The place where the Customer counts

Free thoughts on CRM, Business and the next big thing

The place where the Customer counts - Free thoughts on CRM, Business and the next big thing

CRM Idol: Paul Greenberg EMEA judge interview

Paul Greenberg is the author of the best-selling CRM at the Speed of Light and President of The 56 Group, LLC, a consulting firm focused on CRM and Social CRM strategic services. He is a founding partner of BPT Partners, a training and consulting venture composed of a number of CRM luminaries. Paul is the Executive Vice President of the CRM Association. He currently is the Chairman of the Board of Advisors of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management CRM Centre of Excellence. He has been a Board of Advisors member of the Baylor University MBA Program for CRM majors, and the co-chairman of Rutgers University’s CRM Research Center. He has also developed strategies and helped define CRM and social CRM products for all the major vendors in CRM and in social media. Paul is considered a thought leader in CRM, having been published in numerous industry and business publications over the years. He was elected to CRM magazine’s CRM Hall of Fame in 2010 – the first non-vendor related thought leader in its history.

He’s the inventor and primary judge of the CRM Idol international competition.

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/pgreenbe

Blog: http://the56group.typepad.com/

 

 

Welcome to Paul Greenberg and thanks a lot for this interview. Now Round 1 of the CRM Idol contest is just finished and all semi-finalists (America and EMEA) have been chosen for the next step. This means the end of a preliminary phase of hard work for the judges who had participated to all demos, worked out their reviews and finally made their choice. First of all – my curiosity – how did you manage the countless CRMish/SocialCRMish main products’ features to articulate your judgment?

Actually, it was kind of difficult to do that given the categories that were there for qualification. CRM or CRMish meant thousands of features to think about. But since this was more a contest about the company than the products, it became manageable, because even if one company was focused on hardcore traditional CRM and another on enterprise feedback management, we were judging the likelihood of success of the company in the markets that they targeted and that meant the features of the product were just a marker for the likelihood of success of the company as opposed to something we compared company by company. So we could handle the categories a lot easier, since this was about the company not just the product and companies have a lot in common they have to consider regardless of products they provide.

Tell us about your experience with this amazing panel of experts and colleagues.

Well, I had the pleasure of working with three people, Silvana Buljan, Mark Tamis and Laurence Buchanan, who I consider not only three of the leading CRM experts in the world, but also three friends. It made for one of the most rewarding experiences I”ve had in a long time. I learned a significant amount from the three and just had a great time with three friends besides. How much better could something get?

I think it’d be really interesting to have your overview about this first phase of the contest. In your opinion, which are the European participants’ overall strentghs with regard to their corporate visions and products?

Their strengths were the strengths that I found in both segments of the contest – both EMEA and the Americas. Some of the participants had powerful products with deep functionality and they were well engineered products – in fact one or two of the EMEA contestants products, i would say, were among the best I’ve seen even when taking more established and some larger vendors into consideration.

And what about their overall weakness?

Again, the weakness we saw in all the contestants throughout the both segments. Because their resources/finances were scarce, most of the companies had spent the bulk of their money on development and either completely ignored or for the most part did little marketing. The reason that this is a weakness is that regardless of how great your product is, you’re competing with other potentially great products and you have to have the presence to be noticed as something different than your competitors and known to the customers. Without marketing, that won’t happen.

Which aspects have driven you to make the final choice?

Those that we can say publicly have to do with the overall balance of the company – meaning the quality of their product, their vision, their mission, their experience, their road maps, their ideas on the markets they want to address, their maturity in terms of dealing with the marketplace, their corporate culture, their long term outlook, etc. That’s the ones that we can reveal. it was a rigorous process. As I said early on in the overall competition – it was easy to enter but hard to win.

Working on the two sides of the project (America and EMEA), which are the main differences resulting from a comparison with american participants?

As you can tell from the responses above, the differences weren’t all that manifest. When it gets down to it, the only differences were the differences that you would see in things other than this competition too. The cultures of the companies were appropriate to the countries that they were founded in.

Geographically (and frankly) speaking, which are the more promising countries and which the ones that disappointed you?

This is not really a good or fair question. First, the entries were first come first serve so which countries were represented had nothing to do with the geographies but more with the speed to entry of the companies that got the slots. Second, its never a matter of a country. Countries are the places where the companies exist and there might be some cultural impact on the staff of the companies, but geography has nothing to do with the quality of the company – good or bad. That has to do more with the factors I mentioned above in how we determined who were moving on to other places in the competition.

Can you give some suggestions for the CRM and Social CRM vendors that will try to participate to the next year CRM Idol contest?

Make sure that you sign up early and get your slot. We had a waiting list of almost 40 this year globally. Make sure that you respond exactly as you’re asked to in the submission form including the references that you offer. Make them solid. Make sure that you conduct yourself as a member of the CRM Idol community rather than a jealous suitor in the contest. This is very important. Keep in mind there are other factors than the demo that matter though I’m not going to reveal what they are or how much weight they carry. Finally, make sure that you are WELL prepared on the demo. I won’t say more than that. But don’t mess up.

Thanks again to Paul for his kindness and time.

CRM Idol: Laurence Buchanan EMEA judge interview

Laurence Buchanan is a recognised authority and evangelist on CRM, Social CRM and customer experience transformation. He has spent over 12 years working in the CRM market, both as a sales and marketing leader and as a CRM subject matter expert. Laurence heads up CRM and Social CRM within the UK for Capgemini (Technology Services). In his current role Laurence is responsible for Capgemini’s CRM & SCRM go-to-market strategy and business development across all packaged vendors and industries. He is passionate about helping clients articulate their customer-centric vision and strategy, and enabling that through the smart use of technology. He’s one of the EMEA judges’ panel for the CRM Idol international competition conceived by CRM and Social CRM expert Paul Greenberg.

LinkedIn: http://uk.linkedin.com/in/laurencebuchanan

Blog: http://www.thecustomerevolution.com

Welcome to Laurence Buchanan and thanks a lot for this interview. Now Round 1 of the CRM Idol contest is just finished and all semi-finalists (America and EMEA) have been chosen for the next step. This means the end of a preliminary phase of hard work for the judges who had participated to all demos, worked out their reviews and finally made their choice. First of all – my curiosity – how did you manage the countless CRMish/SocialCRMish main products’ features to articulate your judgment?

The judges on both sides of the Atlantic had several conference calls to agree a standard set of criteria that we marked the candidates against. Each candidate had a mentor to try and guide them through the process and show their product in the best light. There were a lot of demos packed into a short period of time but it was great fun!

Tell us about your experience with this amazing panel of experts and colleagues.

The competition was the brainchild of Paul Greenberg – I must say his passion and drive are quite incredible. He is one of the very few people in the industry who could pull together such an impressive collection of judges in such a short time. It really was an honour to be included in a group of industry experts I have been following for over a decade.

I think it’d be really interesting to have your overview about this first phase of the contest. In your opinion, which are the European participants’ overall strentghs with regard to their corporate visions and products?

I don’t think I can really generalise by region. What we saw in the EMEA competition was a lot of variety – some vendors focussed on a very narrow market (e.g. Industry or geographical segment), others had global ambitions. What impressed me most was how the majority of the vendors in the competition were punching way above their weight. Most had relatively small development and sales teams but had done an amazing job at building their products and then taking them to market.

And what about their overall weakness?

Again it’s hard to generalise but given the size of companies we were looking at, it’s natural that all of them saw a challenge in getting to the next level. Some were looking for an injection of funding, others were looking to grow organically. Some wanted to stay focussed on their niche, whereas others wanted to break into a new market.

Which aspects have driven you to make the final choice?

We focussed on how well the companies had identified their target market, built a differentiated solution to meet the needs of that target market and then executed on their vision. We also considered their respective strengths and weaknesses in taking their business to the next level.

Working and talking with Paul Greenberg – fully involved in the worldwide project -, which are the main differences resulting from a comparison with american participants?

I would say that the majority of vendors we spoke had global plans to some degree. The European vendors are of course conscious that Europe is a target secondary market for most US-based vendors, equally we came across some European vendors who were driving significant revenue outside Europe.

Geographically (and frankly) speaking, which are the more promising countries and which the ones that disappointed you?

I don’t think we can generalise by country. We saw both innovation and missed opportunity in most of the major European countries we covered. Country did not seem to be a deciding factor in the success of the entrants.

Can you give some suggestions for the CRM and Social CRM vendors that will try to participate to the next year CRM Idol contest?

It’s amazing how much difference a well prepared pitch can make. Have a clear description of the business problem you are trying to solve and show us how you solve that problem better than anyone else for your chosen market. We tended to find that those that worked closely with their mentors found huge value in that relationship and as a result probably landed their pitches a little better!

Thanks again to Laurence for his kindness and time.

CRM Idol EMEA judges’ interviews: Silvana Buljan

Silvana Buljan has been involved as business consultant and subject matter expert in CRM projects since 1998, focusing on defining customer centric processes and policies and supporting their implementation in multi-national organizations. Her expertise lies mainly in CRM change management, organizational set-up and training/coaching for longterm CRM. She contributes in various expert panels as author (G-CEM, Customerthink, etc.). Silvana’s industry expertise is in Automotive, Air Transport, Financial Services and Retail. Her client portfolio counts with market-leading, blue chip companies in the mentioned sectors. She’s one of the EMEA judges’ panel for the CRM Idol international competition conceived by CRM and Social CRM expert Paul Greenberg.

LinkedIn: http://es.linkedin.com/pub/silvana-buljan/0/110/889

Blog: http://www.buljanandpartners.com

Welcome to Silvana Buljan and thanks a lot for this interview. Now Round 1 of the CRM Idol contest is just finished and all semi-finalists (America and EMEA) have been chosen for the next step. This means the end of a preliminary phase of hard work for the judges who had participated to all demos, worked out their reviews and finally made their choice. First of all – my curiosity – how did you manage the countless CRMish/SocialCRMish main products’ features to articulate your judgment?

If you are involved in CRM since the early beginnings in the US and Europe (and each one of us has at least 15 years of experience in CRM), you develop some kind of “antennas” for product and service evaluation, you are naturally part of it. And this common understanding helped us manage an evaluation process that would be objective in terms of separating personal likeness from professional performance, and subjective in terms of evaluating the contestants´readiness for the CRM world.

Tell us about your experience with this amazing panel of experts and colleagues.

A great experience! Paul is the connector between all of us, and he´s got an amazing skill of match-making. Apart from being professionally prepared for this responsibility, we all also connect personally, discussions and opinion sharing were very natural and transparent.

I think it’d be really interesting to have your overview about this first phase of the contest. In your opinion, which are the European participants’ overall strentghs with regard to their corporate visions and products?

They started doing things from scratch considering the weaknesses or lacks in functionality in the market. AND they listened to potential customers: what do they actually need in terms of functionality, and how much are they ready to pay for? So they really started their business models the CRM way: driven by customer needs.

And what about their overall weakness?

Expansion planning is rather conservative than ambitious, they have great tools and great teams and could be part of the group of the big players in the market – but this requires investment and growth.

Which aspects have driven you to make the final choice?

For the semifinalist and finalist selection we considered the whole big picture of performance: the product, the way of presenting, the time invested in preparation, and the results of the personal interviews.

Working and talking with Paul Greenberg – fully involved in the worldwide project -, which are the main differences resulting from a comparison with american participants?

I cannot answer that as I was only involved in the EMEA contest

Geographically (and frankly) speaking, which are the more promising countries and which the ones that disappointed you?

It does not depend on the countries, especially in technological development we act more like “citizens of the world” – just look at the staff at Google or Apple: it´s a multi-cultural environment

Can you give some suggestions for the CRM and Social CRM vendors that will try to participate to the next year CRM Idol contest?

Not only the product is relevant, it is also the business model and roadmap planning that should be defined thoroughly. It´s great to have excellent ideas and be visionary, but you also have to have thought about the implementation of these ideas (how to?). And: you should be well prepared for the presentation and demo, and take advantage of your mentor´s experience and time to support you in preparation

Thanks again to Silvana for her kindness and time.