There is a big difference between a forecast and a
resolution and the former is easier to make than the latter. New Year’s resolutions require, well, resolve
— the mental toughness to see the matter through while a forecast is merely something
made by pundits from Olympian heights. The forecaster can walk away from the forecast but the resolution maker
owns the resolution and its outcome.
At any rate, since I have already made a forecast for 2008
I thought it would be fun to make some resolutions too. I didn’t want to bore you so I concentrated
on resolutions that we could all consider.
First, start a blog. This is especially aimed at people who have “chief” in their titles —
like chief executives. It’s not that
chiefs don’t have enough on the old plate already, they do, but I am not
advocating simple busy work either. CEOs
personify their companies and they are, or at least should be, the chief
exponents for their products and the benefits their products deliver. The CEO is or should be the chief thought
leader in the organization — the person who can most knowledgeably speak about
the big picture benefits that his or her organization can deliver to customers.
Perhaps that’s why so many CEOs are so good at helping
their sales teams in the later stages of deal closing. CEOs have enormous credibility, especially
when speaking directly with their peers. So, the only question is why wait until the 11th
hour to insert the CEO into the sales process? A blog is a great way to make the CEO’s thought leadership available to
Over the last few years I have seen some amazingly
effective blogs fronted by CEOs and one of the most successful is written by
Chuck Schaeffer, CEO of Aplicor. Chuck
started his blog a few years ago never intending it to be more than his way of
communicating with a limited audience of customers and prospective customers
and he’s done quite well with it. Last
month Chuck’s blog was named to a prestigious top 20 blog list. Aplicor is doing very well in the competitive
CRM world and I’d say the blog is having the right effect.
Next, I think we all need to pay close attention to
marketing this year. Given the success
of last September’s first annual Sales 2.0 conference, it would be reasonable
to think that this would be the year of sales, but I think not. Sales 2.0 looks a lot like marketing’s coming
of age and much of the Sales 2.0 agenda seems to involve incorporating
marketing tools and techniques.
So what can you do?
Resolve to pay close attention to the marketing
process. You know, the objective is no
longer to generate a big pile of suspects that your sales people can summarily
reject; the objective is to generate a short stack of real actionable leads. It all starts with learning how to
ruthlessly qualify out rather than promoting warmed over names that don’t have
any business wasting your sales people’s time.
What it all boils down to is stringing together databases
and tools that attract, nurture and promote leads in your unique company wide
process. If you are still living and
dying by a single tool such as email marketing alone, branch out and include
landing pages, micro-sites, portals and analytics. If you are a marketer you probably already
understand the importance of involving sales in defining the process and the
expected output and if you are in sales you might need to admit that those
people in marketing might be able to help you do your job better. It ought to be a win-win, so get on with it.
Mixed in with all this marketing is the idea of social
networking. I would resolve to learn
more concretely about what social networking concepts apply to marketing, sales
and CRM generally. Social networking has
an unfortunate association with dating, job seeking and Kevin Bacon but there’s
more to it than that. It’s worth making
sure you have a working knowledge of it so that you can apply those parts that
make sense to your business.
Along similar lines, learn the difference between single-
and multi-tenant architectures if you don’t know already. Neither is right for all occasions but multi-tenant
is going to be more right more often than not. There are an increasing number of conventional applications being
repackaged as “on-demand” but in some cases the repackaging simply moves the
computer room from your building to the vendor’s without dealing with the
harder issues of rapid serial deployment, low cost and ubiquity. Know what you’re getting into.
Finally, I’d say, whatever your responsibilities —
especially where CRM is concerned — remember to focus on your role as a
professional practice rather than a job. In a practice you take nothing for granted and every situation is an
opportunity for learning and innovating. We’ve all gotten this far through learning and innovation and there’s no
reason to stop now.
Good luck in 2008!