Forget About the Customer… or, How to Market Like Microsoft

This morning I went to a big-hotel San Francisco area roll-out of Microsoft Dynamics CRM2011 software and services.  Microsoft pulled out all of the big corporation stops and filled the elegant meeting room — which came complete with truly tasty buffet food — with their software partners and potential clients.  It felt like a Big Deal.

My client and I walked out at the first break.

Perhaps it was a good thing we attended this event and discovered that Microsoft is targeting large enterprises and not small- and medium-sized businesses.  But, even so, the product would have been so much more tempting if Microsoft hadn’t executed its presentation with the subtlety of a phone-company-like monopoly.

Solve Your Prospect’s Problem

The tag-team parade of opening keynoters at the presentation all lead — and dwelled on — how big and important Microsoft was.  How much effort Microsoft had spent in developing this product.  How big sales had gotten.  How many countries the product was now sold in.

What problem of my client’s that Microsoft Dynamics CRM2011 would solve was secondary. What Microsoft Dynamics CRM2011 would do for the basic work of my client was not clearly described.  I found that even the brief demo was gimmicky, talking about Tweets and coffee shops near client businesses.  I think I could pull up a Bing map of Starbuck’s near a prospect’s office, but I am not sure I could display a Bing map showing where all of my prospects were in any given ZIP code, for example.

Talk in English, Not Jargon

Outlook windows on your computer are now called “Outlook Experiences” apparently.  One demonstrator kept talking about what was going on in his Outlook experience.  I must have been under a rock when it was decided that you ALT-TABbed among program experiences on your computer.

Long, elegant, and meaningless marketing phrases were woven in a grand tapestry of fluff in the handouts and speaker narratives.

“Productivity. Microsoft Dynamics CRM helps increase productivity and create a connected organization that is equipped to please your customers.  The result is a compelling and engaging experience for customers that sets your business part.”

Delicious. And low in calories, too.

Maybe CRM software and services are sold primarily to marketing types who go through their day talking in hyperbolic babble.  But, to me, it was over-the-top and tone-deaf selling.

I readily believe that the complex CRM 2011 software that Microsoft has developed is wonderful for high-powered international organizations.  I don’t mind discovering that I (or my client) is too small to be a target.  I deduced the scoping issue from the references to sales forces talking to marketing forces who talked to customer service forces.  Okay.  A 15-person firm doesn’t need this much power.

But, still, I wouldn’t let my clients talk to their prospects as Microsoft talked to us.

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