How should marketing automation and sales automation come together in the future? What is the difference between CRM, marketing automation, sales automation, and customer experience management?

Find out by listening to this exciting podcast series with

  • Clint Oram, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer, SugarCRM
  • Chris Wong, Vice President, Strategy and Product Management, IBM ExperienceOne
  • moderated by Laurence Leong, Senior Director, IBM Alliance from SugarCRM

Clint_Oram_HR Chris Wong pictureBio Picture

In parts 1 & 2 of this podcast series, Chris talked about the SugarCRM and IBM partnership, and how IBM is not only a partner but also a customer. Chris also talked about how he deployed and managed the marketing automation system within IBM, and his views on how to use the marketing automation and CRM system to build relationships with customers. Clint discussed the evolution of the CRM market and how it has grown to be not only sales force automation, but also include marketing automation and all technologies that interface with customers in all stages of their sales cycle.

In part 3, the discussion turns to how marketing and sales can come together more cohesively – not just limited to marketing passing leads to sales, but how sales can leverage the marketing department through the entire process of selling to an individual prospect. Tune in to learn how companies can improve productivity for their sales teams and also be more relevant to the customer. You’ll also hear about some of the integrations available today with Sugar and IBM ExperienceOne.

Here are a few highlights (edited for clarity):

Chris Wong:

  • “It’s now about sales-driven-marketing vs marketing simply passing leads to sales: how do marketing and sales come together more cohesively?”
  • “There is an opportunity to improve productivity for the sales team and also to be more relevant to the customer. Nothing trumps the data more than a sales person sitting down with a customer and understanding what their needs are. What marketing needs is to bring that intelligence back into the marketing systems to make sure that it’s putting the right next content in front of that customer. Done properly – that can help both improve productivity and actually shorten the sales cycle.”

Clint Oram:

  • “Organizations want tighter integration with marketing automation software so the sales person can leverage the marketing department through the process of selling to an individual prospect.”
  • “Sugar is an application for sales people as well as customer service agents that sits in front of literally tens of thousands of customer service agents. Sugar can integrate with IBM ExperienceOne and make real time recommendations to put the right next content in front of the customer.”

Click here to listen to part 3.

In part 4, you’ll hear how technology can be a catalyst for a different relationship that a company can have with their customer and that inside sales reps can have with their marketers. You’ll hear about the rise of the Chief Customer Officer. Finally, you’ll hear how this applies to drive lifetime value of a customer- not just a single customer transaction.

Clint Oram:

  • “The prevalence of Chief Customer Officer / Chief Customer Experience Officer roles is growing. Analyst firms are talking about how the idea of a Chief Customer Officer is now in vogue and is the new way thinking about managing your business and engaging with your customers. What’s driving the rise of the Chief Customer Officer is the move to a digital way of doing business and is why people need to look at that role now.”

Chris Wong:

  • “Technology is a catalyst for a different relationship that a company can have with their customer, and that inside sales can have with the marketer. Many companies are still putting in marketing automation systems for the marketers and sales automation systems for the sales teams. Companies need to step back and look at the whole relationship management process across the organizations.”

Click here to listen to part 4.

How do you see marketing and sales automation coming together? Add your comments below and share your views on twitter by referencing @SugarIBM.

How do marketing automation and sales automation systems come together, both today and in the future? What is the difference between CRM, marketing automation, sales automation, and customer experience management?

Find out by listening to this 4-part fireside chat with

  • Clint Oram, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer, SugarCRM
  • Chris Wong, Vice President, Strategy and Product Management, IBM ExperienceOne
  • moderated by Laurence Leong, Senior Director, IBM Alliance from SugarCRM

Clint_Oram_HR Chris Wong pictureBio Picture

In part 1, hear Chris talk about the SugarCRM and IBM partnership, and how IBM is not only a partner but also a customer. Chris talks about how he deployed and managed the marketing automation system within IBM, and his views on how to use the marketing automation and CRM system to build relationships with customers. Clint discusses the evolution of the CRM market and how it has grown to be not only sales force automation, but also include marketing automation and all technologies that interface with customers in all stages of their sales cycle.

Here are a few highlights (edited for clarity):

Chris Wong:

  • “IBM is not only a partner but also a user of Sugar.  Sugar is an extremely impressive product. I deployed and managed the marketing automation system within IBM. [In IBM’s deployment], we have an opportunity to think about how we can use marketing automation systems in IBM together with this very powerful CRM capability that SugarCRM has.”
  • “The future of marketing automation and CRM linkage is not just in the traditional way of marketing developing campaigns, and creating leads. Those are table stakes. The next level – the future of marketing and sales – is how we use these two systems to build relationships with customers. How do we help a company’s sales team stay on top of the customer? How do we help them as they go in for that critical moment-of-truth meeting with their customer? How do we make sure they know what’s happening and are well informed? That’s the power of marketing automation and sales automation: How do we bring that all together so that it’s really designed around the customer.”

Clint Oram:

  • “Chris and I share a lot of similar views on the customer relationship management industry and where it’s going. SugarCRM has been partnering with IBM for several years around our integrated customer relationship management technologies. We’ve been working together on a series of customers around the world.”
  • “A lot of people still think of CRM as sales force automation. Some people still call the tools that they put in the hands of their sales people CRM. But now, CRM spans across all technologies that interface with customers in all stages of the sales cycle.”

Click here to listen to part 1.

In part 2, you’ll learn how companies can get started towards the aspirational, ideal goal of tightly integrated marketing and sales systems when many companies are still challenged with the basics, and focused on deploying digital systems in place for sales and marketing. Chris and Clint also share their views on B2B vs B2C, and something Chris calls “B2P”.

Clint Oram:

  • “The view of a company that can truly digitally manage a relationship using digital tools and across digital channels with customers in a fully integrated lockstep cycle no matter which department a customer is engaging with – that’s still in the aspirational realm for most companies. Most companies are just trying to get digital technologies deployed in the sales department for the first time, and digital technologies deployed in the marketing department for the first time. Many of them are just challenged with the basics. When it comes to CRM vision: let’s focus on simple metrics, which could be: raise revenue, decrease costs, improve lead flow, improve time to close, get quotes out more quickly. Many companies start with a departmental siloed view and over time they spread to different departments.”
  • “Driving lifetime value of customers instead of single transactions, is something I call the subscription economy.”

Chris Wong:

  • “Historically the main point of contact has been with the sales team; now there’s so many points of contact that need to come together in a much more integrated way. It’s a maturity model. Organizations have to start with just getting those digital systems in place , first with sales, then with marketing, then across all the different engagement points that can happen – customer service, web, mobile, email. Customers want to integrate that around the experience. Step 1 is to get those systems in place, then step 2 is how do I bring that together. “
  • “Even though you may be marketing to companies, at the end of the day you’re marketing to individuals. How do you engage with them on a one to one basis? Inside IBM , we call it “B2P” : business to person. It’s no longer about engaging with customers as a transactional moment – it’s moving to engage with them over time, with continuous engagement driving lifetime value.”

Click here to listen to part 2.

Click here for parts 3 & 4 of this thought-provoking discussion from two true leaders and visionaries in the industry.

How do you see marketing and sales automation coming together? Add your comments below.

Is your CRM strategy and vision aligned with the modern customer? Does your CRM system support the full customer life cycle? Is your organization reaping the benefits of having a modern, forward thinking CRM? Regardless of the answer, there is always room for improvement when it comes to delighting your customers and improving the productivity of all of your customer-facing employees.

On November 5, Forrester Research’s Kate Leggett and myself will be sitting down to discuss what modern organizations need to match their CRM initiatives with today’s more engaged, informed, and connected customer. We will outline some of the core tenets of a “modern CRM” initiative, and cite several successful examples of modern CRM in action.

Join us Wednesday, November 5 and learn:

  • The six critical building blocks of modern CRM
  • How organizations are shifting from systems of transactions into systems of engagement to support the entire customer lifecycle
  • Tips on how any organization can begin modernizing their CRM initiative in the age of the customer

This promises to be an engaging and informative session for any business that is looking at the customer experience in the new the age of the customer. Join Kate and me on Wednesday and we will be happy to address any CRM and customer related questions you might have.

Registration is limited, so click HERE to register today. We hope you can join us!

By Clint Oram, Co-founder and CTO at SugarCRM

Think you know who in your organization is part of your customer service team? Think again. The fact is that almost every employee is potentially customer facing in today’s social era, compliments of Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, to name a few.

Fifteen years ago the customer relationship management dynamic was entirely different and much more finite. Back then employees in just a handful of departments engaged with customers through traditional channels — email, phone, chat or face to face. But the landscape evolved and direct lines of communication to customers have been extended to everyone in an organization — even back-office or “invisible” employees — via social channels. (Here at SugarCRM, for example, several of our engineers might blog for us, and these blogs are read and commented on by our customers.) This practice is not unique to SugarCRM. Many companies encourage their employees to responsibly engage with customers via Google+, Twitter or other social channels.

Unfettered access to a range of employees is a major benefit to customers who want to consocial-customer-care-1nect with company representatives apart from those in the marketing, sales or customer service departments. Today’s customers want to make a human connection with “regular people,” and know, like and trust those they do business with. Social media facilitates this type of connection. But the challenge is ensuring customer engagement is consistent and effective across the company regardless of which communication channel is used. It’s also important to provide value to the customer in each interaction, so having critical, up-to-date customer information at hand is critical throughout the customer journey.

In a recent article on ZDNet, best-selling author, Paul Greenberg, argues that customer’s voices, amplified by social media these days, makes them feel entitled to an amazing customer experience at the speed of light and woe to companies that don’t give it to them. He also goes on to say that if companies want to provide an amazing experience, they really need to understand, and be in close contact with, their customers. They need to be engaged with their customers. What a concept!

So, how do you stay ahead of this challenge and create a customer-centric culture at your company? Here’s a start:

  • Choose a CRM system that extends across the organization to all employees. With traditional CRM systems, we see that they are typically relegated to users in marketing, sales and support. If CRM was extended to everyone in the organization, imagine the customer relationships that could be nurtured and imagine the level of customer satisfaction that could be achieved.
  • Pick a CRM that is social-ready with an advanced user experience. Sugar helps you manage all social interactions with collaboration tools and contextual intelligence within a single dashboard.  This turns every individual into a customer expert by uniquely personalizing their interactions, creating a 360-degree customer view and driving true customer loyalty.
  • Recognize that great customer service is not solved by technology, but rather supported by it. Truly becoming customer-centric may require significant cultural changes inside an organization. Invest in this initiative. By getting every potential customer-facing employee to understand the value that they bring to the organization as a brand ambassador, and equipping them with the tools and information to facilitate superior customer experiences, the results will be overwhelmingly positive.

In our hyper-connected world, it’s imperative that all employees have the same access to customer information to deliver a consistent experience and avoid appearing fragmented and siloed. In essence, all employees can/should evolve into “customer experts.” This is how you ensure customer experience integrity is maintained in the 21st century.

This mission has guided SugarCRM throughout its decade-long history — well before the social media wave hit our shores. The company was, after all, founded on the idea that customer relationship management is more than marketing, sales or customer support automation. We have always inherently championed the individual, and emphasized that each customer-facing employee (these days that means everyone with a Twitter handle or Facebook profile) should be empowered to create extraordinary customer relationships.

By Laurence Leong, Senior Director, IBM Alliance, SugarCRM

Both Analytics and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) have been around for a long time, and provide value on their own. But organizations can gain more value when analytics is embedded into, and presented in context of, CRM.

In fact, at SugarCRM, our view is that CRM is not just about tracking sales opportunities or service cases for management; our view is that a CRM system should make every customer-facing individual, such as a sales or service agent, more effective and productive. SugarCRM CTO and Co-founder, Clint Oram, said it best when he said “A CRM system should tell sellers and service people something they don’t already know.” Analytics, embedded directly into CRM, are a big piece of this.

Imagine a sales person going into their CRM system and not only seeing their list of opportunities – but seeing which opportunities have highest propensity to buy, and which opportunities have highest propensity to close.

One SugarCRM customer – who happens to be IBM – does exactly this. By now you’ve probably heard the story and read the Ovum analyst report of how IBM uses Sugar for IBM’s 45,000+ sales people worldwide. What you may not know is that IBM also uses a set of rich predictive analytics tools – including its own analytics offerings – along with two years’ worth of account and industry information – to provide its sellers with an indication of the opportunities’ likelihood to both make a purchase, and to close a pending deal. This is not a simple lead score, but advanced predictive modeling. For IBM sellers are thus more effective and productive because their CRM system tells them something they don’t already know.

At the IBM Insight 2014 conference, I will be speaking on this topic along with Mike Padilla from the IBM CIO office – see details and materials here.

SugarCRM also partners extensively with IBM in a number of other analytics areas.

  • Sugar includes built-in reporting that provides Sugar uses with the ability to report on a wide variety of CRM data.
  • For customers that need more powerful analytics capabilities, we introduced an offering this year called “Sugar Analytics Powered by Cognos Business Intelligence” or “Sugar Analytics” for short. As the name implies, Sugar Analytics includes IBM Cognos Business Intelligence under the covers. We’re excited to be able to offer the industry-leading capabilities of Cognos, pre-integrated into Sugar and on a subscription basis. You can see a screenshot of Cognos reports embedded directly into the Sugar UI below. Find out more herePicture1
  • For customers that already have Cognos, Sugar provides a Sugar Connector for Cognos BI which extends those customers’ existing investment in Cognos and integrates it seamlessly into Sugar.
  • SugarCRM was also one of only three partners on stage at IBM’s September launch of Watson Analytics. We’re excited about the new capabilities of Watson Analytics including the built-in predictive model, the very compelling new user interface, the ability to ask questions in a natural language, and the freemium cloud pricing model. Look for more between Sugar and IBM Watson Analytics soon.
  • Speaking of Watson – how would you like to take advantage of the power of the supercomputer that won the game show Jeopardy! and combine that with your CRM? Findability Sciences, an IBM Watson Ecosystem partner as well as a SugarCRM partner, has done just that, with a solution called “Impact Measurement and Analysis” (IMA). 70% of non profits say at least half their funders demand impact measurements. Yet, determining that impact often involves time-consuming human perusal of thousands of pages of grant proposals and other lengthy reports. The IMA solution integrates Watson along with SugarCRM to provide a revolutionary way to measure and analyze impact for non-profits. See it in action here or see the screenshot below (note the “Ask Watson” button on the Sugar screen).
  • IMA

At SugarCRM, we’re excited about the possibilities of providing analysis and insight for customer-facing individuals like sales and service representatives, and we’re partnering with IBM to do so. Learn more at sugarcrm.com/ibm.

What are your thoughts on analytics and CRM? Contact the author at lleong@sugarcrm.com, or on @laurenceleong.

SugarCRM and its global partners gathered in Munich for the first annual Global Partner Summit. The successful two-day summit gave SugarCRM systems integrators, value-added resellers, and key technology partners a chance to share success stories, learn about the latest Sugar-powered technology and compare notes on how to help companies create extraordinary customer relationships.

Over the course of the two-day event, a few themes emerged. One, as evidenced by CEO Larry Augustin, is that CRM is still a “large, under-penetrated market.” While CRM is a mature technology, there are a number of factors that continue to drive opportunity and innovation in this sector. And CRM has never been hotter in the social era! The ever-expanding mid-market segment and their increased understanding of the need for CRM is also helping to fuel the market. Additionally, the replacement market for older products is opening up large opportunity for SugarCRM and its partners as well.

In addition to the overall opportunity, a few high-level technology and business trends are working in the SugarCRM partner network’s favor. On the larrygpstechnology side, the prevailing item is the fact that organizations are beginning to evolve their take on what “the cloud” truly means and how it can facilitate their customer-facing initiatives. First and foremost, companies of all types are getting smarter about cloud and are looking for more flexible solutions that help them leverage cloud tools—but without the harsh limitations of older SaaS offerings.

On the business front, opportunity abounds for SugarCRM and its partners as all kinds of businesses look to alter their CRM strategy in “the age of the customer.” Previous perspectives on CRM were both internally focused on the company and applications focused on management. Modern CRM tools, deployed by CRM expert partners, can help organizations better understand their customers throughout the customer journey, and also delight internal users with far more useful tools than the CRM offerings of yesterday could ever provide. That’s a massive win-win.

Of course, it was not all work in Munich (and how could it be during Oktoberfest?) – as it is well known that SugarCRM has some of the most fun loving, energetic partners on the planet. Evening events, such as a traditional Bavarian feast at the Hacker-Pschorr brewery in the heart of Munich (which turned more into a modern disco by night’s end) helped bring every partner even closer. TMI…let’s move on!

When dancingwe consider the millions of potential users of Sugar – and the fact that these users will span the world and every conceivable industry – SugarCRM’s global partner network is an integral link in the success chain. Our partners are local experts with the CRM knowledge needed to help companies maximize their ROI and drive transformative change across their organizations. Our partners ensure that every deployment is a winner.

A huge thank you to every partner in attendance, as so much of our continued success is due to their efforts. And for those who missed what partners called SugarCRM’s “best Partner Summit ever” –we’ll save you a spot next year! We look forward bringing the entire partner ecosystem back together again for SugarCon 2015 next April in San Francisco, and are excited to build on the success for next year’s Global Partner Summit!

Note: The following is a guest post from Thomas Shields, Vice President, Marketing Program Delivery, BancVue.

An Empathic Challenge To Your Customer Journey!

All of us want to delight our customers, engage their interest and drive true customer loyalty. However, many of us are fighting an uphill battle and significant challenges stand in our way. The problem becomes particularly pronounced as we focus on growth.

The root cause lies in our perspective. There is a flaw in the way we conceptualize our customer and the value we bring them. shieldsWe almost always start by defining their journey by OUR milestones — simply because that is what we know. “We worked so hard on delivering the most brilliant, innovative product ever known to the industry. It truly defines perfection… why wouldn’t they want to hear about it right now?” Right?

The key to an effortless and truly graceful customer journey lies in our orientation, our ability to truly walk in our customers’ shoes and see our company, and our offerings, through their eyes. Let’s call it Empathic B2B. That perspective is totally unnatural for us because we are human and, in that way, are inherently biased by our own perspective.

Great companies know how to walk in their customers’ shoes and they build themselves around that. It sounds so obvious when you hear it – but do a quick gap analysis on how well you execute the theory.

  • Do you have a customer journey document that accurately captures the customer’s perspective?
  • Does the customer perspective lead and guide all your B2B efforts?
  • Are your customer onboarding processes written in words your customer would use, not your internal jargon?
  • Does your customer have the same milestones as you do in your sales documentation?

If you start to really peel back the layers you realize that we as leaders are sending conflicting messages to our troops. The primary message is “think on behalf of the customer,” but yet we fail to truly reinforce that at any point within the cultural and operational infrastructure we build. Too often, everything we build and say is “about them through our eyes” instead of being “about them through their eyes.”

So, how do you make this shift within your organization? Here are some tips:

  1. Go through an exercise and document your client journey from their perspective.
  2. Really challenge yourself to think like the client and forget your internal bias toward yourself.
  3. Include clients early and often. Choose some of your best clients (not necessarily those that love you the most) and talk to them. Validate that you have accurately captured their perspective and look for that sigh of relief or exclamation of excitement from them telling you that you “got it”.
  4. Don’t flatter yourself into thinking that you already know best because of your past experiences.
  5. Enlist internal champions to help you celebrate the transformation as a company priority and to make it a sustainable reality.

Once you’ve taken the above into consideration, start with your CRM system. No system should more clearly reinforce your customer’s journey than your CRM software. Use it to improve those metrics that define and reinforce the customer perspective for your team. Use it to reduce your customer’s efforts BancVue Logoon their journey, not yours. At our company, we used SugarCRM to achieve this. We implemented Sugar as a true enterprise application, spanning Customer Service, Finance, Legal, Marketing Operations, Sales, Technical Operations and Training.

We found the platform especially ideal thanks to its flexibility. We could seamlessly assimilate our customer’s unique journey into the rhythm of our business. It’s a shift in thinking that leads to improved internal processes and external relationships. And, it has shown results at BancVue.

BancVue has tripled in size since 2006, and Sugar paces the growth with new uses, customizations and integrations. We’re experiencing another period of explosive growth right now, and I know we couldn’t be successful managing that without Sugar.

Want to learn more about how we delighted our customers at BancVue? Read our case study and watch the video here: http://www.sugarcrm.com/casestudy/case-study-bancvue

About the Author

Thomas Shields is a heavy lifter. As VP of Marketing Program Delivery for BancVue, he lifts revenue and results for community banks and credit unions across the nation by managing the deployment of internal applications and the development of BancVue’s enterprise process architecture.