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Your SugarCRM system is the workhorse of your sales organization. It centralizes customer data and processes, empowering users to better understand and engage with consumers –wherever they happen to be in the pipeline.

But are your users making the most of what the SugarCRM ecosystem has to offer?

Here are three simple tools to drive productivity, shorten sales cycles and improve overall CRM adoption and ROI. Before we turn the calendar to the New Year, resolve to optimize your SugarCRM deployment by adding on these fast, simple integrations:

Electronic Signature – Speed the Sales Cycle

One of the most tedious phases of the sales cycle is the seemingly endless back-and-forth around sales proposals, quotes and contracts. Typically sales agents need to email or (gasp!) fax quotes and contracts to prospects and customers – which delays the close of a sale, and adds unnecessary friction into the sales process. However, with e-signature tools like DocuSign integrated with a CRM system, reps can fire off quotes right from the CRM that are signature enabled. All a customer needs to do is digitally sign, and viola! – the deal is done. No more emailing, printing, signing, scanning, emailing, etc. And, closed deals are inputted right into the CRM system, so reps can immediately see the effect of the deal on their path to quota.

D&B for Sugar: Improve data quality and agent productivity

Sugar is great at managing the flow of leads to sales reps. However, there is an ocean of information available about every prospect and company that is likely not immediately available to a sales rep inside Sugar. By leveraging the breadth of data in D&B for Sugar, sales reps can seamlessly access and consume myriad data points to ensure they have accurate and timely information that can help them be more prepared along every stage of the sales cycle.

D&B for Sugar empowers sales agents with a number of valuable data points around millions of companies, including:

  • The company’s latest financials
  • Recent changes in locations, leadership, regulatory filings
  • Unstructured data such as social media, news and market insight
  • Corporate linkage information
  • Accurate contact information for decision makers
D&B for Sugar makes it easy to quickly create new records from D&B data, and increase data quality in your Sugar instance.

D&B for Sugar makes it easy to quickly create new records from D&B data, and increase data quality in your Sugar instance.

 

CPQ – Simplify Complex Product Sales

Configure, price, quote (CPQ) tools help automate the arduous tasks around configuring product bundles, optimizing pricing, and building compelling sales quotes. Modern CPQ tools like EndeavorCPQ are fully mobile, and highly intuitive – making it easier than ever for sales reps to use. EndeavorCPQ’s system launches from a Sugar quote and guides the sales person through the quoting process, making recommendations and ensuring that all product and pricing is 100% accurate. It saves all quote data back to Sugar and provides the ability to generate a PDF, Word, Excel or email quote for immediate delivery.

EndeavorCPQ embedded into Sugar allows sales agents to quickly and easily configure product offerings and create compelling sales quotes that optimize profit margins.

EndeavorCPQ embedded into Sugar allows sales agents to quickly and easily configure product offerings and create compelling sales quotes that optimize profit margins.

 

These are just three of the myriad tools inside the SugarCRM ecosystem designed to boost sales reps’ productivity, close deals faster, and cut some fat out of the sales process. To see more cool integrations and connectors for Sugar that your team can use to their advantage – check out Sugar Exchange.

So, how will you resolve to optimize your SugarCRM deployment in 2015?

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.

appsorangsThe title may be a bit confusing if you thought the words “customer” and “consumer” are the same, but I urge you to think again. There is a huge distinction in these two groups of people, especially as it applies to CRM. When we go to market as a CRM vendor, we essentially play both the “B2B” role of winning over decision-makers (“customers”), while also needing to win the war over user adoption (the true “consumers” of CRM). And oftentimes, the needs and goals of these two groups may seem different, if not diametrically opposed.

We have seen the types of issues than can befall firms that favor the “customer” over the consumer. In the smartphone world, Blackberry listened to the corporate IT “customer” while Apple favored the “consumer” and brought the iPhone to market – and we’ve seen how Apple’s fortunes have fared since 2007. Closer to home, we saw companies like Siebel Systems favor a complex, enterprise IT and CXO selling focus at the expense of the user experience. While some of the Siebel technology exists under Oracle, Siebel’s glory days are a distant memory in 2014.

At SugarCRM, we try to solve the “customer’s” issues (management-level decision makers) by meeting the “consumer’s” needs (the everyday end user) in new and innovative ways. By giving the front line, customer-facing employee tools they can actually use to do their job more effectively, a lot of benefits rise to the top. For example, with seamless and intuitive mobile tools, sales reps get a tool that gives them critical data when in front of clients. And, simple mobile tools ensure reps can add data when it is most fresh in their minds – not hours later. Therefore, data quality increases, as does revenue predictability – something management cares most about.

This is just one example of how designing for the consumer, and not simply the customer – makes sense. The symbiotic nature of “bottom’s up” design benefits everyone. When customer-facing employees actually want to use the system, management gains insight, predictability, while customer satisfaction and retention can increase (which means greater profit margins). I have seen sales teams that value the individual take this idea and run with it, to great success.

So, for those looking to begin or expand on a CRM initiative – it is important to ask yourself: Is the system I am evaluating designed for the decision-maker, or the everyday user? If it is the former, the long term benefits may not be as strong as you’d expect. But, if you choose a partner that designs with the consumer in mind, you are more than likely on the right track for higher adoption and more profound return on your CRM investment.

We here at SugarCRM are coming off an AMAZING week. In addition to gathering in San Francisco with our customer and partners at SugarCon, we sugarcrm-dashboardalso celebrated our tenth anniversary as a company. All throughout SugarCon, we talked about the Power of “i” and what it means in terms of empowering more individuals in the organizations we serve to be more effective every time they engage with a customer, and to simply perform their jobs better. A huge part of empowering companies to harness the power of “i” comes from the innovative user experience found in Sugar 7. We designed Sugar 7 with the individual in mind – aiming at offering a unique UI that gives users more actionable insight on every screen, as well as a more collaborative approach to CRM. In short, giving users what is most relevant to the tasks at hand – nothing more, nothing less.

Just before SugarCon, analysis firm Software Advice rated their Top 5 Favorite SFA Software User Interfaces, and I can say I am not surprised that Sugar 7 made the list. Here is what the author of the report told SugarCRM he was looking for when making their evaluations:

“When we were evaluating SFA user interfaces (UIs), we looked for designs that included intuitive, unobtrusive navigation systems; clear, aesthetically pleasing reports; and sensible layouts that make smart use of space to emphasize important information. Our favorites combine all these elements (and others) to make using the software both painless for the uninitiated and lightning-fast for SFA veterans,” says Jay Ivey, Managing Editor at Software Advice.

And while Ivey and Software Advice were not necessarily keen to our Power of “i” concept before writing the report, his description of why Sugar 7 made the cut speaks directly to the vision we hold around empowering individual users:

“We chose SugarCRM as one of our favorite interfaces for a lot of reasons, but we especially liked how easy it is for users to customize every aspect of their experience. With a wide range of drag-and-drop dashlets (which are basically widgets containing elements such as opportunity forecasts or contact information), it’s easy to make dashboards your own,” says Ivey. “Once you curate and arrange information to best suit your particular needs, you’ll find yourself wasting less time clicking through multiple screens to access what you’re looking for.”

The validation from Software Advice is not simply a nice kudos to a well designed product. Instead, it is a deeper validation of SugarCRM’s innovative vision in a marketplace that for many years has remained somewhat static. In my opinion, our refreshing approach to user enablement sets us apart, and it is great to see third parties agreeing as well.

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Welcome to our roundup of customer relationship management (CRM) industry news from across the web. This week’s roundup will revisit the some of the same social selling topics as our previous post but with more useful tips and tricks. We’re hunting the ‘net for the latest and greatest, and bringing them to you here, in one convenient weekly post.

Selling through social channels (a.k.a. social selling) is not only an art, but a science. New social channels are emerging every week, only increasing the surface area of digital touchpoints a customer or prospect may have. Those who know how to leverage their networks and hone the power of social media are able to excel in the ever changing sales landscape.

Sales 2.0

Sales 2.0 – Source: Forbes

Salespeople are more likely to meet or exceed their quotas if they engage on social media.
(Dynamic Signal)

Studies have been done to prove this point and salespeople are missing the boat ride to sales success. The following articles will teach you how to be a social selling specialist in no time.

5 Steps for Creating a Successful Social Selling Strategy
One of the golden rules in social selling is to identify where your prospective customers are spending time online. Being able to recognize who your customer is, where they spend their time, and what they like to do can be the driving factor in what closes a deal. Seth Price writes a simple 5 step process for developing your own successful social selling strategy.
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How to Use Twitter Hashtags as a Prospecting Tool
Let’s face it, Twitter is a loud party and sometimes it is hard to hear through the noise. Beyond the clamor hides some of your most relevant and valuable prospects. Twitter can provide a certain level of audience targeting through their Hashtag functionality in order to reach and engage with your next customer.
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Social Selling Action Plan: Seek A Warm Relationship
Social media is no longer about what someone had for lunch. Your future customers are waiting for you to contact them in the places they spend the most time. Matt Foulger will teach you how to turn cold calls into warm calls, gain a 360-degree view of your prospect, push intelligence from social media into your CRM, as well as various social engagement methods.
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The 10-60-30 Rule of Social Selling
Social Selling is more about the approach rather than the use of a number of tools. Over the course of time, this has evolved into a daily routine. My experience has demonstrated that the different steps and tools must be interwoven with everything you do during the day.” – Mic Adam
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We hope you enjoyed this week’s edition of our Weekly CRM Roundup. Go to where your customers are. They’re waiting for your targeted, personalized, and meaningful engagement. Got ideas for other great articles and topics we should include in future CRM Roundup posts? Let us know in the comments below!

Leading organizations are increasing their use of digital mechanisms for the business processes of buying, marketing, selling, and servicing. To do this, many organizations are turning to IBM’s Smarter Commerce and IBM Enterprise Marketing Management. Marketing automation tools like IBM Campaign and Interact, along with Silverpop, are great for defining multi touch campaigns, cross-channel marketing across digital channels, and real time personalizations for customers on electronic store fronts.

But what happens when a customer – who may have received an offer driven from IBM Campaign – calls into a customer service center? Does the customer service agent who answers the phone – let’s say it’s John –  have a history of that customer’s past interactions, and have the right information to answer that customer’s questions? Even better, can the customer service agent reinforce an offer that may have already been presented to the customer via IBM marketing automation offerings?

What happens if a sales person – let’s say it’s Sally – is about to call on that customer? Sally could be an inside sales rep, or an insurance agent, or a personal shopper in retail. Does Sally know everything about her customer including the fact that that customer might have received an offer through email that was generated by a campaign management tool? To take that a step further – if a campaign management tool generates 1000 leads, does Sally know that seven of those leads are her customers, and does she know exactly what to do with those seven leads?

We know that IBM Campaign can precisely target a specific set of customers. But imagine if Sally, upon signing in for her work day, sees seven specific new leads that are assigned to her from that campaign, along with specific actionable information for those leads. Imagine if John, our customer service agent, was able to pull up a complete view of the customer as he was helping resolve that customer’s issues; and could even upsell the customer based on a real-time offer appearing in his customer service dashboard.

SugarCRM, an IBM Global Alliance partner, can help. Sugar is an innovative CRM system designed for every individual who engages with customers: sellers, marketers, customer support agents, receptionists, and executives.

r4_smarter_commerce.jpgSugar has integrations into IBM Campaign to surface campaign information into sellers’ daily tools, whether that be Sugar itself or IBM Notes or Connections. Sugar also has integrations to IBM Interact to present real-time offers to sellers and customer service agents. Sugar is the first major CRM solution to be validated for the IBM Ready for Smarter Commerce mark. DiGi Telecommunications is one customer using IBM Campaign integrated to SugarCRM to provide consistency across digital marketing programs and human sales and service representatives.

Organizations that integrate SugarCRM and IBM experience faster campaign-to-cash times,  more efficient marketing and sales processes, and higher customer satisfaction and value.

For more information, see sugarcrm.com/ibm, or come visit us at SugarCon, April 28-May 1 in San Francisco, or the IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit 2014 in Tampa, Florida May 12-15.

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Welcome to our roundup of customer relationship management (CRM) industry news from across the web. This week’s roundup provides a plan of action and offers an understanding of what it takes to be successful in generating leads. We’re hunting the ‘net for the latest and greatest, and bringing them to you here, in one convenient weekly post.

If you reached this page, chances are you’re looking for insight on how to boost your lead generation success. In today’s day and age, the buying process has changed as marketers struggle to be heard through the noise. As they say, ‘Content is king’ and the handling of that content – both on your site and elsewhere on the web – is critical to your lead generation success.

68% of B2B businesses use landing pages to garner a new sales lead for future conversion. (MarketingSherpa)

The following articles should serve as easy first steps to help you acquire and retain higher-quality leads by meticulously adjusting semantics, understanding the purpose of lead nurturing, and thinking differently about gated content.

My Leads Have Run Dry: 3 Steps to Obtaining and Retaining Leads
Given that consumers are inundated with marketing messages all throughout the day, getting your message in front of the eyes of your target audience is becoming harder than ever. Once they’ve reached your website after being referred through a marketing channel (email, social media, webinar, etc.), there is still work to be done. This article outlines 3 steps on how to optimize your strategies to generate the quality leads you’re looking for.
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Social Media Lead Generation: Opening the Gate for Gated Content
Anqi Cong explores the pros and cons of gating and not-gating your content. She does a comparison on the effect of gating and its implication on social sharing and “virility”. It is estimated that gating content reduces downloads to 2-5% of what they could’ve been, but for a trade off of higher quality leads.
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Lead, Nurture, Or Get Out Of The Way
This article takes you through the steps of launching a successful lead nurturing campaign by first, locating and identifying your best prospects, and then by implementing the process itself.

“No matter how simple or complex the B2B environment, understanding how your product or service fits in with your prospect’s organization is the holy grail of long term success.” – Robert Minskoff
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Lead Generation: The Power of Copy
“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind,” – Rudyard Kipling

The way words are received is directly correlated to the way they are spoken. John Tackett shows a simple way on how to see an increase in form conversion by tweaking one or a few words.
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We hope you enjoyed this week’s edition of our Weekly CRM Roundup. Go forth — tackle these easy lead generation actions and continue to create exceptional customer experiences. Got ideas for other great articles and topics we should include in future CRM Roundup posts? Let us know in the comments below!