While we often lump sales & marketing together – the truth is that all too often there are significant gaps in terms of how companies manage the process of turning a B2B prospect into a qualified lead, and passing that lead successfully to the right sales rep. Many factors can come into play that can cause sales and marketing disconnects – however, the good news is that by following a few simple rules, organizations can get sales & marketing teams in sync and keep them that way.

So, here are a few sure fire methods for driving more alignment in your sales & marketing organizations as well as driving more revenue out of every qualified lead:

Agree on Terminology

It seems basic – but without mutually agreed upon definitions of what is – and what is not – a qualified lead, sales can suffer. Many marketing organizations are measured on metrics like lead volume, not lead quality. But by understanding that quality leads are what matters most – sales and marketing staff can come to common terms around lead status (such as a marketing qualified lead versus a sales qualified lead) and adjust marketing activity and expectations accordingly.

Use Data from Sales to Improve Lead Quality

Many times marketing is seen as a one-way street. The marketing team generates leads, throws them “over the wall” to sales, and that’s it. However, it is important to for marketing to both capture post-conversion behavior in addition to demographic and other telling data points. By creating a rich set of data after the lead is qualified, marketing can learn even more about what makes some leads more likely to close, and refine and re-tune marketing efforts to increase effectiveness and reduce overall spend, driving ROI and revenue.

Integrate Marketing and Sales Tools

When performing CRM deployments at even the largest and most sophisticated organizations, we’re often surprised at the lack of cohesion between the tools generating leads and the software sales reps use every day to close those leads. Fortunately, today integration technologies and the design of modern software tools make it easier than ever to create tight-knit, bi-directional integration. This allows marketing to better nurture and re-nurture leads that take time to close, and gives sales better insights into the behavior and information gathering lead go through before engaging in a sales interaction.

Deeply integrated marketing and sales tools, as seen here with data from IBM Silverpop seamlessly embedded into Sugar’s SFA UI, can build bridges between sales and marketing to drive enhanced conversion and close rates.

Deeply integrated marketing and sales tools, as seen here with data from IBM Silverpop seamlessly embedded into Sugar’s SFA UI, can build bridges between sales and marketing to drive enhanced conversion and close rates.

So, these are just three tips and tricks any organization can make in order to better align sales & marketing teams. Ultimately, shared goals and well thought out approaches to process can lead to success, aided by the proper use of technology of course. To see even more tips on driving even more sales from your marketing efforts, check out our free eBook by clicking HERE.

The theme of last month’s SugarCon2015 was “Connecting i2i,” and I have to say, it was really inspiring to see all the attendees taking advantage of the rich assortment of keynotes, panel discussions and technical sessions presented by industry leaders and Sugar users, partners and developers.

But don’t make the mistake of thinking that the end of the conference meant the end of “connecting.”

Just this week we uploaded SugarCon2015 session videos and PPTs to sugarcon.sugarcrm.com, a microsite devoted entirely to nurturing the collaboration and learning that happens at every one of our Sugar conferences. We hope you’ll turn to the site again and again and see it as a valuable resource for information that can help you improve customer relationships and ultimately, transform your business. When you visit, you’ll find that sugarcon.sugarcrm.com features a broad range of keynotes and presentations.

Keynotes

These SugarCon2015 keynotes contain powerful insights to help you deliver the personal, meaningful customer experiences now essential for revenue growth:

  • Stop the Excuses and Get Started – Transforming Your CX Ecosystem: Rick Parrish, Senior Analyst, Forrester Research
  • Data Inspired Relationships: Unleash Insights and Create Growth: Matt Collins, Senior Vice President of Global Marketing, Dun & Bradstreet
  • Thriving in Today’s Customer-Driven World: Bryan Brown, VP of Product Strategy, Silverpop, an IBM Company
  • Doing Business from the Customer’s Perspective: Phil Winters, Customer Perspective Champion, CIAgenda
  • Putting Customers First – Again: Larry Augustin, CEO, SugarCRM
  • Fusing CX to CRM: Customer Journey Mapping: Jennifer Stagnaro, CMO, SugarCRM
  • Reimagining CRM: The Customer Perspective: Clint Oram, CTO, SugarCRM

SugarCon KeynoteConnecting i2i at Smarties Bar in Sponsor Pavilion

Presentations

We’ve downloaded 29 presentations in all, and they cover a variety of today’s hottest customer engagement topics. Here’s a small sampling:

  • Sales is from Mars & Marketing is from Venus
  • The Modern CRM – A Forrester Perspective
  • Integrating Marketing, Sales and Service for Exceptional Customer Experiences
  • Optimizing the Sales Experience – Stories and Sales Models from the Road
  • No Coding Required: Configure Sugar for Enhanced Sales

Are you ready to “re-connect i2i?” Please join us at sugarcon.sugarcrm.com , and of course, we look forward to seeing everyone next year at SugarCon 2016, June 13-16 in San Francisco!

Want to check out SugarCon 2015 photos? You can view them and tag yourself on our Facebook page.

Session AttendeesPanel at SugarCon

Our i2i workshop series follows SugarCRM’s recent announcement about a “reimagined” vision of CRM, one that fuses Customer Journey Mapping with CRM.

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Picture this: you are interested in a product from a particular company. You look at that company’s website and register for a special offer. Then, you contact a sales or call center representative from that same company. But – the representative has no idea that you’ve already looked at the website, and that you’ve registered digitally for the special offer.
This is an example of a disconnected customer experience, where digital interactions (like web or email marketing) are disconnected from human interactions with sales or service people. Unfortunately, this results in an inconsistent customer experience for the prospect, and represents missed opportunity to increase return on marketing investment and to increase lead-to-cash efficiency for the company.

SugarCRM, an IBM global strategic business partner, is working together with IBM ExperienceOne to address these issues and to provide optimized customer experiences across marketing, sales and service; and spanning digital and human touch points.

At IBM Amplify 2015, there will be many opportunities for you to learn more about the exciting combination of SugarCRM and IBM ExperienceOne:
– On Tuesday May 12, from 2:45-3:45pm in Room 33c, listen to a panel discussion featuring Chris Wong, IBM VP ExperienceOne products and strategy; Clint Oram, SugarCRM CTO and co-founder; and customers and partners including Rodobens, a diversified financial services and automotive company, and Triscal, an IBM and SugarCRM business partner. You’ll hear Chris and Clint’s views on the intersection of marketing and sales automation. Listen to Rodobens and Triscal describe how they are providing a consistent customer experience across their disparate lines of business, with IBM Campaign, IBM Silverpop, and SugarCRM (session MHT-1286A).
– Also on Tuesday May 12, from 11am-12pm in Room 29A, you’ll get an exclusive preview from Dale Price, Senior Product Manager with IBM Silverpop, and Laurence Leong, Senior Director Strategic Alliances with SugarCRM, about the new Silverpop for SugarCRM integrated solution (session MEE-1283A).
– You can also visit the SugarCRM booth 606 to see and learn about these solutions yourselves.

Not going to Amplify? Learn more, and get a copy of the solution sheet, at sugarcrm.com/ibm/experienceone

expLast week SugarCRM was the lead sponsor of the Conference Board’s 11th Annual Customer Experience Conference held in downtown NYC. The conference brought together hundreds of cross-functional executives and thinkers responsible for the customer experience at organizations of all shapes and sizes.

In addition to some great keynotes from former Sprint CEO Dan Hesse and Overstock.com president Stormy Simon, SugarCRM CEO Larry Augustin explained to the captive crowd the importance of using a modern CRM as the tool to unify the customer experience across both digital and human touch points.

Overall, the importance of focusing on the “human element,” especially when thinking about optimizing customer experience was a theme that ran throughout the event. During a panel I moderated with executives from Citi, Constant Contact and Sparks Grove – the overarching message was to think of the people at the heart of the equations: the individual customers and the employees trying to help them along their customer journey.

The event was a great way to talk to some business and individuals in various stages of a customer experience transformation. And the fact that so many businesses are considering CRM as a major lynch pin to the success of their customer experience initiatives was great to see.

So, a big “thank you” to the Conference Board for putting on such an exceptional event, and a huge thank you to all the attendees, for all the great interactions and conversations!

SugarCon is just around the corner – and that means it is also time for another round of the SugarCon App Throwdown! The App Throwdown – always an attendee favorite – is a showcase of some of the coolest, most useful, and most innovative extensions of the Sugar platform. The fun, sometimes manic, atmosphere of the final judging session at SugarCon not only promises to entertain, but also give Sugar users some great tools to advance their own CRM initiatives.

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While App Throwdown is always a blast – we wanted to make it even better this year. How? Well, for starters, we’ve opened up the submission eligibility to EVERYONE! That’s right – anyone who wants to submit an extension, connector, custom app integrated to Sugar, etc. can apply. Simply fill out this ONLINE FORM to be part of the processes.

Submissions will be accepted until March 27! So get your submission ready – all you need is a cool app/connector/customization, a short video of your app in action, and a completed form to enter!

Also, we have created some categories to help guide your submissions, and the category winners will be the ones to battle it out for “Best in Show” on the main SugarCon stage in April.

This years categories include:

Category Description
Mobile Help your customers see i2i, wherever they are. This category will be judged on the best mobile customization, or mobile extension of Sugar in marketing, field sales, field service or other customer-facing scenarios.
Best Seamless Integration Sugar provides virtually limitless ways of integrating with virtually limitless apps and data sources. This category will focus on applications that follow the best practices of our UI/UX and show creative use of the Intelligence Panel, Dashlets, Activity Streams, and other key areas of the Sugar UX best in class user interface.
Data, Information, & Analytics Getting the right information at the right time is a critical part of creating extraordinary customer relationships. Understanding business insights is an important tool for optimizing your selling and go-to-market strategy. Entries in this category will be judged on how they help Sugar users make better decisions and execute faster based on having better information at their fingertips.
Customer Experience and Engagement This category will look at integrations and customizations that optimize the customer experience and increase levels of engagement. These can include workflow-based customizations and extensions to better align with the customer journey; embedded call center or other real-time employee-to-customer communications; or tools to help agents close more deals or resolve more cases faster.
Beyond CRM The openness of the Sugar platform means that developers and users’ only limits are their imaginations.  Entries in this category will focus on the “edge cases” of CRM. So, if your application interfaces with the real world through the “Internet of Things”, or you’ve added game mechanics to motivate the right behavior, or tied into today’s powerful social tools, this category is for you!

The judging process this year will be a bit different as well. An all-star panel of SugarCRM staff and some special industry influencers and observers will judge all submissions to determine the category winners. These will be announced here on the blog in early April.

At SugarCon, the category winners will compete on stage for the “Best in Show” award – in front of an expert panel of SugarCRM executives including CEO Larry Augustin, and some guest industry influencers. But as in past years – the audience will vote on the category winner they think deserves to be Best in Show!

So, all you Sugar partners, developers, tech-savvy customers with a cool custom module or integration – we invite you to submit ASAP and join us in making the 2015 App Throwdown the best yet!

More and more, the B2B world is talking about the “customer journey” – and how companies must re-focus on the customer. CRM can play a vital role as the technology that enables this transformation. It can give all customer-facing employees a comprehensive understanding of the customer, and coordinate all the complex interactions between many key customer and supplier stakeholders.

Integral to this increasing focus on the customer is making CRM work for the individuals who serve and interact with customers. SugarCRM is committed to delivering a completely transformed, individualized customer experience that is intelligent, immersive, engaging and affordable. We are at the center of this universal shift in CRM, the shift towards connecting individual to individual – i2i.

So, how can you be a part of this shift and enable extraordinary customer experiences?

You can start by attending SugarCon 2015

This April, a record number of attendees will gather at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square for SugarCon 2015, to share best practices for next-generation customer experience and business optimization. There’s no better place to discover the rich community of SugarCRM customers, developers and partners who are transforming business by using SugarCRM to build extraordinary customer relationships.

HERE ARE THE TOP 5 REASONS TO ATTEND SUGARCON 2015:

1) LEARN FROM THE EXPERTS

Insightful keynotes, informative general sessions and interactive panels from the world’s leading experts on business transformation and CRM will offer great opportunities to learn how to drive dramatic improvements in business performance.

2) FIND THE ANSWERS YOU NEED

Multiple breakout session options allow you to customize your schedule to fit your needs. Topics range from best practices and proven success stories to product updates, training, emerging trends… and more!

3) EXPAND YOUR PROFESSIONAL NETWORK

Share best practices with industry colleagues, thought leaders, partners and trend spotters from around the world.

4) TRAIN WITH THE PROS

Learn how to optimize the Sugar products you’re already using, test-drive demos of our other solutions and get an exclusive sneak peak of upcoming enhancements.

5) HELP US HELP YOU

Meet with SugarCRM executives and product development teams and provide feedback to help shape product and service direction.

SugarCon is the premier event for SugarCRM customers, users and partners to experience a glimpse into the future of CRM and witness the universal shift in CRM, the shift towards connecting individual to individual – i2i.

If you are looking to excel at creating extraordinary customer relationships and connecting with your customers through the entire customer lifecycle, then look no more. SugarCon 2015 will be three full days dedicated to helping you do just that.

What are you waiting for? Check out the agenda here and register today.