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Utopia or Disaster? AI's Transformation of Sales
September 19, 2018
If there's one thing that can be said with certainty about AI in the field of sales, it's this: It's coming. Solutions for sales leaders, account executives and business development reps tout various AI-enabled features and the benefits they offer to sales. Writers breathlessly forecast the loss of millions of jobs due to AI, including the decimation of most professions, sales included.
Salesforce Philanthropy Cloud at Dreamforce
September 13, 2018
At the last Dreamforce, Salesforce introduced a new cloud dedicated to philanthropy, and the company began delivering on a three-part strategy this year. The Salesforce Philanthropy Cloud is a product of what used to be called the "Salesforce Foundation" but now is referred to as "Salesforce.org." The idea is not rocket science. The new cloud is designed to be a meeting place that facilitates interactions between nonprofits and funding sources.
How Retailers Can Use AI to Break the Compensation Equation
September 4, 2018
Nowhere is the customer experience more vital to the long-term success of a business than in retail. This is particularly evident as retailers work to ensure that brick-and-mortar shopping experiences are as seamless and personalized as those offered by their digital counterparts. Nearly 80 percent of Americans are now online shoppers, according to Pew Research Center findings.
Dreamforce Considerations
August 28, 2018
The Salesforce people whom I speak with are all heads down and breathing hard in the big push to Dreamforce. In other words, things are normal for this part of the cycle. The big questions for each show are, "What will the vendor emphasize this time?" and "Will that be a tone set for the industry for the year ahead?" Sometimes the announcements set a tone but not always.
Pulling a Thread
August 25, 2018
There's an emerging theme in sales and marketing that I expect could influence some of the messaging associated with upcoming events like Salesforce's Dreamforce and Oracle's OpenWorld. Each company will have lots to say about security, analytics and machine learning, the IoT, and blockchain, but what's under the radar is the practical application of much of this to marketing and sales.
JEDI Mind Games
August 15, 2018
During the same week it was sued by irate investors over progress moving its customer base to the cloud, Oracle protested a procurement process for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure. The lawsuit will take a long time to resolve, and it's difficult to see how the plaintiffs can prove their case -- but in comparison, the Department of Defense's procurement will run at light speed.
5 Strategies for Collecting, Creating and Circulating Customer Testimonials
August 14, 2018
Most of us understand how overwhelming it can be moving to a new city. Surrounded by a host of options for dining, shopping, daycare, leisure time, auto mechanics and everything else under the sun, making an educated decision on where to go involves some groundwork. So what is there to do? Many of us will turn to a new coworker or neighbor for recommendations.
Oracle Releases Second Half of Autonomous DB
August 10, 2018
A lot of people might have thought Oracle's announcement of the autonomous database at last year's OpenWorld and its subsequent release earlier this year were the whole story, but there's a lot more. This week's webcast featuring Larry Ellison was proof. Ellison must find his CTO role -- since he handed the CEO reins to Safra Catz and Mark Hurd -- to be stimulating and liberating at the same time.
AI-Driven Marketing Offers High Hopes to B2B Firms
August 8, 2018
Versium has announced a partnership with LiveRamp to launch artificial intelligence-powered B2B audience segments,as part of a new business-to-business data management platform. The partnership will let companies perform online targeting of offline business professional data that often is housed within their own CRM systems. LiveRamp customers will get access to Versium's modeling engine.
Cloud Transition State
July 24, 2018
A confusing dynamic has been emerging in the software industry, caused by the inexorable shift to the cloud. Even before you can get into the analysis, though, you need to identify which cloud or clouds you're thinking about -- e.g., infrastructure, apps, platform. Also, once you've done that, you need to decide if you're partial to technology or financial analysis.
Is Philanthropy Becoming Sexy?
July 20, 2018
The Internet has a long and storied history of democratizing information and influencing social change. It has flattened hierarchies and made information accessible to many more people -- though, ironically, it also has sometimes assaulted democracy in the process. Just think about how philanthropy has been changing at the instigation of Salesforce, one of the Internet's poster kids.
What I Learned at the Conferences
July 7, 2018
The close of Q2 ends the first wave of vendor customer events. Still to come this fall are Salesforce Dreamforce and Oracle OpenWorld -- and others -- but mercifully, we have the summer to digest all the information absorbed this spring and re-sync with our native time zones.For starters, CRM doesn't appear to be slowing down. As an industry, it's rated at about $35 billion in revenues.
Zuora at a Crossroads
June 18, 2018
Zuora's recent Subscribed user conference was a good first outing since the company's IPO, coming off some impressive first-quarter results. Year-over-year subscription revenues grew 39 percent and total revenue grew an amazing 60 percent, for example. As good as its present situation is, now that Zuora is a public company, it has to push down the gas pedal to feed the insatiable stock market.
How B2B Sellers Can Keep Buyers Engaged
June 12, 2018
The gap between B2B buyers and sellers has been growing. More than 70 percent of B2B buyers preferred to wait to engage a seller until the latter demonstrated a clear understanding of its needs, a CSO Insights survey found. Nearly 58 percent of buyers saw little difference among sellers, and more than 10 percent saw no difference at all among sellers.
CRMDialer President Dimitri Akhrin: Raw Data Is No. 1 Thing
June 12, 2018
One of the top current trends in the CRM space is that AI offers "the ability to gain insight, and the most important example is visitor tracking," said Dimitri Ahkrin, president of CRMDialer. "That's a big component -- knowing how in real time to react to something a prospect is doing on a site. It's going to allow prescriptive recommendations about what to do in a particular moment."
Reshaping the Software and Services Marketplace
June 11, 2018
In the old IT world, systems integration and consulting companies flourished, helping enterprises of all sizes across nearly every industry pull together a plethora of proprietary systems from a wide array of software and technology vendors. Despite the promises of the cloud, not much has changed. Yet, there are several important differences in today's IT services requirements that set them apart.
Middle Office or No-Man's Land?
May 20, 2018
It was once common knowledge that Apttus was the next big acquisition target on Salesforce's radar, until Salesforce decided to acquire another CPQ vendor to augment its Sales Cloud. In the two-ish years since, Apttus has nicely pivoted, diversifying its partner base and justifying its existence with a new strategy and nomenclature around what it calls the "middle office."
Honesty Proves Best Policy for Closing B2B Deals: Study
April 23, 2018
Vendors have a better shot at closing deals for large-scale B2B software purchases when they are upfront and honest about the quality of their products, a new study suggests. There is a bit of a trust gap between what is promised in negotiations for these deals and what actually is provided, indicates the poll of more than 650 technology vendors and buyers.
Hybrid Messaging Key to Upselling Success: Report
April 21, 2018
Companies that aim to upsell their existing customers should develop a hybrid message that reinforces their existing relationships while providing an incentive to break the status quo, suggests a new study. Corporate Visions previously has commissioned studies on how to shake prospective customers' status quo bias to persuade them to consider your products or services.
Zuora Takes It to the Big House
April 17, 2018
After nearly a decade of company building, Zuora last week went public, valuing itself on the open market at roughly US$2 billion after gaining 43 percent on its first day of trading. Those outlines don't reveal the importance of Zuora generally, and subscription billing systems in particular, to the rapid evolution of the subscription economy and CRM.
CRM Tops Software Sales Charts Worldwide
April 11, 2018
Worldwide CRM software revenues totaled $39.5 billion in 2017, eclipsing DBMS, the former market leader. DBMS had worldwide revenues of $36.8 billion last year, and it "has been the biggest software segment for years, noted Julian Poulter, research director at Gartner. CRM software will be the fastest-growing software market in 2018, with a growth rate of 16 percent, Gartner predicted.
Beyond CRM
April 10, 2018
We should start discussing what's beyond CRM. I chose the word "beyond" advisedly. CRM is far from dead or even in decline, so "after" would be 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 drawn so much attention that some analysis is due.
Digital Disruption
April 4, 2018
Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfesson, who teach at MIT's Sloan School of Management, started writing about the impact of artificial intelligence and machine learning almost a decade ago. Their early books provided deep insights into the way the era we live in would unfold. A lot of their ideas were on display last week at TrailHeaDX: The Salesforce Developer Conference in San Francisco.
It's Getting Lonely at Quota Club
March 27, 2018
Sales people and their managers should be celebrating the economic gains of the last few years but for many of them the gains may be illusory. Sixty-three percent of sales reps made quota in 2012, but five years later -- despite an improving economy -- that number dropped to 53 percent, according to CSO Insights' continuing research, which stretches over more than two decades.
Zoho VP Rodrigo Vaca: AI Can Help Salespeople Seize the Moment
March 26, 2018
"The rise of artificial intelligence, for sales teams both internally and externally, is the biggest trend in the industry," observed Rodrigo Vaca, vice president of marketing for CRM at Zoho. If you think of CRM as the centerpiece for your company, and you marry that with the escalating amount of data that each company is gathering each day, ... you can do any sort of analysis on it."
Managing in Mature Markets
March 20, 2018
Markets and companies change as industries grow and as a disruptive innovation commoditizes. Generally, prices come down because the innovation becomes commonplace and competitors fight for every scrap causing margin erosion. Eventually markets equilibrate, and a monopoly or small oligopoly sets in. We can see this playing out right now -- mature industries like databases have an oligopoly set up.
Facebook's Vulnerabilities Surface
March 7, 2018
Adam Smith famously referred to "the invisible hand" of the free market in his landmark book The Wealth of Nations, and with that made himself one of the very first political economists. Smith's observation was so on point that most of us assume markets run through the agency of individuals pursuing their enlightened self-interests, which helped drive the evolution of CRM as a tracking tool.
Customer Experience Revolution Ahead: Gartner
February 24, 2018
Enterprises have begun overhauling the way they handle customer experiences, suggested Gene Alvarez, managing vice president at Gartner, at the firm's customer experience event in Tokyo earlier this week. Twenty percent of brands will abandon their mobile apps by 2019, he predicted, choosing consumer messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger and WeChat instead.
Keeping It Simple
February 22, 2018
Disruptive innovations expose longstanding needs and signal that there's a solution at hand -- one that usually is less expensive than the status quo. The lower-cost aspect makes adoption inevitable and disruptive. Document management is like that. Decades ago, many enterprises found that the cost of capturing documents as electronic images vastly improved on costly file cabinet systems.
Broken Corporate Processes Degrade Customer Experience: Survey
February 21, 2018
Broken corporate processes have been contributing to negative customer experiences, a recent survey suggests. One thousand employees in U.S. companies with a workforce of 500 or more who work on a computer or mobile device for more than five hours a day responded to the online survey conducted by Nintex. Overall, 54 percent observed broken administrative processes within their organization.
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Should more CEO positions be held by women?
Yes, qualified women have been excluded due to gender discrimination.
No, companies should not hire CEOs based on affirmative action.
Yes, women tend to have better temperaments and skills for the role.
No, few women are strong enough leaders for the role.
More women should be CEOs of companies that cater to women.
Women should not be CEOs of companies in male-dominated industries.
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