Category Archives: customer relationship management

Amazing CRM from Lenovo!

lenovo-laptop-ideapad-y410p-front-1Some time back I bought a Lenovo Z580 laptop for my son.  From the start he had problems with the mouse.  My son is pretty “tech savvy” — but he kept having problems.  Finally we agreed to mail it to Lenovo to replace the trackpad.

We mailed off the Z580 for repairs 6/24 and it never came back.

5 weeks in we were MAD and one day Lenovo customer support called US. They offered to replace the PC. My son if he could get one (same model) with a better graphics card and they said “Sorry, it is out of stock, would you like a different model?”

Well my son is a GEEK. He knew Lenovo had just come out (2 weeks earlier) with a new gaming PC that cost $800 more than his old one cost NEW. He asked if he could possibly get it.

They said YES!!!!

Yesterday at 6:00 PM UPS delivered his brand new Lenovo y410p gaming laptop! Woo hoo — way to go Lenovo! Thanks to Debbie on the Lenovo CRM team!  THAT is customer relationship management — do you think we’d consider buying a different brand any time soon?


When you have a kid. . .

I’ve been in high tech for more years than I care to state here.  Hell, I’m old enough to remember that a “minicomputer” was a device with 64KB of Ram or LESS.   Yes, I’m “that” old!

But I also have a teenage son.  My son is 14 and he informs me loudly and often that he knows more than me about technology.  As if.  But one has to remember that he is 14!

My son sure does know a lot!  Maybe it is genetics.  Maybe it is dumb luck.  My son is the one that children and adults turn to for help when they get a virus or even have a hardware problem.   For “fun” he has torn apart two old laptops.  He did this to see how they worked.   Yes, this is my lot in life — to have a kid outshining me.

How does all of this relate to making money with technology?   A lot.  Having a teen son makes me realize that technology is not just for business or “fun” any more.  Technology is literally a part of “who he is.”  It is as if he were born with ear buds firmly in place and a chip imbedded in his brain.     My son begins high school this fall and his new school requires that every kid have an iPad®.   No more school books for him!  He will be using an interactive Algebra app from Pearson with animations and videos.  Along with the book he has access to something called “MathXL” which will have him do his work online, check it for accuracy (no waiting for the teacher to grade it).  If he gets “stuck” the app will lead him step by step through the solution.  If he did need help then MathXL will present him with a new, similar problem, to see if he can do it “on his own.”

At this new school I can track my son’s grades daily, online.  If he is missing an assignment he has no excuse of “I forgot it at school” because all will be in the iCloud.

Needless to say, Apple and Pearson (and a few others) are all making money — mostly from a subscription SaaS (software as a service) model.   I must say I’m impressed with the concept.  Later I’ll tell you how well the reality stacks up to the hope / hype.  Still, the use of an iPad and Internet at a very mainstream school just goes to show that technology is (more than ever) part of our lives — who we ‘are’ not just ‘what we do.’

Transform your Marketing to Make Money with Technology

The world is certainly changing, and technology is ever more quickly transforming how sellers make money.  In the United States online retailers report sales are up 14% from 2011.    European online consumers this year will spend more than 305 billion euros, approximately $396.5 billion, up 20% from 254 billion euros ($330.2 billion) in 2011, according to a projection from Ecommerce Europe.   Tradition retail is flat. 

Trying to fight back, traditional “brick and mortar” retailers are using technology as well.  Email marketing, mobile shopping, and on-site promotions have all played an important role in traditional stores as they try to fight the online encroachment of their customers.

About 23% who took part in a Bizrate survey said that they used a smartphone or tablet to shop online during the much hyped “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” sales. Perhaps more impressive is that 70% of those surveyed said they went on to make purchases based on the online research / email that they had done.

The moral?  Customer market segmentation (good old CRM — customer relationship management) tools allow saavy traditional and online retailers to target customers most interested in their products.  Using a combination of business intelligence to identify who buys from you and then targeting them at the right time in the right way (less email, no calls please and yes send me a text when I’m in the store) results in higher sales at the register — whether it is the in store register or the e-shopping cart.



So you Think it is EASY to Make Money with Technology?

Maybe yes, and maybe no.   Have you checked the price of Facebook stock lately?    For all the huge number of global Facebook users there is still the issue of “how are you going to make money?”    Facebook is still struggling on how best to answer this question — and the stock price reflects the difficulty in turning eyeballs into purchasers.   The latest effort has to do with mobile users.  Forbes reports that of Facebook’s billion users 60 percent access Facebook at least monthly on mobile and 70 percent of these users are daily Facebook mobile users.

Now we’re getting closer.

Cell phones can track a user’s location via GPS (global positioning).  While you’re cruising Facebook you may be near a store having a sale who just sent you a special offer on Facebook.   Now we’re talking about using technology to make money!

Along with those ads Forbes tells us that “Facebook has a plethora of new mobile ad products including Mobile App Install and News Feed which is now taking in $4 million per day, 75 percent of which comes from mobile. Facebook Exchange allows businesses to capture users browsing history resulting in more targeted advertising.”

In this brave new world of technology which is changing at an ever increasing pace we have to change the way we think about marketing, sales and even the internet.   We have to grab our prospects in near real time and in near real space (where they physically are located).   It seems that Facebook may finally be finding a way to monetize those billion users!

Harvard studies Social Media

Harvard researchers have studied why social media has become so all prevalent.  How come so many folks are willing — even compelled — to share every thought, movement, like and want through mediums like Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Instagram and Pinterest.   I’m even a bit “hooked” on Foursquare — which tracks my movement!

Researchers conducted experiments with the results showing that the act of disclosing information about oneself activates the same sensation of pleasure in the brain that we get from eating food, getting money or having sex. Who  knew?

This may help explain recent surveys of Internet use that show that roughly 80% of posts to social media sites like Twitter and Facebook consist simply of announcements about one’s own immediate experience.

It’s a Virtual World

I’m sitting on my sofa, with my notebook on my lap.   The TV is providing background noise, and when I search for a thought I look up, and out the french door to the beautiful, sunny day outside.   We’re living in a virtual world.

How many of us spend a day or more a week telecommuting?   I’ve been dong so for well over 15 years, and find that my days at home are far more productive than those in the office.  In the office people stop me in the hall to ask about my weekend, or how my son is doing in Track.   As I sit down to work I’m called into an impromptu meeting that turns into 90 minutes gone from the day with very little accomplished.   With impatience I realize that all these distractions will result in working at home tonight — just to get done the work I planned to do today.

The good news is that relationships are important — without the give and take nothing would ever really get done.  I realize this, and yet so much more solid work gets done when I can sit quietly, with the coffee cup beside me and the sun shinning outside my french door.

It is easier than ever to make money with technology!

Today it is easier than ever before to make money with technology.    In the “old” days one had to invest in very expensive mainframe or minicomputers – or in server farms.   Today with cloud based computing it is actually possible to make money with technology with nothing more than an inexpensive PC.

In the “old days” one had to spend time and money to learn complex programming languages (like C, COBOL, or Java), operating systems (UNIX, MVS, Microsoft), and networking platforms. . .  Today there are many tools that will do the work for you — just use a graphical interface and the program generates the code for you!

Today it isn’t even necessary to develop apps for smart phones or iPads — making money with technology can be as simple as making YouTube videos (have people buy ads on your page), or sell things on eBay — or do freelance writing from your home.

With a little bit of entrepreneurship it is easier than ever to make money with technology, and as we enter 2012 I will explore some of these avenues.  Happy New Year!

Teradata Buys Aprimo

Ten years ago (wow, how time flies!) I was a Director at Teradata Corporation.  Teradata   Teradata was the first relational database management (RDBMS) company to focus on crunching huge amounts of data for analysis.  Traditionally database software was used to access the same data (information) from various applications.

You see, in the “old days” data was stored inside of applications and this meant when you wanted to find out information about “Sandra Eisenberg” each application kept a copy of information pertaining to “Sandra Eisenberg” and there was much repetition,  duplicated data (taking up expensive storage space) and it was impossible to get one whole picture of a customer (or other data elements) outside of the one application.

Thus database management systems were born — and they were mostly (and still are mostly) used for accessing information on the spur of the moment — customer service reps, supply chains, financial data, etc.

Teradata had recognition that all that data was in actuality INFORMATION.  Valuable information.  An early customer was Wal-Mart who was able to determine that certain products sold better in certain locations (maybe Dayton, Ohio users like Colgate and San Francisco users like Crest toothpaste). . .  By knowing what was selling, how quickly it was selling Wal-Mart was able to stop offering sales on stuff that was selling any way and not give valuable shelf space to items that were not selling well in specific stores. . .  Information became power!

Teradata currently has over 1,000 customers and over 2,500 installations of its specialized database management software.   Wal-Mart is still a customer as are other major retailers.   Most large players in all industries, including Telecom, Hospitality, Travel, etc. are Teradata users.

This was and is the key to the success of Teradata.   Great company!

These days there are many competitors to Teradata — some the traditional database vendors  and some who focused directly on competing head to head with Teradata on its home front (like Netezza, now part of IBM) and Greenplum — so to stay ahead Teradata must continue to innovate and acquire.

Which brings me to this blog post.  Teradata recently purchased Aprimo for a cool half a billion dollars. 

Aprimo is an industry leader in cloud-based integrated marketing software – also known as Marketing Resource Management (MRM).  Aprimo claims over 150,000 marketers from 40 countries use its software —  including 36% of the Fortune 100.   In 2009 the company reported revenue of $69 million—f 15% growth from 2008 in an economy very few saw growth in.   Those customers have tapped into a market leading solution, recognized as such by the Gartner Group.    For the past three years Aprimo has also been a  “Leader” in Gartner Group’s Marketing Resource Management (MRM) Magic Quadrant report.

The acquisition leap frogged Teradata into a market-leading position in Integrated Marketing Management.    The cloud is key to the future, and the acquisition (if integrated properly) will tie Teradata’s leading analytics technology and Aprimo’s cloud-based marketing performance applications.   This should be a huge win for Teradata — who acquired both a leading edge and complimentary technology and a great customer base into which it can cross-sell and up-sell its data warehouse technologies.

The key will be how well Teradata executes bringing the two firms together — something it has not always done well in the past.    Only time will tell, but it was a great chess move.

Making Prospecting more Profitable

When you get right down to brass tacks making money means selling something PROFITABLY.   I capitalize the word “profitably” because far too many become enamored of acquiring new customers or up-selling existing ones, but they don’t keep the eye on whether they really are making money or if the cost of goods sold (COGS) means a loss of money.

The only time you should ever lose money on a sale is when you do so consciously.   It may well be that to garner a “marquee” name customer who can be referenced to encourage others in a given industry to buy from you sell something at a loss.  When and if you do lose money on a sale you should do so with eyes wide open aware that it is a sales tool itself to gain more profitable sales.

We’re all here to make money, and if you do not know the cost of making a sale odds are you are losing money.

Tools to keep you informed are many:  from financial software to manage your “books” which include ERP (enterprise resource plannng) and CRM (customer relationship management).    We’ve discussed a few of these tools in this blog — tools aimed at start-ups, mid-size companies all the way to the Fortune 100 — tools which can help you make money profitably if used appropriately.

Which brings me (finally) to the topic of this blog:  software that helps you optimize your CRM sales funnel.

A sales funnel is the concept that to make one sale you must have X number of sales “leads” (potential customers) who become  “suspects” (research shows they could use your offer) lined up that you can target and then winnow them down to “prospects.”  Prospects are qualified businesses who could benefit from your offers — whether they know it or not.  They have budget, they have a need and you can help them meet their own goals.  The key in funnel management is to turn those prospects into customers — and in each step of the sales process of many “suspects” you will find only a few “prospects” and even fewer of them will turn into customers.

Even in the age of social media you still have to identify potential customers and somehow you need to make them aware that you have a service or a product they will find valuable. . .  the methods for reaching them may be changing, but the fundamentals remain the same.

There is a very old saying in the computer industry — about as old as the industry itself.  Surely you have heard the term GIGO (garbage in / garbage out).   You must fill your sales funnel, but if you fill it with lots of names that do not have the potential to be a customer your “funnel management” is poor and your sales profitability will also be low.

To acquire profitable customers (new ones) or even identify what you can up-sell or cross-sell to existing customers you must have a way of identifying qualified leads from the very beginning.     Cisco (the leading communications vendor) credits a company named eTrigue with increasing their SMB (small / medium business) sales appointments by 25% through just such pinpoint targeting of potential customers.

Linda Fassig-Knauer, (a Cisco marketing programs manager)  is the one making the claim about eTrigue and  3Marketeers (advertising, marketing, and demand generation/lead generation) for better lead generation:

“eTrigue Intelligent lead scoring helps us determine which technology or offer the prospect is most interested in discussing with our sales teams and enables us to funnel those leads in a timely manner to our call center, who ultimately sends to our channel partners,” says Fassig-Knauer, “The information in eTrigue lead scoring gives us three times the information so our call center agents are much more prepared before a call. It also greatly increases the number of prospects we can identify as being interested in a solution because the system does not require the customer/prospect to register.” CRM users can view active prospects in eTrigue’s demand generation application within Salesforce — making it easy to use for sales reps.    eTrigue won an award from DemandGen for its work with Cisco.

Given the fact that the economy is still slow you need to find a way to do more with less.  Your sales reps need to be more efficient than ever.  Tools like the cloud based SaaS (software as a service) teamed with a demand generation tool like eTrigue  can fill your funnel with  a higher number of better-qualified leads faster, less expensively and with fewer resources.

You need to identify suspects and then you need to pinpoint target valuable information to them (using CRM with integrated email campaign tools and social media tools as well as the good old fashioned telephone!).  Doing more with less in these times means working smart with inexpensive but highly valuable tools.   Take a cue from Cisco and from Codice Software, who saw a 225% increase in qualified leads, and a 50% increase in actionable sales leads when it used eTrigue.  Response rates went up by 160% versus the same period the prior year.

Another customer, Silver Peak, generated 30% more programs without additional staff.  The cost is much lower than hiring more people — although if you get enough good leads you may need to put more feet on the street!

If you are using I highly recommend that you take a look at eTrigue and see if automating your sales funnel demand generation makes sense.

Four Money Making Project Management Tools

One of the biggest mistakes small and even medium sized businesses make is flying by the seat of their pants.  They have a great idea and once they do their “due diligence and finish editing the business plan they think they can focus on getting the product to market and meeting with the prospects.

The problem is if you do not have a plan then you are planning to fail.  Old sayings often have a way of being true!  The way to key your eye on the ball and ensure you get to market in time to make the “marketing window” (before technology of a competitor passes you by) you need to know when you are going to get to market and what your feature set will be.  The best way to do this is with a project plan.

For as little as $18 a month you can go with cloud-based 5PM.   You can even start with their free trial to see if it does make financial sense for your company.

The two best things about 5PM are its price, and its simplicity.  The last thing you need to do while you are starting a new business is get bogged down learning new technology.  You can easily waste cycles “becoming productive” while your time and money burns up.   What you need to make money is a tool that can jump start you quickly and painlessly — giving you more time to be productive.

5PM has five great attributes. It helps with  project tracking to keep you focused, it keeps you organized, information flows among you and your team mates — and of course it does  project management.

Here is a screen shot — you can see that the layout is intuitive and very straight forward.  Most of the stuff you need to know about a project stays on the front page so at a glance you can see where the project is (on time, in trouble. . .).

This is a good and inexpensive project management tool which is great at keeping teams together in.

It is not alone.  There are three other good tools to consider if you are looking for a quick project management solution.   Basecamp is another.    Big companies like Kellogs and Addidas use Basecamp, but it is also a great choice for freelancers or start-ups.  On their home page they proudly proclaim that Over 5 million people worldwide have used Basecamp to collaborate on over 4 million projects, track 57 million hours of work, share 46 million files, and complete 43 million to-dos.

Basecamp is actually more well known than 5PM.   You can import data from Basecamp to 5PM.   You can get a 30 day trial of Basecamp but then it is pricier than 5PM.  $49 to $99 a month compared to a starting price of $18 for 5PM.

Two other options are PB Works and Wizhive.

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