You can’t build a mansion around an outhouse and you can’t build real-time customer engagement by putting an email and campaign management tool on top of a CRM database. It doesn’t work like that. The business of interacting with prospects and customers is a real-time game that requires the ability sense and respond in ways and at speeds that simply be can’t be managed by those platforms as they exist today. On top of that, loyalty has become the permissioning that drives the mobile revolution. Loyalty is conspicuously missing in the Salesforce + ExactTarget equation.
ERP and CRM won’t do it
But Benioff knew that he had to do something. The best evidence that Salesforce saw a problem comes from the rumor that they competed with SAP for ExactTarget. It’s not surprising to hear that. SAP is in the exact same place…they’ve built an enormous, mostly-monolithic ERP that isn’t ready for the marketing campaigns and customer engagement that will be the required of any platform within 1-2 years. Neither CRM nor ERP are flexible or nimble enough to meet the need.
Sure, they’ll compete with IBM’s Unica and Oracle’s Eloqua, but they’re missing the bigger picture of what the marketplace needs. Here’s why:
- Speed’s not there – These are enormous companies ‘carrying’ a customer base that is fundamentally database-driven. Sure, SAP has HANA in an effort to show their real-time capabilities, but that doesn’t fundamentally make them a real-time platform when so much is still database-driven. Salesforce, with its primary focus on the sales funnel, has never had to play in the here-and-now and I’d argue was mostly a cost-savings replacement for Siebel, not a way to take a business to the next level. Speed is a problem for both companies.
- Loyalty is missing – Loyalty is the de-creeping factor of today’s customer engagement management. Without loyalty, a brand lacks the permissioning that makes it OK to send offers and otherwise engage with consumers in personal ways. Loyalty sets up a customer’s preferences for time and place of message delivery as well.
- Offers aren’t enough – Because loyalty is the granting of permission and a symbiotic relationship, it means brands can carry on conversations with their customers and deepen engagement. ExactTarget as an offer engine is only a piece of the equation of engagement, but not nearly the largest piece.
It makes sense that Salesforce bought ExactTarget but at the same time, it isn’t going to make them an on-demand, real-time marketing platform. They started from the wrong perspective as a SaaS-based CRM to be able to integrate a rapidly expanding number of data sources, sense and respond to a kaleidoscope of customer and business conditions, and perform complex, customized logic in the moment.
A collection of our writing on this topic can be found here. Enjoy.