Interview with Paul Greenberg, Chair of CRM Evolution #crme11

6 minute read
Blake Landau avatar

Paul Greenberg, Godfather of CRM, partner of BPT Partners, author, and now orchestrator of CRM Idol, and visionary for the CRM industry, was a key voice at CRM Evolution, which took place this week, August 8-10, in NYC. Greenberg chaired the event and worked with CRM Magazine to make the event a memorable one for the industry. Every time you saw Greenberg at the event, if he wasn’t speaking, he was being pulled somewhere by one of the many individuals who are mentored by him. This is someone who gets a lot from giving back to the community around him. Greenberg sat down with CMSWire at CRM Evolution to talk social CRM, giving back, and what he calls “mishagas in the market.”

His Thoughts on David Gergen’s Keynote

Blake Landau: What did you think about CNN political analyst and presidential adviser David Gergen’s keynote?

Paul Greenberg: I am a left-wing Democrat. He is a moderate conservative Republican. He is the most honest political commentator in the U.S. without a doubt. Forget party affiliation.

He’s the most astute commentator and proved to be very entertaining for the audience. Gergen is not a social media guy but that doesn’t matter. What his keynote reflected was a focus on the importance and quality of leadership in a business or political environment.

As a leader today -- in our industry and outside of it -- you can’t focus on managing things. You must accomplish things. Gergen talked about how leadership does matter. But sometimes leadership involves delegating.

The reality is, sometimes you have CEOs that take the role of the key stakeholder in a social CRM initiative. This leader is smart enough to know other people in the company can own the initiative. A good leader will delegate, trust and put faith in their people. That’s a major aspect of good leadership.

His Insights from CRM Evolution

BL: How has the event been for you this year?

PG: The event has been good. Of course there are always the repetitive themes. You hear that everything starts with culture. You hear about change management. There was possibly some overload and backlashes around “social,” which is interesting.

There is an issue with social media -- people are past the ideas of using social tools for their own sake. They are turning it the wrong way. People are reacting against social rather than situating social where it belongs -- as an additional capability for engaging customers.

There is a lack of strategic placement of social capabilities. On the traditional side of CRM it’s very mature. This is explicit to CRM Evolution -- the discussion around process is advanced because it’s been around for 20 years. The other thing that’s interesting -- a trend being picked up is the fact that CRM is left-brained. Now CRM as a discipline is swinging to the right side of the brain. There is a renewed focus on customer experience.

Customer experience has always been the focus.

BL: Why is this the case?

PG: Social has been a driver for customer behavior and emotion. Today, customers get more attention through the social tools. You have customers openly talking about how much they like or do not like a given brand openly on social channels.

This is generally called ad hoc influence. Some might be influential Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and no longer influential by Thursday. There’s a tremendous amount of effort right now going into how that all works.

The greatest minds in the world haven’t even figured this out yet. There’s no easy answer on the topic of influence. If you are a business, you don’t have time to focus on each individual behavior of all of your customers.

BL: How do you think Social CRM is understood by brands here at CRM Evolution?

PG: It’s not understood well enough. I wrote a post this week on why Magic Quadrant isn’t legitimate with regard to social CRM. Social CRM is an emerging market. Definitions are just falling into place. The problems with branding and labeling are meaningless.

I’ve said this before but P&G is the company I’ve seen who is the closest to doing Social CRM well. Sometimes the label -- with regard to social CRM -- is just wrong. There’s a lot of mishagas right now in the market.

The best we can do right now is to develop the actual strategies that have business value for customer engagement -- company by company. That includes tools, processes and solutions to support the decisions they make -- and work with them on specific programs that will work.

Call it whatever the hell you want.

Unfortunately, terms matter. I went to a company who insisted they had CRM. They showed me their CRM. It was a paper record of sales -- it had nothing to do with CRM. We need clarity in the marketplace.

Learning Opportunities

BL: Is it dangerous that the vendors play a role in defining the terms?

PG: Self-aggrandizing behavior is wrong.

It is wrong to twist the truth. If you are a social vendor, and if you develop a maturity model -- it’s social media monitoring. If you claim you don’t do “community platforms,” you are not being transparent. If you develop a social maturity model, community platforms are built into it. That would include developing a maturity model based on your software.

You can’t call it something it isn’t so it benefits you.

BL: What is the one message you’d like to deliver to this industry?

PG: Develop the strategy first, use the tools judiciously and make sure your customers want it.

The Road Ahead for Greenberg & CRM Evolution

BL: What’s next for you, Paul?

PG: I have CRM Idol launching next Monday. We’ve generated a million dollars in prizes. We’ve included VC pitching as one of the prizes as well. There are a lot of bad PR people who are bad at their jobs. There are also a lot of small companies that are engaging these PR folks.

I get 30 to 50 requests for demos every week. It’s generally a very poorly put together email that includes “Dear Paul” and then the pitch. I delete these emails and don’t even look at the name of the company.

There are so many small companies who are not given this same type of opportunity. Through CRM Idol, small companies can get an honest review of their stuff. They are given the opportunity to be in front of a popular audience. We have a group of 50 senior influencers and vendor leaders including people like Anthony Lye of Oracle. If the contestant wins, they have a chance to succeed with real tools. This is my way of giving something back to the industry-- I am working three to four hours a day on this thing.

BL: What can we expect for next year at CRM Evolution?

PG: We are looking to have a fully sponsored mentorship program. A program that lasts for one year, fully covered, for 15 people, that you can graduate from. It will be all-expenses-paid for the winner. You will graduate, and you will have cachet.

Editor's Note: You may also be interested in reading:


About the author

Blake Landau

Blake Landau is a blogger, speaker and consultant at Artemis. She’s worked with brands such as Verizon Wireless on social media, branding, public relations and marketing.

About CMSWire

For nearly two decades CMSWire, produced by Simpler Media Group, has been the world's leading community of customer experience professionals.


Today the CMSWire community consists of over 5 million influential customer experience, digital experience and customer service leaders, the majority of whom are based in North America and employed by medium to large organizations. Our sister community, Reworked gathers the world's leading employee experience and digital workplace professionals.

Join the Community

Get the CMSWire Mobile App

Download App Store
Download google play