Monday, August 27, 2012

Salesforce Buzzword Bingo

It’s that time of the year again when Santa Benioff delivers us another little present in the form of the quarterly results for Salesforce. I will do the financials (but not this week).

In the past I have tried to summarise what is becoming a dull financial transcript (dull in the sense the numbers are Non-GAAP and there is never reflection on what could be improved e.g. profitability, cost reduction etc.) So I thought I would try something different this time.

Using the historical quarterly update transcripts and an online text analyser we can see the top ten buzzwords in the pre-question monologues of Marc Benioff, CEO and Graham Smith, CFO. I have excluded the safe harbor and Dorothy Dixer questions from the analysts so specific topics raised by analysts do not skew the results. I have also applied my own filter to eliminate things like ‘the’ and ‘year’. Here I present the top 12 keywords. The reason for 12? This way you can put them on a 4x3 grid, grab a bottle of your favourite tipple and, with some mates, play the Salesforce Quarterly Results Drinking Game next quarter.

This Quarter’s Keywords
(total words: 3200)
Last Quarter’s Keywords
(total words: 3200)
Last Year’s Keywords
(total words: 4400)
revenue (39 times) revenue (38 times) social (42 times)
social (21 times) social (32 times) revenue (30 times)
cloud (20 times) cloud (23 times) customers (27 times)
growth (19 times) enterprise (21 times) enterprise (25 times)
cash (17 times) customers (17 times) cloud (25 times)
operating (17 times) sales (14 times) growth (21 times)
service (15 times) cash (13 times) cash (15 times)
enterprise (10 times) service (11 times) sales (13 times)
customers (9 times) customer (11 times) dreamforce (13 times)
dreamforce (9 times) growth (11 times) customer (12 times)
marketing (8 times) operating (10 times) radian6 (12 times)
sales (8 times) eps (8 times) service (10 times)

Key phrases (two words or more) for this quarter included:

  • ‘cash flow’ (mentioned fifteen times)
  • ‘deferred revenue’ (mentioned ten times)
  • ‘operating cash’ (mentioned eight times)
  • ‘revenue growth’ mentioned eight times)
  • ‘revenue run rate’ (mentioned seven times)
  • ‘acquisition of Buddy Media’ (mentioned four times)
  • ‘the undisputed leader in Gartner’s magic quadrant’ (mentioned twice, Forrester was not mentioned funnily enough)

New Topics At the Front of Mind

Obviously cash flow and revenue are the key measures being promoted (which is nothing new really). The recent purchase of Buddy Media rated a mention along with hints of something brewing in combination with Radian6 (maybe we will see something more at Dreamforce). The Gartner results were also pushed a little given Gartner strongly believes in the social vision of Salesforce.

Topics in Decline

  • Social: mentions of social have halved from a year ago, which surprised me. I am wondering if this is a result of the recent #notinourname campaign of Australian and UK not-for-profit organisations which take exception to Salesforce attempting to trademark the term ‘Social Enterprise’.
  • Customers: Marc prefers to cite specific examples of big deals these days which may account for ‘customers’ dropping so significantly in their mentions as a whole. This begs the question whether Salesforce is now focussed on the big deals rather than all customers though.
  • Enterprise: The other half of the phrase ‘social enterprise’, this has also dropped. In fact, the term ‘social enterprise’ has gone from 20 mentions a year ago to less than a third at six mentions today.
  • Mentions of the ‘cloud’ has also reduced but not as much as some of his other key phrases.

The big surprise here for me is the downplay of the ‘social enterprise’ compared to last year. As far as I know, this is still key to the Salesforce strategy and yet it is not being driven home as strongly as it once was.

Topics on the Rise

  • Revenue: Not a huge increase, but an increase anyway. A cynic would suggest they are shouting about revenue to distract from the lack of profits for five quarters in a row. I just think they are talking up the one statistic which makes them look healthy.
  • Service: Most of the mentions of ‘Service’ refer to their Service Cloud offering. I am wondering if something is on the horizon with their service products at the upcoming Dreamforce


From reviewing the transcripts, it seems to me there is a lot to be seen at Dreamforce. There are the possibilities of a marketing and a service product vision (as well as an HR one which is getting a lot of air time at the moment) which is very exciting.

The phrase ‘social enterprise’ appears to be on the decline, which I still cannot fully explain. Is there something new on the horizon for Marc to sell a vision for?

While this could be argued as taking the data too far, there is a reduced focus on ‘customers’ and therefore, potentially, a reduced focus on customers in general. In the past, Salesforce was proud of its efforts to ensure all companies of all sizes could access the Salesforce products and they proudly advertised the fact.  The days, all we hear is ‘Salesforce + <company> = Like’ and the Social Enterprise License Agreement.

Revenue mentions have increased and are likely to continue to dominate the mention tables. Revenue growth looks good (hopefully profits will soon as well) so it makes sense to talk it up.

In conclusion it is fair to say the keywords paint a picture of an organisation at an inflexion point with new products coming soon and old ideas fading as their usefulness dwindles. Similarly they paint a picture of an organisation at an inflexion point in terms of the kinds of customers they pursue. Do they go after the big deals with big household names? Or do they go after smaller deals, as in the past?

The one conclusion that comes through loud and clear is that it is all about revenue and growth and not about profits and sustainability. When I have raised this with Salesforce employees in the past, the answer is always ‘we are pursuing a growth strategy’. I will respond to my thoughts on that when I review the financials in an upcoming blog article.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Battle of the Contact Information Sources: Jigsaw vs Dunn and Bradstreet vs LinkedIn

Back in January 2011 I railed against the nonsense FUD being put out by our old friend Salesforce. Incidentally, they still have the US version of the FUD page still up but have changed the FUD headers. No direct comments regarding Dynamics CRM, just a bunch of rhetoric nonsense (and the ‘ninja Bill’ Gold partner video, pure champagne comedy). Seriously though, “Born Cloud” as a competitive advantage?

Do not bother with the PDF download either. It is a PDF version of the web page designed to get your details so they can cold call you without actually adding any value (social marketing at its best). I am eagerly awaiting my call tomorrow morning.

But I digress, back in 2011 I called out the ordinary quality of the data available via Jigsaw, Salesforce’s crowd sourced contact information database.

In fact, Salesforce offers two priced services for ‘cloud data’ via their site. One is our old friend Jigsaw ($250 for 350 contacts) and the other is a Dunn and Bradstreet feed for $125 per user per month to get account information (contact information still coming from Jigsaw if I read the site correctly).

For Dynamics CRM we still have Hoovers for accounts AND contacts which appears to be similarly priced to the Salesforce Dunn and Bradstreet solution and, ultimately, both point to the same set of data i.e. the Dunn and Bradstreet datasource.

Given both the Jigsaw and the D&B feeds are paid services, I thought it would be interesting to see how they fare against a free alternative (which also can be easily integrated with most CRMs) i.e. LinkedIn.

Sample Contacts

For the sample contacts, I need people who are reasonably well-known. I have taken the top ten people from Dynamics World Top 100 Most Influential People in Microsoft Dynamics list for 2012. It is fair to say these people are ‘known entities’ in the Dynamics world. I assume that the blurbs on the top 100 site are correct i.e. none of them have changed jobs in the past three months since the list was published.

The Method

For each of the ten contacts, I’ll put them into Jigsaw, Hoovers and LinkedIn (all of which offer free searching with limited information returned) to see if they find the person at the right company.

The Results

Contact Jigsaw D&B LinkedIn
Adam Warby, Avanade Found, position CEO, in Chicago, IL, USA Found, position CEO and Director, aged 51 Found, position CEO, in Reading, UK
Mike Gillis, Hitachi Solutions Not found Found, position Managing VP, Microsoft Global Alliance Not found
Kirill Tatarinov, Microsoft Found, position President, Microsoft Business Solutions, in Redmond, WA, USA Found, position Corporate VP, Microsoft Business Solutions Found, position President, in Greater Seattle, WA, USA
Poul Kjaer, Partner Power Not found Not found Found, position Owner, in Denmark
Fred Studer, Microsoft Not found Found, position Administration Executive; General Manager US Information Worker BMO Found, position GM, Microsoft Dynamics, in Greater Seattle, WA, USA
Jon Roskill, Microsoft Found, position Corporate Vice President, Worldwide Partner Sales, in Redmond, WA, USA Found, position Corporate VP, Worldwide Partner Group Not found
Preben Damgaard, Damgaard Company A/S Not found Found, position Acting Managing Director Found, position CEO
Jesper Balser, Independent Not found Found, position Acting Managing Director at Milestone Systems A/S Found, Independent
Doug Kennedy, Microsoft Found, position Vice President, Dynamics Partners, in Redmond, WA, USA Found, position Vice President, Microsoft Dynamics Partners Not found
Claus Hansen, AlfaPeople Found, position COO, in New York, NY, USA Found, position Direktor Found, position Group COO, in Copenhagen Area, Denmark

So, in terms of getting hits, we have:

  • Jigsaw: 5/10
  • D&B (Hoovers): 9/10
  • LinkedIn: 7/10

In terms of data quality, the major difference was in Claus Hansen and Adam Warby’s location. The Alfapeople website and Adam’s blog suggest LinkedIn got it right.


If you are looking to enrich your existing contact data with an internet service Jigsaw seems to be a poor choice. According to the Jigsaw homepage they have 35 million contacts in their database but for our sample set, 50% of them did not appear. Of the five which did get a hit, two had the wrong location.

LinkedIn did not do too bad but it should be remembered that, unless you are a direct link to the person in question, it is unlikely you will be able to find out details such as their email address. You could get a paid account with LinkedIn though, which allows you to send InMail messages which guarantee a reply. The big advantage of LinkedIn is that you can see how you are connected to the people you are seeking out (and this aspect costs you nothing). In terms of turning ‘unknowns’ into ‘knowns’, your professional network is an excellent option.

For pure data enrichment of contacts, Hoovers is the big winner albeit with a price tag. Their database also dwarfs Jigsaw’s with 100 million people in their database.

My take on it is, for salesforce, forget if it uses D&B for accounts and Jigsaw for contacts. For the $125 per user per month you can get the Hoovers integration to salesforce and eliminate the risk of Jigsaw giving you false data. For Dynamics CRM, Hoovers also provides an excellent option if you need data enrichment.

However, for most businesses, regardless of the CRM product being used, signing up to LinkedIn provides a wealth of information for nothing. Frankly, I struggle to see what value $125 per user per month can bring to make it worthwhile when there is a wealth of information out there for free.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Maintaining Marketing Lists When Qualifying Leads

As with any packaged software, we reap the benefits of not having to rebuild everything from scratch but sometimes have to work around the limits of the assumptions put into the product. One example of this is with Marketing Lists in Dynamics CRM. Marketing Lists can be lists of Leads, Contacts or Accounts but cannot be mixed i.e. a specific list can have one type of records but not different types.

A couple of my clients have newsletter subscriptions for their Leads and Accounts but have a common problem; what happens to the Lead when it is qualified i.e. moves from being a Lead to an Account, Contact and Opportunity? What happens in reality is our Lead, now qualified and inactive, is no longer of use to us but the new Account is not part of any Marketing List.

Back in the old days of version 4 this was a problem which could only be resolved by throwing code at the problem or manually re-adding them to a new subscription list. However, in CRM 2011, if we set things up right, we can resolve the problem without code or manual intervention.

Managing Subscriptions

To manage our subscriptions, we are going to use check-boxes on the Lead and Account record.


We also adjust the mapping so that the value for this field gets brought across when qualifying the Lead.



This means if the Lead is marked as receiving the newsletter, the Account will be as well. You can do the same thing for Contacts by adding the field and doing the mapping to the Contact entity, rather than the Account, if this makes more sense for your business process.

Managing the Marketing List

A new feature of Marketing Lists for CRM 2011 is the ability to have ‘dynamic’ Marketing Lists. In other words, Marketing Lists whose membership is determined by rules, in much the same way views list records based on the rules set up for them via the Advanced Find tool.

Therefore, if we set up two Marketing Lists, one for Leads and one for Accounts whose membership is based on the flag on the respective records, we no longer have to manually add or remove records from the Marketing List, we simply update the Lead or Account subscription flag.


We could also put in a rule for the Do Not Bulk E-mail rule, or put in a workflow to unsubscribe from the newsletter if the appropriate marketing preferences are marked.

The Net Result

The effect of all this is if we take our Lead from above (Yvonne McKay), we see she is subscribed to the newsletter. We can also see her in the appropriate Marketing List.


If we now qualify her, she will no longer be an open Lead and will drop off the subscription Marketing List for Leads.


but her company, Practical Supply Company, has been automatically created through the qualification process, subscribed through the mapping and now appears on the Account Marketing List.


No manual intervention, no code and it just works.


If you use a newsletter or a similar subscription as part of your nurture marketing, you may have come across this problem. In the past, the best solution was to throw reasonably complex code at the problem to administer the automatic adding and removal of memberships from the subscription Marketing Lists. With the introduction of dynamic Marketing Lists, the need for coding is eliminated.

One thing to note though is the solution I present is really only practical for a few subscription lists, say, no more than a dozen. The reason being that, if you have more than this, the volume of tickboxes on the records may prove to be distracting or undesirable and you may need to use, say, a child entity and some code to manage the issue.


Monday, August 6, 2012

Forrester and Gartner Trajectories for CRM

Last year I did the Forrester and Gartner trajectories for large organisations and sales force automation. With reports coming out for both, now is a good time to revisit. For those of you unfamiliar with the idea, I basically take a series of Gartner and Forrester reports and see how the CRM products have moved over time. The idea is no so much to see which product the two research houses consider the best but to see which direction the products are moving in, relative to their competitors.


Here is the latest Forrester quadrant for large organisations Q3 2012.

So there are four horses in the race: Oracle Siebel CRM, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, SAP CRM and Coming up the rear are Oracle CRM On Demand, Pegasystems and RightNow. Or are they? This is where we can get insight from the previous years.

Here is what we had in 2008 and 2010 (from the previous Forrester trajectory blog)


So how are the leading solutions travelling?

Solution Comment
Oracle Siebel CRM They are still in the same relative position in terms of their offering but have raced forward in terms of their strategy. Ellison has been talking about a comprehensive software and hardware offering involving the cloud which may explain the move in the graphs.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM Travelling towards the top right but no major movements, just slowly improving.
SAP CRM Followed a very similar path to Oracle. Despite Ellison’s remarks in the previous link, SAP also have a cloud vision for their suite of products. Comparing to the path of Dynamics CRM, we see between 2008 and 2010, salesforce edged past Microsoft in terms of their strategy, no doubt fuelled by their strong social messaging. However, Microsoft has consistently provided a stronger offering, presumably driven by their strong integration to Outlook. In the most recent graph it appears that salesforce is gaining ground in terms of their offering though.

In the last trajectory blog I suggested Oracle and SAP had lost their way. It seems they have hit back with vengeance. So the state of play is all four have strong strategic visions with, arguably, Microsoft slightly behind and all have strong offerings, with, arguably, salesforce slightly behind the pack.

As for the ‘challengers’:

Solution Comment
Oracle CRM On Demand While improving over the years, appears to be losing their strategic focus.
Pegasystems A system I had never heard of until writing this blog, they have come from, basically nowhere, gained market presence (as indicated by the circle size.) One to watch.
RightNow If we look at them, compared to the path of salesforce, we see that they have improved but have slowed in recent years and salesforce has moved far ahead. With the acquisition by Oracle, their luck may change.

Given the movement, it seems clear that the one to watch is Pegasystems.

In the previous blog I suggested Oracle’s Peoplesoft and E-Business Suite CRM products were falling behind. Both products are now well behind the pack and have, it appears, lost relevance. Perhaps this is a conscious decision by Oracle to focus on CRM On Demand and Siebel and let the others fall behind (although, according to Gartner, CRM On Demand has been replaced by Fusion). Sage has arguably done this with their CRM offerings, focussing on Sage CRM and less so on ACT! and Saleslogix and Microsoft also has, arguably, a strong focus in the ERP suites on AX and NAV and less so on GP and SL (at least, this is how it appears to me in Australia).

I also mentioned the ones to watch were CDC Software’s Pivotal, SugarCRM and Sage CRM. CDC Software appears to be slipping behind, SugarCRM has maintained its relative position and slightly increased its market presence and Sage CRM also appears to have slipped slightly.


Here is the 2012 Gartner magic quadrant for sales force automation (I got my copy of this from the web site but, be warned, they will call you and try to sell you software for the privilege). You can also get it from the Microsoft News Center site (sales pitch not included). I mention this because for a social company you would think:

  • salesforce wouldn’t resort to such mundane tactics as cold calling white paper downloaders
  • given I handed across all my details and, with the world of social at their command, they might think a Microsoft CRM MVP is not their target audience

but I digress…


Here we have the same four horses in the top right quadrant but they are much more spread apart and ordered differently. Salesforce has moved from having the weakest offering of the four to having the strongest ability to execute. Also Oracle, Microsoft and SAP have moved from having a comparable strategic vision to being truly behind salesforce.

I am sure it is no surprise I disagree with Gartner on their belief in the completeness of salesforce’s vision. While it is true they know how to spin a good story and paint a picture or a world of social insights and meaningful customer interactions, the rash of acquisitions with little discussion of the vision for integration leaves me wanting.

In the previous trajectory article, I had five years of quadrants. For simplicity and consistency, I am again going to focus on just the quadrants for 2008 and 2010.


For the leaders:

Solution Comment
Oracle Siebel CRM In terms of their ability to execute and their vision, they appear to be falling behind. In terms of vision, this contradicts the
Forrester report.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM Dynamics CRM has moved very fast in terms of their vision and improved slightly in regards to their ability to execute
SAP CRM While moving in the right direction, they appear to be doing it much slower than their competitors and, again, this conflicts with the Forrester report. Gartner’s golden child for SFA. Relative to Dynamics CRM, it can be seen that, while moving in the right direction, Dynamics CRM appears to be catching up, although more slowly in recent years.

There are inconsistencies here between Forrester and Gartner in terms of salesforce’s strength and vision. My guess is Gartner is more enamoured with the salesforce social line than Forrester and, like salesforce, is sceptical on Oracle and SAP’s ability to deliver a social platform.

Time will tell which research house is right.

In terms of challengers, other than SugarCRM which, according to Gartner, has made massive gains on its ability to execute, there are no clear contenders. Looking at the challengers from the Forrester report:

Solution Comment
Oracle CRM On Demand Gartner believes this is no longer a competitive product in the market, being replaced by Oracle Fusion Sales.
Pegasystems Not mentioned by Gartner
RightNow Not mentioned by Gartner

In terms of market consolidation, the number of products in the magic quadrant and the number of companies has remained consistent with the numbers from 2011 suggesting consolidation of the industry has slowed or, perhaps, stopped.

As with the previous blog article, the Gartner report paints an industry with less movement of products and more stability with the leaders remaining in their dominant position. The one consistency in the two reports is who the dominant players are leading the way in the industry.


There are four players leading the way in the CRM industry:

  • Oracle Siebel CRM
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM

According to Forrester, all are similarly placed. According to Gartner, dominance is between and Dynamics CRM with salesforce the one to beat. In terms of new players, a close eye should be kept on Pegasystems. Consolidation of the industry has also appears to have slowed down. As stated in my previous piece on the Gartner trajectories, the close rivalry of the four products will only make for better, more competitive products with the winners being the consumers. It is a great time to be in the CRM game.