Category Archives: CRM News and Info

Are You Engineering the Customer Experience Out of Your Business?

Automation. Robots. Technology taking our jobs. I defy you to pick up a business magazine and avoid this topic — it will be in there somewhere. However, there’s another theme you won’t be able to avoid: the need to focus on the customer experience.

These two trends are in tension much of the time. They don’t have to be, but due to most businesses’ seemingly inescapable need to focus on themselves instead of the customer, that’s often the case.

I ran across a prime example recently. I’ll admit it: I eat fast food sometimes — I eat healthy at home, and I have to balance it out once in a while. As a result, I noticed when the local McDonald’s was closed for three weeks for remodeling. When it re-opened, I visited. As someone who pays attention to customer experience, I was astounded — so much so that I went back two weeks later to take notes.

So Long, No. 4

Instead of a counter where your order was taken, there were four large touchscreens, so inconspicuously placed that the workers who used to be behind the counters were out in the lobby directing customers to them (and then offering guidance on how to use them).

The screens were about two feet wide and three and a half feet tall — so tall you had to stand back in order to see the entire surface. Even then, the interfaces were so poorly designed that you had to scroll down on some screens (because 36 inches just isn’t enough space, apparently).

To order what used to be a “No. 4,” I had to hunt down the right icons and push buttons 11 times. Once to indicate whether I was eating in or taking the food out, once to select chicken (vs. hamburgers, salads, etc.), once for the kind of chicken, once for the size of the meal, once for the kind of drink, once for the kind of sauce, once for the OTHER kind of sauce (?!?), once to confirm that was what I wanted, once to key in my table number, once to specify my payment type, and once to finalize payment.

There was a payment card reader at the kiosk. If you wanted to pay with cash, you had to flag down an employee and have them ring you up at the counter. You may remember the counter — it’s where I could have asked a human for a “Number 4, medium, for here,” and been done ordering.

When the food was brought out, there was no drink — I had not realized that when I pushed the button for a Coke, I should have known to turn around and get a cup from the dispenser behind me. I had to go get my drink after the woman running the food out pointed it out to me.

I get that the idea here is to reduce the number of employees in order to have a positive impact on the bottom line — but that wasn’t happening. There were people helping customers with the kiosks and people running food to the tables — the same people who had been behind the counter a month earlier.

The whole point of a restaurant of this nature is that you get in, order your food, and eat as quickly as possible. It’s a mundane customer experience, to be sure, but it sets expectations. The kiosks blew up my two-second ordering experience into a four-minute adventure in navigating a not-very-well-designed set of touchscreens. Then, the process wasn’t well explained about the drink.

Everything about the old way of ordering is better. Is the savings in headcount going to pay off if your customers stop coming in?

Keep Automation Simple

The experience was vaguely reminiscent of the supermarket self-checkout, which was supposed to do away with checkout clerks but instead created a new position for them as helpers for the befuddled self-checkouters struggling with a poorly designed process. (They also try to prevent clever customers from
exploiting the machines for fun and profit.)

Another aspect of this type of automation is that it takes the bat out of your employees’ hands. They can’t add to the customer experience with a little of their own personality if the technology takes their place and only allows them to participate when the customer is frustrated.

The best automation, when it comes to preserving the customer experience, is designed to automate the simplest part of the transactions. Think about airline check-in kiosks: they retrieve your flight information, print boarding passes and generate tags for your luggage, but you still have to show your ID and hand your bags to people behind the counter, and those people still tell you the gate number and wish you well on your flight. Your last contact with the airline before your wait at the gate is with a person, not with a terminal.

If you feel like you must automate customer-facing activities, map them out and decide which ones automation can do best — not to your benefit, but to the benefit of the customer experience. If you identify activities that aren’t suited to your machines, have your people handle them — and think through the process, automation should be used to help your customer-facing employees deliver better experiences, not to assist them out the door.
end enn Are You Engineering the Customer Experience Out of Your Business?

Chris%20Bucholtz Are You Engineering the Customer Experience Out of Your Business?Chris Bucholtz has been an ECT News Network columnist since 2009. His focus is on CRM, sales and marketing software, and the interface between people and technology. A noted speaker and author, Chris has covered the CRM space for 10 years.
Email Chris.

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CRM Buyer

Are you ready for GDPR? It’s coming.

As you’ve probably heard, on May 25, 2018, a European privacy law, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), is due to take effect. The GDPR imposes new rules on companies, government agencies, non-profits, and other organizations that offer goods and services to people in the European Union (EU), or that collect and analyze data tied to EU residents. The GDPR applies no matter where you are located.


There are a few things that GDPR will change:

  • Personal privacy rights: Individuals will have the right to access their personal data, correct errors in their personal data, erase their personal data, object to the processing of their personal data, or export their personal data.
  • Added controls and notifications: Organizations will be required to protect personal data using appropriate security measures, notify authorities of personal data breaches, obtain appropriate consents for processing data, and keep records detailing data processing.
  • Transparent policies: Organizations must provide clear notice of data collection, outline processing purposes and use cases, and define data retention and deletion policies.
  • IT and training requirements: Organizations will need to train privacy personnel and employees, audit and update data policies, employ a Data Protection Officer (if required), and create and manage compliant vendor contracts.

In short, GDPR demands stricter controls on where personal data is stored and how it is used. The bring better data governance tools for improved transparency, recordkeeping, and reporting. Finally, it will improve data policies to give data subjects greater control and to ensure lawful processing.


Preparing for the GDPR is a business-wide challenge that will take time, tools, processes, and expertise. Preparations may require significant changes to how you conduct your business and to customers’ privacy and data management practices. The requirements are complicated and each organization’s path to readiness will be unique, so don’t wait until May to begin preparing.

We’re here to help. Our team of data and technical experts can assess your readiness and help you determine the best path forward to ensure you can continue to serve your customers.

Contact BroadPoint today for more information and to assess your readiness.

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CRM Software Blog | Dynamics 365

Advanced Selling Strategies

One of CRM’s overlooked benefits, accrued over many years, is its influence on business processes. Twenty or so years ago, front-office business processes were simplistic, due in part to the lack of technology support.

For example, business leaders might have wanted to peer into a sales process or develop detailed compensation plans to better incentivize sales reps, but because those jobs required a lot of data and data reduction, they rarely were pursued.

This isn’t about complex regression analysis that can predict actions or advise about next best steps. Just being able to manage a lot of data (OK, big data) about the sales or compensation process could light up a business like never before.

SPM Rising

Vendors like Xactly were instrumental at capturing and managing that data, and that has resulted in new and better business processes.

For instance, and forgive me if you’ve heard this before, in the last 15 years compensation management has gone from a process done quarterly to one that can be done daily. At the same time, it has moved from the back office to the front.

With data, comp vendors like Xactly can give vendors the ability to run incentives that match the company’s plan for individual products and territories without breaking a sweat. They also can recommend which deals look most promising when there’s less than 30 days left in the quarter. That’s no small thing.

All that is retrospective, though, and as valuable as it is, leaders also need radar for the quarter ahead.

Earlier this week, Xactly announced its acquisition of Obero, a sales performance management (SPM) company with credibility in new revenue recognition regulations — ASC 606 in the U.S. and IFRS 15 in Europe — that have a direct impact on how reps are paid.

Adding this capability to Xactly’s set of incentive compensation technologies seems like a good fit. It’s also timely.

SPM seems to be in the news lately, and it makes sense. For instance, Adaptive Insights just announced its business planning for sales product.

In many markets, especially tech, the easy days of greenfields and sporadic competition have been over for some time, and sales leaders find themselves in need of greater sales insight and discipline to bring in increasing quotas.

My Two Cents

Compensation and planning tools have become indispensable in sales, and the market is responding with good, credible solutions. Using them effectively will take some new understanding, as well as the thing that sales people dislike more than death and taxes — change.

Most of the industry is comfortable with SFA tools today, though there are still vendors whose claims to legitimacy include telling customers that CRM is bad or difficult to use, or that reps won’t use it. But that train has left the station.

CRM is no longer optional for most companies, and facility with these tools is required for most job seekers. Planning and compensation management are taking their places in the expanded definition of CRM, simply because we can’t live without them any longer.

Announcements like this week’s from Adaptive Insights and Xactly accurately reflect the state of the marketplace, and we ignore them at some risk.
end enn Advanced Selling Strategies

Denis%20Pombriant Advanced Selling StrategiesDenis Pombriant is a well-known CRM industry researcher, strategist, writer and speaker. His new book, You Can’t Buy Customer Loyalty, But You Can Earn It, is now available on Amazon. His 2015 book, Solve for the Customer, is also available there.
Email Denis.

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Webinar: What’s New in the Microsoft Dynamics 365/CRM V9 Update – Feb. 27, 2018

CRM A Z 2 300x251 Webinar: What’s New in the Microsoft Dynamics 365/CRM V9 Update – Feb. 27, 2018Are you staying on top of the latest updates from Microsoft Dynamics 365/CRM? The Version 9 (V9) Update is coming, and there’s a lot to go through in this major release.

Keep on top of your Microsoft Dynamics 365/CRM game with Ledgeview Partners as your guide.

Let Dynamics experts walk you through the most recent changes within the system, what’s to come, and the potential impact it may have on your current Dynamics 365 environment.

In our upcoming webinar on Tuesday, February 27th, we will be spotlighting some of our top Version 9 update topics including:

  • Seeing the User Interface Enhancements to the Existing UI
  • An Introduction of a NEW User Interface
  • New Functionality (Not In clauses, Multi-Select Picklists, etc.)
  • New Outlook App
  • New Mobile App
  • Considerations for your Update

Knowing how to take advantage of the updates will help you further be able to optimize your Microsoft Dynamics 365/CRM system to better your business and user adoption. Make sure at least one representative from your company attends this webinar.

Webinar: What’s New in the Microsoft Dynamics 365 V9 Update
When: Tuesday, February 27, 2018
Time: 1:00pm – 1:30pm CST

Register for the Webinar Button Webinar: What’s New in the Microsoft Dynamics 365/CRM V9 Update – Feb. 27, 2018

If you cannot attend the live webinar, register, and we will send you a link to view the presentation on-demand after the live session is complete.

If you have questions about the Microsoft Dynamics 365 V9 Update, need support, or update assistance please Contact Us and we are happy to answer all your questions.

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CRM Software Blog | Dynamics 365

The CRM Watchlist 2019: Welcome to the show

image 2018 02 13 at 10 10 40 am The CRM Watchlist 2019: Welcome to the show

If you are interested in registering for either award competition, please email a request for the registration form for the one you are interested in.

It is time to announce the newly revamped 2019 CRM Watchlist and — probably one of the biggest parts of the revamping — the shiny new 2019 Emergence Maturity Index Awards competition. This post will cover the Watchlist, and the next one will cover the Emergence Maturity Index Awards, and it will be much shorter.

CRM Watchlist 2017

watchlist view The CRM Watchlist 2019: Welcome to the show

And the winners are…

This is the 10th year of the CRM Watchlist, and the contest gets harder every year. Yet every year, not only do some of the expected win, but some lose and new winners emerge. Suspense killing you?

Read More

Read also: Companies on the verge: Introducing the Emergence Maturity Index

CRM Watchlist 2019: Time for a change

The reason I suspended the Watchlist last year — besides, in all candor, that working on my customer engagement book was driving me crazy — was that I realized that, after more than a decade of the Watchlist, it was time for a change. I don’t know how many of you remember this, knew this, or give a crap one way or the other, but the Watchlist itself started out in CRM at the Speed of Light as what I then-called “The Steppin’ Out Awards.” ( Here’s an example of what it was like with this 2007 Zoho Press release.) The idea was to pick a company that represented a category of CRM technology and stood out as the market leader or the emerging one to watch.

But, over time, that evolved to the CRM Watchlist, which had a different purpose: Companies that had impact in the market as a whole or in a particular market.

The idea was simple: Companies, when they are producing valuable services and goods that are aimed at providing productive outcomes, still have a lot of other things they need to do before they can be called successful companies. They need a public presence, they have to be socially and environmentally responsible, they have to be able to execute against a plan, and they have to invest in things that might have a non-tangible return, but at the same time, will benefit them and their customers. They need a culture that is responsive to the employees and customers — not because it benefits shareholders, but because it benefits all stakeholders, which include the customers and employees and business partners and the world at large. This has to be embedded at the level of their DNA. They have to understand the greater markets and their own specific markets so that they can be responsive to the changes in those markets. They need to have messages and positions that resonate with their targeted audiences. They need to be able to reach out on a regular basis to those third parties that influence the markets the company wants to play in. I can go on, but you get the idea.

If you were able to do all that successfully, then the likelihood that you were a company that mattered increased a great deal. You would be very likely to have an impact in the market or specific markets that mattered. The Watchlist was the recognition of that. (Here is the latest of the CRM Watchlist announced winners (CRM Watchlist 2017) from January 2017.) The Watchlist was and is recognition of a company in the customer-facing technology world that did itself proud with well-rounded efforts, which drove the success of the company, ranging from its culture to its products/services offering to its ecosystem to its outreach program to… ad infinitum.

Its been going on successfully for more than a decade, and I am honored that so many companies seem so interested in submitting their questionnaires for the possibility of a watchlist award.

Yet, as happily successful as its been, things have been changing in the marketplace, in the world, and even in the nature of the structure of companies. Those changes created the need for me to make changes to the Watchlist, which I now have done.

But, why? I owe you this one especially if you are going to be a submitting company, so you can at least have a framework to understand what I’m looking for now.

Read also: Customer service done right: How a United Airlines crew rose above an imperfect storm

CRM Watchlist 2019: Trends that led to the change

When I started the Watchlist, the trend was traditional CRM, and it was pretty baseline stuff. The only kind of value add was some talk about analytics at the back-end and an expanded offering for marketing automation. Web self-service was coming into play and was classified more as knowledge management than customer service. As time marched on, mobile became a subject of interest, analytics became standard, and social CRM emerged as a new “form” of CRM that in 2008 to 2011 had to be distinguished from “traditional” CRM. Social media was growing so quickly that companies — beginning with Pivotal’s Social CRM offering — were integrating social communication, listening, and interaction directly into CRM suites and applications, and at the same time, companies were capturing the social data and storing it in the system of record in individual customer files. But, by 2011, there was no reason to distinguish between “social” and “traditional” CRM, because all CRM offerings came standard with social integration.

The Watchlist adjusted to that. Each year, the weights changed, the criteria were tweaked, additions were made, subtractions done, and the bar was set higher and higher.

Now, the world of customers has changed dramatically. Our customers are digital, tech savvy, and empowered. They can communicate with each other and — more often than not — the companies that they are interested in as frequently as they want via any channel and in real time. Their expectations have changed. Their demands are more strident. They are willing to go public with their upset and (not as frequently, but frequently enough) their happiness with the brands that they are communicating with, which means that what it takes for a company to impact the market it serves — as well as satisfy the customers and potential customers it has or will have, retain a true sense of independent identity as a company, and manage the cost of doing all that — has been dramatically altered.

The things that are impacting the market are significantly different than they were when all this started, too. Back when I started, and all the way through 2011, check out this sampling of terms that were either buzzworthy and/or discussion worthy.

  1. Web. 2.0
  2. Enterprise 2.0
  3. User created content
  4. Social networks
  5. Social customer
  6. Social media
  7. Software as a Service
  8. Transparency/Authenticity
  9. Cloud
  10. Revenue Performance Management (Marketing)

Now look at the 2018 list:

  1. Customer engagement
  2. Customer experience
  3. Blockchain
  4. Internet of Things
  5. Mobile Platforms
  6. Artificial Intelligence
  7. Machine Learning
  8. Personalization
  9. Digital Transformation
  10. Engagement Marketing (or Content Marketing)

See what I mean? Some of what we are talking about now existed then, such as artificial intelligence, which has been around since the 1950s, but the market/world/people in the world hadn’t caught up to it so that it had significant impact or perceived value. Now it does. Not only are all of these ideas conversation grabbers, but many of them are ideas driving what businesses think they need to do. They are real and — while at various levels of hype versus that of reality — are all part of the C-level discussions, mid-management discussions, field discussions, and, in many cases, executions these days.

Read also: Are you experienced? Customer lessons from Comcast, American Girl, and Irish whiskey

CRM Watchlist 2019: Separating the EMI

All this has created an incredible number of companies that are vying for a piece of the action. These are technology companies that are emerging by the literal thousands from not just Silicon Valley, but multiple locations around the globe. Most of them, as has been pointed out in spades by multiple writers and pundits, are going to fail. Some are going to succeed, but they will take years to do so or have to pivot a few times before they hit on the right approach. Many of them will be acquired either for their technology ( or for the impact that their company has had on the markets they serve (Marketo, Smart Communications, Gigya, Callidus Cloud) and their technology.

The one thing that all the companies needed to be successful, either at the beginning of their journey or continue to be successful as their journeys progressed, was that they had to be companies, not just technology with an institution wrapped around it.

That’s why the biggest move I’ve made is to separate the CRM Watchlist from the Emergence Maturity Index. The former is for those companies that are operating as companies and have potentially had a real impact in the market. That means they do all the things that I mention above to be companies. They have been around for awhile and proven themselves to be a fully functioning business that has what it needs to continue to succeed and hopefully continue its impact.

The EMI is for those institutions that have not yet had an impact, but they are getting to the point that they need to be to be considered a true breakout candidate in the market — one on the verge of an impact in a short enough period to be noticeable. They are not just building great stuff, but they are learning how to tell the world about it, and they are smart enough to understand that engineering at the core — except in a rare case or two (Zoho being one) — is not a sufficient business model to guarantee success. Cool technology without much else going on means a cold market. But these young organizations are fluid entities consisting of real people who make decisions every day as to its direction. That means that those decisions are going to make or break the company and its future. The EMIs are designed to identify the breakout companies, and how close to breakout they are now. Not in a time frame (because that would be a forecast, and remember how stupid I think forecasts are), but, instead, how I identify the elements of a business that are in place beyond the R&D and engineering (though including that) and the signs of future impact that the company is making, meaning they are talk and action. The actions, as small as they may be by comparison to the Watchlist, matter a great deal.

One overriding difference is that the EMI after a time will become an actual monitored, ever-changing Index, meaning it will be an ongoing assessment of the burgeoning young company, and as the elements are put into place and the signs of future impact appear, it will impact the individual company’s placement in the Index. However, the Award is based, as is the Watchlist, on what the company has done over the immediate year. (In other words, the EMIs 2019 are for what happened in 2018.)

Read also: Days of future past: Pardon me, is that laptop a real Louis Vuitton?

CRM Watchlist 2019: How to submit

This is where I must begin to distinguish between the CRM Watchlist and the EMIs. Because, in the past, all companies that provided customer-facing technologies — or services that were related to that — were eligible. No longer.

I would say that roughly 50 to 60 percent of the submissions that I received every year were from very small to small companies that may have had great products — and many did — but hadn’t done even the basic blocking and tackling that companies have to do to impact a market. That means no real marketing or outreach or even sales training. They had their technology offering and wrapped a legal entity around it. But there was no way that they were going to win the Watchlist, because its an impact award that depends on what you do as a company, and not what products or services you offer, per se. Your products and services matter, but they are one part of a much bigger total. Yet, every now and then, one of the companies break out and win the Watchlist. They may be small, but they were able to seriously impact a market, because they were mindful of what it took to run a company.

That said, it was so rare an occurrence, I realized that rather than judge these little ‘uns the same way I judged, say, Oracle or Salesforce, I needed to do something else that also had a different outcome as the result. So, the Emergence Maturity Index (EMI) seceded from the CRM Watchlist and established its own state. I explained the EMI in this post in late November 2017. So, I won’t make this post any longer than it is by explaining that again. Read the post from November.

Email your request for the registration form

If you are interested in registering for either award competition, please email me at with a request for the registration form for the one you are interested in.

Read also: Where’s the ROI in your CRM? It’s in the process

CRM Watchlist 2019: Eligible categories

A lot of what you see below are the same criteria as they were in the past. But there are some new criteria due to, especially, the creation of the EMIs for the younger, not yet fully established companies that no longer qualify for the CRM Watchlist. So, what it takes to qualify for the Watchlist is very important for you to note, because I don’t want to waste either your time or my time telling you that “no you can’t request the registration form because you don’t qualify.” I’m too old for having the patience for organizations that don’t read what I wrote.

So, first, let’s start with the eligible categories, which have been expanded. The CRM Watchlist may be keeping its name, but what qualifies a company to register is customer-facing technologies or customer-facing technology services. Not just traditional or contemporary CRM pillars.

Here’s the current list of categories. If you produce any technology that supports even one of these, you can potentially qualify.


  1. CRM Suite – Enterprise
  2. CRM Suite – Small Business
  3. CRM Suite – Midsized Business
  4. Social CRM
  5. Mobile CRM
  6. Integrated Marketing Management
  7. Marketing Resource Management
  8. Marketing Automation (a.k.a. Revenue Marketing, Engagement Marketing)
  9. Digital Marketing
  10. Other Marketing (Database Marketing, Content Marketing, Influencer Marketing)
  11. Sales Force Automation
  12. Sales Intelligence
  13. Sales Enablement
  14. Sales Optimization
  15. Sales Operations
  16. Sales Performance Management
  17. Sales Acceleration
  18. Customer Service
  19. Customer Experience Management (CEM or CXM)/Platforms
  20. Customer Engagement Applications/Platforms
  21. Web Self Service
  22. Customer Success Management
  23. Customer Identity Management
  24. Customer Lifecycle Management
  25. Customer Journey Management (Orchestration)
  26. Customer Communications Management
  27. Knowledge Management
  28. Intelligent Search
  29. Insight Platforms/Solutions
  30. Content creation, distribution, consumption and analysis
  31. Gamification
  32. Social Listening (must be integrated w/at least one CRM package)
  33. Customer Analytics (including text/sentiment analytics; voice-based analytics; social media analytics, influencer scoring, customer engagement analytics etc.
  34. Enterprise Feedback Management
  35. Reputation Management/Engine
  36. Innovation Management
  37. Community Platforms
  38. Collaboration Applications/Platforms
  39. Conversational Interface

  40. Chatbots (customer-facing services)
  41. Mobile Platforms
  42. Artificial Intelligence
  43. Internet of Things/Industrial Internet
  44. Digital Transformation
  45. Vendor Relationship Management
  46. Partner Relationship Management/Partnering Automation
  47. Other

By the way, if you can suggest any other categories that I might be missing by the end of February, I’m happy to consider them and add them. Also, to be clear, for the purposes of qualifying for the CRM Watchlist, I don’t care about the distinction between B2B and B2C, but I will care about those distinctions in your submission.

Read also: A company like me: Beyond customer-centric to customer-engaged

CRM Watchlist 2019: Criteria for entering

There are a couple of general points to be made: Some of the criteria for the specifics of submission are not outlined here for space considerations, but they will be outlined on the questionnaire when you receive it. The first one here is the most important — it now frames and limits who can enter the Watchlist.

  1. Existence and revenue: You must be able to, if asked, show a legal corporate existence for a minimum of four years to be a participant in the Watchlist, though the likelihood of me asking is very small. You also must have more than $ 2,000,000 USD (or the equivalent) in revenue (not a run rate) in your immediate prior fiscal year and have a minimum of 75 employees to participate.
  2. Ask for an exception: You can, if you are close but don’t meet the submission criteria for the Watchlist, ask for an exception, but be prepared to say exactly what you think qualifies you for the exception. So, for example: “We had $ 55 million in revenue in 2016, but in early 2017, we sold a division of the company that was responsible for $ 53.5 million of that, and thus, our revenue in 2017 fell of, but our impact didn’t.” OK, I’ll take that under advisement, and other possible reasons that you can concoct. If you want the exception, email me, and I’ll send you a short email asking you a few questions (two to three, probably) that needs to be returned in 24 hours. If not, no exception. I’ll respond “yes” or “no” in 24 hours after that.
  3. Two weeks to return: Once you request the registration form, you have two weeks (14 days) from the day I send it to you to return it to me. That means, if you receive it on Feb. 19, 2018, then you have until March 5, 2018 to return it. If you have it and don’t return it by then, you will not be eligible for the Watchlist for the year. I may or may not send you a reminder if I haven’t seen it, but I’m not assuming any obligation whatsoever to do that. I’m honestly tired of chasing down companies that then tell me, “Oh, it got lost in the shuffle” or “Oh, we were busy.” So am I, and I don’t want to spend my time tracking companies that clearly aren’t all that committed to return a simple registration form. There’s no longer an unlimited amount of time to return it.

All in all, this is a tough thing to win, and if you do, I think at least you deserve to be honored for it. If you win in any way, you will get a review on ZDNet about why you won and things that you could do to be even better, if I have anything to say about it.

This is going to be strict, but I hope its well worth it to you. Even though I sound prickly, I’m genuinely honored if you do go ahead and participate in the CRM Watchlist 2019. Despite my grumpy exterior, I’m very gooey inside.

Read also: The big 4 tech companies — my musings on two, Microsoft and Salesforce

CRM Watchlist 2019: Unbreakable Rules

The rules in this section are unbreakable. What that means, to be clear, is that if you break them in any way at all, there will be some form of penalty assessed, ranging from your final score being affected to disqualification and being taken off my radar. The type of penalty will be in parentheses after the rule. In advance, I apologize for being so draconian, but at this stage, there are still too many registrants and submissions that are ignoring what I ask.

  1. Deadline: This questionnaire must be completely filled out and submitted by Dec. 31, 2018 by 6pm PST to qualify for the CRM Watchlist 2019. There are no exceptions to the rule. If you would like me to spend several hours to days of my time researching you, then please respect me enough to make sure that this form is submitted in full. That means all the information I need to determine my scoring should be entirely contained on the questionnaire. There can be no links to anything but supplemental material.
  2. Answer everything: I expect you to answer everything I ask — exactly as it is asked, and not as you feel like responding. In what seems to be a so far endless pattern, I was frustrated last year by several companies that didn’t respond to the question as I asked it. For example, if I ask “Who are you in touch with?”, then the answer I need to see from you is about those who you are in touch with. Please don’t assume I don’t mean it literally, because I do. Also, please don’t ignore what I’m asking and take shortcuts or assume a greater good that I’m not assuming. This past year, one company, that is significantly influential in its market, submitted a questionnaire that both ignored some of the questions I was asking and interpreted other questions for their own convenience and responded with answers that only partially answered what I asked. It had so many deductions that it didn’t win — and it would have, if it had simply adhered to my request to completely fill out the questionnaire. (Penalties: Deductions from the final score, based on the number of incomplete or ignored answers to questions.)
  3. Acknowledgement: As a corollary of that, please understand that, whether you are my client or someone I have tracked or a past winner of the Watchlist, as far as you are concerned, I am a third party reading your submission. That means that, if I am one of the influencers who you are in touch with, say so, as if I’m reading that for the first time. If you won the Watchlist, mention that. In your mind, I’m independent of the guy reading the submission. (Penalties: Small deduction if you don’t acknowledge me or anything associated with me as a third party.)
  4. Notify me if you don’t submit: If you get the questionnaire and decide that you don’t want to submit, you must let me know before Sept. 30, 2018 at 6pm PST. There will be absolutely no exceptions. The reason is that, once that deadline passes, I do corollary research on each company prior to submission. That means I do research on the companies I am assuming are submitting, because they didn’t withdraw. That is several hours per company. I already spend thousands of hours over a year working on tracking the submissions. I read 6,100 pages in 2016 from 136 submissions. I have virtually no holidays or life because of that. Almost needless to say, I am not very happy when I do the research and then the companies don’t submit. The penalties for this disrespect for my time and effort (and the rules) is severe. But all you need to do is, if you don’t want to submit, notify me by the due date above. That’s not too hard, though, apparently, seven companies found it hard in 2016. (Penalties: Suspension for the next year of the contest — in this case 2020, and you are not on my radar as an analyst/influencer for at least a year.)
  5. One submission: You only get one submission — and no updates to that submission — though I will allow what should be an obvious correction, and it’s my discretion to allow or disallow. Given that there is only one submission, I would suggest that you send it as close to the Dec. 31, 2018 due date as you are comfortable in doing. For example, if you send it in October, everything that occurs from that day on to the end of the year will not be considered — even if I see it in my corollary research. So, please be careful about when you submit.

Read also: Football fans don’t care about sports. Wait, what?

CRM Watchlist 2019: The EMI criteria

The bulk of the criteria are the same as the Watchlist: You must request a registration form, and then you have two weeks to submit it. The due dates are the same, etc. The fact that your company provides a customer-facing technology or services supporting customer-facing technologies are the same. Here is what’s different and thus notable:

  1. Revenue: Has less than $ 2 million in annual actual revenue (not run rate) the prior fiscal year. (In this case, it will be 2018, even though 2018 will be over when questionnaires are submitted.)
  2. Outside funding: You can be an outside funded company, though you will be asked to talk about it in your questionnaire. (The round you have received is also immaterial.)
  3. Employees: You have under 75 employees. (Exceptions will be considered.)
  4. Existence: You have been in existence less than six years. (Six years exactly doesn’t qualify — i.e., 5 years, 11 months, 364 days or less qualifies.)

So, one and all, this long-winded introduction to the newly revised Watchlist and the emergence of the Emergence Maturity Index Awards leads me to one last thing: Registration is now open for both the CRM Watchlist 2019 and the Emergence Maturity Index Awards.

To reiterate, if you are interested in registering for either award competition, please email me at with a request for the registration form for the one you are interested in.

Let the games begin!

Previous and related coverage

Ringing in a belated New Year with SAP, Oracle, and the CRM Watchlist 2019

I promised that I would cover my speculations about Oracle and SAP, and to fulfill my obligations for 2017, here they are — in 2018.

Change agents aren’t personas, they are human

This report is really interesting and potentially very valuable to those of you who have digital transformation efforts either underway or are contemplating some version of one.

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Microsoft Launches New Marketing Module for Dynamics 365

CRM Blog Microsoft Launches New Marketing Module for Dynamics 365

We have been hearing about this for quite a while, it is finally launched – the new Marketing module for Dynamics 365. This has been released to public preview meaning you can access this and start using it today.

To enable this public preview feature go to Specify your email address (that is used to login to Dynamics 365 as an admin) and your phone number. It will walk you through a brief setup process and enable the preview. Note: It takes a while to provision this module (up to an hour). Also, we recommend enabling this in your sandbox or other non-production system to test before deploying to production. Let us know if you would like assistance getting the marketing preview setup in your Dynamics 365 system.

For other previews:

  1. Go to Settings > Administration.

  2. Choose System Settings, and then click the Previews tab.
  3. Read the license terms, and if you agree, select the I’ve read and agree to the license terms check box.
  4. For each preview feature you want to enable, click Yes.

Pricing – I spoke to Microsoft, no pricing is available yet… stay tuned.

With Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Marketing, marketers can seamlessly:

  • Generate more leads from multi-channel campaigns across email, landing pages, webinars, phone calls, in-person events, LinkedIn and more. New customizable templates for emails and landing pages help you create campaign content quickly. And with a dedicated email marketing service, you can get the word out reliably.
  • Nurture more sales-ready leads by personalizing the buyer’s journey that guides your leads to next best experience based on their engagement.
  • Target the right audience using embedded intelligence capabilities like dynamic segmentation. With multiple lead scoring models, you can prioritize the leads that are ready to buy. Automated insights can help you track how your leads are engaging during your campaigns.
  • Organize events with ease using the event portal to manage in-person events and integration with webinar providers.
  • Track and improve marketing performance using built-in dashboards. Run surveys from the application that help you better understand your customers.

We are excited about this launch and will be analyzing the new functionality and sharing what we find. Look for a comparison with ClickDimensions and a webinar to showcase the new marketing module, both coming soon.

About the Author: David Buggy is a veteran of the CRM industry with 18 years of experience helping businesses transform by leveraging Customer Relationship Management technology. He has over 14 years experience with Microsoft CRM and has helped hundreds of businesses plan, implement and support CRM initiatives. David is President & CEO of Strava Technology Group, a firm that is focused on helping businesses achieve success with Microsoft CRM and Dynamics 365. To reach David connect with him on LinkedIn. To learn more about Strava Technology Group visit

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3 Ways CMOs Can Prepare Against Data Breaches

20180218 bnr hacker breach 351x200 3 Ways CMOs Can Prepare Against Data Breaches

Market to the opportunity

Breach preparedness might not seem an especially exciting task to take on, but it’s crucial to the success of your vision as a CMO, and to the overall solvency of your brand. You need to make sure you’re proactively marketing your preparedness and general data hygiene practices.Make the measures you’ve taken part of your overall demand gen toolkit – central to outbound campaigns and promotions, reinforced in calls you take with potential customers and clients. This isn’t just good business sense; this is common sense for the world we live in, where buyers are more educated than ever before on issues surrounding data privacy and anxious to have conversations on breach preparedness. I can’t tell you how many RFPs I’ve seen that foreground privacy questions and considerations.

Make it a point to market compliance at every juncture of the customer journey. Customers and partners can be confident you’ll protect the data they provide you and will only use it in manners that are transparent and for the manner intended.

Invest in privacy and compliance certification

In this increasingly connected age, measures around privacy and compliance aren’t simply nice-to-haves; they’re must-haves. The ROI for a privacy certification might seem difficult to quantify, when the initial outlay looks large, but the cost to your brand without the investment is ten times higher, in the event especially of a breach (and ensuing backlash from customers).

Make privacy programs a priority – certifications, industry alliances and memberships, participation in working groups – and see to it the program you choose fits your organization’s size and unique data needs (especially if yours is an industry where data privacy is particularly paramount). There are affordable third-party solutions available to organizations of all sizes, from BBB Online to TrustE, and CMOs should make an effort to evaluate and exhaust their every option on this front. An ounce of prevention, remember, is worth a pound of cure.

Looking ahead

The data management and breach incident landscape is changing rapidly. Stay on top of the issues by engaging in industry resources and groups that can provide you updated information pertaining to all things privacy and data management. Ensure that privacy management is a core function within your organization and is supported by the c-suite, which means available budget that your business can leverage to adopt tools and services that make privacy stewardship a competitive edge for the organization.

Bottom line: a commitment to privacy is good for business and good for your users, and as the main steward of the customer experience, it’s up to you as CMO to cultivate a privacy program that can go the distance – supporting a more seamless brand experience, and increasing ROI long term.

Remember, not all data breaches are created equal – some are more painful than others. The good news? With these proactive steps you can limit the event and possible fallout, as well as demonstrate corporate governance during the difficult time of navigating the data breach resolution.

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3 Fundamental Factors Predicting Your Marketing Automation Success

2017 AO RethinkMktgPodcast Featured Bosley Fundamentals 3 Fundamental Factors Predicting Your Marketing Automation Success

This transcript has been edited for length. To get the full measure, listen to the podcast

Predicting Your Marketing Automation Success

Nathan Isaacs: Can you tell us more about the Fundamental Three.

Phil Bosley: You have to have a good email frequency. You have to have the website be tracking website visitors on your website. And you had to have had your forms integrated to Act-On. And not even using Act-On’s form tool, as long as your forms were integrated and Act-On was collecting that data.

If you had those three, good form collection, good website tracking, and good email volume, you would be delighted with Act-On. And the customers that chose to continue their partnership with Act-On, when those three things were in place, were in the high 90 percentile. If you’re doing those fundamental three things, you love your Act-On experience.

Nathan: And what happens if you were not doing those three, or not doing one of the three?

Phil: That was the craziest part of the study. When a customer elected to not do one of the three. It’s pretty obvious most people use Act-On for email, so that one is kind of a wash, like everybody uses Act-On for email.

But if you had elected to not deploy the beacon, you weren’t collecting that website visitor data inside of Act-On. If you had chosen to not integrate your forms, you weren’t collecting form information in Act-On. Then the vast majority of customers that were not doing one of those three things would find themselves at the end of their contract saying, ‘I just don’t know what Act-On provides me.’

Nathan: And can you talk more about each one of the Fundamental Three, like when you talk about email frequency is that one email a quarter, or is that one email a week, or is that a million emails?

Email Frequency

Phil: We looked at different sizes of customers. Act-On has 1,000 active contact a month subscription, and we have customers who send many millions of emails every single month. And what we did is we looked at the different sizes of customers, and how that impacted their likelihood to love Act-On. And it was really quite amazing. What we saw is regardless of the size of the customer, it was completely agnostic to size. What was really, really important was really the percentage of your contacts that you’re using.

For example, if I’m a small organization and I have a subscription to about 1,000 active contacts. That means I can email 1,000 people a month. As long as I was emailing to about 20 percent of those people, I would love Act-On. Where we saw the problem is when people would go for extended periods, like multiple months of time without reaching out to their audience. But if you were reaching out to at least about 20 percent of your audience once a month, those customers time and time again, in like 95 percent of the time, loved their Act-On experience.

Form Submissions

Nathan: With some customers they may want to continue using third-party integrations. Is it all or nothing? How does that work out?

Phil: It’s a really great question. When we talk about the Act-On beacon, that’s the mechanism that allows us to track and integrate your website visitor information to the behavior profile. We talk about form submissions. A lot of customers do see it as all or none, especially when they’re going through onboarding. They’re making decisions based on their 60- and 90-day priorities. And, for example, if we take forms, oftentimes integrating their forms is not a 60- or 90-day priority. They’re working now on that next email campaign. And it’s something that they just don’t come back to.

Many customers, and working with thousands of Act-On customers, I’ve heard this many, many times, they simply prefer a different form tool. We know that about 40 percent of the websites in the world run on WordPress. And the WordPress plugins for forms are just beautiful, and they’re simple, and they’re easy. And what many marketers struggled to understand is, why would I replace this easy thing that I’m doing, that works for me, with a new tool, with an Act-On form. And what I think a lot of people don’t understand is you just don’t have to.

What’s important is in that process that Act-On is learning who is submitting forms. Now that’s different than data being migrated through say a form submission to CRM and synced to Act-On. When somebody submits a form that’s tied to Act-On, Act-On actually learns the identity of that browser, of that device, and can associate, stitch it into this bigger picture profile that we have of the customer.

And Act-On is designed with what we called an open market ecosystem, meaning if you have a custom form on your website that you like, you invested a lot into developing this custom experience, it’s extremely simple to then connect that custom form to Act-On. If you have another form tool that you like, say Ninja Forms, or Gravity Forms, or Contact Form 7, it’s extremely simple to just integrate that form submission with Act-On. A little bit of JavaScript, takes a JavaScript writer about 10 minutes to put together, deploys on the website, and now that entire experience that’s custom to you exactly the way that you want it is also gaining you the benefit of marketing automation, of creating the known visitor, of really building out the intelligence that you have to work from in Act-On.

The Act-On Website Beacon

In a similar fashion the website beacon, a lot of people use Google Analytics, I use Google Analytics, is a great way to track traffic and traffic trends on your website. The Act-On website beacon actually tracks individual behaviors, and it can be used in segmentation, in personalization, in in-depth understanding of your audience and their behaviors, it’s used in lead scoring. It’s so critical to so many things that are outside of just the traffic trend. And because people don’t understand how critical that is, by the time they realize that they need it, they haven’t been collecting data. Again it’s 10 minutes to deploy. It’s just one of those things you have to prioritize early in your Act-On journey.

Pulling it All Together

Nathan: Excellent. If this is new to some folks or they haven’t really done any of this, what are your recommendations for them? What should they be doing?

Phil: Well if this is brand new, like if this is the first time you’re thinking about Act-On and marketing automation, and you’re asking the question, how do these pieces fit, like we want to be successful, we want to be happy with Act-On, we want to receive the benefits, the productivity, and increased sales that Act-On provides, but you’re just not sure how the pieces fit, the Act-On University actually has an excellent marketing automation strategy course. And what it does is it just gives you that big picture vision and these fundamentals on how to deploy it.

So as an Act-On user, just the grad cap in the top right of your environment, go to the university, click on the course listing, and register for the marketing automation strategy class. It’s a live instructor-led class. There’s Q&A. It’s something that I think literally every customer I’ve ever talked to that’s gone through that class has called it invaluable.

If you have the big picture, and you get it, all of it clicked, and you’re like, yeah, we just wanna go do that, you can either hit the university, we’ve got some great article content on how to integrate your forms, or we have some great content on how to deploy the website beacon. If you need a little more help than that, then just reach out to our support organization, Those guys and gals in the support organization can just walk you through the technical requirements and configuration, so that you can be up and running in no time.

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Trending in CRM

It’s uncertain how the CRM market will look in six months, given the stock market, the economy and the tax bill. Initial indications are that more money will be available for various corporate activities, like hiring and rewarding employees and investments in products and business processes. If so, a decent amount of cash might find its way into various CRM company coffers. But which ones?

At this point in the cycle, the CRM market is especially robust, and that can be a happy problem of too much. Businesses are being told of the importance of artificial intelligence and machine learning, and digitalization in all of its forms, and though they’re all important, we’ve seen this movie before.

Man vs. Machine

Despite the emphasis many have been placing on digitalization, some of us have made whole careers of digitizing one or more parts of businesses. Ditto AI, which goes back to mini-computers at least. I know my career has been all about those things.

What’s different today is the Internet, the speed with which we can take actions, and the focus on the man vs. machine debate. In the way-back time, nobody took the man vs. machine thing very seriously. Although labor-saving technology sold itself on the ROI from reduced headcount, no one seriously considered job losses (they did occur in some cases). The focus was on reassigning people from low-value add jobs to higher-value ones.

Today’s market is also different because at least some vendors are bringing out categories few of us have considered. You can see that when people pause and say, “Gee, I never… .” In all of this it’s hard to decide where to focus our efforts. Following are a couple of recent examples to illustrate some of these points.

Digital Signatures

Conga has introduced Conga Sign, a signature capture solution for Salesforce. That seems like a tight market, with companies like DocuSign having been one of the first vendors in the space back in the Punic Wars, but there it is.

No doubt Conga’s integration with Salesforce will give people a reason to investigate, and Conga’s long-term customer base will be glad to have the choice. At the same time, having another product like this in the AppExchange won’t hurt Salesforce either.

Business Planning

Adaptive Insights just announced its business planning for sales product. Planning is the company’s bread and butter, and it offers other planning tools specific to things like finance.

However, even the most seasoned business people might look at this announcement and say “Gee, I never… .” It’s not that sales planning isn’t important — it’s that I would assume most businesses do it through spreadsheets, email and, probably, chewing gum.

Modeling business activity, especially sales, is an excellent idea for a variety of reasons. Certainly, we’ve reached a point in numerous verticals where lack of a plan and a model of the business can spell disaster. This is especially true in cloud computing.

I suspect that business planning and sales planning (and other modeling tools) will be most useful not in the things most of us would assume for such products, but as early warning signaling devices for churn and attrition.

This will be especially true in cloud businesses, where nobody can afford to wait for quarterly results. In the cloud, “how are we doing?” is a question of the moment.

My Two Cents

The range and quantity of new products appearing on the market is breathtaking, and it brings happy problems for vendors and customers. We’ve already looked at some here, but there’s one that we should be especially aware of on the vendor side — marketing and sales.

We’ve built a powerful suite of sales and marketing tools, and lately it has seemed that we are especially fond of the ones that enable automatic selling and more retail-oriented models. It’s assumed that all of the new and wonderful products can sell themselves, and much of this assumption is reasonable. It might be a mind trap though.

The purpose of employing sales people is to introduce into markets products that are new, whose purpose is not readily apparent, or that are complex. At the moment, we seem to have a marketplace full of products that need to be sold, not bought. To do this, sales people will need marketing support and content. If there’s additional cash available, I suspect some of it will be put to work the old school way.
end enn Trending in CRM

Denis%20Pombriant Trending in CRMDenis Pombriant is a well-known CRM industry researcher, strategist, writer and speaker. His new book, You Can’t Buy Customer Loyalty, But You Can Earn It, is now available on Amazon. His 2015 book, Solve for the Customer, is also available there.
Email Denis.

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CRM Buyer

10 Marketing Lessons Inspired by Musician Dave Grohl

20180214 bnr rock guitarist 351x200 10 Marketing Lessons Inspired by Musician Dave Grohl

#1 Know your core competencies.

For Grohl, this means music. He’s a self-taught musician and a natural behind both the mic and drum kit. He’s also an enthusiastic speaker, gifted at rallying crowds and engaging fans. Grohl is confident in his own shoes. He knows who he is, and that naturally extends to his “brand.”

As he said in his keynote speech at the 2013 SXSW conference: “It’s YOUR voice. Cherish it. Respect it. Nurture it. Challenge it. Stretch it and scream until it’s [obscenity] gone. Because everyone is blessed with at least that, and who knows how long it will last. …”

Do you know what your company is good at? If not, there are ways to find out. Try looking at what sells best and what your customers say about you, for example. Once you discover what those things are, cling to them.

#2 Try new things.

As much as Grohl knows his core competencies, he’s also not afraid to push the envelope a bit and try new things. He was a drummer first. When Nirvana ended due to singer/guitarist Kurt Cobain’s death in 1994, Grohl was quiet. He re-emerged a year later with a new album, Pocketwatch, on which he sang the main vocals and played not only the drums but also all the other instruments. He clung close to his core competency of music, but extended his brand.

Years later, after many popular albums and arena tours, Grohl looked at another brand extension: film-making. He and the Foos were the subjects of the documentary Back and Forth, a behind-the-scenes peek at the band, including a look at their recording process for Wasting Light. After that came a Grohl-directed documentary on legendary Southern California recording studio Sound City.

No doubt inspired by Sound City, Grohl embarked on yet another jump-off idea: a documentary of historic recording studios around the United States. The show and album of the same name was called Sonic Highways.

As you can probably see, each project gave way to another. Grohl’s career has naturally evolved, with the roots all tracing back to his drumsticks.

Has your brand done the same? If not, could it? You don’t have to start with a big concept. If someone had told the young Grohl that someday he’d be making an HBO mini-series, he probably would have scoffed. But with each project, his dreams evolved and grew naturally. Your brand’s R&D can do the same.

#3 Don’t be afraid to fail.

That album created for Sonic Highways wasn’t particularly well received by critics, who knocked it for being more concept than album. As a music nerd and fan, I was fascinated. I love listening to the songs to pick up cues and clues of the places that influence and infuse the material. But I understand the critics’ point. When holding up the tracks from that album to some of the stronger earlier records, I can see Sonic Highways is more theory than substance.

But the sheer fact that Grohl and the Foo Fighters released the album speaks volumes to me. It was a strange idea to write and record a track in each of eight cities and studios. The band could have stopped at just the documentary. But they extended the concept, brought in their core competency of music, and went for it. To me, that isn’t a failure at all – it’s a demonstration of bravery and also a learning experience. For one thing, I suspect they discovered that it’s incredibly challenging to write a new song on demand and then record it, on equipment you’re not used to, in a relatively short amount of time. Maybe if they do a second season, they’ll allow themselves more time in each place.

Let’s think back to marketing and branding. What mistakes have you made – and how can you learn from them? It’s always wise to hold “post-mortems” after a big project, whether it ended positively or not. Take stock of what went down, and take notes on what you can do better next time.

#4 Look to the past.

As evidenced by his interest in American recording studios, Grohl’s a student of his craft. He wears his influences unapologetically on his sleeve, and has reverence for legendary musicians and venues. Most recently, Grohl and the band announced they are resurrecting Cal Jam, which was a historic outdoor concert in Southern California in the 1970s. In order to stir interest and drive ticket sales, Grohl and Foo’s drummer Taylor Hawkins posted a rogue social media ad on the band’s accounts. In it, they talked about the past Cal Jams, the epic stacked lineups, and what they had planned for 2017’s event.

“He’s an appreciator,” says Dave’s mother, Virginia Grohl,  in a Rolling Stone article. “He has a respect for history and roots.”

What about you? Do you look to the past – of your own company, as well as your industry? What can you learn or try or pay homage to?

#5 Know how to stay relevant.

Despite his reverence for the past, Grohl also knows how to stay front and center in our minds. He and the Foos put out new releases – albums, documentaries – like clockwork, and they tour regularly. They also make funny stunts, such as recently Rickrolling the audience of a festival show in Asia. Grohl and his bandmates always seem to have something in the headlines.

Does your brand stay relevant? Do you use the latest tools – and, more importantly, are you constantly reminding your brand fans of your products and existence? No one wants to be out of sight, out of mind. Yet, with all the distractions and competitions on our time, it’s an easy place to fall into.

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