Category Archives: CRM
Just a few short years ago, the average B2B buyer still responded well to the classic marketing and sales tag-team approach, with marketing providing high-quantity product exposure and sales moving in to close the deal. This had been the model for decades, and everyone (buyers and sellers alike) was trained to it.
And then the buyer broke the mold.
The evolution of the Internet drastically changed the way prospective buyers fulfill their needs and wants. Where once a scarcity of available information drove all buyers to the same mass-media outlets, such as trade magazines and industry conferences, buyers now have a world of information literally at their fingertips: over 1 billion smartphone subscriptions are reported globally. Today’s population is the most connected and self-educated to date.
In the modern world of data overstimulation, buyers seek relevance over all else. They actively seek out products that relate to their own individual interests, valuing the quality of information presented specific to their needs over the quantity of marketing touches.
And they’re taking control of their own buying experience: 78% start the buying process with a web search, and 50% research through peer reviews, blogs, and news sites before engaging directly with companies themselves. In effect, they proactively construct an educational curriculum for themselves that meets their unique needs, rather than passively absorbing marketing messages pushed through mass media.
Buyers have unprecedented, unlimited access to information and choice, giving them full control of their buying process. In fact, according to SiriusDecisions, 70% of the buying process is already complete by the time a prospective buyer is ready to talk to a sales rep.
How do marketing and sales teams respond to the challenges these new buyers present?
To reach these modern buyers, marketing teams need specific, targeted digital programs designed to adapt to the unique needs of every prospective buyer depending on where they are in the buyer’s journey. But sending marketing messages that are directly relevant to each individual in a diverse group is a tall order.
Enter marketing automation. Originally built to extend marketing and email capabilities for the large enterprise, the technology has evolved to enable meaningful connections to modern buyers that work as well for the small and mid-sized business as for the big ones.
The marketing automation platform has become a hub of marketing intelligence, tracking each individual buyer’s journey from their first touch point to their final sale, providing an in-depth view of the 70% of the buying process that traditionally occurs in the dark, beyond the firewall of traditional marketing and sales programs. Marketing automation overcomes this firewall – it’s the science and technology that enables marketing and sales to streamline, automate, illuminate, and measure the modern buyer’s journey through the purchase process.
Data is marketing’s new power.
Data that was previously unavailable to marketing and sales teams can now be tracked and analyzed, from the age-old staple of traditional demographics, to behavioral data like email clicks, website visits, and content downloads. Marketers are now empowered to measure this digital body language and discern where buyers are on their purchasing journey and what types of content they want to consume.
Marketing automation centralizes this intelligence. It identifies every meaningful interaction that a buyer has with your brand, following the individual’s journey toward making a purchase decision. It tracks, measures, and analyzes the data of every interaction so that marketing and sales teams can sell smarter to a more engaged audience.
So what do you do with this trove of data? It’s already clear that the number of prospects you reach – or “quantity of eyeballs” – is no longer a meaningful goal to pursue. The world of marketing and sales has changed, but not for the worse. What emerges is the ability to wait for likely buyers who will identify themselves as they become sales-ready, and follow up with a proactive, targeted outreach, making the marketing process more efficient.
The availability of behavioral data makes it possible for marketing teams to push content that is directly relevant to the buyer’s interests and stage in the purchasing journey. Instead of taking the control from the buyer, it is now the marketer’s job to help buyers make the purchase decisions they are currently contemplating, giving them the right information to come to a conclusion on their own.
Where do you start with marketing automation tech?
Getting started with marketing automation can be a daunting task – with so much information available, where do you start? Start with your buyer. Create your programs around what you know about your buyers, and build out from there:
- Map out typical buying stages.
Take a close look at how your best customers make buying decisions. Are there common trigger events that cause prospects to start investigating new solutions? Common questions or challenges that must be overcome? Tip: talk to your sales team. They’ll have a pretty good idea of common decision stages.
- Map out programs and activities that will help you get in front of buyers at each stage.
What do you need to do to get in front of buyers at each stage of the journey? Here you map out tactics, required content, and initiatives necessary to start getting in front of buyers as they begin to make their decision. For example, if most of your buyers start with a web search, creating great web content that’s optimized for search engines should be on the top of your list.
- Map out the systems and technologies needed to support the initiatives outlined in step 2.
What technical systems do you need to support your activities? Ensure that your marketing automation platform meets your key requirements and has the flexibility to integrate with other technologies as your business needs expand. For instance: if SEO is one of your key tactics, you’ll need an SEO auditing tool, a feature that’s baked into top marketing automation platforms.
These three steps are the foundation for building a marketing and sales engine that is centered on your customers – not your teams or products. You’ll be well positioned to dive head first into the digital age and attract modern buyers with this customer-centered approach.
Dismantle, destroy, destruct the “sales vs. marketing” approach.
The traditional “versus” setup has been pitting marketing and sales teams against each other for years. Without a clear central focus on the modern buyer’s journey, sales and marketing teams often become adversaries.
The marketing team thinks the sales team is throwing away good leads out of laziness, and the sales team thinks the marketing team isn’t doing enough brand building or providing the quality leads the sales team needs to do its job. However, it’s likely that neither of these assumptions are true. Quite simply, the way buyers operate has changed. Marketing and sales teams need to change, too.
Nearly 80% of leads deemed “bad” by sales go on to make a purchase within 24 months. That’s a lot of missed opportunities. You know that sales rep who keeps complaining that the marketing team is sending him horrible leads? He might be missing out on some great deals. But on the other hand, he might be at least partially right! The leads he is getting probably aren’t ready to talk to a sales rep yet, leading to frustration from sales, marketing, and prospective customers alike.
With a focus on the buyer’s journey, and the new ability to track and measure that journey, marketing teams can prioritize prospects that are most likely to make a purchase now. And prospects that are earlier in the decision-making process can be held back and warmed up in an automated lead nurturing program.
Companies that use marketing automation see big returns.
So what does the adoption of marketing automation mean for the bottom-line? The figures are astounding:
- Marketing automation helps you more efficiently engage prospects with information that’s directly relevant to them – this builds trust and understanding with your prospective buyers. For marketers who deploy lead nurturing, the return is a 2x win rate and a 47% increase in average order value.
- Targeting the right content to the right prospects at the right time accelerates a buyer’s decision-making process. In fact, companies that use marketing automation also see 70% faster sales cycle times.
- 67% of B2B marketers say lead nurturing increases sales opportunities throughout the funnel by at least 10%, with 15% seeing opportunities increase by 30% or more.
Want more information on how to use marketing automation to connect with the new breed of buyer? Check out how Act-On is paving the way with Adaptive Journeys.
Salesforce has entered an alliance with
QuintilesIMS’ aimed at helping life sciences companies move treatments from clinical phases to commercial applications more effectively.
QuintilesIMS, formed last year through the merger of healthcare data provider IMS Health and medical research firm Quintiles Transnational, is one of the world’s largest integrated healthcare services companies. The combined entity has 50,000 employees in 100 different countries.
QuintilesIMS plans to use the Salesforce Platform’s cloud, mobile, social and artificial intelligence capabilities to build new solutions to bring therapies to market.
Quintiles initially plans to use Salesforce to help manage clinical trials, patient recruitment, marketing and other functions, according to Quintiles spokesperson Tor Constantino.
For example, the companies will work together on ways to improve the feasibility of clinical trials, improve patient enrollment and communications, and help mitigate delays, he told CRM Buyer.
Over the long term, Quintiles plans to work with Salesforce on items like digital health, patient engagement and precision management, according to Constantino.
Salesforce has worked with Quintiles for more than a decade, dating back to 2004, when it inked a deal to provide CRM software for more than 2,000 users at Quintiles Transnational.
The alliance will help QuintilesIMS “create solutions that empower life sciences firms to collaborate with providers and patients in smarter and more predictive ways throughout the clinical life cycle,” said Salesforce COO Keith Block.
The deal represents “transformative potential for the life sciences industry, as it will better equip and enable our customers to meet the clinical and commercial challenges they face as they move healthcare forward,” noted Kevin Knightly, QuintilesIMS president, information and technology solutions.
The agreement represents a clear validation of Salesforce’s efforts to build its health cloud business, observed Jeff Kaplan, managing director at ThinkStrategies.
It shows how Salesforce’s cloud solutions can be leveraged with healthcare service providers like QuintelesIMS, he told CRM Buyer.
The Salesforce deal is significant for QuintilesIMS, as it is one of the company’s first major announcements since the 2016 merger between Quintiles Transnational and IMS Health Holdings was announced nearly a year ago.
The goal of the merger was to help transform the clinical trial process while creating a database of anonymous patient information that could be used to drive new efficiencies in the pharmaceutical and patient care industries.
When announcing the merger, the companies anticipated the deal would create an annual run-rate in cost savings of US$ 100 million by year three. The combined companies reported revenue of $ 7.78 billion for 2016, an increase of more than 7.4 percent, and issued a full-year forecast of between $ 8.1 and $ 8.2 billion — between $ 4.40 and $ 4.55 a share.
The Salesforce deal is important because “partnership strategy is key,” said Sheryl Kingstone, research director at 451 Research.
“Salesforce looks to vertical partners such as QunitilesIMS to build upon the Salesforce platform for its customers,” she told CRM Buyer.
“While Salesforce has made headway into a few key verticals, it relies very heavily on its partners,” Kingstone pointed out. “Life Sciences and Healthcare are critical vertical markets that are undergoing digital transformation, with 32 percent in the planning stages and 24 percent in formal strategies.”
Salesforce last month entered an agreement to integrate the Veeva CRM and Salesforce Marketing Cloud to deliver a more coordinated and consistent experience for healthcare professionals.
Veeva is a worldwide provider of CRM for the pharmaceutical and biotech industries, and the companies have more than 250 combined customers.
Posted by Barney Beal, Content Director, NetSuite
SuiteWorld17 represents a slew of firsts for the #1 cloud ERP event of the year – the first time in Las Vegas, the first time as a business unit under Oracle and the biggest event yet.
With more than 6,000 people expected to descend on the Sands Expo & Convention Center to attend more than 200 sessions and nine keynote addresses, the challenge is not going to be how to fill the day, but how to fit it all in while still making time to enjoy the sights and sounds of Vegas. This guide offers some suggestions and advice for getting the most out of the event.
Key in on the Keynotes
Executive Vice President Jim McGeever kicks off the conference with the opening keynote on Tuesday, providing vision, strategy and details on NetSuite’s latest innovations. He’ll be followed by Executive Vice President of Development Evan Goldberg’s keynote on Wednesday with a deeper dive and a look at some of the features NetSuite is coming up with next. And this year there are seven industry-specific keynotes spread across the four days with the addition of Fintech and Advertising, Media and Publishing to last year’s slate, giving attendees insights into key trends in their industry and how NetSuite will help address them. Taking center stage throughout are NetSuite’s innovative customers like Ring, Smartsheet, Hortonworks, Blue Microphone, Lucky Brand Jeans, Avant and more. Customers will dominate the SuiteWorld breakout sessions as well, with more than 125 customer presenters.
Come Home Smarter
There are plenty of ways to learn how to get the most out of your NetSuite investment. Besides the more than 200 sessions (broken out by beginner, intermediate and advanced experience levels and by role), there’s a chance to meet with SuiteGurus for 30-minute appointments with experts from Professional Services, demos and best practices on the Expo Stage, and an area specifically for developers to exchange tips and ideas at Devland. Be sure to hit the show floor and see the products and services of the more than 100 partners on display.
Spotlight on Customer Innovation
SuiteWorld presents the opportunity to showcase more than just NetSuite. Some of the most innovative companies in their industry will be showing off what’s next at the event and attendees get a front row seat for those innovations.
- Meet Brian Kelly, travel expert and founder of The Points Guy, to learn how to get the most out of your frequent flier miles and credit card points at 5:30 p.m. on Monday on the Expo stage.
- Learn what goes on behind the scenes at Blue Apron, learning how they put together a different subscription box each day and walk away with a free recipe.
- Learn how 23andMe is helping people learn about their health, traits and ancestry via DNA samples and get a discount on your own test.
- Get a glimpse of what’s next in home décor by visiting the Jonathan Adler lounge.
- Take a break from wandering the show floor and relax in the comfort of a Lovesac in the Lovesac Lounge.
- Look into the future of home security at the Ring home environment and see how far the wifi video doorbell has come.
- Bring all your SuiteWorld schwag home in style after stopping by the Trunki photo booth featuring Trunki’s menagerie of animal-themed suitcases.
Get up and Give Back
SuiteWorld17 again provides an opportunity to support organizations seeking to make the world a better place. Once again, SuiteWorld is hosting the Hackathon 4Good. Set for Monday, this year’s event will challenge teams to create innovative prototypes to help BrightPoint Health, a leading nonprofit provider of integrated health care and social support services to New Yorkers, especially those challenged by poverty, discrimination and lack of access to health care. This year’s event includes NetSuite’s Devland, where members of the NetSuite Product team will be on hand to help and support teams with the creation of their solutions and prototypes.
You can also take a break and do your part by packing activity kits for the Resource Area for Teachers (RAFT) a nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring, engaging and educating children through the power of hands-on learning. The activity kits you pack will be donated to Bay Area organizations educating children and youth.
Meanwhile, T3 Expo, another NetSuite customer, is working with RAREFORM to reduce waste from conventions and tradeshows by recycling signage into one-of-a-kind bags and accessories and donating them to foster kids. Enter the raffle for a chance to win a commemorative bag made from recycled SuiteWorld17 signage.
Go Shopping and Relax
Stop by the SuiteStore, powered by the SuiteCommerce InStore POS system and get all your NetSuite gear along with items from our customers like ThinkGeek, Found My Animal, RuMe and Poppin. Then unwind on some of the coolest furniture around from Design Within Reach at the SuiteTunes Lounge. Log in to Spotify and subscribe to SuiteTunes.
Be sure to get amped up for the conference at the Welcome Reception from 5-7 p.m. on Monday on the Expo Floor and Rock Out on Wednesday night at the NextFest Gala at the Hard Rock Hotel with the Royal Machines including special guests.
by NetSuite filed under
At PowerObjects, we’ve built an integrated solution that enables housing associations to reduce the total cost of ownership of their core business technology, while at the same time, improve the level of customer service and the operational efficiency within the organization. In today’s episode of The CRM Minute, hear from Greg about our integrated housing solution and the top reasons housing associations should be investing in Microsoft Dynamics 365.
Working with a partner like PowerObjects gives you the edge to deliver the cutting edge technology into housing that really drive innovative customer experiences. Want to learn more? Make sure you sign up to join Greg for his webinar on April 25, Dynamics 365 for Housing: Innovation and Service Optimisation, which will feature a LIVE demo of the solution in action.
Thanks for watching, The CRM Minute!
They say it can take a product idea 10 years to go from concept to mass-market appeal but that might be only an optimist’s viewpoint. Some of the best ideas in CRM right now have been marinating for at least that long — and some for much longer. Two great examples are analytics and CPQ, which companies like Oracle, Salesforce and others have embraced with passion. Interestingly, each technology has traversed a path that needed other technologies to become fully mature.
“Analytics” — that is, business intelligence and data mining — is an old term for what we now call “machine learning.” Analytics and big data needed a lot of hardware improvements to become prominent.
For example, way back in the 1990s, Kendall Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts — next door to MIT — became known as “AI Alley” for all of the startups there that were going to enable us to know customers’ minds before they did. Most of those pioneering companies are gone now, but their ideas generated big R&D throughout the tech sector.
One of the major drawbacks of any kind of advanced analysis is the need for processing power on specific data. To do that, you need fast CPUs — but also, your data can’t be static and sitting on a disk. So, the AI movement influenced not only speedups for CPUs, such as multiprocessors and federated computing, but also in-memory databases and very dense memory.
Of course, it took 20 years, but today we’re reaping the benefits of the investment and research necessary for all of it to happen. Now we really do have the ability to know probabilistically what customers in the aggregate will think, and we can act by putting next best action suggestions on a smartphone. That’s pretty cool.
Flag the Outliers
Analytics has come a long way, but the ultimate benefit likely will be felt in the Internet of Things, as machines increasingly communicate with machines with rich data streams that have to be monitored for exceptions.
CPQ — or configure, price, quote — software has become a now, or in the moment, idea. It was once a standalone category that could be grafted on to SFA for companies that needed it — but every company needs CPQ, and without it many are reduced to relying on spreadsheet apps that often collapse under their own weight.
Consider the spreadsheets involved in proto-CPQ. We all developed spreadsheets in-house to deal with needs not addressed elsewhere for the product catalog, including prices and descriptions. Businesses also needed a spreadsheet for each deal, which would be updated multiple times within a sales process. Quarterly updates to the product spreadsheet and random updates to quotes invited all kinds of problems.
Sales reps are known for their ability to seek out the shortest distance to close, and we love them for it. However, in the past the path often went through using old quotes modified for new deals, using old product catalogs and price lists, and possibly offering the wrong discounting.
In that type of scenario, management has to patrol every bid for every deal, and that’s getting to be hard to do. Management would rather be promoting the new product line with new pricing and other things that add greater value.
There’s also the issue of turning the catalog loose on a website so that customers can configure their own solutions. However, you can’t begin to do that unless you can build business rules into the process — such as “Product A is always sold with 2-Product B’s, or 1 Product C plus services.”
Other forms of front-office automation, like SFA, make it possible for reps to handle increasing territory responsibilities. That decreases the number of reps needed but leaves their managers with the same amount of work reviewing manually created quotes.
The front-office strategy today is to manage the exceptions — SFA with analytics and good reporting makes managing the territory easy. However, spreadsheet-based CPQ is not a good fit for analytics, so CPQ becomes the weak link in an otherwise improved sales process.
Spreadsheet CPQ is impossible to manage by exception, leading to slow turnaround on quotes and lost deals. To manage quotes by exception, the same as you manage a territory, you need a CPQ system.
Not surprisingly, this is where analytics and CPQ cross paths. Analytics tools are great at finding the exceptions based on the business rules set up. Rather than a manager scanning all deals or offers, a rules and analytics-based CPQ system simply can flag outliers, such as overly generous discounts or incorrect pricing.
There might be legitimate reasons for the exceptions, but there should be easy ways to find and deal with them without having to sift through the majority of plain vanilla deals.
Agility for All
Besides just saving labor or improving accuracy, a business that more easily pivots on a customer’s quotation request and does it first is in a better position to win. It’s a form of business agility — an idea much in the news today.
Agility is supposed to be about flexibility, as well as the capability to change rapidly and evolve to meet market demands accurately without incurring a great deal of overhead. Business agility is important. While it might be possible to manually respond to a single special need, it’s not a good idea to base a business model on it. Specifically, responding to special needs — good! Doing it manually over the long run — not so much.
Last point: If business agility is important to your business, then software agility ought to be important too. This means using solutions built on the same platform, where possible, so that they use the same objects and data naturally, without having to rely on massive integrations.
In my experience, many point solution integrations take a toll on IT that should be avoided if you expect to maximize your business’ agility.
CPQ and analytics have come a long way over decades to provide us with some of the needed components of a truly agile business approach today. Spreadsheets barely have changed. In a more competitive world, it makes great sense to ensure that every part of your key business processes (there’s nothing more core than sales) is supported by a system — not a spreadsheet — and the best way to do this is with platform-based components like CPQ.
Do you have 40 seconds to spare for your favorite CRM blog? Voting for Discover CRM’s CRM Writers’ Awards 2017 is closing on April 23! We are super excited to have been nominated under the Best Vendor Blog category. If you have found value in the wise words of good ol’ Joe CRM through PowerObjects’ daily blog, please vote for us!
To vote, click here!
There are four categories to vote for and the PowerObjects blog is listed in the first category. Simply choose your favorite entry in each category, and click submit. Discover CRM has also included links to work by all of the nominated entries to help you decide who to vote for in categories where you may not be familiar.
Winners will be decided by a mixture of judges’ decision and public voting. Voting closes on Sunday, April 23. Winners to be announced on Monday, April 24. Gold, silver and bronze prizes are available in each category.
Discover CRM started this competition to “recognize the brightest, most switched on bloggers, writers and journalists working in the CRM industry.” The four categories that this year’s awards cover include, Best vendor blog (that’s us!!), Best independent blog, Best writer, and Best article.
Thank you for being part of the PowerObjects family. We love writing for you!
Healthgrades, an online resource to provide consumers with information about physicians and hospitals, on Wednesday launched CareChats, a tool that allows encrypted text and email conversations between patients and their healthcare providers.
Developed in partnership with
Conversa, CareChats enables doctors and hospitals to communicate with patients outside of visits. Among its uses are management of chronic conditions, communications before and after surgery, and lifestyle health coaching.
CareChats alerts providers when intervention is required, according to the companies, and encourages patients to either book an appointment online or contact doctors directly.
“Conversa’s innovative, scalable and reliable technology delivers an innovative and meaningful way for physicians, care teams and patients to communicate outside of office visits,” said Chris Edwards, chief marketing and experience officer at Conversa.
This approach leads “to more meaningful conversations and exchanges of information and overall better care,” he told CRM Buyer.
The CareChats tool integrates with the Healthgrades CRM platform, which is used to help doctors and hospitals better manage and communicate with existing and prospective patients.
Several major healthcare systems have used CareChats to help doctors and other hospital staff manage patients with chronic illnesses and for other purposes.
Ochsner Health System, for example, instituted a pilot program in which primary care doctors prescribed the CareChats tool for patients with uncontrolled hypertension. The doctors were able to have real-time conversations with patients using personal medical data to drill down for the best treatment options.
Penrose-St. Francis Health Services used CareChats as a tool for digital health coaches in a pilot program last year.
Citrus Valley Health Partners used CareChats in a program to meet requirements set by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ bundled payment program for total hip and knee replacements.
The CareChats tool reflects a trend toward automating doctor-patient communications to fill the gap between office appointments, medical procedures and testing, which is important particularly in managing chronic illness, observed Victor Kamlek, a telehealth analyst at Frost & Sullivan.
“In the predigital world, communications that were very important were not always very successful,” he told CRM Buyer.
A doctor might not be able to reach a patient after a surgical procedure to convey valuable information, for example.
The biggest obstacle to growing the doctor-patient communications market isn’t developing the technology — it’s getting the insurance industry on board, Kamlek said. “There are a lot of hurdles that need to be crossed before this is a totally accepted market.”
Most organizations want to present a corporate image when they communicate externally, so that all their communications are instantly recognized. The most common documents are quotes, orders, invoices, and service agreements. These documents are designed with Microsoft Word, and Emailed as PDF attachment to clients.
With Dynamics Docs and Dynamics PDF-Docs, CRM users can create impressive Word Templates and insert fields from CRM entities and related entities. With one click of a button the document is PDF and attached to Email or the record’s Note. This process can be scheduled with CRM Workflow, which will create the PDF file and attach it to an Email.
Think again: can you survive without PDF-Docs?
Image of 3 pages invoice converted to PDF:
For fast-growing businesses seeking to capitalize on the power of the cloud and the data stashed across their business, the recent Domopalooza 2017, the annual conference from Domo, a cloud-based analytics software provider, offered some key insights.
Held in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah, just a short drive north of the Domo headquarters in American Fork, Utah, over 3,000 people from more than 1,250 different companies—both start-up and well established—came to the event to discuss the past, present and future of data and business intelligence.
Over 100 businesses that run NetSuite were in attendance, many of whom spoke at the event. As a sponsor of the event, NetSuite shared its perspective on the lessons we’ve learned from being a modern cloud company.
Here are a few of the key takeaways from Domopalooza 2017:
- Every company is a cloud company: As technology continues to develop, modern cloud business solutions are becoming an absolute requirement, instead of a ‘nice to have.’ It is crucial to have the right business tools in place to get to the next level—whether that means securing a round of funding, acquiring another company, or making an exit—companies need the proper infrastructure and the right data to support their plans.
- Embrace hybrid business models: Many companies start with one line of business like a product or a service. Hybrid business models are blurring the lines and companies that blend these models are no longer an exception to the rule, but rather they are becoming the norm.
- Businesses must deliver omnichannel experiences: From the back-end platform to the customer facing website, and everything in between, businesses requires a smooth, harmonious experience to keep customers happy and the company’s data healthy.
- Clean, accessible data a must: Tools that capture and feed data into digestible metrics and reports are a MUST have as the company expands; good data depends on the power of business tools to deliver that data – don’t be left behind.
- Change is the only constant: Customization is not a dirty word when it comes to business software. Every business is unique in one way or another, so flexibility is key for all businesses.
NetSuite allows businesses to be flexible through major growth stages, and gives the entire business a sightline into what’s working vs. what’s not. NetSuite’s user conference, SuiteWorld, is coming up from April 24th-27th and we plan to share more of what we’ve learned about being a modern cloud company. We hope you can join us – click here to register.
by NetSuite filed under