Thrash & Burn CRM

A long-time e-commerce colleague reached out to me for a “cocktail and complaining” session while she was in town recently. Seems her new role as “Guru of All Things CRM” at a big retailer was becoming a bit of a hazard, thanks to her boss in the corner office who might be reading a few too many white papers.

“Mr. Thrash” was causing all sorts of grief and flux for my friend because, like a flapping flag, his “ideas” changed with whichever way the wind (and white paper) was blowing.

“He reads an article on ‘less email’ and suddenly my house list gets sliced and diced, and we send out 50% of our normal push. Then three weeks later, when the numbers are in the toilet, he reads another white paper about ‘more email’ and more segmentation and yet another ‘Big Data’ vendor comes marching in with all the answers. Girlfriend is getting dizzy being spun around every 4 weeks!”

So as a columnist with more than a few opinions about CRM, I realize I am partially to blame for the evening’s “Merlot-miserating” at the bar. 

It’s not you, it’s me!

Oh, dear, are industry pundits like me causing this painful wave of “Thrash & Burn?”

With every executive trying to wrap their coiffed head around “Big Data” and what it means this week, how are you, the industry expert, expected to execute when today’s marching orders look “way over there” from where it was yesterday?

From the apologist’s corner, an “I’m sorry” martini for you and a few tips to stop the flames:

  • Keep meticulous notes, charts and historicals as best you can on what you have done in the past 36 months (anything older than that likely means very little). That way, when the new strategy is sizzling down the hall from the corner office you can just douse it with a “we tried that already, and here were the results.”
  • Do yourself a huge favor, and find out what pubs, newsletters, columnists (*cough, cough*) and white papers he is subscribing to and get on those as well and stay way ahead by anticipating the latest thrash. Prepare yourself with the pull-in or push-back before their email ever drops to your inbox.
  • Do you have a vendor you trust? An at-the-table partner who is an industry leader? It may be wise to give them a chance to lasso in your “Going Rogue Groundhog Day” executive by giving a third-party perspective on trends, direction and future based on what they know about your business. It may be more impactful than you think.
  • Offer to attend the conferences and shows for the time being. Sometimes Thrash & Burn execs get spun around by all the cocktails and sweet talk that happens at conferences by articulate sales guys who figure out pretty quickly who knows what and to what detail. You can keep a lot of the pillow talk and sparkly unicorns at bay.

Unfortunately, that well-meaning “idea I had while I was reading this blog” will continue to pollinate your job, but by positioning yourself firmly as the subject matter expert and “historian” for all of your efforts you might be able to save yourself some grief and empty wine bottles cluttering your kitchen. 

Sure, it’s easy to be seduced by some other organization seemingly doing it better, smarter, cheaper, more profitable, but you know there will always be someone better looking, richer, better hair, better dressed and so on. 

Remember, what you see on the outside never takes into account the history and lessons learned to get there in the first place.
Your job is to know the history and the way to help your empire rise from the flames, thrash and all.

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