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What’s the Real Value?

It’s important for us to stay current with the best thinking in the CRM industry, which is why I try to read the output of my friends and colleagues as much as possible. After falling behind a bit—there’s a lot out there that my blogroll doesn’t cover, must update—I ran across this excellent piece of opinionizing by Denis Pombriant, founder and principal analyst of Beagle Research Group.

Denis is without a doubt the world’s second smartest beagle. (Sorry man—I have a long-standing loyalty to Snoopy.) Clear thinking and the ability to look at the long-term effects of short-term actions make him a great source, and if I have nothing useful to say, I can always direct people to him. As usual, he’s spot on with his comments, so I’ll only add a few thoughts.

When Denis writes, “Too often in early markets customers buy market leading products regardless of their merits and vendors accommodate this need by bragging about market share,” he shows how eager so many of us are to follow the herd. Basing a business operations decision like CRM on market share is the grownup’s version of “all the cool kids are doing it.” It’s fair to include measurable market share—not necessarily leading, just on the charts—as one criterion of the buying decision, but it’s something that should be graded pass/fail. I might not even include it on my list unless there’s likely to be pushback from shareholders worried about where their money is going; there’s a place for small vendors, and not just for catering to customers with tight budgets.

Speaking of tight budgets, there’s this: “[T]ightness in the credit markets has caused a significant amount of demand destruction and that has changed the terms of selling.” I’ve been saying it for years, but it bears repeating that it’s much more important right now to hold onto existing customers than to find new ones. If you know what you need your CRM for—and you’d better—then you have a good head start on picking your vendor criteria. Allow yourself to be guided by what will provide the customer insight to keep your regulars on the balance sheet.

Kudos again to Denis for rocking the smarts.

Our Hero