I was very surprised at the response I got for the Random Thoughts on CRM I wrote on my flight out to Las Vegas for CallidusCloud’s C3 conference. There is so much more to customer engagement and to other areas that are customer facing, I figured I'd use my return flight to follow-up with a look at specialization, verticals, interesting companies and some more on the extant projects.
I hope we can all agree that sales force automation, the driver of original CRM, is now pretty much the same from tech offering to tech offering. It’s been the same for a long time and probably isn’t going to go much further. However, under the rubric of sales enablement and sales optimization (both terms that are overused big time), I’m seeing a lot of specialization areas – value adds to sales technology and related systems that are substantially important.
Companies like InsideView (arguably the first of these types of companies), Lattice Engines, ClearSlide, Xactly and CallidusCloud are growing quickly and making substantial inroads because they offer important additional value. There is a wide variety.
Some, like Callidus Cloud and Xactly, cover compensation but are focused in what are now diverging directions. Some, like Lattice Engines, are looking at next best actions and predictive analytics to drive them. Some, like InsideView, are focused around deep sales intelligence. ClearSlide is built around personalization based on sales target behaviors.
Tech vendors who are capable of entering this particular vertical and are not thinking about it are – to put it nicely – out of their minds.
There are many other players having an impact in the market. There is even a realignment of the market and a huge upsurge of interest in demand generation and lead generation/nurturing. We are seeing a broad alignment of sales and marketing departments at many companies that is changing the way that the two departments work — both apart and together — which is causing many tech companies who had historically focused on sales or marketing applications to redesign their products and/or add to their portfolios. Cases in point are salesforce.com moving Pardot, a full-fledged marketing automation suite for mid-sized companies, into the Sales Cloud.
It is why we’ve begun to see an evolution of the traditional marketing automation technologies to account for the change via what they are calling (see Oracle Eloqua and Marketo here) revenue performance management – or, to use a much better term from The Pedowitz Group, revenue marketing.
The opportunity in what was a pretty mature, staid sales force automation (and even marketing automation) marketplace lies in the above. It's also why you see NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson's argument that CRM doesn’t work unless you include order management and ecommerce begin to actually gain some legs, though it is still way overstated. The market is looking for the things that give it either greater operational effectiveness or some competitive advantage and that understands the nature of the 21st century customer. It's a tall order, but a great opportunity: Specialization with a distinct purpose.
I have this idea that there are these verticals which are ripe for a big dose of 21st century thinking and provide some of the greatest opportunity for businesses in the technology world – but also for companies that are doing strategic and programmatic advisory work.
I call these "the emotional verticals." These are where the deepest emotional stakes exist for customers and, therefore, the place where customer behaviors matter most and are most available (note I didn’t say easiest) to identify and anticipate. These are also where customers can be most deeply and continually engaged — if you can anticipate their behaviors and provide them with the products, services, tools, and consumable experiences they need to stay engaged. These verticals are where the customers either willingly or sometimes unwillingly invest emotionally. They are, in no particular order:
There may be others I don’t know. All of these have meaning to each of us. Arbitrarily, how do you feel if:
You know that as you read each of these, you felt a little something and immediately understood which emotion you would feel – which is the same as pretty much everyone (remember the commonwealth of self-interest here).
These emotional verticals are where everything we speak — touchpoints and customer experience and customer journeys and customer engagement — become really important to the customers and opportunities for the businesses. The neurons and synapses are firing, the feelings during the interactions in these instances are running intense in some overt or unsettling way. Our behaviors are being driven to a large extent (though not entirely) by these feelings. They are real to each of us and all of us. Which is why I call them emotional verticals.
There is a huge opportunity to gather what is needed for insight into behavior and providing those customers who are feeling it with what they need to feel valued – and thus engaged – and thus remain a (hopefully) profitable customer for a long time. Why? In the immortal words of the Mickey Mouse Club “because they like you.”
That’s also why I’m not including verticals like manufacturing, or construction, which, while important, don’t have the same universal emotional impact. I’m using the word “universal” by the way, so I don’t get somebody telling me “well if someone loses his or her job in construction, that’s emotional.” Sure it is. But that has nothing to do with what I’m telling you. So consider this a pre-emptive strike.
I think the biggest opportunity lies with the overarching health services vertical. When I say health services, I’m not just saying doctor patient stuff, but also including pharmaceutical and — even more important to the contemporary nature of the crowd — wellness services.
This is preliminary stuff for me. Again, random and unverified. But here are some things I know:
This is big stuff and tech vendors not thinking about it who are capable of entering this particular vertical – to put it nicely – are out of their minds.
More of the stuff I’m really liking doing.
These are rants disguised as questions, to be perfectly honest. However, I would like you guys to answer them.
I hope this is Hangover not Hangover 2. I know there are only so many times Ken Jeung jumping out of something is funny. I’m not going to a #3. It’s no good for sure then. At least not in close proximity.