Friday, June 27, 2008

Lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer

Where are the lazy days? I don't seem to have as much time to write in here in the summer. I'm running up and down the road during my lunch hours picking up my kids from summer camp and bringing them home. Then I rush back to work for the rest of the afternoon. I come home take my son to either soccer camp or boy scout camp, come home fix dinner. Before I know it, its after 8 pm. Meanwhile, I just want to lounge around the pool, bask in the sun and relax. But part of me wants to get into a project I am working on for after I terminate my employment in a few weeks.

Some of my current co-workers are "busy" taking vacations at periodic points during the summer. I know that a lot of New Yorkers go to the Hamptons during the summer and it is often impossible to make contact with them on Fridays (unless you have "personal" relationships with them and can call them on their cell phones.

What are your customers doing? Can you make deals during the summer, or are too many people away from their offices to get final approvals? I've been wondering how much business gets done before September. What sort of CRM program or analysis tracks when people take vacations and the optimum time to make a sale?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Social CRM

I just read a great blog blog by Brent Leary of CRM Essentials about Social CRM.

He indicates that traditionally CRM is usually broken into three main components:

• marketing automation,
• sales automation, and
• customer service.

Traditionally, most organizations utilizing "CRM" focus on elements such as contact management, opportunity management and activity management. Many of the CRM applications such as Sugar CRM and Salesforce (or even a simple database), concentrate on meeting the challenges that are inherent with these areas. These tools help businesses be more responsive to customer inquiries, close more deals (more efficiently), and more accurately predict when opportunities might result in cash.

But the modern small business is turning to the web and social networking sites (such as Facebook, Linked-in, or Twitter, to improve their reach to potential and existing customers. Knowing more about the customer increases the knowledge of how to reach out to customers. Before blogging became so popular and before the days of Facebook, I used to scour press releases, websites, and articles relating to potential customers in order to figure out how to reach out to the customers. Social networking sites can be such a valuable tool.
"Social CRM adds a whole new dimension to the traditional view of customer relationship management. The focus is undoubtedly on people and not technology. It’s about joining the ongoing conversations our customers and prospects are already engaged in — not trying to control them. It’s about using any tool available that will allow us to meaningfully engage with more people like them. It’s realizing people like doing business with people they like — and understanding we love doing business with people we trust."
So many sales managers think of CRM as a technology that IT implements and then the business miraculously has better customer relationships and increased profits. Businesses should be customer focused with their CRM strategy that is SUPPORTED by technology. Look at what the customer wants. The more a business knows about their customers, the larger the competitive advantage. Accessing social networks may provide a way to speak to customers in a way that is more relevant.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Father's Day

As I reminisce about Father's Day, I think of my own father who died over 20 years ago. I always think about how I didnt really know him as an adult. I think how my husband is with my own kids and about my own parenting. As I was thinking about this, I couldn't help but have the words of Harry Chapin's "Cat's in the Cradle" come to my mind. Cat's in the Cradle" reached the top of the Billboard music charts in December 1974. It sold millions of copies and earned Harry Chapin a Grammy nomination.

The song's lyric have been fodder for discussion for years. Even my own kids have commented on the words when they've heard the story -- or when they are missing their father when he is on a business trip.

The song tells the story of a father who is too busy to spend time with his son. The son repeatedly asks the father to join in activities and the father always responds with a vague promises of "soon." While the son grows up loving and admiring his father, he picks up his father's habit of putting his own family on the back burner. "My boy was just like me..."

Harry's wife, Sandy, had a hand in writing the words. Its a great read here. The story ends with this quote:

The whole point of the story is that we learn our lessons in life by making mistakes, by trial and error, by experience," she said, adding, "It would be great if we could learn about the future ahead of time, but we have to learn the hard way. It's like the old saying--too old too soon, too wise too late."

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Flag Day

Do you know that June 14th is Flag Day -- a day to commemorate the stars and stripes? This date has slowly disappeared in significance.

On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress approved the design of a national flag.

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation establishing a national Flag Day on June 14. Before 1916, many towns and a few states had been celebrating the day. Congressional legislation designating that date as the national Flag Day was signed into law by President Harry Truman in 1949. The legislation also called upon the president to issue a flag day proclamation every year.

Per the Library of Congress: "According to legend, in 1776, George Washington commissioned Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross to create a flag for the new nation. Scholars debate this legend, but agree that Mrs. Ross most likely knew Washington and sewed flags. To date, there have been twenty-seven official versions of the flag, but the arrangement of the stars varied according to the flag-makers' preferences until 1912 when President Taft standardized the then-new flag's forty-eight stars into six rows of eight. The forty-nine-star flag (1959-60), as well as the fifty-star flag, also have standardized star patterns. The current version of the flag dates to July 4, 1960, after Hawaii became the fiftieth state on August 21, 1959."

Here's a song sung by Bill Murray to make you smile. This song is popularly known as "You're a grand old flag," but was originally called "You're a grand old rag" when George M. Cohan created his musical, "George Washington, Jr."

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Here Comes the Judge?

According to Wired Magazine, Sandra Day O'Connor is becoming a Game Designer. She is spearheading the development of a game called Our Courts, which she described as an
"online, interactive civic education project for seventh- and eighth-graders" that familiarizes students with the legal system. O'Connor believes that America's youth aren't learning enough about civics, and thinks that the educational power of videogames is just the thing to change that.
Our Courts is a digital game that will be available September 2009 that lets students engage in real issues and real problems, allowing them to step into the shoes of a judge, a legislator, an executive -- teach them how to "think through and analyze problems, take action and voice opinions to their elected representatives."

This should be interesting. Teens are very hooked into computer games and its great to see ones where they can actually learn something at the same time as having fun.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Walk the Talk

I just read a very interesting blog that elaborates on some of my ideas on informal communication.

What Goman says is that
"if the individuals in an organization don’t agree with the stated rational, if they haven’t been involved in developing the strategic plan, and if they don’t trust the messages they hear from leadership, there will be no successful change."
What people see is more powerful than what is said.
". . . nothing is more depressing than watching corporate communicators struggle to convince an audience with words that run contrary to organizational symbols and leadership behaviors. If an organization is filled with signs of executive privilege (corporate dining room, over-the-top executive compensation, reserved parking spaces, etc.) and the change message is: “We’re all in this together!” — that message will be derailed by the far more convincing corporate symbols. Likewise, if the stated message is “Let’s all collaborate!” and employees sense that senior leadership does not work well together, the collaboration message hasn’t a chance."
Companies need to be mindful of informal communications when trying to create change. Informal communication is often more powerful than formal communication. Employees need and want speeches from senior leaders and official communications in newsletters or internal company blogs. Formal communication delivers messages the company WANTS to deliver, WHEN management feels is right. In contrast, informal communications, such as the grapevines delivers the messages (whether correct or incorrect) when the Employee is ready to hear the message. If the grapevine controls the communications, it is not always delivered in the well-rehearsed or planned scope that management may desire. Employees may pay attention to what ISN'T being said. In the absence of communications, employees will try to explain things in their own way.

Managers will do well to remember this quote from the blog:
If leaders at any level of an organization want to be perceived as credible and forthright, they have to think “outside the speech.” That’s where they’ll recognize the importance of what isn’t being said, but is being communicated.