Mark Smith's Analyst Perspectives

Salesforce Fails Again in Customer Experience

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 14, 2017 2:02:52 AM

More than a year ago I wrote from personal experience about the challenges our firm encountered with Salesforce’s cloud computing systems and customer service and if we can trust them for business in the cloud. That perspective covered a range of issues that the behemoth cloud computing applications and platform company is facing regarding its service and technology. While Salesforce has shifted its customers like us and others to a different cloud computing environment, as it did in moving us off its #NA14 cloud computing instance, core challenges of its customer experience and billing processes persist. After the last customer experience incident, I contacted its executives about the need for operational improvement; it was clear in the dialogue that they saw some but not all of our experience as issues important to improving its customer processes. It was good to get some immediate attention, but my hope was to speak for all SMB companies in pointing out the importance of effective communications and escalating notifications and interactions when those customer moments go sour, so the customer isn’t forced to turn to social media to be heard. This was an area where Salesforce had significant room for improvement in customer engagement, reflecting a pattern we see in our benchmark research, which finds the most common challenges in almost half of organizations are integration of channels of engagement and managing activities as silos.

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Topics: Big Data, Sales, Office of Finance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Product Information Management, Sales Performance Management, Digital Commerce, Sales and Operations Planning, Machine Learning and Cognitive Computing, Sales Enablement and Execution, Machine Learning Digital Technology, Sales Planning and Analytics

Supercharge Sales Analytics with Digital Technologies

Posted by Mark Smith on May 12, 2017 8:44:14 AM

Our firm regularly explores the impacts of new technologies on business. Analytics is foremost among recently emerging technologies, which our benchmark research consistently confirms. In our research on next-generation sales analytics, fourth-fifths (82%) of participating organizations cited analytics as the most important technology trend for sales; however, several other technologies also are adding power and flexibility to the use of sales analytics.

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Topics: Big Data, Sales, Mobile Technology, Office of Finance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Product Information Management, Sales Performance Management, Digital Commerce, Machine Learning and Cognitive Computing, Sales Enablement and Execution, Machine Learning Digital Technology, Sales Planning and Analytics

Prepare and Wrangle Data for Sales Analytics

Posted by Mark Smith on May 5, 2017 8:28:39 AM

The importance of analytics for sales organizations is clear and, as I pointed out in my recent analyst perspective on the next generation of sales analytics, these capabilities optimize revenue potential. However, utilizing sales analytics requires a set of data skills that most organizations still find challenging and are thus not fully prepared to support. The efficient access and preparation of data underlies any analytics processes, which must meet demanding needs that are not always automated. Our research into next generation sales analytics has found many impediments that must be addressed and is a critical part of our expertise agenda for sales organizations.

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Topics: Big Data, Sales, Machine Learning, Office of Finance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Product Information Management, Sales Performance Management, digital technology, Digital Commerce, Sales and Operations Planning, Machine Learning and Cognitive Computing, Sales Enablement and Execution, Sales Planning and Analytics

New Generation of Sales Analytics Can Optimize Revenue Potential

Posted by Mark Smith on Apr 27, 2017 11:22:59 AM

I have been following advances in sales analytics since the 1990s. Over the last five years, however, I have seen evolution, not innovation. In most cases the information that analytics provides is too complicated and not contextualized enough for sales people who are not analytics experts to understand, let alone take action on. As I pointed out in my 2017 research agenda on sales, analytics is essential for planning that improves the impacts of sales efforts and meets the goals of the organization.

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Topics: Big Data, Sales, Office of Finance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Product Information Management, Sales Performance Management, Digital Commerce, Sales and Operations Planning, Machine Learning and Cognitive Computing, Sales Enablement and Execution, Machine Learning Digital Technology, Sales Planning and Analytics

Optimizing the Business of Selling in 2017

Posted by Mark Smith on Mar 20, 2017 9:22:10 AM

I am happy to provide my personal perspective on the potential of sales organizations, processes and technology to supercharge business activity in 2017. The sales processes of organizations – whether they involve digital commerce or direct or indirect physical selling – should be part of continuous optimization efforts to reach maximum results. To do this, the people leading and running sales processes must be able to use technology that supports their responsibilities and analyzes the crucial information coming into the business. For almost 15 years, we have advocated for sales applications and tools that are necessary to optimize sales effectiveness and improve the outcomes of their sales efforts. The available portfolio is much larger than sales force automation (SFA) and involves more than the continued use of CRM, which has clear limits in its ability to manage customer relationships. The applications on offer include many facets of sales:  coaching, compensation management, contract management, configure price quote (CPQ), forecasting, quota and territory management, planning and optimization, pricing and revenue optimization, and target or market intelligence. New applications designed for sales also enable digital effectiveness that can transform organizations. Let me provide my perspective on six topics that are shaping the way sales can and should operate in 2017, and which are part of our sales research agenda for the year.

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Topics: Big Data, Sales, Machine Learning, Mobile Technology, Office of Finance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Product Information Management, Sales Performance Management, digital technology, Digital Commerce, Operations & Supply Chain, Sales and Operations Planning, Machine Learning and Cognitive Computing, Sales Enablement and Execution

A New Generation of Analytics Offers Help for Sales

Posted by Ventana Research on Feb 24, 2015 8:31:32 PM

All lines of business are under pressure to meet targets and deliver expected results, but none is under more pressure than Sales. Like other organizations it must use information to derive insights about progress and problems and to decide what changes to make. Today businesses collect and analyze data from more data sources in more forms than ever before. To understand it they need effective analytics, and again none need it more than Sales.

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Topics: Big Data, Sales, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Business Performance Management (BPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Information Applications (IA), Sales Performance Management, Sales Performance Management (SPM), SFA

The Challenge for Sales in 2014: Stepping Beyond Conventional Wisdom

Posted by Mark Smith on Jan 31, 2014 8:46:26 AM

It should be no surprise for those who work in sales that increasing outcomes collectively is not always easy. Sales teams and individuals work under pressure to perform at high levels, selling more than they did in the previous period or more than the person who previously had responsibility for a territory. Today’s economic and competitive environments demand that everyone work not just faster but smarter in their sales efforts. To excel in this environment requires not just wise use of time but prioritization of the activities and tasks that contribute to achieving the quota and forecast. In the past, sales organizations often resisted adopting new technology, but it’s time for them to realize that tools are available to facilitate better sales performance. As I outlined in the overview of our business and technology research agenda for this year, the sales department has a ripe opportunity to get smarter in how it operates. This is the essential point of our research practice in sales applications and technology: Our methodical benchmark research examines applications and technology best practices and benefits for sales organizations, and we assess the vendors and products in this market through our Value Index ratings. We will start 2014 with the latest release of our Value Index on Sales Performance Management, which will help sales management evaluate products to assist in improving performance of the organization.

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Topics: Big Data, Sales, Social Media, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Business Performance Management (BPM), Compensation, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Sales Performance Management, Sales Performance Management (SPM), SFA

Xactly Makes Objectives the Incentive for Improvement

Posted by Mark Smith on May 25, 2013 11:40:56 PM

Sales organizations and individuals strive to reach their quotas and get paid the maximum commissions for their performance. In support of these goals, software vendor Xactly offers a suite of applications for sales performance management that operates in the cloud computing environment. An example of its success is receiving our recent 2013 Leadership Award in sales excellence for work by its customer Zuora. This achievement builds on its 2012 Leadership Award with customer GlobalEnglishMy last analysis of Xactly discussed its applications running on mobile technology including the Apple iPad, which answers the needs of sales people who prefer to use mobile technology. Xactly signed its 500th customer in late 2012, a milestone demonstrating its adoption by companies looking to improve sales.

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Topics: Sales, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Business Performance Management (BPM), Compensation, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Sales Performance Management, Sales Performance Management (SPM)

Sales Performance Management Is Red-Hot with Applications

Posted by Mark Smith on Jul 19, 2012 1:07:21 PM

We have just released our 2012 Value Index for Sales Performance Management (SPM), in which we evaluate the competency and maturity of vendors and products. Our firm has been researching this software category for many years, and our latest benchmark research in sales performance management found many areas for improvement among sales applications in a field where many sales organizations still use outdated or insufficient applications to manage revenue generation and customer relationships.

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Topics: Microsoft, Sales, Salesforce.com, SAP, NICE Systems, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Oracle, Business Performance Management (BPM), CallidusCloud, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Sales Performance Management, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Synygy, Varicent, Xactly

Xactly Helps Sales Go Mobile and Get Smarter with Incent 8

Posted by Mark Smith on May 24, 2012 9:57:52 AM

Businesses aim to make their sales function as productive as possible, but they don’t always support that goal with investment in technology. I recently wrote about sales needing a swift technology kick. Sales application vendor Xactly provides a boot with the release of Xactly Incent 8 and will make parts of the application suite available from the Apple App Store for the iPad in the coming weeks.

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Topics: Mobile, Sales, Sales Operations, Uncategorized, Compensation, CRM, Sales Performance Management, SFA