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Beyond CRM

We should start discussing what's beyond CRM.

I chose the word "beyond" advisedly. CRM is far, far from dead or even in decline, so "after" would be completely incorrect. However, CRM already has changed so much that it may be time to rethink it. Also, many of the tangential technologies that have turbocharged CRM in the last few years, like social media, have attracted so much attention -- not all of it good -- that some analysis is due.

First, I'll state the obvious: CRM is not in eclipse. It's a US$30-plus billion industry with a bright future. The greenfield days have passed, though. Most companies that need it have gotten at least some CRM apps -- but probably not enough.

More telling, most of the sales organizations that ought to be using CRM are doing so poorly, suggests a CSO Insights report , "Running Up the Down Escalator." Those businesses' sales processes aren't efficient or productive. CRM adoption is not what it should be, and there's plenty of room for greater implementation.

On the other hand, we're entering Q2 and trade show season. Two weeks ago, I was in San Francisco for Salesforce's TrailheaDX developers' conference; last week I attended the company's World Tour in Boston. Next week I'll be in Chicago for Oracle's Modern Customer Experience conference -- and from what I've seen and been briefed on, the new solutions on offer are very cool. The quarter continues with trips to Las Vegas, San Francisco (again) and elsewhere.

Risk, Loss and Trust

CRM is vibrant. Still, its role and nature continue to change. It once was seen as an efficiency tool and a commoditization of expensive IT. The combination of cloud computing (commoditization) and database management techniques over customer data (efficiency) raised performance and expectations of what we could achieve in the front office.

Last year, only 53 percent of sales people made or exceeded quota compared to 63 percent five years earlier, according to the CSO Insights report. Well over half of sales organizations operate like the gunslingers at the O.K. Corral, flailing at their markets instead of using technology to bring order, precision and efficiency to their tasks.

On the other hand, marketers have gained access to sophisticated tools that enable them to take the randomness out of their efforts, replacing it with accurate programs designed to appeal to targeted needs. Of course, many marketing organizations still have not internalized these ideas. Their output resembles pasta on a wall, because the technology has made it so inexpensive to spray and pray.

With each new revelation of a data breach, the business community shudders as vendors attempt to deal with risk, loss and irate customers. At the same time, customers quake at another possibility -- that their identities could be stolen and their futures ruined. With almost daily revelations, trust -- especially in social media -- has taken a hit.

In the efforts around platforms and development technologies, I can see renewal and reason for optimism. We are in an era of consolidation through mergers and integration into huge suites of functionality. Point solutions are still viable, but increasingly they have been coming to market as components of larger ecosystems based on a few prevailing platforms, such as the AppExchange. That's a trend I expect to continue in CRM's next stage.

Here are some recommendations for that stage:

  • For individual users, the path forward in CRM is to adopt the new development technologies in order to customize apps beyond anything a vendor, even one in an industry vertical, can provide.
  • Customers should demand, and vendors should give, much better data security. That's a requirement if we expect our society, already highly dependent on data and information, to progress further in that direction. New business structures for safeguarding data, along with new certifications and a code of ethics, have to be part of the mix -- beginning with encryption.
  • There's ample data suggesting that employees and the public now look to CEOs to articulate visions beyond profit and loss that position businesses as responsible corporate citizens. Young people are selecting job offers based on this, according to a survey by Povaddo, which said that more than half (57 percent) of those working in America's largest companies felt that their employers should play a more active role in addressing important societal issues.

My Two Bits

CRM began life with a heavy emphasis on management, but over time the attention paid to relationships has grown as we've added necessary functionality to shift focus. Interestingly, the emphasis on AI and machine learning has reduced much of the rote effort to manage situations while freeing up employee time to do what humans do very well: relate to each other.

That's one reason relationships and CRM have become so central to business life. Another reason is the convergence of many markets as earlier disruptions have been embraced and commoditized.

Succeeding today means developing and nurturing relationships more than it references efficiency. So if you haven't rethought your CRM deployment in a while, or if you thought you had everything done -- think again. We're in the second half of a close game. The stakes are high, but there's a lot of fun on the horizon.

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by  Miguel Lopez 6 months ago 0 comments


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The Changing CRM World

A few weeks ago, I started writing about what I see as the post-CRM world. I think it is becoming clear that front-office automation is moving past the definition of CRM that we have become accustomed to. As I look around the industry, there is a perceptible difference between what software is and what it does, which goes beyond CRM.

I am not talking about the hosted/on demand/software-as-a-service phenomenon. At the end of the day, that's important -- but it's all about the delivery mechanism, not what the products help us do. Beyond the delivery mechanism is where things are getting interesting. New application vendors take SaaS in stride as they deliver solutions to problems that, in many cases, we didn't even know we had. It's those solutions and the problems that they solve that got me thinking.

While we're definitely in a post-CRM era, believe it or not, things related to CRM are not the drivers -- they are simply symptoms of a larger movement, which I call "post-high tech."

High Tech's Legacy

Remember high tech? It started with mini-computers and with putting a whole CPU on a chip. The excitement caused by that breakthrough in the technology and finance worlds was palpable. With a cheap CPU on a chip, all of a sudden all kinds of mechanical and electrical devices could be optimized with embedded CPUs -- from your car's engine to household gadgets. Of course, optimization came with a cost. One unfortunate by-product of the euphoria that came with embedded CPUs was the VCR clock, but that's a story for another day.

Cheap computing followed, and it accelerated every aspect of business. For example, the mergers and acquisitions mania of the 1980s may have been aided by PCs and spreadsheets that let people play out all sorts of "what if" scenarios as corporate raiders recalculated company value and interest rates on junk bonds at will.

It took quite a while for the PC to help corporations straighten out the back office, and when they were done, attention naturally turned to the front office where similar techniques were applied. With fast availability of data and query capability, we found it possible to accelerate all kinds of customer interactions and to make them more accurate.

Sales force automation was introduced primarily as a way to accelerate behind-the-scenes sales activities so that representatives could spend more time with customers -- in effect, optimizing an old process. SFA was, and still is, sold on the promise of increasing productivity -- allowing more focus on the customer interaction part of the job.

Running Smoother

Up to this point, we have used technology in CRM simply to reduce waste and inefficiency. Like the optimized car, the engine runs better, but it still burns increasingly expensive fossil fuel and contributes to global warming. Optimization -- that's the limit of high tech; in the post-high-tech world, we're expecting cars that run on clean hydrogen fuel cells.

Similarly, now that we've optimized our business processes, we need to re-involve the customer. It's no secret that while corporations have been working hard to optimize their customer-facing processes, the natives have been getting restless. If you are in doubt, here are some tidbits accumulated from the last year:

  1. According to a 2004 Gallup International and World Economic Forum study of 36,000 people from 47 countries, 48 percent had little or no trust in global companies, and 52 percent had little or no trust for national companies.
  2. At the same time, New Product News predicted that of the 36,000-plus new products that hit the shelves in the U.S. in 2005, 80 percent will fail -- largely because vendors do not understand their customers' needs to any significant degree.
  3. The loss of customer loyalty is nearly epidemic, and numerous thought leaders have commented on it.

Focusing on the Customer

All that brings me back to the post-high-tech, post-CRM world. In all the hoopla around the efficiency craze of the last couple of decades, we've pretty much forgotten about the customer. If we are going to take business to another level, it won't be because we made our auto-dialers faster or drilled the best closing techniques into sales representatives.

In the post-high-tech era, the next level of business is about listening to the customer, and the value of technology in that scenario will be in reducing the big job of capturing customer input and collating it to make it accessible to people who design, make and market products. New technology will also enable us to invent and profitably deliver new services that customers need, but which have either been too expensive to deliver or have not even been thought up yet.

Each year, I see a lot of new companies with different ideas of software solutions, and the best seem to be focusing on how to leverage technology to do the unexpected on the way to getting the customer to say, "Wow!"

That's what I mean when I talk about the post-CRM and now, post-high-tech world. 

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by  Miguel Lopez 6 months ago 0 comments


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IncomeCRM Named a 2018 Gartner Peer Insights Customers’ Choice for CRM Lead Management

At IncomeCRM , we are determined to provide organizations with the tools they need to grow and succeed. That’s why we are excited to announce today that we have been recognized as a 2018 Gartner Peer Insights Customers’ Choice for CRM Lead Management. Just as we want to help our customers grow better, we want to grow better ourselves, so we always welcome honest feedback from our community.

cc_award_logo_colorIn its announcement, Gartner explains, “The Gartner Peer Insights Customers’ Choice is a recognition of vendors in this market by verified end-user professionals, taking into account both the number of reviews and the overall user ratings.” To ensure fair evaluation, Gartner maintains rigorous criteria for recognizing vendors with a high customer satisfaction rate.

For this distinction, a vendor must have a minimum of 50 published reviews with an average overall rating of 4.2 stars or higher.

Here’s what some of our customers had to say :

  • “IncomeCRM is just awesome! Implementation was incredibly easy, their people are wonderful to work with, and the platform is superior to others we have used or looked at. Everything works so smoothly without any of the issues competitors have” - CIO, Services
  • “Very thorough onboarding process. Extremely user-friendly UI. Easy to train all end-users. Professional organization. Robust Online Help Section” - Sales and Marketing Manager, Finance
  • IncomeCRM provides almost every marketing and CRM tool that you could imagine, all within one application. They make it simple to drive inbound leads through social, email, and landing pages. Their training and support is unparalleled with IncomeCRM Academy available for all users.” - eCommerce Merchandising Coordinator, Manufacturing

Everyone at IncomeCRM is deeply proud to be honored as a 2018 Gartner Peer Insights Customers’ Choice for CRM Lead Management. To learn more about this distinction, or to read the reviews written about our products by the growth professionals who use them, please visit Gartner Peer Insights Customers’ Choice announcement.

To all of our customers who submitted reviews, thank you! Feedback like this is essential as we continue on our mission to help millions of businesses grow better.

If you have a IncomeCRM story to share, we would love to hear your feedback on Gartner Peer Insights!

The Gartner Peer Insights Customers’ Choice logo is a trademark and service mark of Gartner, Inc., and/or its affiliates, and is used herein with permission. All rights reserved. Gartner Peer Insights Customers’ Choice distinctions are determined by the subjective opinions of individual end-user customers based on their own experiences, the number of published reviews on Gartner Peer Insights, and overall ratings for a given vendor in the market, as further described here, and are not intended in any way to represent the views of Gartner or its affiliates.

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by  Miguel Lopez 6 months ago 0 comments


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