This morning I took part in a very sales oriented webinar, hosted by 1:1 Media. It was an interesting talk about “rethinking” sales and CRM in the era of cloud computing, social media, etc.
But what struck me the most, was that the nature of the questions that popped up. These questions ranged from “what is cloud computing?” (albeit BEFORE I began to explain the concept) to questions about how secure your CRM data becomes if you leverage UI mashups.
I came away thinking that while Cloud as an enabling technology is more than ready for prime time – there is still a huge amount of evangelism that must be done. Now, the attendees of the webinar were mostly sales and marketing decision-makers. BUT – and this is the issue – if cloud-based CRM lives up to its promise – these are the individuals that can spearhead CRM deployments, without the hampering of IT requirements (not that IT should not be involved – but a CRM decision stalling for 3 months because of IT trying to get server specs, ordering hardware, tuning servers, etc. can be a thing of the past for many sales organizations looking to get going with CRM quickly and cheaply).
What I mean is that those who least rely on the technical aspects of the cloud (business application consumers) are the ones we need to educate the most. The developers and tech-savvy app consumers of the world have been sold on SaaS for years, and these people are already turned on to the cloud. But for those sales and marketing organizations still on spreadsheets and email, or on contact management tools on individual machines, etc. – a lot of communication needs to be done.
The good side, is that the technology is fast and low risk versus selling someone via older models. For example, SugarCRM’s Cloud Connectors can be active in an evaluation account in seconds. These new cloud-enabled technologies prove their value – fast.