Selling has always been a game of high visibility, of winners and losers on a mythic scale, of epic road trips and legendary egos.
It's no surprise, then, that a business that sells selling tools to sellers should produce some legendary figures of its own. We've singled out ten of them as the Most Influential People in CRM.
A few are, if not household names, certainly familiar to anyone who follows the business pages. Others have labored in relative obscurity but had a significant impact on the development and popularization of customer relationship management technology. Some are still moving and shaking the industry today; others had a historical role but have since taken a lower profile.
But What About…?
Of course, with any list like this far more people will be left out than are included. To keep the list down to ten, we limited our choices to individuals whose primary focus was or is on sales force automation or customer relationship management. That meant leaving out some not insignificant figures:
Bill Gates of Microsoft. Gates and his company have become virtually synonymous with computing, and Microsoft's BackOffice and SQL Server products provide the backbone for many CRM installations.
Larry Ellison of Oracle. Oracle's databases have been at the heart of many corporate information systems; the company helped define modern enterprise software and continues to influence the direction of information management in the Internet age. And as Oracle pushes into CRM software, we may see Ellison and his company rewriting the book on customer relationship management.
Three other individuals were frequently mentioned as we prepared this list. We ultimately left them out because they've been closely tied to CRM Magazine since its inception; it would have seemed a little incestuous to include them, despite their contributions to the industry:
Rich Bohn, premier CRM software consultant and reviewer.
Jim Dickie, who popularized the term Chief Sales Officer and is widely respected for his reasoned approach to CRM implementation.
Barry Trailer, tireless advocate of sales process as a necessary prerequisite to sales automation.
One thing that was clear in interviewing the ten individuals we profiled: None of them worked in a vacuum. CRM is about using technology to tie people together- -salespeople, customer service representatives, accountants and shipping clerks, independent dealers and the customers themselves. By the same token, each of our 10 Most Influential People succeeded by building and leading a team of talented people, and this article is a tribute not just to those 10 people, but to the teams they led to success.--Larry Tuck
Richard Brock: Pioneer of the Upper Tier
Barton Goldenberg: The Daddy of DCI
Paul Selden: The Buyers' Best Buddy
George Colombo: The Industry Advocate
Mary Coleman: The Gold standard
Ken Dulaney: The Thinker
Thomas Siebel: The King of the Hill
Pat Sullivan: The First and Foremost
Jerry Johnson: Heartland Hero
Norm Francis: Champion of the Midmarket