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April 22, 2008

CRM Playaz Preview - CRM Is Not Dead

Last week was something else in the CRM world. Salesforce for Google Apps, the interesting response from Zoho as the announced their new Zoho CRM Enterprise product (will have something on that later) and Microsoft coming out with CRM Online. I know the official announcement hit today but I found out about it last week. One of the other announcements that may have been overlooked by the masses was Infusion Software name change to InfusionSoft. And along with the name change, InfusionSoft now is positioning themselves as an eMarketing tools provider. And they also came out with a new marketing slogan.... CRM is Dead.

I like the products InfusionSoft put out. I liked the products when the company was still called Infusion Software. I like the people even more than the products they create. And I really like their passion for small business that was on display when I had the opportunity to speak at the Infusion user conference last month. But I have to say that the whole CRM is Dead thing sort of sounds like a ripoff of Salesforce.com's Software is Dead campaign.

We all know that CRM has not been as successful as it should be. But it's been getting closer because the products are easier to use, more accessible, more affordable and faster to get up and running with. But the biggest reason why CRM is doing better is that people finally see that it's not about technology. It's always been about people (customers, employees, partners, mgmt, etc.), but technology was the most obvious scapegoat. And as CRM seeps more and more into the business culture of companies, and the technology moves into its proper place (the background), CRM will grow in acceptance and success.

Now I'll be the first to say the term CRM is dated and comes with a checkered past. But it's a term that entered rehab and has made it back from the brink. And people seem to understand the basics of CRM - finding, catching and keeping good customers. Marketing, whether there's an "e" on the front or not, is definitely a huge part of the CRM equation. And, truth be told, marketing automation has typically been the weak link in CRM suites, particularly at the small business product levels. So I applaud InfusionSoft for creating a compelling suite of tools that include a robust marketing automation component. Along with other components like affiliate tracking and ecommerce capabilities, InfusionSoft has made good contributions to helping CRM live on. That's why it's a bit confusing to hear them pronounce it's dead.

My buddy Paul Greenberg had an even stronger take on this which you can read on his blog. InfusionSoft's CEO Clate Mask has a good response in the comments section you should check out as well. And as we get closer to breaking out The CRM Playaz show, here's a clip of Paul and I discussing InfusionSoft's move on my show:

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