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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 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, Sugar has the ability to seamlessly integrate IBM Cognos Business Intelligence function directly, through a Sugar Connector for IBM Cognos BI. You can see a screenshot of Cognos reports embedded directly into the Sugar UI below. Picture1
  • 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

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