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Retail CRM (Finally) Comes of Age

Yogi Berra once advised "In theory, there’s no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is."

Retail CRM has become an underlying platform supporting proven business development strategies — such as omni-channel communications, customer experience (CX) management, social media engagement, loyalty programs, retail marketing automation and mobility among others — but for too many retailers these practices still appear to be theories.

The gap between retail leaders and laggards is growing. Despite the retail industry research, retail best practices and numerous case studies, many retailers sit the sidelines with regard to new consumer engagement methods and technology adoption. These retailers know their customers are ahead of them but defer innovative retail strategies and in turn find themselves perpetually behind their customers.

It reminds me of the 1990’s when retailers took a slow approach to creating their websites, and later their ecommerce platforms. And like that era, today’s consumers who expect to connect with their new and favorite brands over social, mobile and other channels are not a fad and are not going away. Retailers can adopt consumer strategies and supporting technologies now or they can wait until these strategies themselves become commoditized. Adopting them before competitors will result in increased consumer engagement and improved business performance.

The Retail CRM Tipping Point

22 years after the phrase Customer Relationship Management was coined, retailers are adopting CRM in mass for the first time. So why now? Because for the first time brands, manufacturers, retailers and others are pursuing direct relationships with consumers. More Retail CRM ...

Author By Chuck Schaeffer        Calendar 3/28/2014        Trackback Permalink        Comments       Filed In Posted in Retail CRM
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Best of Microsoft Convergence

Microsoft Convergence returned to the Georgia World Congress Center and ended today with a flurry of announcements and product plans that made this 18th Convergence far more notable than most. I'll use this blog post to comment on the big picture — which is most certainly going to impact all other facets of the company — and then explore some of the specifics behind the Dynamics CRM announcements.

Change is in the Air

Microsoft has undergone more top leadership changes in the last 30 days than in the last 30 years and we’re already seeing signs that more change is on the horizon. On February 4 Satya Nadella became the third CEO of Microsoft. It’s not lost on the Dynamics channel that he previously followed the legendary Doug Burgum as the VP of the Business Solutions Division, albeit for a very short period of about 6 months.

It was never on the agenda, but I expected this Convergence to be a coming out conference for Nadella. I suspected he would show up to meet 12,000 of his best customers, partners and advocates and rock the place. That never happened. What a lost opportunity.

Microsoft also has a new Chairman of the Board. John Thompson is relatively new to the board at about two years, but is regarded as the lead independent member. Many acknowledge him as the driver who accelerated Steve Ballmer’s departure and who headed the special committee to find Ballmer’s successor. He’s got a lot riding on Nadella and I firmly expect these two to introduce a much needed change to what has been an uneasy status quo at Microsoft. More Microsoft Convergence ...

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Author By Chuck Schaeffer        Calendar 3/7/2014        Trackback Permalink        Comments       Filed In Posted in Microsoft
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Lead Distribution Best Practices to Decrease Lead Leakage & Increase Top Line Revenues

In my prior blog post I shared my lead scoring framework. Just as accurate lead scoring is a prerequisite to delivering sales-ready leads to the sales force, sales transfer and follow-through is the process that both gets sales-ready leads to the sales person and validates whether the lead scoring is working or not. However, the sales lead transfer process creates a blind spot, requires sales and marketing alignment to work and as most CMOs and marketing automation consultants will attest represents the single greatest breakdown point in the lead generation process.

The mechanics of assigning scored leads to sales people are simple. However, lead assignment in the absence of accompanying processes does little to ensure that leads are followed through or combat the perennial problem of lead leakage. The biggest surprise for most business development leaders when defining the optimal lead transfer procedure is understanding the prerequisites which must be in place long before leads and forwarded from marketing to sales. Consider these best practices when designing your lead distribution process. More lead distribution ...

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Author By Chuck Schaeffer        Calendar 2/7/2014        Trackback Permalink        Comments       Filed In Posted in Marketing
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A 10 Step Framework to Accurate Lead Scores

Lead scoring is the process of ranking a leads fit, interest and propensity to buy by assigning or removing point values to the lead based on explicit (demographics and profile fit) and implicit (behaviors and activities) attributes.

Successful lead scoring enables marketing to prioritize leads, send (only) sales-ready leads to the sales team, nurture the not-yet-sales ready leads until they become qualified and reduce the perennial problem of lead leakage. From a payback perspective, Marketing Sherpa reports that "On average, organizations that use lead scoring experience a 77% lift in lead generation ROI, over organizations that do not use lead scoring."

But scoring leads is easier said than done. Interpreting a lead’s digital footprints in order to gauge their persona, preferences, position in the purchase cycle and propensity to buy is a sophisticated undertaking. Marketing Sherpa also reports that 79% of marketers have not yet implemented lead scoring, which contributes to another recent report from Gartner which shares that 70% of sales leads are either not properly leveraged or completely ignored. More lead scoring ...

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Author By Chuck Schaeffer        Calendar 1/27/2014        Trackback Permalink        Comments (15)       Filed In Posted in Marketing
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How To Succeed with a Voice of the Customer Program

Voice of the Customer (VoC) programs have become a strategic asset for the many forward thinking and customer-centric CEOs, CMOs and customer experience leaders. In fact, in the 2013 Best Practices of the Best Marketers Research Report, Chief Marketing Officers whose performance ranked them in the top quartile used VoC programs a whopping 68% more often than their lower performing peers.

It’s been my experience that most companies think they know what their customers’ want—and more often than not they are either partially correct or incomplete. Either scenario results with a cascading effect that degrades product R&D, marketing communications, sales effectiveness, services delivery and customer experience (CX) objectives. The negative financial impact incurred in any one of these areas is a significant hidden loss than goes unrecognized by most business leaders.

A Recommended Approach

If you don’t already have a VoC program, here’s a 10 step approach and some best practices to get you going.

VOC framework ...

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Author By Chuck Schaeffer        Calendar 1/13/2014       Trackback Permalink       Comments (17)      Filed In Posted in CRM Strategy
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The Strategic Importance of Measuring Customer Lifetime Value

I’ve often referred to Customer Lifetime Value (CLV or LTV) as the loneliest CRM key performance indicator, which is particularly troublesome as this metric is forward looking, identifies both the degree of customer-centricity along with customer upside potential, and can be a catalyst for spurring increases in customer share, customer retention, margin improvement and top line revenues.

To start, it’s a good idea to define CLV. The Marketing Accountability Standards Board (MASB) defines customer lifetime value as the present value of the future cash flows attributed to the customer during the entire relationship with the company.

Putting this CLV definition into a numerical calculation can look like the following:

Customer Lifetime Value = Profit ($) * Retention (%) / (1 + Discount (%) – Retention (%))

More CLV ...

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Author By Chuck Schaeffer        Calendar 12/27/2013        Trackback Permalink        Comments (1)       Filed In Posted in CRM Strategy
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Mobile CRM – Why it Fails, and How to Succeed

In terms of mobility, 2013 was the year vendors shipped more than 1 billion smartphones. Complementing this mobility trend, IDC forecasts that tablet sales will reach 227.4 million units in 2013, a whopping 57.7% increase from 2012. Yet for all the mobile adoption, mobile CRM remains sporadic and under-utilized for most organizations, and of the few mobile CRM adopters, most fail to achieve sustained user adoption and a positive ROI.

So what’s the disconnect?

Too many believe that mobile CRM is simply CRM software delivered on a mobile device. This simple thinking fails to recognize that typical CRM objectives such as opportunity management, creating quotes or displaying a 360 degree customer view are seldom well delivered within the form factor of smartphones.

Many mobile apps are simply impractical because the (desktop) application is simply resized to a mobile device. Other mobile apps are visually appealing, but not very smart in that they fail to take advantage of the mobile devices unique strengths. Another common problem is failing to recognize that mobility shouldn’t be applied across the spectrum of CRM business processes but instead focused on the particular mobility-driven use cases that deliver the biggest value. More mobile CRM ...

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Author By Chuck Schaeffer        Calendar 11/11/2013        Trackback Permalink        Comments (0)       Filed In Posted in Mobile CRM
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6 Methods to Grow Revenues Using Social Marketing

Chief Marketing Officers are looking for innovative techniques to fill the top of the funnel with targeted leads, and social marketing offers a unique opportunity that many are considering within a broader integrated marketing mix. In fact, social media spending as a percentage of marketing budgets is forecast to more than double according to research from the American Marketing Association and Duke University's Fuqua School of Business. Their research report titled The CMO Survey found that companies are increasing their social media spend from 8.4% to 21.6% of the total marketing budget over the next five years.

Social marketing is one tenant of a social CRM strategy. Other tenants include social selling and social service, and social CRM should also support the overarching company social strategy – so as to not limit social goals to just the Customer Relationship Management objectives. That’s a lot of social stuff, so for this blog post I’m going to focus on sharing six social marketing techniques to acquire more leads for the sales team and earn more revenues for the company. More social marketing ...

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Author By Chuck Schaeffer        Calendar 9/23/2013        Trackback Permalink        Comments (0)       Filed In Posted in Marketing
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7 Steps to Jump Start Your Social Selling Strategy

According to CSO Insights, and their Sales Performance Optimization research results, sales pros are responsible for generating almost half of their new leads.

How are your sales leads generated?
2011
2012
2013
Self-generated by sales reps
47.1%
46.6%
45.0%
Generated by marketing
29.3%
26.1%
30.5%
Other sources (partners, referrals, etc.)
23.6%
27.3%
24.5%
Source: Sales Performance Optimization, 2011-2013, CSO Insights

Unfortunately, sales reps are incurring some increasing challenges in sourcing those leads. An IBM Preference Study advises that cold calls are ineffective 97% of the time, and this figure has been increasing by 7% every year since 2010. Fortunately, savvy sales pros are turning to social selling methods to pick up the slack.

Social selling is about applying the information available in social channels to aid your sales strategies and pursuits. This information includes prospect or customer social comments of all types, including questions, frustrations, concerns and inquiries, and tends to be both candid and desirous of a response.

B2B buyers are publicly sharing their opinions about what they want and need, what they like and dislike, and what matters to them. Sales professionals that harness and act on this information can engage with these buyers before the buyers have engaged with other sales competitors—putting themselves into an early and coveted position where the sale may then be theirs to lose.

But even while sales professionals tend to be social themselves, adopting online social selling techniques in order to uncover relevant conversations and unmet needs can be difficult. Here’s 7 steps to jump start your social selling strategy. More social selling ...

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Author By Chuck Schaeffer        Calendar 9/2/2013        Trackback Permalink        Comments (0)       Filed In Posted in Sales
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Best Practices in Sales Pipeline Management

Sales pipeline management and optimization are tasks that many managers have left unchanged for years—which is unfortunate as even small adjustments in pipeline management can yield big changes to top line revenues. Here’s some thoughts to revisit this critical business process and some best practices in sales pipeline design, operation and maintenance.

  1. Pipeline Design. Rather than design the pipeline as a siloed storage container for sale opportunities, it’s a good idea to architect the sale pipeline within the bigger context of a revenue funnel. For most companies this means consolidating the Top of the Funnel (TOFU) managed by marketing with the Middle of the Funnel (MOFU) which is cooperatively facilitated by both marketing and sales and the Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU) which is managed by sales.

    Revenue Funnel

    Managing the bigger picture allows sales to better understand pipeline health, including inflow, outflow, movement, stagnation and velocity. Further, designing an integrated lead-to-revenue funnel permits sales and marketing leaders to measure conversions and work backwards from slated revenue targets by knowing exactly what must go into the TOFU to come out the bottom. When this revenue reverse engineering uses actual data and known conversions, and not just hypothetical win rates or wishful thinking, forecasted revenue targets become systematically achievable and sales and marketing managers know how improving any specific conversion factor in the revenue funnel will impact revenue performance. This knowledge lets sales and marketing leaders prioritize their business process improvements in a way that most impacts top line revenues.

More sales pipeline best practices ...

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Author By Chuck Schaeffer       Calendar 8/26/2013      Trackback Permalink      Comments (0)     Filed In Posted in Sales
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How to Grow Revenues with Marketing Automation Software

It’s been my experience that when aligning technology to support revenue enhancement projects, applying both creative thinking and lessons from complimentary strategies and technologies can collectively deliver the biggest top line revenue impact.

For example, as CMOs increasingly recognize they must become co-contributors to revenue creation, and to that end become accountable for their direct contribution to the pipeline, forecast and earned revenues, they are increasingly turning to marketing automation systems such as Eloqua, Marketo, Salesforce.com and Silverpop. But do these marketing software systems grow revenues? Maybe. It depends who you ask. But beyond asking, if you look to the actual results, it becomes clear that few adopters truly achieve the slated strategic benefits and even fewer grow revenues.

To be fair, I’m an advocate of marketing automation when backed with strategy, and I’ve personally deployed these applications many times over with substantial revenue gains. But I’ve also done a lot of research, and based on that data have spoken and written about why marketing software systems fail so that these challenges can be understood and mitigated.

I Want More Revenues, Not Just Faster Conversions

The single most cited benefit of marketing automation software is to get more qualified leads into the hands of the sales force. Rather than have marketing throw unqualified leads over the fence to sales, this technology applies digital lead tracking, lead scoring and email nurture campaigns to advance leads to agreed upon qualification levels, and send only sales-ready leads to the sales team. The business impact is substantial — when sales staff allocate their scarce selling time to the best selling opportunities, sales productivity rises, sales velocity increases and sales win rates go up. All good stuff for sure, but if you reconsider the CMOs objective to grow revenues by adding more leads to the top of the funnel, you recognize that even when the technology succeeds, it’s more about accelerating the existing lead volume than adding additional leads to the top of the pipe.

Growing Top Line Revenues

To grow revenues using marketing automation software its helpful to think beyond these tools programmed features of lead tracking, lead scoring, lead nurturing and lead transfer, and instead consider how to use these features in context of other marketing strategies. Here’s 5 ways to use marketing automation software to not just accelerate the existing volume of leads through the pipe, but also grow the number of leads going into the pipe. More growing revenues with marketing software ...

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Author By Chuck Schaeffer       Calendar 7/26/2013      Trackback Permalink      Comments (0)     Filed In Posted in Marketing Software
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Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Release & Roadmap

Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference shared progress to date and a roadmap for Dynamics CRM’s future.

Dynamics CRM now counts 3.5M users and almost 40,000 customers, and show no signs of slow down. As of Q3, FY2013, the CRM solution achieved is 35th successive quarter of double digit growth, and in terms of new client adoption, 2 out of every 3 new users are opting for the cloud.

Looking forward, Microsoft plans to release the next CRM upgrade as early as October. Code named Orion, the new version will be marketed as Dynamics CRM 2013. Four of the most touted updates include guided processes, integrated social networking (using Yammer), tablet support for iPad (and of course Surface) and future integration with MarketingPilot. The user interface (UI) will also include enhancements in terms of fewer clicks and pop-ups, new navigation support for both ‘touch and gesture’ and mouse-driven operation, more contextual processes and a continued UI evolution which advances the flat (2 dimensional) metro interface.

Subsequent CRM 2013 iterations are code-named Mira and Leo. Mira is scheduled for Q1, CY2014 and will include new integration with MarketingPilot, and seemingly bring MarketingPilot into the Dynamics CRM fold for the first time. While a Dynamics CRM to MarketingPilot connector is available today, the products are disjointed from a sales and support perspective. Leo is scheduled for Q2, CY2014 and intended to deliver advanced Customer Service capabilities, including more sophisticated case management, knowledge management and support for SLA’s and entitlement compliance.

Absent from most of the discussion was how NetBreeze will integrate to Dynamics CRM, and if and how Microsoft intends to remedy weakness in mobility. NetBreeze availability is still an outstanding question, and while Microsoft did suggest enhanced mobility, including future support for Android, no tentative dates or timeframes were available. More Microsoft CRM ...

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Author By Chuck Schaeffer       Calendar 7/11/2013      Trackback Permalink      Comments (10)     Filed In Posted in Microsoft CRM
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