Live from DCI Boston: ROI Is the Mantra

(Direct Newsline) Boston–Twelve to 24 months ago, many companies leaping into CRM initiatives did so just to be strategic. Now, it’s a different world.

“Companies need to know going forward why they are making these investments,” said Robb Eklund, vice president of applications marketing for Oracle. “Are they not closing deals quickly enough? Are they losing revenue opportunities? ROI is the mantra these days, and it is individual to [each] organization.”

Eklund was part of a panel on midmarket CRM at the DCI CRM Conference and Expo here on Thursday.

“Each company is unique,” said Mike Doyle, chairman/CEO of Salesnet, noting that it is essential to understand the capitalization behind a CRM venture. Marketers need to consider the costs of IT, training, hardware and other essentials, as well as what incremental revenue the program could generate.

Bill Parsons, chairman/CEO of Salesnet, noted that marketers should hold their vendor accountable for service and the quality of their products. “Keep your software vendor involved,” he said.

All panelists agreed that the consolidation seen in the CRM segment — not only from mergers and acquisitions but companies going out of business — will likely continue. As many other high-tech sectors, there will be fewer vendors with more products and larger customer bases, said Eklund.

Customers ultimately want to pare down the number of vendors they deal with, not only for economies of scale but so they “know who to blame” when something goes wrong, said Zach Nelson, CEO of Netledger.

But “consumers want choice,” noted Doyle, noting that healthy competition means better products and service for consumers.

Moderator Chris Selland of Reservoir Partners joked at the beginning of the panel that “if any of these companies merge during the panel, we’ll take away a chair.”

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