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Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 — What Matters Most in the New Release

Today Microsoft released Dynamics CRM 2015.

In my opinion, the Dynamics CRM 2013 release was the most significant since the first Microsoft CRM introduction in 2003. That prior release applied consumerization technologies to profoundly change the user experience, finally began to get serious about mobility and enhanced underlying constructs such as workflow and business rules in order to make the product much more extensible.

The Dynamics CRM 2015 release changes the focus to new features and improved integration to sales and marketing, and reestablishes code parity between the online on-premise versions.

Microsoft enhanced the Guided Processes to include branching logic. This is a powerful tool to facilitate repeatable processes and best practices. Microsoft CRM stands alone in offering the Guided Processes concept and enhancing these visual process flows with conditional logic can streamline processes such as sales cycles, and improve process consistency which can aid key objectives such as increasing sales win rates.

Another assisted selling feature is the ability to bundle products and facilitate up-sell and cross-sell recommendations. I've always found it odd that so few CRM systems offer this essential uplift opportunity. As shown in the screen shot below, the opportunity record now includes a Suggestions link which promotes product bundles, substitutes, accessories and up-sell items. More Dynamics CRM 2015 ...

Author By Chuck Schaeffer        Calendar 12/1/2014        Trackback Permalink        Comments       Filed In Posted in Microsoft CRM



CRM Adapted To Veteran Relationship Management

On this veteran's day I'm pleased to share how one organization's innovative use of CRM is improving the lives of military veterans.

Two recent wars, including America's longest war, have culminated to create a large and growing population of veterans in need of social services.

VetAdvisor, a veteran-centric holistic care company, is doing its part by delivering coaching services to veterans, including assistance with career transitions, job search, finance counseling, behavior and health wellness, interpersonal relationships and more. The organization's staff help thousands of military veterans earn college degrees, reconnect with family and find the support services they need.

It's a truly admirable mission, however, I know firsthand that veterans can make for difficult patrons for two big reasons. First, many suffer from non-visible and psychiatric challenges that are still not fully appreciated by most, including those who suffer from them. Second, veterans have a propensity to serve without being served and an unfortunate tendency to evade help somehow believing others need that help more.

To combat these challenges, VetAdvisor sought to rethink the typical case management approach to serving veterans. I spoke to Paul Handly, the organization's CTO. He indicated some time ago he recognized the shortfalls of case management applications which tend to focus on single cases over short spans. This approach essentially treated active symptoms or issues but not necessarily underlying causes or patients. More veteran CRM ...

Author By Chuck Schaeffer        Calendar 11/11/2014        Trackback Permalink        Comments       Filed In Posted in Public Sector CRM



A Retailers Guide to Best In Class Retail Technology Management

The retail technology landscape is beginning to catch up to the business drivers changing the retail industry. Make no mistake, the retail industry in incurring unprecedented change. The consumer is more connected, informed and empowered which has forever changed the balance of power. Brand advertising continues to lose effectiveness in favor of consumer generated content on social media. Consumer loyalty is harder to come by, and consumer showrooming will continue to challenge brick and mortar retailers.

These types of market shifts require new technologies to support more fluid business strategies. The days of relying upon back-office merchandising, supply chain and POS systems are over. These systems are still necessary, but now only a part of a more expanded technology portfolio needed to deliver relevant, personalized and contextual consumer engagement throughout an end to end customer experience across channels and devices.

However, before jumping into a slew of point solutions I recommend considering an IT portfolio approach that aids flexibility and closely aligns to the most salient changes impacting retail business strategy. The below framework is a deviation of Gartner’s Pace application strategy that I’ve adapted to accommodate retail. More retail technology framework...

Author By Chuck Schaeffer        Calendar 10/5/2014        Trackback Permalink        Comments (7)      Filed In Posted in Retail Software



How to Design CRM Software for Financial Services Companies

CRM for financial services is like CRM in no other industry.

Financial services CRM is all about Know Your Customer (KYC), onboarding, householding, AML, FATCA and other processes that have no comparisons in other industries. I'm going to use this blog post to show how managing and automating these financial services industry processes within CRM software satisfies users, increases productivity, contributes to a 360 degree customer view and lowers overall IT cost.

More financial services CRM ...

Author By Chuck Schaeffer        Calendar 8/12/2014        Trackback Permalink        Comments       Filed In Posted in Industry Software



The Sales Performance Bell Curve — and How to Grow Sales by 80%

There's a long standing myth that your top 20% of sales staff deliver 80% of the sales. However, that statistic is not supported by the research. CSO Insights offers the best sales performance research available and when I recently spoke with CSO Insights partner Barry Trailer he reaffirmed that as measured in their annual Sales Performance Optimization research studies, 20% of sales people pretty consistently deliver just over 60% of sales revenues. Understanding this figure is important when in implementing systemic improvements.

Sales Performance Bell Curve

More sales performance growth opportunity ...

Author By Chuck Schaeffer        Calendar 7/1/2014        Trackback Permalink        Comments       Filed In Posted in Sales Software



Contract Lifecycle Management Software

In my prior blog posts I discussed CPQ software benefits and best practices. I’m going to continue this manufacturing sales automation thread with the next step in the journey which is Contract Lifecycle Management.

Configure Price Quote (CPQ) software can save sales people time and improve accuracy when creating highly configurable or complex quotes. But that’s not where the complexity ends. Once the customer agrees to the quote the proposal or contracting process begins. Proposals for highly configured products often include or accompany Master Service Agreements (MSA), Statements of Work (SOW), specification documents, warranty documents and other terms and conditions that standy in the way of a completed sale.

Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) software can bring the same automation, repeatability and speed to the contracting process as CPQ software brings to the quoting process. In fact, when CPQ software is integrated with CLM software it’s a smooth and continuous process. More CLM software ...

Author By Chuck Schaeffer        Calendar 6/23/2014        Trackback Permalink        Comments       Filed In Posted in CRM Software



Microsoft + = BFF?

There’s lots of chatter about today’s partnership announcement by Microsoft and From my perspective the announcement itself is yawn-worthy, but looking a bit deeper it does show strong signs in how the CRM software industry is evolving, and how the competitive landscape is clearly changing.

The Partnership Announcement

The substance of the announcement is that will integrate its platform and applications to Microsoft Office, Office 365 and Windows; Salesforce ExactTarget will continue to run on SQL Server and possibly Azure; and Salesforce1 will support Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8.1 later this year, at least in a preview mode.

At first blush it may appear that Microsoft is the beneficiary of this announcement. But in reality, despite Salesforce’s meteoric rise and unmatched CRM market share, failing to support the Microsoft platform products firmly entrenched among their common customers was far more troublesome to Salesforce than Microsoft.’s early bet on Google Apps was a loser and their Outlook integration has always been subpar. This announcement shows they will remedy these weaknesses, and come out much stronger for it. More Microsoft + Salesforce ...

Author By Chuck Schaeffer        Calendar 5/29/2014        Trackback Permalink        Comments (5)      Filed In Posted in CRM Software



CallidusCloud Marketing Automation

The marketing automation software space is getting pretty crowded. And notwithstanding the fact that the technology offers a tremendous demand gen opportunity to acquire more leads for the top of the funnel and potentially increase revenue cycle velocity, the category is in need of innovation.

If you think about, nearly all marketing automation software solutions perform the same five business processes – digital lead tracking/acquisition, lead scoring, nurture campaigns, lead transfer to sales and lead analytics. For some years I've been an advocate in suggesting new channels and new revenue cycle processes but to date only Eloqua and Marketo have picked up on pushing marketing automation to become more extensible.

Callidus Software, more commonly known as CallidusCloud, may be assembling the tools necessary to show the innovation and differentiation I've been advocating. But to understand a speculative future, it's helpful to recognize their recent past. The company acquired LeadFormix and its 200 customers in January 2012. The product was underwhelming but continued organic development suggests it may become a contender. More CallidusCloud ...

Author By Chuck Schaeffer        Calendar 5/19/2014        Trackback Permalink        Comments (10)       Filed In Posted in Marketing



How to Design CRM Software for Financial Services Companies

CRM for financial services is like CRM in no other industry.

Financial services CRM is all about KYC (Know Your Customer), onboarding, householding, AML, FATCA and other processes that have no similar comparisons in other industries. I'm going to use this blog post to show how managing and automating these financial services industry processes within CRM software satisfies users, increases productivity, contributes to a 360 degree customer view and lowers overall IT cost.

KYC and Onboarding

KYC is predominantly a risk mitigation technique designed to prevent financial services firms from being used, intentionally or unintentionally, for illicit or illegal activities.

Know Your Customer processes are designed to verify client identity, adhere to banking regulations and comply with a plethora of compliance measures such as anti-bribery, identity theft, money laundering and terrorist financing. The most common KYC processes focus on client onboarding (i.e. client identity), new policy onboarding and monitoring of client financial transactions.

From an operational perspective, using onboarding process guides in the CRM software increases ease of use, ensures compliance steps (both the sequence and completeness of steps) and provides a visual queue of where a client's process stands at any point in time. The CRM system can also then be used for client or KYC alerts, notifications and reporting, such as the Incomplete KYC report I create for pretty much every financial services client. Below are two sample illustrations of onboarding process guides that are part of the client contact record in the CRM system. The first is a 5 stage KYC new customer onboarding and the second is a 4 step new Life Insurance policy. More Financial Services CRM ...

Author By Chuck Schaeffer        Calendar 5/5/2014        Trackback Permalink        Comments       Filed In Posted in FSI CRM



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



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 ...

Author By Chuck Schaeffer        Calendar 3/7/2014        Trackback Permalink        Comments       Filed In Posted in Microsoft



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 ...

Author By Chuck Schaeffer        Calendar 2/7/2014        Trackback Permalink        Comments       Filed In Posted in Marketing



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 ...

Author By Chuck Schaeffer        Calendar 1/27/2014        Trackback Permalink        Comments (15)       Filed In Posted in Marketing



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 ...

Author By Chuck Schaeffer        Calendar 1/13/2014       Trackback Permalink       Comments (17)      Filed In Posted in CRM Strategy








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