Archives For February 2011

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.

It wasn’t until college that I realized I, in fact, had an accent. Turns out, like most Chicagoans, I tend to pronounce my A’s as in the word “at” even when the preferred pronunciation called for a softer a-sound. Listening to all the different dialects of the English language really made me realize how much I took some Midwestern-isms for granted. How confusing it must have been for all the international folks trying to discern why I kept dangling prepositions when I’d ask if they “want to come with?” During my recent trip to Jamaica, however, I got a taste of what it’s like on the receiving end of grammatically questionable verbiage. Patois is an English-lexified creole language with West African influences spoken primarily in Jamaica. If you aren’t familiar, patios sounds like what would happen if the micro-machine man read your kids text messages word for word… with a Jamaican accent; it’s certainly English, yet remarkably difficult to understand.

All this variety in English vernacular left me pondering: Is there more value in a language pack than we might give credit? And for that matter, how often do companies with international markets run into roadblocks with their software because it can’t support the necessary character sets?

Most of us sell primarily in one or two languages, to companies with offices using a single linguistic footprint, but how often do those same offices employ some foreign staffers? Would allowing employees to navigate Sugar in their native language save them money on training and increase the overall productivity of their staff? I’d say so!

Now I’m not suggesting you further complicate your discovery process with a deep inquiry into the heritage of each of the prospective users, but with 6.1 entering the spotlight it might be time to give language packs another look. So this week if you have cause to believe Sugar’s teed up for use in a bilingual office point out the value added by our internationalization efforts.

We’ve all received an email or document from someone that contained characters, or encoding, or some other bizarre excuse Windows assigned to why we couldn’t open it properly, and these kinds of road blocks throw a wrench in your productivity. Even if your prospects don’t see the need today, they can certainly relate to the time-suck that accompanies restrictive regional software. Remind them that should their business one day expand internationally or even inter-culturally, Sugar will accommodate their CRM needs and grow with them every step of the way.

Today at JasperWorld in San Francisco, SugarCRM and Jaspersoft are announcing an enhanced alliance that will help bring even greater business intelligence (BI) solutions to our customers around the world.

From a technology perspective, this makes a lot of sense. CRM data is some of the most critical information in any enterprise. Adding the ability to perform even deeper analysis of CRM data, and to couple that data with other business data – is a no-brainer in terms of the insight and predictability it can give a business.

But I think it is important to note how well SugarCRM and Jaspersoft are aligned in terms of how we see the business technology world evolving. I had the chance to listen to Jaspersoft CEP Brian Gentile this morning as he kicked off the JasperWorld 2011 conference. Brian outlined four basic tenets of how technology solutions at the top of the stack are evolving. He noted that modern business tools need to have the following attributes (I am paraphrasing here):

  • Ubiquitous Access
  • A Pleasing, Simple User Experience
  • Powerful Customization
  • User-Generated Collaboration

When I heard this, all of the work we put in to enhancing our partnership made even more sense. While SugarCRM is focusing on the sales, marketing, support etc. side of business users and Jaspersoft focuses on the more generic data analysis side of things – we could not be in deeper agreement or more aligned in our vision.

First off, when it comes to ubiquitous access – Sugar is all over that. With the iPhone app and upcoming tools for other mobile platforms, it is now easier to access CRM data and analysis anytime, anywhere.

I think the amazing work the Sugar engineering team put into making Sugar 6 the most intuitive and modern user interface on the market speaks volumes about the importance we place on user experience.

Also, when it comes to powerful yet simple customization and personalization – no other CRM tool comes close to matching Sugar. From powerful yet simple UI changes, to building custom purpose-built applications with Module Builder and Sugar logic – there is no better platform for application customization than Sugar.

Finally, user-generated collaboration can mean a lot of things. Sugar has worked hard to foster a collaborative environment for our users. Between the Sugar feeds, integrations with web 2.0 tools like Twitter and LinkedIn, and our new IBM Lotus Live integration that powers online meetings and real-time document sharing, Sugar users can collaborate internally and externally in ways no other CRM can accommodate.

It is great to see that there are technology providers out there that really “get it” when it comes to the knowledge worker of tomorrow. For a generation that grew up online, the tools they use at work need to be powerful yet intuitive, connected and collaborative. We are proud to be able to offer not only that ability in Sugar but also in combined solutions with some great partners.

For people marketing some CRM tools, the job is easy. Well, easier, because most of the established CRM tools were purpose built around what we thought it meant to empower sales, marketing and support agents.

In a lot of ways, this made sense. We tried to hit as many business needs out of the box, and the rest was up to expensive consulting engagements and professional services projects to make a reality.

This is, pardon my French, a really crappy way of building software.

Here at SugarCRM, we have learned from the past mistakes of the application software industry in a lot of ways. Instead of playing “feature wars” with our competitors and thus overwhelming users with a ton of bells and whistles they may (or may not) really need – we are instead creating a highly intuitive platform for building applications they way YOU want to.

This is, really, a fundamental change. Out of the box software was very feature-driven in the past. Now, we want to give businesses tools to easily and quickly morph a blank canvas into a masterpiece of automation and information for their users.

I was reminded of this vision by a great example of how Sugar can be used for virtually anything. Barrett Powell uses Sugar to manage his Real Estate business – not his sales agents or contact center reps. Powell has flexed the Sugar platform to meet his unique processes, and integrated data and features from other systems, creating a very specialized deployment of Sugar that fits his needs perfectly.

For some users, straight SFA features will be perfect. For others, taking the tools we provide and quickly creating a new interaction platform is what makes sense. The best part is that regardless of the project – Sugar offers real value and benefits for the most simple, to the most sophisticated application deployment.

Note – for co-founder Clint Oram’s take on our awesome year in 2010 – read below this post.

One of the great things about being with a company for more than half of its existence – you get to experience the growth in such a profound way. When I first came to SugarCRM, we were an upstart company with a vision – and making bets that people wanted to make the open choice for their CRM and their IT future in general.

Man, has it paid off. We closed 2010 with another record year in terms of billings, and the company has proven that a business model dedicated to providing open, flexible solutions can be a winner – as the company turned cash flow positive in the year.

Below are the details of the great year – grabbed from a press announcement we released today. I am happiest about the amazing customer momentum – the 50%+ billings growth is just icing on the cake. Really, our amazing community of developers, customers and partners makes this success happen every day – we couldn’t do it without you – THANK YOU.

The company increased total billings 56 percent in the quarter versus the year ago quarter, and saw a 13 percent growth in total billings versus the third quarter of 2010. For the fiscal year, billings increased 52 percent compared to fiscal 2009. In addition, the company turned cash flow positive in 2010, capping off a milestone year of growth in all areas.

“Simply put, 2010 was an amazing year for SugarCRM and its partners,” said Larry Augustin, chief executive officer of SugarCRM. “Our record growth is clear proof that organizations of all shapes and sizes are tired of proprietary, restrictive CRM solutions and are now demanding flexible, intuitive and open solutions delivered via a trusted source.”

Partner Momentum Fuels Growth

SugarCRM’s record growth is due in large part to its expansive channel sales network. In 2010, SugarCRM added more than 100 new channel and consulting partners, including leading firms like AmziQSource, Bezier, BTM Solutions, Capgemini, CRM International, CRMADDON Factory, OpusVL, and Walpole.

In addition, SugarCRM Gold Partner Levementum delivered more than $1 million in annual billings to SugarCRM in 2010. “Our success with Sugar is a true partnership. Working together globally, SugarCRM and Levementum provide powerful, flexible, open solutions for our customers,” said Doug Guilbeau, managing director at Levementum. “Levementum and SugarCRM are dedicated to helping customers successfully implement both traditional and inventive approaches to relationship management.”

Continued Customer Momentum

SugarCRM’s impressive growth in 2010 was highlighted by continued record adoption of Sugar solutions by leading companies around the world. SugarCRM added nearly 600 customers in the fourth quarter, and more than 2,200 new customers in 2010. These new customer wins include engagements with leading organizations like All-Guard Alarm Systems, Inc.; BioExpress; Brugg Kabel AG; DotLoop; Douglas Pharmaceuticals Ltd.; GEEP (Global Electric Electronic Processing); Griffin Chapman; GSH Group; Mintec Inc.; Monarch HealthCare; Solara Medical Supplies; Verticality; and Wanger Investment Management, Inc.

“We chose SugarCRM because it is a great tool to allow our company to collaborate and share information worldwide,” said Bev Brisebois, SugarCRM administrator at GEEP Global. “From an IT perspective, SugarCRM is not only easy to manage but also easy to customize. Sugar provides numerous resources for assisting and training users and provides convenience by offering a mobile version for those travelling employees. Sugar 6 is a simple and seamless transition from any CRM.”

Sugar 6 Makes CRM Simple

The company’s record 2010 was highlighted by the release of Sugar 6, a milestone release for SugarCRM. Sugar 6 is winning rave reviews from customers and technology observers for its industry-leading user experience, social CRM capabilities and user-friendly customization and personalization tools.

In addition, SugarCRM also expanded its leadership position in mobile CRM with the release of Sugar Mobile for iPhone. The first of a series of native applications for mobile devices, Sugar Mobile raises the bar for user experience, ease of use and robust features in a mobile CRM offering.

If you have a Google alert on SugarCRM, you likely caught our announcement today that 2010 was a fantastic year for SugarCRM and our partners. From delivering an exciting new look to CRM in Sugar 6, to breaking 700,000 Sugar users worldwide, to 52% year-to-year growth, to hitting that all important milestone for start-ups, cash flow positive, this past year broke records quarter after quarter.  In addition, over 100 new partners joined the SugarCRM value added reseller (VAR) program and 2010 was the first year that one of our channel partners, Levementum, drove over $1M in SugarCRM subscriptions alone.

I’ve got to tell you, it’s truly exciting to see SugarCRM develop into the world’s fastest growing CRM company.  When we started the company just seven short years ago, I didn’t think we would so quickly become the largest company in the marketplace focused exclusively on solving CRM problems.  The growth in the CRM market as a whole has been as exciting to be part of as the growth here at SugarCRM.  It’s never been a better time to help companies gain and retain customers.

Now with growth comes change.  SugarCRM is going through another transition right now that is also exciting to see happen.  Because SugarCRM works with our customers through channel partners, our business grows as our partners’ businesses grow.  Following our vision of “CRM Made Open”, we have put several new people and programs in place to streamline working with our channel partners and accelerate their growth.

Near the end of last year we launched a new approach to working with our channel partners on developing the Sugar technology.  We invited a few of our Gold partners to participate in a developer code sprint.  About 20 developers from our partners sat side-by-side with developers from SugarCRM, learned our development methods and contributed code directly to our next releases.

Developers who completed training at the sprint also now have direct access to our entire source code management system and can see exactly the state of our latest development branches.  They have a level of visibility into our development cycle they could never have with one of our closed competitors.

In a similar spirit, we applied the same concept to sales at the beginning of this year at our annual Sales Kickoff.  This is where we bring our entire global sales team to Cupertino for a week and invited over a dozen of our North American Gold partners to join in.  It was wonderful to have everyone working  side-by-side  and learning from one another.

The next event coming ahead of us all is SugarCon 2011 in San Francisco on April 5-6.  This time everybody gets to come and join in the fun.  We’re expecting another fantastic event with a thousand attendees projected to come.  Come learn more about Sugar, meet your local VAR and chart a path to CRM success.  You’re going to get quite the “Sugar Buzz” spending time with the Sugar team and our partners.  The energy is electrifying!