How to market systematically

CRM is a mature management practice, like financial accounting

Most professionals are confused about CRM. They see it as a piece of software that helps them collect information about customers and remind them what to do next. Actually, customer relationship management is a mature business practice, similar to financial accounting. In fact, you could think of your company's CRM as the way you track your marketing and sales results.  Tq-121029-dd

Recently I was shocked when talking to a CRM consultant about working with this team. I asked him who his top customers were, and he fumbled around, pulling up his accounting software to see the customers table. If we believe in CRM as a practice, then our most important customers should be pushed at us by our applications so often, that the names are seared into our mind, in current rank order. 

In the article below, Brian Solis is talking about companies needing to make all our process more supported by integrated, always available software. NOT because it will make our business more efficient, but because our customers expect it. 

Brian Solis: Digital Transformation is About Empathy First and Technology Second, 2014-Nov-10

But at the heart, digital transformation is the story of how people are changing.

Whether we realize it or not, the way customers and employees make decisions, the technology they use, and how preferences and expectations evolve or detour, are stories for us to discover. These are the insights that guide the transformation. Technology adoption is not the solution: it is merely an enabler for transformation.

Coach your sales team to share content for more efficient selling

David Meerman Scott has a good slideshare explaining why we have to shift to using content to generate leads in the era of permission marketing. Since we can no longer interrupt people, we have to either develop or own content or constantly be on the lookout for good content to share with our prospects and customers. We usually need to do both. 

As David points out, that means that sales managers have to shift their measurements from volume of activity to how well a sales person uses content. For many companies, even if they have a few salespeople, this shift will be wrenching. 

A company's marketing department may or may not be generating enough material for the sales team, but nothing can help the sales team avoid responsibility to understand their customers and what needs to be shared, and when. 

New selling process:

  • Research your target's challenges
  • Understand what's available to help them
  • Position yourself as a trusted source of information
  • Share the right information at the right time

Web Ink Now: Sales Managers Must Adapt to the New Rules of Selling, 2014-Oct-14 by David Meerman Scott

Managers must realize that when salespeople are interacting on Twitter or updating their LinkedIn profiles, this activity is more likely to contribute toward eventual sales than cold-calling a buyer.

To profit from your data, share it with an expert

Analyzing our marketing data takes a very different skill than helpling customers or managing our sales force. When I want a break from difficult decisions and demanding co-workers, I drop down a relaxing data hole. Does sorting, editing and analyzing customer records NOT sound relaxing to you? Then you need to work with someone like me.

MindEcology: You Don't Have to Be a Data Rock Star to Be In Our Show, 2014-Sep-25

Marketing research types like us are all kinds of crazy about data. But even though we’re unabashed data nerds, we know that not everyone’s idea of a good time is sitting around and talking about analytics intelligence, predictive modeling, and best customer profiling —even if they work in marketing or advertising.

Some marketing pros or business owners just don’t find that stuff very interesting (no matter how much we try to convince them that this stuff is in fact fascinating.) These types clients tend to be unconcerned with the “why”, the behind-the-scenes of data collection and analysis —because they just want to know the “how”, as in “how is this going to help my business?”

Finding a center where we can collect connections

Sometimes I feel run ragged from keeping up with all the different groups I belong to. But instinctively, I know that have a wide range of connections is vital to growth. Focus is important but limiting. We have to position ourselves to grow in new directions.

Edge Perpsectives: Where Do You Stand? The Shifting Ground of Strategy, 2014-Jul-29 by John Hagel

Where you’re positioned in expanding business ecosystems matters a lot. If you’re on the periphery, with few connections to players in the fragmented part of the economy, good luck.  If you’re at the center of a growing cluster of relationships where more and more participants are seeking to connect with you, now you’re in a great position to drive the economies of scale and scope that will make you one of the winners in concentrating parts of the economy.

Move good customers, don't just track them

Collecting information about customers has gotten easier than ever, but much of what's collected is just easy-to-get and not easy-to-use. Keeping data clean and useable is expensive and you better know why you're maintaining it.

O'Reilly Radar: A Good Nudge Trumps a Good Prediction, 2014-Jul-18 by Simon Chan

In this case, I was going to buy cereal and milk anyway, regardless of the accuracy of the prediction. Although my customer experience is probably improved, I do not necessarily buy more stuff. If the aim is to increase sales, the metric should, for example, focus on how well the model can predict and recommend products that will nudge me to buy much more than just cereal and milk.

Amazon continues making itself indispensable

Tq140416tdI confess that well-deserved pity for Hachette authors has not led me to boycott Amazon. (Hachette can take care of itself.) As a book lover, Amazon has done more to improve my quality of life than any traditional publisher. Kindle, wish lists, free shipping for the patient, excellent search capabilities, a sound recommendation engine, and many other little conveniences have made me a better book buyer. And I hope the authors are grateful for that.

I tried Prime for one year and came to the conclusion that it led me to buy books too impulsively. I prefer to space out my purchases and bundle them into a free shipment every other month. If I need to read something immediately, I can get it on Kindle. However, Prime is definitely the loyalty program that Amazon is banking on.

Bloomberg View: Amazon Sets Fire to Its Money-Losing Business Plan, 2014-Jun-19 by Ben Thompson

Call it the whale strategy. In this view, Amazon sees the Fire Phone as a means of earning a disproportionate amount of profit from the sorts of loyal customers who were featured in the video that opened yesterday's keynote. In this view, instead of the Fire Phone being a means of driving e-commerce, e-commerce is in fact a means of capturing customers and building loyalty; Prime deepens the connections, and the profitability; and at the final stage, the Fire Phone makes more profit in a single purchase than anything that came before, even as it drives an even-deeper connection with the customer.

Ask people to be consistent... they'll try.

When you're trying to get people to follow you, don't ask them to support your ideas... instead tell them you'll help them be more true to themselves. Tq140619od

New Yorker: I Don't Want to be Right, 2014-May-19 by Maria Konnikova

It’s the realization that persistently false beliefs stem from issues closely tied to our conception of self that prompted Nyhan and his colleagues to look at less traditional methods of rectifying misinformation. Rather than correcting or augmenting facts, they decided to target people’s beliefs about themselves. In a series of studies that they’ve just submitted for publication, the Dartmouth team approached false-belief correction from a self-affirmation angle, an approach that had previously been used for fighting prejudice and low self-esteem. The theory, pioneered by Claude Steele, suggests that, when people feel their sense of self threatened by the outside world, they are strongly motivated to correct the misperception, be it by reasoning away the inconsistency or by modifying their behavior.