Well it’s been a while and we’ve all been really busy with customer implementations. It’s time to get back to blogging.

January 2008 saw Salesforce.com enable Apex code for free for it’s Enterprise and Unlimited Edition customers. What a huge step this made towards more enterprise automation and empowerment within the platform natively. Imagine taking the best of Java, adding to that native database support, driven by events (triggers) and you have Apex. Very cool stuff. We’ve been able to replace s-controls with Apex that allow for unattended operation of actions instead of a user having to press a button. The beauty of this is no more client-side processing. A lot more flexibility in where we can do things and when. And some cool application stuff we’ve been working on.

For example, tired of all the junk leads that come in from your website. How many times do the sales people have to deal with a lead from joe@biteme.com. Or mickey from disney. What if you could have the equivalent of a spam filter but for leads? Well .. it’s real .. and it’s here. A self-learning Lead “Spam” filter. We populate it with specific titles, company names, and email domains to ignore. You can add to it’s self-learning mode either thru adding your own filters or by individually blocking leads so that the next time they come in you don’t have to mess with it. We’ve got it up and running at a client now and it easily cleaned approx. 12% off their base of leads immediately and it’s managing to catch about 50% of their new leads every day that are not worth following up on. Now all we need is a cool name. Lead Squeegee? Lead Miner? Diamond Hunter? Feel free if you have suggestions to let us know.

Welcome to a first in a series of blogs that I hope to write about my thoughts, feelings and experiences around Sales and Marketing processes centered around Salesforce.com as a core business application. There are many blogs about the technical aspects of Salesforce.com (SFDC) but I want to stay more focused about corporate adoption and the processes therein. Occassionally I might slip in a cool technical addition.

So let’s talk about corporate adoption in general of CRM applications. In my experience with dealing with quite a number of clients I’m amazed at the perception of CRM in an organization. On one hand it is viewed as a necessity in managing any sales force of greater than say 5 sales reps by the management team. But no matter how big the sales organization gets there’s still this perception by many in the organization that CRM is all about managing “my” contacts and “my” accounts and somehow giving “my” management visibility into what I’m doing and maybe even a slight inkling as to what business may close in the coming days/weeks/months.

What continually surprises me is that people – corporations – don’t really realize the power of CRM and it’s application in a corporate environment and in particular how critical that application is to the needs to any business. It is not really a glorified, networked version of ACT or other contact managers. It really contains crucial corporate information. So where are the misperceptions about CRM?

a.) It is “our” customer list – “our” system of record for our customers and everything about them. It is not just about being a simple contact manager. If I want to know who we’re talking to , who we sold to, who reports to who, what touch points we’ve done throughout a customer organization this is our system or record.

b.) It is “our” authoritative source of booking information. I don’t care how you account for revenue in your organization and there are many ways depending on whether or not it’s products, services, recurring contracts, maintenance agreements, etc. But when an order comes in and is accepted, CRM is the source of that data. No financial application or ERP on the back-end holds that data in the way a CRM system does.

c.) It is truly a way to measure the effectiveness of marketing programs. Leads generated if done properly can indicate which marketing programs are working and which aren’t. CRM applications in many cases can also provide automated responses to keep leads fresh and also with some add-in’s can also prioritize (score) which leads are better qualified for immediate follow-up

d.) It is truly the one source of information in a corporate that can pull together all the various performance metrics for key decisions across a wide range of functions – Marketing, Business Development, Sales, Finance, Support and should be looked to as such.

Went up to San Fran to take a look at the show floor and the customer traffic.  SFDC quoted 7,000 attendees, but we all know that a big portion of that was unpaid (employees, press, freebie show-floor passes).  Much bigger and more splendiferous than previous D-forces, but don’t get carried away by the inflated numbers.

Didn’t have time for the techno sessions, just was looking for AppEx vendor activity.  A lot of new companies…but a lot of them very small companies with brand new products.   It’ll be interesting to see how the product traction increases. Way over half of the AppEx apps are freebies…helpful, useful, but not profitable.

For AppEx vendors to prosper, SFDC users are going to have to get used to paying for more add ons than they do now…

DT.

Hi.

We’ve been writing the SalesLogistix Answers newsletter for about a year now, but we thought more frequent, casual posts would be even better.

Most of the time, Dave Korba will be writing these…but sometimes it’ll be Dave Taber.

Too many Daves…