited loyal behavior toward a vendor said they'd switch to another vendor in an instant. The question prompting this answer is whether these customers would switch for a better deal. It was a trick question trying to determine loyalty.
Investors Buying In Following Salesforce's Q3 Stunner
November 19, 2015
Salesforce shares rose to an all-time high Thursday, after the company reported better-than-expected Q3 revenue and raised earnings estimates for 2016. Salesforce reported earnings of 21 cents a share and a revenue increase of 24 percent to $1.71 billion, compared with a year ago. The company is on pace to become the fourth largest enterprise software company in the world.
The 2 Layers of Customer Experience
November 18, 2015
Maybe you've already considered this, but it just popped into my head the other day as I was thinking once again about customer experience -- or CX, as some people shorten it. I've often said that customers experience moments of truth and that the experience should be focused on the things they care most about and that the business actually can do something about.
Hootsuite Adds Social Chops to Microsoft Dynamics CRM
November 17, 2015
Hootsuite on Tuesday announced an integration with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Microsoft SharePoint and Microsoft Yammer. The collaboration will let enterprises use social content in meaningful ways for social marketing, social selling, social customer support, and internal collaboration, noted Kevin Zellmer, Hootsuite's vice president of corporate and business development.
Sales and Marketing Sentiment: Feeling Is Perception Is Reality
November 16, 2015
About a year ago, I conducted a survey that led to my company's first-ever Sales & Marketing Sentiment Study. The idea was to get inside the heads of people in sales and marketing and reveal their feelings about the way they worked, the technology they used, and about each other. We split the results into sales and marketing responses and compared them.
Desk.com-SalesforceIQ Integration Targets SMBs
November 12, 2015
Salesforce on Thursday announced the integration of Desk.com and SalesforceIQ to better let SMBs tie customer service with sales. Desk.com an all-in-one customer service app. SalesforceIQ for Small Business is a sales solution whose relationship intelligence feature captures, analyzes and brings forth relevant customer relationship information from email, calendars and other applications.
Oracle Banks on CX Cloud Verticals
November 2, 2015
Oracle last week announced a variety of industry-specific solutions and enhancements to several existing products at Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco. The company unveiled industry-specific vertical solutions for the financial services, communications, consumer goods, high-tech, industrial manufacturing and automotive fields as part of its Customer Experience Cloud.
Are Your Sales Tools Turning A-Performers Into B-Performers?
October 19, 2015
Some things in business are clear and binary: A company succeeds or fails. A customer buys from you or from someone else. A customer returns for additional sales or leaves for a competitor. Other things are indeed relative: Sales numbers may be double the previous quarter but still fall below expectations. A customer returns for additional sales but resists buying more due to satisfaction issues.
Stop Competing on Price, Start Competing on Customer Experience
October 6, 2015
Target may be implementing price matching, but there are other ways to compete. Customer experience is the new battleground in retail sales, and winning this battle requires winning over customers with truly personalized service. Despite all the advancements in technology, personalized customer service and efforts to build customer loyalty have all but disappeared.
3 Ways CRM Can Help Sales in the IoT Era
October 5, 2015
It's becoming increasingly clear that the nature of the sales profession is changing. Salespeople are no longer the ones who introduce products to their customers -- in most cases, especially in business-to-business settings, customers have done a lot of research on their own and are close to a decision before they talk to a salesperson. This trend has some people in sales panicked.
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.
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.
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.
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What do you think of digital assistants like Siri, Google Now, Cortana and Alexa?
They're part of my daily life -- very helpful.
I use them, but they're not all that smart.
They're like lurking spies -- I don't like them.
It's annoying that all the assistants are predominantly "female."
I've never used one.