Have you ever noticed how all the talk in the CRM sphere tends to focus on a handful of big names? The companies that have already achieved massive success and recognition (relatively speaking; I still need to explain the concept of CRM and SCRM to just about everybody I meet)? It seems there’s no room for smaller vendors to compete, despite the fresh approaches and innovative ideas they may bring.
That state of affairs is a thing of the past. Once again, Paul “CRM Godfather” Greenberg is shaking up the industry—he has masterminded CRM Idol 2011: The Open Season. As the name suggests, it’s something of a riff on American Idol, but with more talent and less drama. Entries are being accepted, starting today; more about that later.
A total of 60 companies (40 in North America, 20 in EMEA) will present their commercially-available CRM wares to a panel of judges composed of the greatest influencers, analysts, and journalists in the field (and also me). Finalists chosen from these vendors will create a 10-minute video presentation to fight it out for a choice of the top prizes.
The prizes, you ask? Several. Free consulting from members of the judging panel and other top minds in the field. Webinars conducted pro bono by the same. Subscriptions and/or beta access to leading CRM suites so partner applications and integrations can be developed. And the coveted free publicity, consisting of a joint product review produced and signed by the judging panel, released immediately through a huge list of media partners.
And since everybody’s a winner in a game like this, everybody gets the review. Like American Idol, though, there is a risk of the Simon Cowell experience—a weak product and a bad presentation will be reviewed appropriately.
But enough of my paraphrasing and editorializing—you want the meat of the subject. Here it is, straight from Paul:
Most of what we’re trying to do was outlined in the pre-announcement announcement of CRM Idol last week. But it bears some repeating:
Small companies – at least in the CRM software related world – and that means social software world, in this case, too – abound. There are thousands of companies out there that are possibly innovative, possibly commercially viable in a big way, possibly the next big thing. But, as we said, there are thousands of them. And, no matter how great your product is, if no one knows about it, well, then, oops. Not a good thing.
These small companies are all making efforts to get into the ecosystem that could benefit them – one which includes investors, influencers, technology/strategic partners, media connections, etc. While getting support from this powerful ecosystem is by no means a guarantee of success, it can be enormously helpful in getting well down the road there. But, those small companies are often thwarted in that effort by either really bad PR people, or just the incredible amount of companies out there trying to reach into the ecosystem who are pummeling the small amount of influencers, etc. every week with requests to demo or talk.
Now, to be fair to the influencers, they are human beings with lives that aren’t built around supporting this one company that really thinks they are it. All they know is that each of them is getting between 20-50 requests a week to take a demo or conversation with someone who owns or represents a company they’ve never heard of and never talked to yet. In addition to those that they know. Often enough, they are pitched by a public relations person who is either inexperienced or not really good at their job who makes no effort to find anything out about the person that they are pitching to. So the influencer, journalist, venture capitalist gets a generic curve thrown at them that doesn’t even break over the plate – guaranteeing that the email is going to be discarded as a matter of course before the first paragraph is even read. Or it could be that on a particular day the influencer got 10 pitches and had a headache and didn’t want to see any of them.
As unfair as generic pitches and high volumes of noise are to the influencers in the highly desirable ecosystem we are chatting about here, it is a problem because what are probably a lot of good companies are never given a chance to move ahead because of the difficulties inherent in the process and the vagaries of bad luck on any given day.
Which is why CRM Idol 2011: The Open Season exists.
The concept is simple, small companies out there. If you meet the submission criteria outlined below, you will be given the opportunity, first come first serve, to secure a time slot on a specific day that will put you in front of some of the most influential people in the CRM/SCRM world. They will spend an hour with you in a demo to hear about your technology product – software only – and they will write a jointly signed review of what they saw of you – that will be published in multiple venues as soon as its written. It can be a good review, a bad one, a mix or indifferent. There’s risk on your part to be taken here. But it is something that you need to be aware of. The reviews will go up as soon as the 5 judge sign off on the final content. They won’t be exhaustive reviews but they will be opinionated and fair.
Forty companies from the Americas and twenty companies from EMEA (that means ONLY Europe, the Middle East and Africa) will get a shot at this – again first come first serve (more later on what that means). Of the 40 in the Americas, 4 finalists will be chosen. (NOTE: There will be an APAC edition hopefully late in the year or if not, early 2012, depending on the success of these two events. Sorry, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, et.al. Logistics made it impossible at this juncture.) Out of the 20 in EMEA, 3 finalists will be chosen. Each of the finalists will be REQUIRED to do a ten minute video about their company and the product. Not a repeat of the demo but a video. Note I used the word REQUIRED here. Let me put it this way. If you make the finals and don’t do the video, we will publicly skewer your company. Know why? Because our judges are giving up what little free time they actually have in a summer to do this and it will take us 4 hours a day for 3 business weeks to do it. So if you can’t or won’t put in the effort to do the video, don’t bother to apply. Seriously. We’re trying to help out here and we want you guys all to succeed but it’s a two way street.
Okay, that rant out of the way. Once the finalists are chosen and the videos done, they will be posted online in multiple media outlets. They will be voted on in two ways:
- Popular vote – see, crowdsourcing is important. All the votes for the one winner from the Americas and the one winner from EMEA will be tallied from the public sites – in aggregate. That’s 50% of the vote.
- Extended Judges Panels – as you can see below, we may have assembled the greatest panels of judges – both leading vendors and influencers ever assembled in the history of CRM – not to be hyperbolic or anything. Each judge will select a specific winner in each of the Americas and EMEA from the 7 finalists. That’s the other 50% of the vote. The original judges will be voting as panel members.
The winners in each will get a major array of prizes, some of which are below, and be declared “CRM Idol 2011 Winner.”
Not too shabby is it? Vast amounts of media attention even if you don’t make the finals. If you make the finals at all, some prizes to you. The winners get everything that the ecosystem can offer but guaranteed success. But they do get all the accoutrements they need to support their increased likelihood of it.
That way, you small companies out there who have been victimized by bad approaches or just circumstance have the opportunity to bypass all of that and make something happen. It’s up to you to take the reins in hand but once you do, you have at least a serious chance at making yourself successful.
This competition is for small companies in the CRMish/SocialCRMish world. – see the categories below for some guidelines though please feel free to make the case if you don’t see yourself in the guidelines.
- You have to have software that is commercially available by the time of the demo – that would be in August – again see below. No betas, alphas, release candidates allowed. If we find that you’re not commercially available, and you have a time slot, you’re out and someone else will fill the slot. So please be sure that you can verify the claim if you want to participate.
- You have to have 3 referenceable customers that, if we care to, we can contact and ask about you.
- You have to have revenue under $12 million U.S. your last fiscal year. As far as disclosure goes, you have the choice of making the claim that you do – though that will have to be stated in your submission and we’ll trust you or you can disclose your revenue in the submission with the knowledge that only the permanent judges will know what it is. If you make the claim, please be prepared to back it up if we ask. Your call on how.
- You have to be willing to make a ten minute video if you get to the finals. More on that later.
- You have to fit a category – though there is some leeway there.
The categories that we’ve identified to start are:
- Traditional CRM Suites
- Social CRM
- Sales – Sales Force Automation, Sales Optimization, Sales Effectiveness
- Marketing – Marketing Automation, Revenue Performance Management, Social Marketing, Email Marketing, Enterprise Marketing Management, Database Marketing
- Customer Service – all permutations
- Mobile CRM
- Customer Experience Management
- Social Media Monitoring – requires the possibility of integrating with a CRM technology
- Customer Analytics – including text/sentiment analytics; voice based analytics; social media analytics, influencer scoring, etc.
- Enterprise Feedback Management
- Innovation Management
- Community Platforms
- Enterprise 2.0 – collaboration, activity streams etc.
- Social Business
- Knowledge Management – this one requires the possibility of integrating with CRM systems
- Vendor Relationship Management
- Partner Relationship Management
Once again, if you don’t see yourself in this list, don’t worry. Just make the case as to why you have some customer-facing possibilities and the likelihood is that we’ll be cool with it. We’re trying to make this easier for you, not hard.
They are numbered to be entirely clear.
- There will be 40 slots made available in the Americas and 20 in EMEA.
- The submission will be by email ONLY to: firstname.lastname@example.org. (See below to see this again and what to do if there are problems). Any other attempt at submission will be rejected out of hand with the problem exception mentioned below.
- The submissions will occur starting today – Monday, April 25 and will continue until Friday May 13 or until all slots are filled, whichever is first (watch #crmidol on twitter for updates on that as it occurs). On May 13, should any slots be left, the remaining specific dates and times will be made publicly available and another final round of submissions for those remaining slots will occur from May 13 through May 20. After that the submissions will be closed.
- Each submission will include the following:
- Your company contact and named person contact information Two date and time specific slot requests. ONLY two. If your slots are not available, you’re out of luck until May 14 – and then you can resubmit to any time slots that are publicly announced as still available. Though there is no guarantee that there will be any available slots at that time. (see below for examples of how to submit the dates/times)
- The category you feel you fit into – or if you don’t but think that you qualify – why.
- A description of what the product is/the company is. Be persuasive here that you meet the criteria, not that you have a great product. This is merely a qualifying discussion. URLs cannot be used as substitutes for this description. The submission needs to be all inclusive. However, they can be used as supporting documentation.
- The names of the three (3) referenceable customers – the company, the contact and the way to communicate with them – minimum of email and phone, please.
- A statement that says that you meet the revenue requirement along the lines of “our company states truthfully that our revenues in our last fiscal year 2010 were under $12 million U.S”. OR you can state the actual number with the knowledge that the primary judges in each of the Americas and EMEA will treat it as under non-disclosure. But please be aware those designated primary judges below will see the actual figures if you choose to reveal them.
- A statement that says, “if (you) make the finals, you are committed to making a 10 minute video for submission and public viewing as part of the conditions for entry.” Word it anyway you prefer but make the commitment clear.
- If you are accepted, you’ll be notified privately but it will be posted that you’ve been accepted on the Twitter #crmidol stream. The time will only be sent to you privately. Just your acceptance will be posted. Please allow some time between your submission and the posting of it to the hashtag and your private notification, since we all still have to work for a living.
- If you don’t include everything specified in the rules for submission, it means automatic disqualification and you cannot resubmit.
The demo has few rules. Just be prepared to a. explain your company; b. show your product – live please c. answer questions from the influencers/experts. Not much more than that. I’m sure many of you are experienced at this already so wed don’t have to tell you this, but just in case… A site for the demos with login etc. will be announced to the timeslot owners in early August.
The standards for the video will be mentioned to the finalists once they are named. To rest any unease, you won’t be required to spend lots of money to get it done. How much you spend and on what will be up to you as will the content and how you present it. We’ll issue guidelines when the time gets near, including how the video is going to be distributed for posting and voting.
Here are the lists of all the judges. As you can see, we have what is likely to be the heaviest hitting list in the history of anything done in CRM when it comes to awards or competitions. Click on their names to get to their LinkedIn bios. They are in alphabetical order.
These five judges will handle the 40 entries for the Americas which consists of the United States, Canada, South and Central America. They will all be involved in the one hour reviews each of the days over the two weeks and will jointly sign off on each review which will be posted to multiple media sites. They will also solely choose the four finalists for the Americas.
These four judges will handle the 20 entries from Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia etc. They will all be involved in the each of the 1 hour demos/discussions from Sept 5 through 9 and will write and jointly sign off on each review which will be posted to multiple media sites. They will also solely choose the three finalists for EMEA.
This is an exciting part of CRM Idol 2011. Each of these fine human beings has volunteered a day of their time – two during the finals and one with the winners – to provide the benefit of their experience to the contestants. What they will do is noted by their name. This is an awesome idea that Anthony Lye actually cooked up. Each of these mentors has decades of experience in the software and venture capital world and is considered a leader in the CRM space. So if you make it to the finals, you have the benefit of their knowledge and their valuable time. Amazing.
- Anthony Lye – Anthony will provide one day for the Americas finalists and one day for the EMEA finalists for consultation on how to best do the content for the contending videos and whatever other pertinent advice the finalists need. Anthony has had years of experience as a senior management person for enterprise CRM and a thought leader.
- Joe Hughes – Joe will provide one day for the Americas finalists and one day for the EMEA finalists for consultation on how to best do the content for the contending videos and whatever other pertinent advice the finalists need. Joe has been a leader in the CRM space for as long as we can remember and one of the more foresighted when it comes to the value of Social CRM
- Larry Augustin – This is a prize for the winner of EMEA and the winner of the Americas. Larry who has years of experience as an executive in the software space and has been a successful venture capitalist will work with the winner to prepare them for dealing with possible investors including doing a VC matching with the winners.
There will most likely be other mentors announced as the competition gets closer to the demo dates. We might try to make some mentors available to prepare you if you need them for the one hour demos but that’s still up in the air. We’ll keep you posted.
Extended Judges Panels
The Influencer Panel
- William Band – Vice President & Principal Analyst, CRM, Forrester Research
- Jim Berkowitz – CEO, CRM Mastery
- Bruce Culbert – Chief Service Officer, The Pedowitz Group
- Zoli Erdos – Publisher/Editor, CloudAve and Enterprise Irregulars
- Mike Fauscette – Group Vice President, Software Business Solutions, IDC
- Josh Greenbaum – Principal, Enterprise Applications Consulting
- Dr. Graham Hill – Partner, Optima Partners
- Dennis Howlett – Buyer Advocate
- Ian Jacobs – Senior Analyst, Customer Interaction, Ovum/Datamonitor
- Michael Krigsman – CEO, Asuret
- Marshall Lager – Managing Principal, Third Idea Consulting
- Kate Leggett – Senior Analyst, CRM, Forrester Research
- Maribel Lopez – Principal Analyst and VP, Constellation Research Founder Lopez Research LLC
- Jeremiah Owyang -Managing Partner, Altimeter Group
- Sameer Patel – Managing Partner, Sovos Group
- Scott Rogers – Customer Evangelist
- Robert Scoble – Managing Director, Rackspace Hosting
- Brian Solis – Principal, Altimeter Group
- Dilip Soman – Professor of Marketing, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto
- Ray Wang – CEO, Constellation Research
- Mary Wardley – Vice President, CRM Applications, IDC
The Vendor Panel
- Larry Augustin – CEO, SugarCRM
- Anthony Lye – Senior Vice President & GM, CRM, Oracle
- Phil Fernandez – CEO, Marketo
- John Hernandez – General Manager, Customer Care Business, Cisco
- Jonathan Hornby – Director, Worldwide Marketing, SAS
- Joseph Hughes – Senior Executive, CRM Service, Support and Social System Integration Lead, Accenture
- Charlie Isaacs, VP, eServices and Social Media Strategy Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise
- Vinay Iyer – Vice President, Marketing CRM, SAP
- Katy Keim – CMO, Lithium
- Marcel Lebrun,- CEO, Radian6
- Mitch Lieberman, Vice President, Marketing, Sword-Ciboodle
- Chris Morace– Senior Vice President, Business Development, Jive
- Zach Nelson – CEO, NetSuite
- Bill Patterson– Director, CRM Product Management, Microsoft
- Dileep Srinivasan – AVP – CRM & Social CRM, Digital Marketing & MDM, Cognizant
- John Taschek –Vice President, Market Strategy, Salesforce
The Journalist Panel
- Elsa Basile – Director, Callcenternews (Argentina)
- Barney Beal – Managing Editor, SearchCRM,
- Anita Campbell – Publisher, SmallBizTrends.com
- Robin Carey – CEO, Social Media Today
- Neil Davey – Group Editor, Sift Media
- David Myron – Editorial Director, CRM Magazine, Speech Technology Magazine
- Valdir Ugalde – Board, Member, mundocontact (Mexico)
- Ann Van Den Berg – Senior Editor, CustomerTalk (Netherlands)
You’ll note that we have 8 journalists on a panel of judges. Well, each of them represents a media partner that will be broadcasting the competition and posting the videos for voting in the finals for the popular vote. They are an awesome array of the most influential media sites in social media, CRM, and small business as well as local influencers in CRM in Latin America and Europe. They will be significant in the lives of the contestants, the finalists, and the winners giving each what may be an unprecedented breadth and depth of coverage. Their coverage will be supplemented by posts to the blogs and other sites that are owned by many of the judges so there will be significant reach for all 60 of the initial contenders. Each of these partners will be getting exclusives from the judges and hopefully some of the companies too so that we can add a quality of coverage that would enhance the value to the SMBs participating. in all areas – CRM, social and small business directly.
We expect to add more media partners as we continue on throughout the competition.
The current partners and links to their sites (in alphabetical order, like every list here):
The Prizes…So Far
These are the prizes as of launch today. There are several others in the works that will be announced as the contest rolls out.
All 7 finalists will get to choose one day of consulting from the list of Influencer consultants below. The order of choice will be based on the popular vote on the video which will be kept confidential but used for the choosing. There will be more consultants added to the list as contest moves forward.
The Americas and EMEA Winners
Each winner will get to choose four prizes from the list. Note – in the case where multiple prizes are being offered by a single vendor – the vendor counts as a single prize with all the items as part of that.
- A full day workshop with CRM leaders in Accenture for possible partnership and/or possible investment.
- Capgemini (for EMEA winners only)
- A half day workshop with Patrick James, Global VP CRM and Laurence Buchanan to explore joint go to market opportunities and help you refine and test your value proposition.
- Social Media Today
- A blog post featuring the winner of the contest to run on both The Customer Collective and Social Media Today
- A single blast to the Social Media Today opt-in list (approximately 50,000 names) which will conform to their minimum standards (valued at $10,500)
- 12 mos. of CRM Online Free for developing extensions to CRM
- 12 mos. of Windows Azure Free for developing web-based portals and BI solutions
- Access to the Office 365 Beta for building collaborative applications and services
- Access to the BizSpark One program -a program designed to connect emerging businesses and their investors with a Microsoft advisor to help them identify unique opportunities and expand its business presence
- Free 10 user subscription to SugarCRM Professional or Enterprise
- Membership in the Sugar Exchange and free consulting on product integration with SugarCRM
- CEO Larry Augustin, a successful venture capitalist in his own right, does a mentoring & VC matchmaking session with the winners
- Brian Solis
- One hour internal webinar on how to use SCRM and social media to your advantage
- Paul Greenberg
- One hour pro bono external webinar on a subject TBD for lead gen, mindshare, etc.
- Ray Wang
- One hour pro bono external webinar on a subject TBD for lead gen, mindshare, etc.
- Sameer Patel
- One hour pro bono external webinar on a subject TBD for lead gen, mindshare, etc.
- Influencer Consulting– free strategic consulting for 1 day or 8 hours from a variety of judges (in person travel expenses to be covered by winners)
- Esteban Kolsky (in person only)
- Paul Greenberg (on phone or in person)
- Denis Pombriant (on phone or in person)
- Mark Tamis (on phone or in person)
- Jesus Hoyos (on phone or in person)
- Brent Leary (on phone or in person)
The Times, Dates, Hashtag and Email
Okay here’s the hardcore stuff:
Dates and Times Table for the Americas and EMEA
We’ve put together an easy little table with all the relevant dates and times that you’ll need as you progress through the competition.
|Submission Dates||August 15-19; August 22-26||September 5-9|
|Submission Times||3pm ET; 4pm ET; 5pm ET; 6pm ET||3pm GMT; 4pm GMT; 5pm GMT; 6pm GMT|
|Finalist Video Submission Date||September 30||October 14|
|Winner Announcement||October 17||October 31|
A Note or Two
A little bit of unfinished stuff that will sort itself out as time goes forward.
- There will likely be a CRM Idol site (Joomla based) coming in the next month or so that will be an aggregate site for all the media outlets and streams. However, this remains a work in progress that’s still under discussion.
- There will be more mentors and prizes added and possibly a judge or two.
- For now ongoing news will be found at the twitter hashtag #crimidol.
That’s about it. Now its time to bring it. First come, first serve. See you, maybe as the 1st ever CRM Idol, in Vegas, Hollywood. London or on the Social Web. Somewhere anyway.
CRM IDOL 2011 IS NOW OFFICIALLY UNDERWAY