Archives For CRM

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Welcome to our all-new roundup of customer relationship management (CRM) industry news from across the web. We’ll be hunting the ‘net for the latest and greatest, and bringing them to you here, in one convenient weekly post.

Your IT Group is at The Center of Your Customer Experience (and Your Business)
“Inside companies of all sizes, the issue of ‘silos’ – where walls have been erected between groups, divisions and departments – are both a common pain point and a significant cause of unmet customer expectations.” - Michael Hinshaw

As digital touch points increase and become more intelligent, the socially-savvy consumer will have an increased expectation of communication in these channels. This article proposes a shift in thinking, suggesting that IT as an organization needs to look at a business from the outside-in.
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Developing a Response Model in 5 Easy Steps
In an evolving digital landscape, the number of channels where customers interact with a brand continue to increase. How quickly do you respond in these channels? Do you have a response model? Every channel has its own audience — define that audience, and then find your voice there.
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The many benefits of integrating customer support into CRM
“While many organizations run some sort of customer help-desk or advice line, it’s surprising how often this function is supported by standalone technology rather than being part of the main CRM application.” - Richard Boardman

Implementing a system that spans sales, marketing, and support embraces a more open flow of information between all customer-facing employees.
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This is “How i CRM” – Redglaze Group 
Employees at Redglaze Group share their story about how they align teams across eight different companies to run seamlessly as a cohesive organization.

Aligning eight businesses is not for the faint-of-heart. By encouraging adoption to 74% of employees across CRM-deployed companies, Redglaze increases efficiency in all departments, streamlines resource-sharing, and increases consistency in all customer interactions across the company.
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Got other great articles we should include in future CRM Roundup posts? Let us know in the comments!

maglassWhen talking about the CRM market, a lot of numbers are thrown around. Analyst firms like Gartner and IDC do amazing jobs of calculating the annual spend in the market, which will be more than $30bn in a few years. There are lots of huge companies selling CRM software (usually among other technology pieces), and the space gets a lot of news coverage.

But while these numbers and the continual buzz in CRM seems impressive…is it really?

SugarCRM co-founder and CTO Clint Oram and I have had an ongoing dialog for nearly a year now, about how the CRM industry has – in a lot of ways – utterly failed to live up to its potential over the past two decades.

“Failed?” You ask?

Yes, a big #Fail.

What we have been talking about internally is that the CRM industry now serves roughly 20-25m end users (you can take a composite of all research and it usually ends up around this number give or take a few million users). Now, while this seems like a big number, let’s look at some other “relationship management” tools out there and their user counts:

LinkedIn (professional relationship management): 200m+ Users

Facebook (personal relationship management): 1bn+ Users.

When we stack CRM up against similar (yet admittedly consumer oriented) concepts, CRM falls down in comparison in terms of seeding its total addressable market. Clint calls this, “The Case of the Missing Zero.” And I agree, why aren’t we asking the bigger questions about CRM, namely: Why is this a 20m user market and not a 200m market today?

I think the answer lies both in looking at the success of companies like Facebook and LinkedIn, and also in the history of business technology. In short, CRM originated in a time before such life-changing trends as: the internet, social media, cloud, mobile…pick your buzzword. Early CRM was expensive, difficult to deploy, and benefitted management and not the actual front-line users of CRM – those who deal with prospects and customers. And a lot of expensive, traditional CRM deployments are now in place, lack the modernity expected by today’s workforce, which only exacerbates the issue. And, what’s more, nearly every traditional CRM providers’ offerings were built in this pre-web/social/mobile/cloud era and are thus ill equipped to meet the needs of the individual user.

But…there is hope. If we as an industry start focusing more on the actual users of CRM, and build tools that help them do their jobs, not simply capture data, we can bridge this huge adoption gap.These tools should be simple to use, mobile friendly, and not only make sense of the mounds of structured and unstructured data about every customer – but provide fast and valuable insight around this data to every user at every turn.

And by creating pricing that actually works with companies to put the software in more users’ hands – we can start seeing the true promise of CRM. This isn’t about selling more software (well, in some ways it is), but rather empowering more people in the organization who touch the customer. It’s not about having to make hard decisions about who does and who does not get to use the tools designed to improve the lifeblood of your business – your customers – it’s about giving everyone access to the information they need to provide better service, make more informed decisions, and simply promote better customer relationships.

We are making headway in this area, and made some significant announcements this morning to that effect. While it is early in what I feel is a transformative time in CRM, I am excited. By bringing innovation back into this industry in a big way, empowering more individuals in every company we serve, and simply helping make great customer experiences happen, I hope to see this industry find that missing zero (yes, everyone not just SugarCRM) and show what a difference great CRM can really make.

The folks at Software Advice are performing an in-depth survey to better understand how individual users of CRM surveysystems interact with the software: what works, what could be improved, etc.

Since we here at SugarCRM are always looking to learn more about the industry, but especially looking to learn more about what individual users are looking to get out of the system, we wanted to help spread thew word.

Want to have your voice heard? Want to help shape the future of CRM? Take the survey HERE.

Forbes contributing writer Dan Woods recently caught up with SugarCRM’s CEO Larry Augustin for lunch in San Francisco for a discussion about the state of the customer journey.

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Larry shared SugarCRM’s grander vision for Customer Relationship Management (CRM). “Instead of sales force automation,
CRM should live up to its name and start helping every single person who interacts with customers do a better job of serving them.”

As technology trends like social media and mobile both break down internal silos and help individuals better connect and interact with companies – the bounds of CRM must grow. For organizations to truly foster deeper, more effective and personalized relationships with their customers – they need to expand CRM beyond traditional sales and support professionals.

As Larry goes on to state in the article:

“It is ridiculous to limit CRM to sales. In my view, every clerk walking the floor of a store, every customer service rep, every repair technician, receptionists – essentially everyone that interacts with a customer should have a view of the customer provided by CRM.”

Well said, Larry.

To read the article in full, please click here.

SugarCRM is participating in the BoxWorks conference this week in San Francisco, the Imageannual event for collaboration and cloud file storage provider Box. During CEO Aaron Levie’s keynote – he cited some impressive growth numbers for the company. Box now has 180,000 companies using its offerings, with about 20 million individuals in that mix.

20 million. Think about that.

A lot of very successful business software providers, and I mean BIG companies with billions in revenue, only serve about 3-5 million users, tops.

Why is that?

The answer, in my opinion, is that tradition business software providers – the old guard of CRM, ERP, etc. – have typically been either too inflexible, too expensive, or a combination of both, which restricts the amount of employees in a company that can actually use the software.

Think about it. If you really map out a customer-facing process in a CRM usage scenario, for example, there are all kinds of potential touch points internally that get locked out of a typical CRM deployment. Product experts, fulfillment personnel, receptionists…anyone who might either interact with a customer, or have information that can help enhance the customer experience. But instead, CRM deployments are usually limited to quota carrying sales reps, managers, and support agents – in short, a limited set.

I believe Box is painting a picture of how businesses should be looking at technology and how they empower their employees to do their jobs better, and in turn serve customer better. And Box is showing how technology providers should be looking at their business models in fresh new angles. For users, Box’s technology both promotes collaboration and is super simple to use. On the business side, Box used freemium and openness to quickly get entrenched inside the largest and smallest companies – it did not rely only on expensive and inefficient enterprise sales models. Box’s technology quickly and easily proved its value to the USER, and management’s buy-in naturally followed.

We are in a new era of user empowerment in business software in my opinion. Powered by the convergence of consumer technology experiences, evolved distribution and business models, and an overall approach (hopefully) that favors getting the software into the hands of users versus simply “selling the expensive seat license” to decision-makers. The future is bright, and Box is proving that the right technology, with the right approach to distribution, can lead to great things…

Using social collaboration tools? Want your opinions heard? Then take a few minutes to take a new survey by Aberdeen 500px-Collaboration-handsGroup  focused on social collaboration.

The enterprise social collaboration concept has been around for a few years, evolving from IM and other chat tools into activity streams, document sharing, web meeting, and other combined technologies to better enable cooperation in all kinds of workplaces.

We’d like to hear how Sugar users are connecting distributed workers, and those in the same campus, via enterprise collaboration tools. The more we learn, the more we can shape our product and integration strategy to best fit the true needs of the Sugar user.

Take the survey HERE.

We’re excited to announce TOM. The Sale Closer. as the August 2013 SugarOutfitters App of the Month. TOM is a unique iPad app that uses advanced Constraint Management methods to help you to close your sales opportunities from SugarCRM in the most effective way. Join us for a live demo August 21st on the next Sugar Community Webinar.

Name, title and brief bio?

Simon is director of TOMfor BV and Partner & co-founder of BPI-Group BV.

BPI-Group BV is a management-consulting group specialized in strategy development and program management for complex (client related) business environments for Industry, ICT, Healthcare and Pharma. TOMfor BV is developer of the TOM APP combining the experience, processes and know-how of many years of sales and sales process engineering in software tools for all customer related processes. Simon is specialized in Sales and Business Management, process engineering based on TOC, LEAN and SixSigma.

When you designed and built this app, what problems were you looking to solve for SugarCRM users and how does TOM solve those problems?

We have seen that many Sales People have problems focusing on and eliminating the most important constraints in their sales campaigns. A lot of time is spent on issues, which are less important and at the end a major constraint is blocking their deal. A waste of precious sales effort and time, which cannot be spent on attractive business one can win.

This is why we created TOM. Our sales APPs combine professional Opportunity Management with TOC (Theory of Constraints from Dr Eli Goldratt, author of the Goal). They support Sales to identify and eliminate their sales Constraints. We implemented that in such a way that Sales and Business Managers get a view on their most frequent opportunity constraints. We help Sales focusing on winning their business and give management access to real time information to analyze the Constraints and eliminate the Root-Cause. This will add substantial value for both Sales and Business Management.

What unique or interesting ways does TOM make it easy for users to use?

We believe that CRM is necessary but not sufficient for a company to be successful in the future. CRM provides critical data for executives to manage their business. But Sales, one of the most important sources of this information doesn’t get much value from their CRM systems. Our objective is to add value to Sales make them benefit from and use CRM. We want to make it as easy as possible for sales to reach their goal, which means “Meet or exceed their sales target”. TOM will help sales with constraint based opportunity management navigating to the order and provides Executives with information they need to have to support sales in closing the most attractive business deals. This is why we believe TOM creates a breakthrough is Sales and Business management.

What attracted you to being a part of the SugarCRM ecosystem?

I’ve worked most of my corporate career for Hewlett-Packard in the period that HP endorsed open systems and focused on partners for creating value for customers. SugarCRM being an Open Source company does have the same philosophy and is easy to get access to. Beside that SugarCRM is one of the fastest growing companies with a large installed base.

For someone who wants to create their own SugarCRM apps, what resources would you recommend that helped you?

My recommendation would be to work with SugarCRM regional management and the SugarCRM partners and position the APP in line with the SugarCRM strategy to leverage on their marketing and messaging. In our case we did focus on adding value to the SugarCRM user by providing them with the necessary opportunity management and tracking tools.

What is your vision for TOM? What can we expect to see in the future?

We introduced the first version of TOM. We are planning to add extensions for Key Account Management and Product & Program Management in the near future.

Want to learn more?

Check out TOM. The Sale Closer. Available at a special discounted price for SugarCRM users at SugarOutfitters.

Larry Augustin

SugarCRM has been named a Visionary in the 2013 Magic Quadrant for Sales Force Automation published by Gartner(1). SugarCRM was recognized as a visionary software provider based on Gartner’s criteria, which notes that visionary companies “anticipate emerging/changing sales needs, and move the market ahead into areas where it hasn’t yet been.” (2).

We’re disrupting the CRM market, and we’re honored that Gartner has recognized us for our view of how CRM needs to change.

Sugar builds CRM that helps the customer-facing professional do their job better.  We turn our users into customer experts.  We focus on the real constituents of CRM: the individual customer and the individual user.  We help users do their job when engaging with customers.  We help the seller sell.

Historically, CRM has focused on the needs of management.  What did our sales people do today? How many meetings have they had?  How many calls did they make?  What is their forecast?  While answering those questions is important to management, those questions don’t help the seller do their job.

Our focus is on helping the seller sell, rather than enter data and forecast updates after the deal has happened. Sugar strips away the irrelevant data entry layers and user controls that impede sales productivity and ultimately CRM adoption.

Because we remain laser focused on delivering innovative solutions for the individual user first and what they need to do their job, we not only raise the bar on sales productivity, we also deliver real value to our customers. Sugar offers a price point that allows for the broad-based CRM adoption businesses require, to enable every customer facing professional to successfully engage their customers.

SugarCRM is disrupting the industry, delivering innovation while driving value for our customers.  It’s core to who we are. SugarCRM was one of the first commercial open source applications in the space – empowering organizations to deploy CRM broadly across the customer facing organization at great value and with more control over their CRM initiative. And, Sugar was one of the first CRM products to be available across multiple cloud environments – giving users the ultimate level of choice in deployment. Today, we are developing some of the most innovative, user-focused CRM products available across devices.

Not using Sugar and want visionary CRM for your business? Try SugarCRM for yourself for free.

CRM as a concept has been around for decades. The technology has changed with the times, and we have learned valuablel&l lessons from the successes and failures of past deployments. Today for example, cloud-based and mobile software developments have sped the time to deploy CRM, and lowered the cost to entry. On the user front, more intuitive, user-focused tools have made CRM initiatives increasingly more successful.

But it doesn’t stop there. There are many ways SugarCRM users can benefit from the lessons learned from previous CRM adopters.

Want to learn more about pitfalls to avoid with your CRM initiative? Are you in the SF bay area? Then join SugarCRM and Gold Partner Faye Business Systems for a live lunch-and-learn session at SugarCRM headquarters in Cupertino on Tuesday July 30.

We will talk about some common reasons for CRM failures, and how to avoid them in creating customized, cost-effective CRM your users will love.

We hope you can join us. Register today HERE as space is limited!

I had a great talk this week with the always enlightening Esteban Kolsky. I was briefing him about Sugar’s latest and greatest,101007_curve_sign and our evolving messaging, and he brought up a really nice point: SugarCRM acts as a “change agent” inside our customer companies.

So, what does this mean?

To explain, let’s assume that the majority of organizations out there have constant goals: acquiring customers, supporting customers, retaining customers, driving revenue, controlling costs, etc.  However, the path to those goals changes constantly. Macro-level trends, such as the economy, the explosion of social as a channel, the emergence of mobile as a preferred communication channel, etc. affect how your organization reaches its goals. On a more micro-level, executive management changes, enhancements to internal processes, reactions to customer demands, etc. also force change inside your organization.

The question becomes, then, how do we remain focused on our goals and work towards meeting them – without being either bewildered or bogged down amidst such rapid change at all levels? Many organizations rely on internal “change agents” to help see the proverbial curve in the upcoming road. These individuals are visionaries and usually go above and beyond in helping companies adapt to changes.

But – can a change agent be a thing, and not a person?

Esteban and I outlined how SugarCRM has been a change agent for a lot of our customers. Their goals, as stated above, were constant and solid. But the method for attaining them became more and more difficult. However, rather than get “stuck” trying to achieve their sales, marketing and support goals, many were able to adapt because their CRM technology was forward thinking, “future proof,” or in other words ultimately flexible.

Now, other products might offer “modern” CRM tools (think: social, mobile, cloud) – but very few offer the strategic advantage of being so deeply flexible and channel-agnostic that companies can adapt to the changing tide BEFORE the vendor releases packaged features to address these issues. Our customers, in a lot of areas, are adapting faster than our roadmap – because that’s the luxury deploying Sugar affords them.

And when you combine that flexibility with the kind of strong TCO Sugar provides – the combination makes Sugar an even more attractive change agent. Sure, many products can be customized or altered to fit changing needs, but at what cost? And on whose terms? Adapting to change is one thing, doing so in a strategic and cost-effective manner is another.

So, when thinking about deploying or upgrading your CRM, think about the state of change. And think about how you can adapt to changes with the tools you have, or are thinking to deploy. Again, goals stay the same, the path constantly changes. Is your CRM going to be a change agent seeing the curves far ahead in the road, or a road block on the path to CRM success?