Tal Tsfany of Base CRM: CRM in the Post PC Era Is More Important Than Ever

Customer relationship management (CRM) software has been around for almost 30 years, almost mirroring the rise of the PC. But now as we are firmly entrenched in the Post PC era, how has CRM changed, and more importantly, what impact will it have on companies needing to build relationships with the modern day consumer?

Tsal Tsafany, Chief Customer Officer for Base CRM, shares his thoughts on the importance of having a modern CRM strategy and approach to match the new technology environment we are living in today. Below is an edited transcript of our conversation. To hear the full conversation you can click on the audio player below.

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crm in the post pc eraSmall Business Trends: Can you tell us a little bit about your personal background and about Base CRM?

Tal Tsfany: I’ve been in IT all my life. I’m an Industrial Engineer by profession and I’ve been involved in enterprise software, specifically CRM, for almost 20 years now.

Back in 2009, we started Base CRM. Uzi Shmilovici, the CEO, started it and I was involved and it grew from a small company with a big vision to a medium company with a big vision.

We are now almost 100 people. We’ve finalized our B rounds with over $15,000,000 in investment and we have 2 main offices, one in Poland, where we have our R&D and product team, and we have our headquarters in Chicago. But it’s soon going to be moved to the Bay Area where we’re going to ramp up sales, marketing and other parts of the organization.

We are now the number one CRM app in all app stores, growing very fast, exponentially and doing pretty well – very happy to serve many customers, small to big. That’s where we are today.

Small Business Trends: What’s the biggest difference in importance for CRM from a post P.C. perspective?

Tal Tsfany: Let’s break down the concept of what post PC means. If you look at how people use computers today and interact with devices, they’re looking for three main things:

  • Ubiquity: They want to have the data on their fingertips everywhere, wherever they are, in the right size – in the right context.
  • Intelligence: We’re generating tons of data, to date. In order to make sense of the data, we need to have a very intelligent engine that brings us the right data, and more than that, even, maybe suggest what we need to do with that data.
  • A natural interface: We don’t have patience anymore for training sessions and going to a three day training workshop to learn how to work with this system or that system. We see beautiful, amazing, intuitive consumer apps and we want that experience in our enterprise or work context.

There’s a big story of Avon just shutting down an SAP implementation that cost them $125,000,000.00 because when they got it to the user, the user just said:

“Sorry, not going to use it. It’s too complicated for me.”

So, they shut it down. And, I think that gap of usability – the usability gap is just expanding right now.

So, from an enterprise perspective, I think that the natural interface is the third pillar that, in my mind, is what constructs what post P.C. is. So, ubiquity, intelligence and a natural interface.

Small Business Trends: Are we seeing much more success in post PC era with CRM? Are we at least on the right track?

Tal Tsfany: Well, first we have to decide how we measure success. For me, it’s all about productivity and user adoption. I can tell you that we started an organization called Base Success with the objective of seeing 100% adoption. And, we have 100% success, meaning I never received love letters from CRM users in all of my previous implementations and right now I get love letters of people telling us that geo-location on their iPad or their iPhone changed the way they sell or made them much more productive, because they can see their pipeline on a map and they can plan their day and things like that.

Again, we can argue about the success of CRM so far, but our goal is to get to a place where every implementation, 100% of the implementations are successful in the sense that they are being implemented, used on a daily basis by 100% of the users, generating 10 times more data and making the managers make better decisions. So yes, definitely I think the fact that you’re bringing fresh data to the users and to the managers is on the right track.

We see the amounts of data being generated by an average user on our platform. I can tell you I never saw anything like that. People are just on the application all day long. They start with their PC in the morning. They go out in the evening. They’re working on their tablets. It’s just a whole different ball game.

Small Business Trends: Are the sales people that you focus in on – are their interactions with their customers and prospects more efficient and more effective?

Tal Tsfany: Yes, we have a vision in that area which is called zero input. And, that vision is a day where you won’t have to document anything that you’re doing. You just have to focus on doing what it is that you’re trying to do.

Today we can tell you that you should be talking to this customer because we know that customers in this stage usually stay active if they’re in that stage no more than eight days. And you didn’t talk to that person for 10 days, so maybe it’s time to call them, etc.

I think we’re going to see a revolution when it comes to the interaction channels and technologies as part of the sales productivity aspect of CRM.

Small Business Trends: So, what kind of atmosphere do we need for that to happen?

Tal Tsfany: I think, philosophically, we have to go back to the core, the fundamental problem with CRMs, and that is the gap between effort and the value that a specific individual user is getting out of the system. If you focus on closing that gap or maybe trying to get the value to be higher than the effort, then you’ll be heading in the right direction.

That’s the first principal that we try to follow in everything that we do. Everything that we do, every feature, every function needs to serve the value and reduce the effort. It’s amazing to me that small, medium businesses are more nimble and are already doctors of this and this is why they’re enjoying a full, mobile, everywhere CRM. Because they only have, like, five people in their sales team or their customer service team.

When it comes to the hundreds of people, the complexity of the processes is really a challenge. I think to your question, what those organizations will have to understand is that they need to take their system to the next level. Hide the complexity behind the curtain. Try to do everything automatically and focus on creating a phenomenal user experience that is contextual with a natural interface across all devices and platforms. Easier said than done, but you know. We love big challenges and I think that’s how platforms should be constructed.

Small Business Trends: So you think that smaller, more agile businesses are in a better position to be able to take advantage more quickly than the more mature, larger organizations?

Tal Tsfany: I think fundamentally, yes. But, the nice thing is that we’re seeing early adopters in the enterprise space already making big moves on this. The way they think about it is they try to separate the IT aspect from the sales or service aspect. Meaning the V.P. of sales, for instance, will initiate a process that says, ‘I want every sales rep in my organization to use this CRM every day, not because they have to, but because it will help them sell more.’ Where can I find a system that will just increase the productivity?

From a technological perspective, the integration aspect of it needs to be almost like a plug-and-play.

Small Business Trends: Where can people learn more about what you guys are doing?

Tal Tsfany: Our domain is GetBase.com and just look for us – Base CRM. We have a lot of information.

This is part of the One-on-One Interview series with thought leaders. The transcript has been edited for publication. If it's an audio or video interview, click on the embedded player above, or subscribe via iTunes or via Stitcher.

Brent Leary Brent Leary is the host of the Small Business Trends One-on-One interview series and co-founder of CRM Essentials LLC, an Atlanta-based CRM advisory firm covering tools and strategies for improving business relationships. Brent is a CRM industry analyst, advisor, author, speaker and award-winning blogger.