Paul Greenberg is the Managing Principal of the 56 Group, LLC, a customer engagement and CRM consultancy, and the author of CRM at the Speed of Light, called the “Bible of CRM.” He is one of the few members of CRM Magazine’s CRM Hall of Fame and is writing a new book on customer engagement “The Commonwealth of Self-Interest” (Harvard Business Press, 2016).

Q: You’ve often been called the Godfather of CRM. It seems there’s nothing about CRM you don’t know and can’t explain. What’s one thing you wish more CIOs understood about CRM?

A: I wish CRM was viewed not just as an operational and transactional kind of technology, but a broad strategic effort at customer facing engagement. However, CIOs don’t often see it as more than operational tech. The narrower view is not a product of the CIO position. It’s pretty much universally held.

What it boils down to it at this point is that most people see CRM as a technology and a system that supports customer-facing operations and stores customer data. That’s way too limited, but it is what it is. CRM, even as an overall unique technology category, is starting to disappear. For example, you have companies that sell marketing clouds, sales clouds, and customer service clouds, but don’t offer a CRM suite. To be clear though, it’s not being absorbed into things like marketing automation. In fact, quite the opposite. Marketing automation has historically been part of CRM. Look, CRM has always been an umbrella for all customer-facing departments. Sales, marketing, and customer service all fall under the umbrella of CRM. Marketing automation, along with sales force automation and customer service technology fell (and falls) under the umbrella of classic CRM. There is a constant effort to counter pose marketing automation to CRM. It’s a false dichotomy.

Q: Twenty-five percent of executives have already purchased a product or service for their business via mobile, and many used mobile to research purchases of $100,000 and above, according to Forbes. How has mobile affected CRM?

A: We’re dealing with a very demanding customer. Part of the reason for that is that we’ve had a communications revolution, which transformed how we interact with each other, and institutions. You’re looking at a world now where there are 6 billion+ mobile devices with roughly 50% smart devices.

But there is also a second facet to the communications revolution. We have transformed how we create, distribute and consume information. From a behavioral standpoint, this is very empowering, because information is now available to me as a customer whenever I want, on whatever subject I want (almost) and in the form that I want to receive it and consume it.

CRM, in its current form, in combination with other engagement technologies and mobile applications, allows me and my company to engage better with my customers by being able to use mobile applications to see what my customers are up to, to get the intelligence I need to know more about my customers and to provide me with the tools that let me act on the information I have, all on a portable device that travels with me. That’s powerful. It also allows me, from the operational side, to do things like track the status of an opportunity or the result of the campaign, or the status of an open service case – wherever I happen to be at the time. I have 24X7 access to business-critical information. All of that has a huge impact on my ability to be successful as a salesperson, a marketing person or even a customer service person.

Every year you hear people say, “Well, mobile is going to be big this year.” That’s absolute nonsense. It’s not going to be; it is. And it has been for 10 years. The reality now is, it’s the way we live and it’s impacting everything—including CRM—by providing that capability, by providing that element of control, by providing that opportunity to get the information you need at a timely way so that you can get more effective with what you do. That’s outstanding.

Q: How can SMBs looking to adopt marketing automation solutions ensure a well-integrated CRM/MAP pair that will seamlessly transition leads from marketing to sales?

A: You can’t ensure a damn thing. Though SMBs’ needs and requirements are different than an enterprise, there is one thing they do have in common – each of them is different than the next one. There is no way to ensure absolutely any integrated sales and marketing pairing will be the right one. You can only take a well-reasoned guess.

To be clear, we are talking about small businesses here – even though the acronym is SMB (small and midsized business). There is a vast difference between the objectives and approaches and requirements of a small and a mid-sized business, which is beyond the scope of this interview. We are focusing on the “S” not the “M”.

If I am a small business, my approach would be to ask first, “What are the things that I’m trying to accomplish from the standpoint of my goals as I grow?” Once I’ve figured that out, then, “What are the outcomes I am looking for that will let me achieve those marketing goals?” Such as, if my goal is to increase my leads by 20% I am looking to get the attention of the possible future customers and then capture their information and then qualify the lead and then give it to sales if it is a viable one. Those are the outcomes that drive the goal. Then I would look at the technology tools that match all that best.

It’s as simple as that. And yet it’s complex. I have to be very clear on my objectives, my goals, and the outcomes I’m seeking. Once I’m absolutely explicit, then basically what I’m doing is making an educated guess. Know the goals you’re trying to achieve and know the outcomes you need to achieve those goals, and then you can figure out more or less what would be the best likely marketing automation application that you could use.

Thank You Paul! Follow him at: @CRMWatchlist