Five years ago when I was doing research for the launch of Sales & Field Force Automation--the predecessor to CRM magazine--one of the most valuable information sources I found was a book called Sales Force Automation by George Columbo. Drawing on a couple of decades of sales and management experience, George wrote a clear and level-headed overview of the nascent SFA field, and became one of the most visible proponents of the emerging industry.
After a few years out of the SFA/CRM limelight, George is back with a new book, Capturing Customers.com, that offers a common-sense look at the world of Internet sales and marketing.
Not to complain, but it's too bad George didn't come out with this book a year earlier. We might have been spared some dot com failures if more would-be Internet entrepreneurs--or a few venture capitalists--had read Capturing Customers.com before building their now-failed Web sites.
Or maybe not. Much of the book's message is the same one George and many others have been preaching for years: Customer-facing technology, whatever its form and whatever it's called, needs to be applied strategically. Without clear goals and a plan to reach those goals, you're going to have...well, pick your favorite failed Web site and fill in the name here.
One of the great fallacies of the last couple of years is that every company must have an Internet strategy. George's advice: Forget about it. What you need is a customer acquisition and retention strategy; a sales, marketing and customer service strategy. If you can cut through the hype and discover that the Internet can contribute to that strategy in a logical and profitable way, then incorporate the Internet into your planning. But don't let yourself be lured into pursuing this technology for its own sake any more than you would any other.
You can order the book by going to capturingcustomers.com
Larry Tuck, Editor