Archive for the Guest Posting Category

Effective Leadership – Guest Post from Marshall Lager, Third Idea Consulting

Posted in Conference Update, Guest Posting with tags , , , on November 11, 2009 by ryanzuk

I got a little bit of a surprise today in the Sage Summit breakout sessions. I was covering BB01, “Effective Team Leadership,” for a friend who couldn’t make it there due to a scheduling conflict. Normally, I wouldn’t be anywhere near a session like that because it’s outside my normal practice–I focus mostly on community use of social media, and the interaction of a business with its customers. Plus, as a self-employed consultant with no plans to hire staff, I didn’t hold out much hope of getting personal value.

Still, there was something in the description (“how leaders achieve bottom-line results through people”) that intrigued me. I showed up a few minutes late because I foolishly misremembered the room number–I was in the wrong building–and session leader George Hedley already had the group in full swing. I found a seat in the corner and dutifully started taking notes. At first I thought I was hearing yet another lecture by a motivational-speaker. But as I listened closer, I realized that some things are universal, applying to any project and any number of people. Here are a few of Hedley’s key points:

“People won’t change unless you do.” Makes sense to me; one of the definitions of insanity is trying the same thing repeatedly in hopes of different results. If your team is not meeting its goals, look to what you’re doing before you try to correct them.

“When you play Follow the Leader, you have to have your eyes open.” This goes for leaders as well as their teams. A person with closed eyes will lead others astray, and following with closed eyes doesn’t prevent stumbles. In an effective (if trite) demonstration, Hedley had the group follow instructions to fold and tear a sheet of paper with our eyes closed. The results were predictably scattered.

“When you aim at nothing, you hit it every time.” This was one of several references to golf, in this case the driving range. Improvement in play comes from playing the game, keeping score, and seeing instantly what you’ve done right or wrong–not from smacking balls as far as you can.

What does it all mean?

Measurement is one of the keys to effective leadership. Leaders must have a vision of where they wish to lead, but the only way to connect that vision to results is to measure. This also provides the team with clear expectations of what they need to do and how they stack up against those expectations.

In the end, I realized that even a team of one needs leadership. Choosing a goal, identifying the steps needed to reach it, and measuring the progress is pretty much the only way to operate that makes sense. I’m glad I went to this session, and I never would have on my own initiative.

At least that’s my impression of the session. I’d like to hear what some of the other attendees got out of George Hedley’s session on effective team leadership. I’d have asked when it wrapped up, but it was the last session before lunch, so the crowd looked hungry and cleared out fast.

Marshall Lager is  founder and managing principal of Third Idea Consulting LLC, a firm founded to provide advice on the confluence of customer relationship management (CRM), social media, and brand management. He can be reached through his Web site www.3rd-idea.com and is @Lager on Twitter.

Guest Post from Liz Gold, Accounting Today

Posted in Guest Posting on November 10, 2009 by Alex K

It’s no secret that social networking is hot, hot, hot.

A lot of what I cover these days includes social media and how accounting firms are using the tools to enhance growth, recruit and retain young staff and become more technologically savvy. Firms are just now realizing the business development potential of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter and are creating policies and guidelines within their firms to keep everyone on the same page.

In August, Larry Ritter senior vice president and general manager of CRM Applications came to my New York office and talked about ACT! by Sage 2010. As many ACT! users most likely know, the contact management software is now leveraging social networking tools like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

It’s not exactly new news, since 2010 has been out now for a while.

But when I saw what it could do, I was, admittedly, kind of shocked.

And no, I haven’t been living under a rock.

The software lets an accounting firm or small business keep track of contacts and pull up people’s profiles on these popular social networking sites – a capability that can be great for learning more about the people you want to connect with, but a privacy issue for those who may not want to be connected to. And yes, I realize that once information hits the Internet, it becomes everybody’s business and you are accessible even if you don’t want or intend to be.

We already know many recruiters use social networking sites to vet potential job candidates and have been for a while – but just because they are doing it and it’s possible, is it OK to do?

As the line between private and public and business and pleasure continues to blur with these high powered tools, I wonder – how do people feel being searched for and investigated without their consent?
Should people scrub up their sites to make sure they are presentable?

Or should companies bone up to the fact that people are people and may not always present themselves in a typical mainstream professional manner all the time?

It’s tricky, since professionalism and how one presents themselves in that manner is subjective to the individual. And companies can be quick to judge, especially if they find something they object to.

I pose a question to 2010 users: how many of you have used that search capability and how many have found out something about potential customers that they wish they never knew? How many of you landed a deal because you were able to impress a prospective customer with the research you had done on them? What’s been your experience?

This software capability will change the way we are doing business. Will we all ultimately be brought closer together because of software like this? And will our culture adapt to knowing more information about who we are doing business with than we perhaps needed to know? Will there be no such thing as personal and business anymore?

Only time will tell and we have software innovators like Sage to thank for challenging us to figure it out.

If you’d like to further discuss these points with me, please contact me at Liz.Gold@sourcemedia.com

Liz Gold
Associate Editor
Accounting Today

Guest Post from Lauren McKay, CRM Magazine

Posted in Guest Posting on November 9, 2009 by aimeeertley

What I’m expecting at Sage Summit 2009…

No gimmicks: Lofty announcements and competitor thrashing is not Sage’s style. Unlike some other CRM companies (cough, cough, Oracle and Salesforce.com) that center user conferences around huge product announcements and (often irrelevant) guest appearances, Sage seems to focus its efforts on communicating with users where the company stands and where it plans to be in the near future. Last year’s Summit was a time when many were just beginning to feel the weight of the economy. For many attendees, making the trip to Denver was hard on the wallet. This year, I am anticipating the number of attendees to be up as companies look to make the most out of their software investments and come out stronger through the end of the recession and into 2010.

Actionable insight about social CRM: Last year David van Toor and Larry Ritter delved into Sage’s social vision and what users can look forward to with regard to social CRM. With the September release of ACT! 2010 and its strong social elements, I am expecting to hear positive feedback from customers. Instead of customers thinking about dipping a toe in social apps, I’m anticipating them wanting to do more. They’ll be asking questions along the lines of “How do I expand my social efforts in other parts of my organization?” rather than “What is this social media stuff and what does it mean for my business?” I think the learning curve with social CRM will be noticeably higher. It’s still immature, but rather than having to sell users on the premise, I think Sage will be having the conversation of how to now use social to improve CRM ROI.

More clarity around cloud computing: During Sage Insights Partner conference in the spring, Sage executives brought forward the company’s cloud computing plans which involve running on Amazon’s EC2 cloud. Press and analysts may have gotten it, and maybe a handful of forward-thinking partners, but the Sage CRM team knew that making the cloud computing roadmap clear would be a big effort. Sage has taken noticeable steps to educate partners and now customers about its cloud computing capabilities. They realize that this shift takes time – and I expect that they will continue upon the notion that there’s no rush to get customers to the cloud. If customers want to stay on premise, great. If they want to make the transition, Sage will help them when the time is right.

Hospitality: I’m especially looking forward to the relaxed, friendly environment that’s typical of Sage Summit. I look forward to seeing users connect over commonalities and shared goals. I’m also excited to be in the Atlanta and soak up some good old southern hospitality – and maybe even some fried chicken.

Lauren McKay

Assistant Editor

CRM magazine