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CRM 2011 Kicks Off with a Memorable Keynote

by Dave Hannon

March 22, 2011

I wasn’t the only CRM 2011 attendee that smirked and commented when our lunch was put in front of us – pasta with chicken and asparagus. It was amusing to attendees because it was only a couple hours after CRM 2011 keynote speaker Reed Hornberger, Global Vice President, Business Analytics Demand Management at SAP, used asparagus as a metaphor for sales leads.

Sales leads, he said, are perishable like asparagus and need to be acted upon. They are not canned corn. They can’t sit around too long on the shelf or they go bad.

But at the same time, you have to know when to harvest the asparagus (those are the leads, if you aren’t still following the metaphor).  In other words, providing leads to sales reps who aren’t ready or are overbooked won’t help either—they’ll rot like old asparagus.

It was an adequate metaphor and judging by the chuckling of the CRM 2011 attendees at my lunch table, it resonated.  

To emphasize the point further, the keynote included a short video demo of how Xcelcius dashboards can be used to track sale lead age and activity. And perhaps even more useful is the ability to track and forecast gaps in the sales pipeline which can then be acted upon.

“The data is there in the SAP CRM system,” said Hornberger. But getting your organization to leverage the CRM data to its full potential and make decisions based on it can require executive sponsorship in some cases and will require breaking down some silos in nearly all cases, said Hornberger.

The first half of the CRM 2011 keynote also provided some useful action items—perhaps most notably, keynote speaker Jujhar Singh, Senior Vice President of CRM Solutions at SAP, announced that SAP Sales OnDemand will be available to customers in April (see: And that new release is built on customer input from the very beginning, says Singh. “We share code with the customers every few weeks to lead to a better design,” Singh said of SAP’s co-innovation process.

Singh also outlined SAP’s CRM “Framework of Excellence” which focuses on operational excellence (“no silos”), interaction excellence (“every interaction counts”), and decision excellence.

“We’re about choice,” Singh emphasized in describing SAP’s solution strategy (“on-premise, on-device, on-demand.”)

All in all, it was a very insightful and thought-provoking keynote session. I, personally, won’t look at asparagus the same.

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