Archives For Social CRM

I have always told prospects that it pays to deploy and open, flexible CRM solution…

Now, for businesses in Singapore it really PAYS!

The country has a long history of fostering the creation of well-run small businesses. The latest installment of Singapore’s benevolent attitude towards growing local businesses: SugarCRM is now listed as a certified solution under iSPRINT (Packaged Solutions).

So – what does this mean?

Simply put – any Singapore business that deploys SugarCRM is eligible for a credit of up to 50 percent of the qualifying costs, capped at S$10,000 of an initial subscription of a listed solution. So, that means deploying a best-in-class CRM system at half the cost. That is, seriously, pretty darn cool.

Imagine adding the ability to better manage your contacts, opportunities, activities etc. across your sales, marketing and support teams. Imagine having access to a full reporting suite to guide your business and gain predictability. Imagine empowering sales and support agents with their critical data on the go with mobile CRM access. Imagine identifying, converting and delighting more customers with social CRM tools.

Oh yeah, and all that comes at half the normal cost.

To take advantage of this insanely awesome offer – contact SugarCRM APAC partner iZeno today.

I really like talking with CRM journalist and all around smart guy Chris Bucholtz. Whenever we have an interview – it always beings around one topic and very quickly tangents off into a great conversation about what we as an industry could be doing better (as well as some side stops discussing WWII aircraft and strategy).

I especially enjoyed Chris’ take on one of the roadblocks to CRM success – Executive Fear – that he describes in his CRM Buyer piece. These are all great ideas. The notion that too many executives are afraid to take chances is a scary, but all too often true, situation. In a shaky economy, I believe this problem gets amplified, as top-level execs are too frightened to lose positions etc. – and simply go the “safe” route.

So – in your organization are you a CRM leader, follower…or just in the way?

As Chris so eloquently notes in his article – “Best practices are made, not born.” I love this statement. The sales and marketing leaders in your organization have to know what is important (lead generation, pipeline, the bottom line etc.) but cannot be afraid to shake things up a little. Instead of “if it ain’t broke, don;t fix it” mentality, a great CRM initiative should always foster a “how can we continually make this better?” mentality.

There are very few “turnkey machines” in the business world. More often than not, we are not in an organization with the luxury of ubiquity or near total market share – what I’m saying is that we are not all Google basically.

It is not always bad to “follow the leader” in terms of taking on proven CRM best practices. Startups and entrepreneurs can learn from larger, successful organizations while finding their identity. But, once found, companies need to differentiate and create their own killer experiences for their customers, develop new ways to pull in new leads, etc.

In the past, the technology supporting a CRM initiative was expensive and time consuming to deploy, configure and change over time. So, it made sense that a conservative approach won out more often than not. However, with today’s less expensive, ultra-flexible web and cloud-based CRM tools – there is far less excuse to take the safe route.

The tools are here now to better align the imagination of sales, marketing and customer service leaders with the actual technology solutions in place to make it happen.

Some interesting New Years preview articles and blog posts have been written over the past several weeks. But one that really strikes a chord with us at SugarCRM is Denis Pombriant’s recent post for CRM Buyer that discusses how the rising costs of fuel and other issues are affecting how we will execute our businesses in 2011 and beyond.

Denis makes great points – we are simply not going to be making as many “face to face” meetings in the future because the costs are simply to prohibitive. What does this mean for sales and marketing agents? Well, for those sales agents that rely on “close relationship selling” and “spit and a handshake” type deal closing, there are some new challenges coming.

For one, how do we more effectively close when we do not have a captive audience? When all a prospect needs to do is hang up – well, you have to continually provide strong value points to keep the conversation, and the deal, alive.

How does CRM fit in? Pretty simply, the ability to prioritize activities, accounts, contacts etc. – especially if your data is aided by real-time updates from social networks and other sources – can help turn the “face to face” agent into a killer telesales pro in no time.

In addition, greater frequency (and more important – relevancy) of marketing messaging through email campaigns, drip campaigns etc. can help marketing teams keep close tabs on prospects and customers even from afar.

Simply put – while we may not get to see our target prospects as much in the future – that does not mean our sales productivity should diminish either.

Editor’s note: This blog post originally appeared in the UK-based B2B Marketing magazine blog series. And, since I think these are points worth repeating (and I wanted to get a blog post out this week!) I am reprinting my thoughts hereAlso note, while it’s true I am too lazy to change spelling back to American English – I think the British English stylizing gives my thoughts a bit of an air of respectability ;)

The explosion of social media over the past several years has certainly begun to make its mark in the business world. What started out as a primarily consumer-driven concept has become big business on many fronts: companies are marketing to customers via social networks; supporting customers and identifying trouble spots via Twitter; and leveraging these new social channels for market research and to qualify leads.

While social channels present an opportunity, companies must not forget the core foundations that actually manage the core data and processes within the organisation. New concepts like ‘social CRM’ are appealing for many reasons. But, ultimately, are not a replacement for traditional CRM. Rather, it is more important to augment existing CRM strategies and systems with social tools – because abandoning core systems could lead to chaos inside the organisation.

To best navigate your move into social CRM, it is useful to ask yourself five simple questions before spending precious time and other resources towards a social media endeavour:

1. Where are my customers and prospects aggregating online?

This seems fairly simple, but might be more complex than it seems.  For large B2C organisations, it may be enough to blast messaging across sites like Facebook. But for more niche markets and products, or more specialised B2B sales models – it may take some more research and listening to your customers before you begin any outreach via social channels.

2. How will this social initiative enhance the customer experience?

Just being social for the sake of being social is useless, and can backfire. For many B2B sales and support organisations, social media should be a means of adding convenience to the sales or customer support cycle – not an intrusive waste of time. Insure that your social interactions are a benefit, not a detractor to the overall customer experience.

3. Am I using social media to hide deeper flaws in my business?

Many companies are using social media as a “band-aid” to hide poor support processes or other problem areas. Customers who tweet about a bad experience get preferential treatment; but what does that really solve?  Before adding layers of social engagement, try to insure your customer-facing processes are already strong before exposing them to the hyper-critical social channels.

4. Who will be responsible for our social outreach?

This is a huge problem area for those looking to jump into social business. If you are going to generate leads, or attempt to handle customer complaints via social media – insure that a proper escalation path is in place. If a customer reaches out via social media and gets no response – it is almost worse than not having a social policy. Insure the right people are in place to quickly and consistently manage inquiries received via social channels.

5. How will I track and measure success?

It is very easy for a social media initiative to create even more data silos, with loads of data not providing insight. However, if you tightly integrate your social tools and data with well-structured existing systems like a CRM tool, you can more effectively track interactions and outcomes. Again, social CRM is not a new concept in itself – we are just using new technology to do what we have always done as  businesspeople: attract and manage customer relationships.

Many of the Outsiders readers might remember that last year we spoofed Marc Benioff’s book Behind the Cloud last year at Dreamforce. That stunt caused quite a stir, and this year we decided to make things a little less personal and a little more jovial, as it is the holiday season after all.

So, the marketing team got together and penned some “holiday carols” that tell our side of the CRM story, as well as throw some light-hearted barbs towards salesforce. All in fun, right? You can check out the complete carol book and lyrics here.

The main thrust of the campaign was to guarantee salesforce.com users at least 50% off their CRM subscription fees by switching to SugarCRM – and to make the switch seamless, we will waive the data migration fee.

To top it all off, we hired some professional “carolers” to sing selections from the song book outside the Moscone center as the attendees of Dreamforce piled in for the kickoff keynote. The crowd loved the carols, many chimed in, and tons of people snapped photos and videos and took home souvenir carol books for themselves.

Here are a few clips of the singers singing:

All in all, it was a fun event and we had a great time with all the singers and all the people who stopped by and chatted with us about SugarCRM.  Thanks to everyone who helped make the caroling such a fun and successful event!

Two of the biggest trends in CRM over the past couple of years have been mobile access and the addition of social media channels. While these technology trends were developing, more and more small and midsize companies around the world were discovering that thanks to open source and the cloud – they could now afford to add the benefits of CRM to their businesses.

Now, all of these technology and business trends are converging in the latest release of Sugar 6. The latest and greatest from the people that pioneered “CRM Made Simple” are at it again, this time adding Global, Mobile and Social capabilities to Sugar 6.

On the global front, 13 new language packs make it easier than ever for companies around the world to get up and running quickly with a best in class CRM system. Sugar will continue to add these fully supported language and currency translations – which no longer require downloading and installing or updating. Just select your language and currency from the drop down list at startup – and you’re good to go!

More and more workers are looking to gain access to data and do their jobs more effectively while away from the office. SugarCRM has answered this call with a new Sugar Mobile application for the iPhone. This native application captures the sleek look and feel of iPhone resident applications, and is fully integrated with the iPhone features. This means you can click to call, and log that call in Sugar in seconds. Click on an address to jump to the google map of that location. With Sugar Mobile – all of your data and connections are just a click away at all times.

Social media is a hot topic, and adding social channels to your CRM system can give you an edge in the market. With the latest edition of Sugar 6, you can quickly check the Twitter streams of contacts and accounts with the new Twitter Connector. And a new integration with social collaboration vendor Qontext makes it easier to collaborate in real time with co-workers and customers in a cool new social media friendly manner.

So there you have it – new Global, Mobile and Social tools – right inside the most intuitive, flexible and open CRM system on the planet.

Check out these new features for yourself by grabbing your own Free Trial of Sugar 6 today.

Are you searching social networks for leads? Connecting with potential partners on LinkedIn? Are your support agents reaching troubled customers with Twitter?

If you are using social media as part of your CRM strategy – we want to hear from you!  We have put together a short survey to learn how companies and individuals are leveraging social data in their business life.

So, wether you have a full-scale company wide social CRM agenda, or are simply a savvy ales rep using LinkedIn to eliminate cold calls – We’d love to hear from you.

Take the short survey here: Social Media Survey

In addition to providing some valuable data on social media usage, you can qualify for a Free iPod Shuffle prize pack!

I will share the results of the survey on Outsiders once complete. Thanks for providing insight!