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Earlier this month, I was joined by Aberdeen Group’s Peter Ostrow for a discussion around “Amplifying the R in CRM.” Peter discussed how best-in-class sales & marketing organizations leveraged CRM and related technologies to create stickier customer relationships.

We discussed some best practices, outlined some of the ancillary tools and integrations that augment a core CRM deployment, and went over SugarCRM’s vision for helping organizations better market to, sell to and support customers and prospects.

Specifically, Peter and I outlined:

  • What Best-in-Class companies do differently
  • Pitfalls they avoid
  • Why they achieve greater success
  • Technologies and services they leverage to succeed

The webcast was one of the most highly attended we’ve ever done. If you missed it, or would like to hear the discussion again – Click Here.

A Case for cRm.

Martin Schneider —  June 6, 2013 — 3 Comments

The technology that supports the interactions between a customer and a business have gone through all sorts of changes over r-blogthe past several decades. Advancements in technology, buyer behavior, high-level phenomenon like social media, etc. have all left their mark on CRM technology.

One could argue that in different phases of its evolution, each of the three initials of C-R-M have been the focus. For example, when application software was a nascent market, the simple fact of managing the data around a sales person’s activities (the”M” in CRM) was the focus. Prior to early CRM systems, pen and paper, and early unwieldy databases were the status quo. In short, there was very little focus on the customer and the relationship – just managing and trying to standardize processes and capturing actions. And to keep the “management” conceit going, most early CRM systems benefitted managers more than actual users. Users were forced to enter data, which benefitted management reports around company performance, rather than actually helping users do their jobs better.

As the web, service oriented architectures, the cloud and social media became commonplace, CRM started to become more about customer data. The addition of “the customer” (or the “C” in CRM) sounds ironic, but it was a novel change. Most CRM systems, as noted above, focused on the sales or support agent’s activities and workflow process management, management-level reports, etc. – NOT on optimizing the insights around customer histories to create meaningful experiences at every touch point. Adding the C is a great evolutionary step.

So that brings us to the “R” in CRM. As an industry we have mastered the management of data, and have gotten much better at including rich customer insights into processes and interactions. Evolving further, I think we are starting to actually focus better on the relationships customer have with businesses. That means more of a focus on the point of engagement, not on post-call data entry, or on batch-level rollup reports that tell us nothing in true detail.

Focusing on the relationship benefits both the customer and the actual front line users of a CRM system. The customer benefits because we have the previous addition of their data in the equation, and a focus on solving their problems and generally better meeting their needs right at the point of any engagement, across any channel. That’s good stuff. And by empowering users with the tools they need to better provide that level of service not later, not through 17 screens – but in a single, intuitive user panel that is accessible on any device – sales, marketing and support professionals can do their jobs better and with less stress and manual efforts. Also good stuff.

So, I argue that we are in the era of cRm: focusing on the Relationship aspect of customer interactions. Wether it is a one-time interaction, or a lifelong bond between a buyer and a brand – SugarCRM is looking to help organizations of all sizes optimize those relationships, wherever and whenever.

To learn more about how you can enhance relationships with CRM and related tools, join us for a webinar with Aberdeen Research’s Peter Ostrow titled Amplify the “R” in your CRM on Thursday, June 13th.

Editor’s Note: The Sapient Salesman began as a series of internally-focused sales coaching pieces written by SugarCRM team member Erin Fetsko. While initially focused on “selling Sugar,” Erin’s advice and wisdom have proven useful to Sugar partners, and well, anyone in the business of sales. Thus, we are happy to add her insight to the Sugar corporate blog. You can read all of Erin’s musings at The Sapient Salesman.

Remember the days when you vehemently opposed getting a smart phone? You hated how your husband couldn’t seem to leave it alone for a entire meal and you vowed to forgo the hyper-connectivity in favor of actual human interaction. Remember teasing everyone about how their blackberry was simply too big for your dainty pockets? Going on to preach how the last thing you need is to give your mom another reason to criticize your purse-free lifestyle. And really, who needs that much access anyway? You’re online all day, when you’re out, it’s because you need to put the Internet down!

… okay, maybe that was just me …

Well, 11 days ago I caved and got a smart phone and I’ll begrudgingly admit, I’m hooked. But not for the perpetual email access and reliable phone call reasons you might think. I’ve come to realize that despite their functionality border-lining on excessive, these phones aren’t themselves evil.

Okay, DUH! But many people have the same stick-in-the-mud attitude toward software. Even I, who generally advocates loudly for the excessive use of technology, found myself irrationally, passionately, cynically advocating for the status quo.

As technical salespeople, we too soon forget how scary change can be, but as they say: with great risk comes great reward. When you find yourself up against a prospect whose breezed thru the sales cycle, the guy who saw the demo – loved it, understands the value prop , and has the budget to buy, only to find them suddenly coming up with wildly off the wall objections at contract time, remember they might just be afraid to change. As soon as they sign, they get to start realizing all the great benefits you’ve promised and maybe they just aren’t ready to be home every day for dinner. Who knows “the wife” might be a sub par chef.

Remind them of the last time they took a technological leap that seemed excessive or risky or one that forced them to break a bad habit, and ask them if they would ever go back to the old way. You don’t see VCRs, answering machines or phone books  giving DVRs, voicemail and Facebook a run for their money anymore. So why should Rolodexes, spreadsheets and Post-it notes continue to blockade your prospects road to CRM success?

In fact, less than a week after seeing the shiny new world the flashlight app on my Droid illuminated, I’ve already talked my never-had-a-text-plan-in-her-life mother into getting one too. So I guess the moral of the story this week is: I’m a hypocrite. (Just kidding.) Seriously tho, you may find that once your most stubborn prospects allow themselves to try Sugar, they won’t only improve their own processes (and your bottom line), they just might turn into your biggest advocates.