Summer can be a harried time of year. There is that flurry of activity related to sending the kids to this camp and that camp, getting them ready for the next school year and squeezing in that family vacation. All of this I often remember fondly in comparison to my least favorite end-of-summer activity - the budget cycle. If your budget cycle, like mine, starts in mid-summer and goes into early January, perhaps you need some strategies for the marathon that can help you get the customer relationship management (CRM) investments that you want.

Chances are you already know how to identify what you want: attend trade shows, take meetings with vendors, talk with your staff and your peers in marketing and IT, talk to peers at other companies about what works and does not work and prune a few consultants to get as much free advice as possible. You also know how to put together your budget "sales pitch": link your wants to one or more top corporate initiatives or strategic objectives, define business benefits as a nice mix of cost-based and revenue-based benefits, highlight the risks of not giving you what you want, include a little padding for inevitable cuts and establish how this is part of the multiyear foundation that you are x percent through based on previous year budgets (to illustrate the patience and foresight associated with your funding requests).

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