• January 1, 2015
  • By Marshall Lager, founder and managing principal, Third Idea Consulting; contributor, CRM magazine

Where Does CRM Go from Here?

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almost no selling on the phone; it's all social. Repeatable processes will make social selling more realistic."

Lighten the Load or Sink the Boat

Not all change is about what's coming, though. Sometimes we have to consider what's fading away too. "Things that increase the efficiency of sales reps are not valuable today," Dickie says. "If all we are doing is saving time, then the scenario we are setting up is that the average rep can make more average sales calls. What is really needed is for reps to make great sales calls." Tools that increase sales effectiveness, such as sales intelligence, sales analytics, sales engagement, and sales message management solutions, will continue to have a place in the overall strategy.

Another limiting factor that must be dealt with is the halfhearted commitment to the technology already in hand. "Most sales organizations probably already have the tools they need, but need more investment in knowledge. I don't see marketing and sales executives putting in the effort to master [the technology]," Tanner says. "They're not doing their early due diligence on how to create a data strategy, and they're still fighting data ownership wars. In my dream world, this would disappear, along with overlapping point solutions. The real power will be in integrated systems."

Many sales veterans still cling to the idea that if they're still successful today, they must be doing something right and don't need to adapt. This mindset is another relic that must be abandoned. "Reps are bombarded by...changes related to their customers, the competitive landscape, and their own product mix; these are in turn impacted by changes in the economy, the political landscape, social pressures, etc.," Dickie says. "These changes create opportunities for those firms that are able to respond quickly to them and also [to] threats that can negatively impact performance if they are not neutralized quickly."

To put it another way, "if you're not getting all the benefits you can, somebody else will eventually leapfrog you, and you won't have the capacity to catch up," Tanner says. "Competitors who dead-end will be outcompeted."

Super Market Science

The discipline of marketing has gained much in recent years from the ability to track results and experiment with new segmentation, data collection, and delivery methods. In many ways, what has often been regarded as an art is becoming more like a science. Or has it?

"My assessment is that 'more scientific' is highly relative, depending on the perspective of an audience or role," says Leslie Ament, senior vice president and principal analyst at Hypatia Research Group. "From the line-of-business perspective, [marketing] has certainly become more data-driven, with marketers and others relying on dashboards, lead scoring, and metrics such as customer annual value or lifetime value to inform their marketing strategy and planning cycles."

While marketing may be growing more scientific, marketers themselves are more problematic. "It's a huge opportunity, but marketers are still catching up to the technology," says Michael Fauscette, group vice president of software business solutions at IDC. "Many organizations have gone out and done their own thing with cloud solutions, disconnected from IT. There's no easy way to get one cohesive picture."

One potential solution is to follow the apparent swing of the pendulum back from targeted best-of-breed solutions in favor of integrated suites of tools. "Putting together a model to solve marketing means sorting through seventy-eight different potential systems for the 

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