Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Gartner Trajectories for Sales Force Automation

A couple of years ago, I showed how the various CRM products had moved through the Forrester and Gartner magic quadrants, showing which products were on the rise and which were being left behind. I did not do one in 2013 because I was waiting for Forrester to release their CRM report but it never eventuated (or I never saw it). Gartner continue to release the magic quadrant for sales force automation so I thought I would take the last three years and see how the main players are tracking. If you want a copy of the latest report, you can get it from here.

The Rules

I soon noticed that if I included every CRM product reviewed by Gartner, the graphs got a bit messy when overlayed with each other so my rule is to only include CRM products which have been in the ‘Leaders’ quadrant (the top right) in at least one of the three years. This brings the competition down to a five-horse race:

  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online (Gartner reviews them as distinct products)
  • Oracle (Siebel CRM)
  • salesforce.com
  • SAP (CRM)

The Graph

Here it is by way of the GIMP editing tool. Part of the ‘rustic’ nature of the graph was Gartner choosing to switch format between 2012 and 2013, part of it is also the quality of the graphs I obtained through searching online and part of it is my limited graphical editing skills. Let us consider this a springboard from which to leap when I repeat this exercise next year.

The progression goes from 2012 (the red dot), through to 2013 (the yellow dot) through to 2014 (the green dot). The horizontal axis is ‘Completeness of Vision’ (the strategic view behind the offering) and the vertical axis is ‘Ability to Execute’ (roughly speaking its alignment to market demand, and how easy is it to get in place and work with it).


The Results

Microsoft Dynamics CRM

As with all players, Microsoft Dynamics CRM has moved closer to the centre of the quadrant. I interpret this to mean the difference between products is narrowing, rather than one product accelerating away from the pack. The product is still within the Leaders quadrant. Where Microsoft Dynamics CRM has lost ground is in the ‘Ability to Execute’. Part of this may be the normalization of the products and perhaps it is also the overhaul of the look and feel and the stretch into mobility/touch compatibility. Gartner also suggests Microsoft Dynamics CRM is still a product which wins over the IT department but not necessarily the VP of sales.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

The one product which has improved its position over the three years. The cloud version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM is now part of the Leader’s quadrant, moving in from the Visionaries quadrant, improving chiefly in ‘Ability to Execute’. Looking at the Gartner report and comparing the comments made against the on-premise offering, it seems the differentiator here is the price of CRM Online. At $65pupm for the ‘Professional’ version, Gartner considers this pricing level to be aggressive.

Oracle (Siebel CRM)

The grand-daddy of CRM systems, Siebel has slid out of the Leaders quadrant and fallen into the Challengers quadrant, losing heavily in ‘Completeness of Vision’. Gartner speaks of one strategic weakness with Siebel which is the limited go-to-market strategy. With Oracle Sales Cloud being the primary focus for Oracle (Gartner’s words, not mine), while investments will be made to maintain existing client bases, Gartner suggests new customers will go to the simpler to implement Oracle Sales Cloud, leaving Siebel little room to move in obtaining new customers.


Still ahead of the pack but, like the others, closer to the centre than in previous years. In their case the slide is even across both axes suggesting it is normalization rather than an inherent weakness. In terms of Gartner’s commentary, the areas of caution for the product are

  • Salesforce’s high price, relative to the market
  • The object/data-oriented approach of Salesforce1 as opposed to a task-oriented approach i.e. data capture vs process enablement
  • A lack of a European data centre limiting access to the European market


Like Siebel, SAP has slipped into the Challengers quadrant, losing equally on both axes. Also, like Siebel, Gartner calls out the complexity of implementing this on-premise solution. In terms of the cautions, the story reflects that of Siebel; with SAP’s Cloud for Sales offering, there is limited room to move in acquiring new customers for the on-premise offering. Like Dynamics CRM, Gartner also considers SAP to be a solution yet to win the heart of the VP of sales.


Salesforce is certainly still ahead of the pack but all products are closer to each other than in previous years. For the on-premise behemoths (Siebel and SAP CRM), there is a question of future viability beyond their existing client bases. This should act as a cautionary warning to Dynamics CRM. Microsoft need to carefully balance the promotion of their on-premise and online options to ensure both have growth and the online offering does not cannibalise its brother.

Another clear message is the focus in obtaining new customers needs to be the VP of sales and, I would argue, the VP of marketing. IT products are considered for their ability to directly help the generation of demand and sales these days, rather than simply their ability to be managed effectively. While salesforce has a strong history of targeting sales within the new prospective organisations, Gartner suggests this is an area of improvement for the other vendors.

Finally, the good news story is Dynamics CRM Online, battling the tide and improving its position over the three years. Gartner admit that the Dynamics CRM online and on-premise offerings are ‘relatively the same’, so I expect to see the their two dots approach each other as time goes by. With the additional of Social Listening and Dynamics Marketing, it will also be interesting to see if this influences the position of the two products compared to their competition.

Monday, July 21, 2014

CRM vs CEM: Two Sides of One Coin

While most people reading this will be familiar with the acronym ‘CRM’ (Customer Relationship Management), others may not be as familiar with CEM (Customer Experience Management). In my reading of CRM articles, CEM is getting increased coverage, with some authors going as far as suggesting it will replace CRM, so I thought I would write a blog exploring the two.

What is CRM?

For a discussion on what is CRM, check out my blog article from five years ago, covering precisely this. The article stands up quite well, I think. In essence, there is the philosophy of CRM (delighting customers by anticipating their needs) and the technology of CRM (the systems to capture the customer needs to assist in employing the CRM philosophy).

What is CEM?

Also called ‘CX’ (Customer Experience) is the management of the experiences a customer has with a vendor. The marketing folk refer to this as ‘Service Design’. As with many things in life, if CEM is done well it is imperceptible; if it is done poorly, it can be torturous. 

A good example is ordering pizza online (or, at least, my experience of it). You select the deal you want, pick the pizzas and pay. A short time later a meal arrives at the door. Simple, effective and precisely what I need, when I need it.

In terms of CEM horror stories, this is one I came across recently about a poor guy trying to disconnect his Comcast cable service (internet service).

It is painful to listen to but is a great example of a poor customer experience.

The Commonalities of CRM and CEM

Previously in conversations I often referred to CRM and CEM as one in the same but they are not (thank you David Berry, the most philosophical of the CRM MVPs, for the conversations that made me examine this position). CRM and CEM are designed to achieve the same outcome, to align the products and services to the needs of the customer and ensuring the business interaction is as smooth and consistent as possible, they just go about it in different ways.

In the case of CRM, this is done by

  • encouraging transparency and consistency in customer interactions
  • capturing feedback from customers to assist in improving processes
  • centralising information so all parts of the business have a full picture of the customer and their needs

In the case of CEM, the exercise involves mapping the customer touch-points (how they interact with a vendor) and then ensuring these are aligned to the customer’s expectations and the values of the vendor.

In our Comcast example above, our hapless customer wonders if the service agent has a series of questions they must get answers from in order to proceed i.e. a CRM system. However, while the CRM system may capture some elements of this disastrous interaction for future improvement, it is the CEM which lets Comcast down. It is clear, while the service agent is all for trying to retain the customer, they are failing to give the customer what they want i.e. disconnection. The interaction is all about Comcast and nothing about the customer.

This customer will never go back to Comcast after this interaction, whereas if the service agent had simply recorded the non-answers and marked a flag in the CRM system for a follow-up in a few months time, all parties would be satisfied. If Comcast had emphasized a customer-focus, rather than a retention focus and mapped the scenario of a frustrated customer and the appropriate way to deal with them i.e. listening with respect, this PR disaster would never have happened.

The Differences of CRM and CEM

The key difference, as I see it, is the focus. In the case of CRM systems, the focus is on ensuring the user can perform the interaction as efficiently as possible and capture the key information needed to ensure the business can be managed effectively. The idea is, if the user can do their job efficiently and effectively, they will have time to give the customer the attention they need and the information on hand to make the interaction delightful.

The focus for CEM is not the user, but the customer. CEM ensures the experience for the customer is efficient and effective. While long waits on the phone to talk to a customer representative may be inevitable, given the resources available, an alternative is to offer the customer a call back service or encourage them to check an online FAQ while waiting. This is an example of improved CEM.

What Can Help Customers Most? CRM or CEM?

Accenture conducts an annual Global Consumer Pulse Survey. The latest survey (2013) has some insights on what frustrates customers globally with customer services:

  • 65% of customers were extremely frustrated contacting a company multiple times for the same reason
  • 62% of customers were extremely frustrated being on-hold for a long time when contacting a company
  • 60% of customers were extremely frustrated dealing with employees who were unfriendly or impolite
  • 58% of customers were extremely frustrated having a company deliver something different than they promise up front
  • 55% of customers were extremely frustrated having to repeat the same information to multiple employees of the company or through multiple channels
  • 52% of customers were extremely frustrated with dealing with employees or self-help sites/system that cannot answer their questions

and for marketing/sales practices:

  • 60% of customers were extremely frustrated having a company promise one thing but deliver another
  • 54% of customers were extremely frustrated with realizing that a company cannot be trusted on how to use personal information provided to them

In terms of which can help most, the CRM system or CEM, it is a bit of a mixed bag. A better designed CRM system can help with:

  • Automated escalation and notification processes to ensure a customer does not need to contact a company multiple times for the same reason
  • Ensuring a customer’s information is readily available so a customer does not have to repeat themselves
  • Ensuring personal information is secure and only appropriate information is shared within the organisation and outside of it

CEM can help with:

  • Ensuring there are options other than being on-hold
  • Ensuring service agents are respectful and actually listen
  • Aligning brand promise to service delivery
  • Ensuring, if a question cannot be answered, there are options to escalate so that it can

This shows it is not CRM or CEM but CRM and CEM. Both work together to ensure an optimal outcome for customers.


While the terms ‘CEM’ and ‘CX’ are relatively new (going off Wikipedia, about ten years), the idea of Service Design is much older (about 30 years) and, of course, as an ad hoc activity, older still. Similarly, the idea of ‘database management’, as it was called in the eighties or CRM as we know it today has been around formally for a few decades but as a practice for much longer.

Both aim to make the interaction of customer and vendor as smooth and as pleasant as possible with CRM systems focussing on managing the process from the employee’s side and with CEM managing the process from the customer’s side. Both are necessary for the best experience and a failure of one cannot compensate for the other.

As interactions channels go online and become social, the CRM technology will extend and overlap with the traditional domain of CEM. A good example of this is a customer portal. Often this is a technical extension of the CRM system but the experience of that portal is pure CEM.

My prediction is, as these areas overlap more and more, they will combine to become a uniform discipline, complementing each other, rather than one taking over the other. CRM is not dead and CEM is not a re-badging exercise; they are distinct pillars supporting a common goal and CEM is definitely something CRM consultants will need to consider in the future.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Book Review: Packt Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Marketing Automation


Introduction and Disclaimer

It must be the season for it because I have two book review requests backed up which I have sat on for a few weeks. Finally I have two seconds to scratch myself so here is the first one for Packt’s Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Marketing Automation (the second is for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Unleashed which I will blog about in the upcoming weeks). As usual my compensation is a free copy of the book. Here is the link and this is what it looks like.


In terms of the authors, Alok Singh and Sandeep Chanda, I do not know them so extracting a free drink for a good review will have to wait until the second book review.

Overview and Structure of the Book

The book is reasonably short (128 pages) compared to many of the weighty CRM tomes out there and the chapters are:

  • Preface
  • Chapter 1: Getting Started with CRM Marketing
  • Chapter 2: Segmenting with Marketing Lists
  • Chapter 3: Marketing Campaigns
  • Chapter 4: Campaign Response and Performance
  • Chapter 5: Marketing Metrics, Analysis, and Goals
  • Chapter 6: Enhance CRM Marketing with Marketplace Solutions


The claim is the book is for new marketers looking to understand the essentials of sales management and for veteran marketers wanting to create advanced marketing strategies. This is a big claim in that it is a lot of ground to cover.

Given the inherent limitations of Dynamics CRM for mass communication e.g. a lack of an html editor for outbound emails, it is good to see that the final chapter reviews the, arguably, two most common CRM add-ons to assist with mass email marketing: CoreMotives and ClickDimensions. Two obvious omissions are ExactTarget (possibly because it is now owned by Salesforce, although my understanding is the management are still autonomous and will be supporting Dynamics CRM in the foreseeable future) and Dynamics Marketing (perhaps it was too new to be included).

Chapter 1: Getting Started with CRM Marketing

The chapter begins with its definition of marketing: “The process of engaging with the target customers to communicate the value of a product or service in order to sell them”. Having a wife who has worked across the length and breadth of marketing, I object to this definition. It does not cover things like brand marketing (communication of the values and beliefs of an organisation) and pull marketing (communicating with an unknown audience). It does provide a reasonably good definition of product push marketing which is the strength of traditional CRM systems or, if you like, direct marketing.

The chapter does touch on social media, which is good and, given, pre-Spring release this was a weak area for Dynamics CRM, it will be interesting to see if this is covered in more depth later on in the book.

The chapter then goes on to cover some of the key challenges of marketing, giving a quick overview of how CRM system can assist in tackling some of them.


There are a few more lines about what marketing is e.g. “the marketing team owns the message and the sales team owns the relationship” which jar with me but the idea that sales and marketing (and, in my opinion, most other areas of the business) can benefit by sharing information in a central system is a sound one.

The basics of the sales funnel are covered and the idea of sales stages is introduced although specific sales methodologies e.g. Solution Selling is not touched on. The summary suggests the sales funnel review was a ‘deep dive’ and, while it is a good summary of the key elements in sales funnel management, the depth is arguable.

Overall, despite my misgivings, a good summary of the elements of sales management and marketing as it relates to a traditional CRM system.

Chapter 2: Segmentation with Marketing Lists

This chapter covers Dynamics CRM Marketing Lists and begins with some of the key limitations of Marketing Lists e.g. only certain entities can be used, a list cannot have multiple entities etc. To this day, while we can specify an entity in CRM as being ‘emailable’, this does not make it available to be used with Marketing Lists.

The chapter then talks about how to populate static Marketing Lists i.e. lists with specific members as opposed to rules-based lists. It talks at using CRM’s Advanced Find functionality but does not go into detail as to how so you do need to be familiar with the Advanced Find functionality of CRM before tackling this part of the book.

The chapter, again, covers some of CRM’s limitations although does not mention the lack of visibility of dynamic lists against the contact or that, for email, you are forced to use email address 1.

In terms of a high-level summary of Marketing Lists, the chapter does well but, again, we do not venture too deep e.g. the construction of Advanced Find queries.

Chapter 3: Marketing Campaigns

The chapters do wonders for putting me off in the first paragraph. In this case the opening line is “A campaign is the actualization of your marketing strategy; all the careful planning and ideation that go into marketing is brought to life with a campaign". ‘Actualization’ and ‘ideation’ are real words although a proper marketing strategy is more than just a marketing campaign. The word ‘ideation’ just means the ‘generation of ideas’ and has been around for about 200 years. I am not a fan of the word but perhaps this is me being fussy; ‘thought’ strikes me as perfectly serviceable in this context.

Moving on from my pedantry, the chapter provides a summary of CRM Marketing Campaigns, including Quick Campaigns. The essentials for setting up a campaign are covered and, again, finer details such as setting up an email template are mentioned but not explored. The storage of activities against individuals, and the interdependence of Word and the Outlook client are not mentioned.

The chapter provides a reasonable summary of the key functions and operations of campaigns.

Chapter 4: Campaign Response and Performance

In my opinion, there is no room for contractions in formal documents. So when I see “Any marketing campaign doesn't end with the successful execution…”, I see red. Again, this may not be a big deal to you but immediately puts me off.

Campaign responses are a small passion of mine (it obviously does not take a lot) because no one uses them to their full potential. The trick to unleashing their power is to realise a campaign communication e.g. a phone call or email can be directly converted to a campaign response. The way most people use them is to click ‘Add New Campaign Response’ and then drive themselves nuts filling in all the fields. Thankfully, this chapter covers both methods of creating a campaign response and a third (creating a campaign response automatically from a reply).

The chapter also covers converting a campaign response to a lead or opportunity, which is also often overlooked but essential for transparency on the opportunities generated from a specific campaign.

So far, this is my favourite chapter in the book in that it covers how to properly manage campaign responses. Well done authors.

Chapter 5: Marketing Metrics, Analysis, and Goals

This chapter reviews key marketing measures commonly employed to assess the effectiveness of direct marketing campaigns. It then talks, albeit briefly, on the out of the box charts available to measure some of these metrics. The creation of new charts is not covered but the use of the report wizard is reviewed, as are the out of the box marketing reports and dashboards. Personally, I am not a huge fan of the report wizard as it is severely limited, compared to the full SSRS development suite. I would have preferred to see a quick review of chart and dashboard creation here, or the use of Excel to bring the data into an alternative analysis tool but this was not the case.

A high level review of goals management is also included in this chapter with some friendly screenshots to help in setting them up. Given the complexity of goals though, even this may be insufficient for the less experienced user.

Arguably the lightest chapter in the book but one that does give a taste of the BI tools available in CRM.

Chapter 6: Enhance CRM Marketing with Marketplace Solutions

ClickDimensions and CoreMotives are reviewed with some of the elements which are not available out of the box being covered (although many are now available via Dynamics Marketing).

It is not a bad high-level summary and I learned a few things about what can be done with CoreMotives. However, the overview is not exhaustive. For example, survey and form management in ClickDimensions is not covered. Also, costs and licensing are not summarised.


As a high-level review of the Marketing module of Dynamics CRM 2013, the book does reasonably well and certainly goes deeper than, say, Microsoft’s free User Guide. As a guide for strategic marketers especially those who are already familiar with CRM, the book will leave the reader wanting. Also, this is not a book for developers. There is no code in this book, nor references to how a developer accesses the marketing functionality from the back end.

Finally, despite speaking at the growing importance of social media to marketers at the start, there is little content about how this can be handled in CRM e.g. Social Listening or Parrot.

Is it worth $14? My thinking is, if you need a book which covers all of the functions of CRM, you are better to go with the ‘weighty tomes’ mentioned at the start e.g. my next book review, “Dynamics CRM 2013 Unleashed” costs $38 for the e-book and is over 1,000 pages in length. However, if you need a high-level review of Dynamics CRM’s out of the box marketing capability, $14 is not a lot to spend.