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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.

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.

SugarCRM is the first CRM provider to be named “Ready for IBM Smarter Commerce,” which means the Sugar platform r4_smarter_commerce.jpgsupports and inter-operates seamlessly with core IBM Smarter Commerce components, including IBM Campaign and Interact, IBM Websphere Commerce, and IBM Sterling Commerce. As the current state of business, fueled by advancements in social, mobile and cloud technologies changes the way companies market and sell, IBM’s Smarter Commerce portfolio combined with Sugar can help enterprises of all sizes better meet these current and future challenges.

IBM Smarter Commerce turns customer insight into action, enabling new business processes that help companies buy, market, sell and service their products and services to today’s modern customer. With deep integrations into key Smart Commerce offerings, SugarCRM puts the “i” in Smarter Commerce.

What does it mean to put the “i” in Smarter Commerce? It means that SugarCRM extends IBM Smarter Commerce to customer-facing individuals such as sales and service representatives. For example, with IBM and SugarCRM, campaign management programs can be driven down to specific, actionable, in-context leads placed in the daily activity stream of individual sellers. Or, individual customer care agents can view the entire history of a given customer’s interactions, and can see targeted real-time recommendations right from within their call center application.

The result: faster campaign-to-cash, more efficient marketing and sales processes, and higher customer satisfaction and value.

For more information on how SugarCRM complements IBM Smarter Commerce and other IBM products and services, see sugarcrm.com/ibm

The SugarCRM alliances team is coming off a very productive few days in Orlando, Florida last week as part of our participation at IBM Connect 2014. Among the highlights of the week, SugarCRM was named as a finalist for IBM’s 2014 Collaboration Solutions Award in the “Best of Show and Chief Technology Officer (CTO)” category during the event.

The combined Best of Show/CTO Award recognizes visionary IBM business partners who use cross-IBM Software Group (SWG) capabilities in innovative, customer-focused ways. SugarCRM was named a top award contender after demonstrating how the Sugar-IBM solution helps customers maximize and improve social business efforts and increase bottom-line results.

The SugarCRM-IBM solution includes SugarCRM’s integrations to IBM SmartCloud for Social Business, IBM Notes and IBM Connections. In addition, SugarCRM’s integrations to IBM Campaign and IBM Interact further extends the IBM Smarter Commerce solution and brings the power of IBM Enterprise Marketing Management to customer-facing sales, support and marketing individuals. SugarCRM also runs on IBM DB2, IBM SmartCloud, IBM SoftLayer, IBM PureSystems and IBM PowerLinux.

The good news is, customers benefit the most from the SugarCRM-IBM connection. For example, SugarCRM customer Tollpost Globe, one of the Nordic region’s leading logistic companies, needed a platform that would increase internal efficiency as well as customer satisfaction. Since implementing SugarCRM and IBM Collaboration, Tollpost Globe has already seen a 70 percent increase in sales, a 40 percent increase boost in sales efficiency and a 30 percent rise in customer satisfaction numbers.

We are in a new era of CRM – one that is more intuitive, personalized and social, and our partnership with IBM underscores SugarCRM’s commitment to delivering solutions that enable our customers to engage in highly innovative social selling.  The SugarCRM and IBM relationship is gaining impressive momentum and underscores our commitment to further extending our social business solutions to new markets, products and customers around the globe. This recognition by IBM is an exciting and telling testament to that fact.

To learn more about how you can harness the power of Sugar and IBM technology visit sugarcrm.com/ibm

Next week, SugarCRM will be sponsoring and exhibiting at the IBM Smarter Commerce event in Nashville May 21-23. The event is a great ibmsmartercommercegathering of business leaders from around the world, with a focus on improving customer-facing processes and technologies to enhance the buying experience.

SugarCRM supports the core Smarter Commerce business processes of Buy, Market, Sell, Service, including integrations with IBM’s Cross-channel campaign management solutions, Cognos and Connections, all of which enhance you organization’s effectiveness and improve your sales cycle.

SugarCRM and IBM have similar views on enabling customer centricity inside our clients’ organizations, as evidenced by our well-aligned messages during SugarCon in April.

To learn more about how SugarCRM supports IBM Smarter Commerce, or if you’re attending the event and would like to schedule time with SugarCRM executives on site, stop by Booth E-18 or visit HERE.

We hope to see you in Nashville!

I think most of us here at SugarCRM are still catching our breaths after an amazing week in NYC. SugarCon 2013 was an awesome four days of great keynotes, discussions, customer stories, training sessions, evening events…simply put – it was our best event to date, and we are already dreaming scon13up ways to make SugarCon 2014 even better.

While there were tons of highlights, great moments, sound bites, press coverage, etc. coming out of the event, one trend became clear. SugarCRM has aligned with some innovative and insightful partners – all of us with similar visions of helping create more customer-centric organizations. Perhaps one of the most profoundly aligned companies in our ecosystem is IBM.

Our aligned visions took center stage on Tuesday April 9, as Larry outlined our vision for “Every Customer, Every User, Every Time” and how our product and services are working towards making that a reality for every Sugar customer. Then, following behind Larry’s message, Steve Laughlin, Vice President for Smarter Commerce for IBM’s Global Business Services unit, talked about the empowered customer era and told the 1000+ attendees how IBM is helping to make enterprises more adept at personalizing interactions and the customer lifecycle in general.

And then, on Tuesday, Tamara Duncan, client advocacy executive at IBM, talked about the importance of customer centricity on a panel led by Terry Jones, founder and former CEO of Travelocity. In addition to the main stage, IBM executives also presented two standing-room only sessions: one on social selling by Christopher Lamb, IBM Program Direct, Social CRM, and another on modern marketing tips by Chris Benedetto, Product Marketing Leader, Enterprise Marketing Management (EMM). In addition, SugarCRM solutions architect Charles Hicks presented an integration overview between SugarCRM and IBM Cognos BI to a packed house. It was refreshing to see two seemingly different companies in strong agreement when it comes to creating great customer experiences.

That alignment in culture and vision is already paying off. During the event, SugarCRM announced a key customer win with Sennheiser electronic GmbH & Co. KG, a leading supplier of microphones, headphones and wireless transmission systems. Sennheiser made the decision to go with Sugar due to the usability of Sugar and product flexibility, but also due to Sugar’s deep integration with IBM technology and products.

Coming away from such an amazing event, we are reminded of how strong an ecosystem we have, anchored by some heavy hitters like IBM. What’s more, it is even more invigorating knowing our vision for our customers’ success are so well aligned.

Today at CeBIT in Hannover, germany, the members of the OpenSocial Foundation announced a new initiative to define, design and releas

opensocial

e a new social applications toolkit. SugarCRM is a member of the foundation, established in 2008, which also includes IBM, Jive Software and consultancy the DachisGroup.

The Foundation’s initiative is aimed at “streamlining and simplifying the approach to tightly integrated collaboration across social applications for both enterprises and consumers.” As more and more business and consumer applications become more collaborative, and touch social media in more diverse and innovative ways – the Foundation is taking a leading position in building an open toolkit to help organizations and developers of all types to embrace and create modern socially enabled solutions.

SugarCRM CTO and co-founder Clint Oram remarked on the initiative:

“There is no better implementation of an open standard than through an open source project. By committing to both an evolution of the specification and the surrounding open source projects incorporating the latest developments in HTML5, modern browser technologies and JavaScript libraries like node.js and jQuery, the OpenSocial Foundation is responding to the demands of its community.”

To learn more about the OpenSocial Foundation or to participate in the definition of the next generation of open social technology standards, please contact the foundation at president@opensocial.org.