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We are in the era of digital disruption and it’s not just about companies like Uber and Airbnb. Organizations in every industry, because of the ridiculously fast pace of technology innovation, are dealing with disruption. They must develop digital transformation strategies that focus on utilizing new technologies and business models to more effectively engage with customers at every touchpoint.

Furthermore, there is clear evidence that companies that embrace digital transformation and offer a superior customer experiences are outperforming their competition in terms of attaining and retaining customers.

Think about the end of the quarter, when sales people are rushing around to secure all the final details and signatures to close a deal. It’s often stressful and time-consuming. Enter PandaDoc, which makes it easy to create, send, track and eSign quotes, proposals, and contracts right within SugarCRM. For part five of the disruption series, SugarCRM’s Martin Schnieder talks with Jared Fuller, the vice president of sales and business development at PandaDoc about how the company is disrupting how organizations close business.

Marketing teams are charged with building extraordinary relationships with customers. With this much responsibility, it makes sense for the marketing department to become power users of CRM. However, many marketers view CRM as a tool for sales or customer service and may struggle to see how it can become a critical tool that helps them do their jobs better.

Recently, I had the chance to sit-down and talk with Clint Oram, SugarCRM’s co-founder, CMO, and frequent contributor to this blog to discuss how marketers can best use CRM.

Q: What’s one opportunity for using CRM that marketers often overlook, but has the potential for making a significant positive impact?

A: CRM can, and should, be tightly integrated with top-of-funnel marketing tools like marketing automation and the website. Building on that, CRM is the starting place for segmenting your customer base for install base campaigns. Rather than just blindly running marketing campaigns to your entire database, segmenting your customers and prospects by size, geography and industry helps you be more strategic and efficient. For instance, you will want to run a financial services campaign in New York and a manufacturing campaign in Detroit. CRM helps you do that.

Q: What about challenges with CRM tools? What’s the most common challenge you come across and how can marketers get past it?

A: For marketers, CRM user adoption is a challenge. Marketers are smart people, and unlike our friends in sales, there isn’t quite the same mandate to use CRM from management. So, if the CRM doesn’t provide an easy user experience that makes their job simpler, marketing folks just won’t use it. As an organization, it’s on your CRM selection team to not forget about their users when they select and deploy a new system. At SugarCRM, we have some wonderful examples of customers setting up creative onboarding programs to make sure employees are comfortable and understand all the benefits of the CRM.

Q: Marketers can use CRM tools to support initiatives across the customer lifecycle—from generating awareness to maintaining loyalty. Where are marketers currently under utilizing CRM tools? And what can marketers expect from increasing its use in that area?

A: Building loyalty by running marketing programs for current customers is underutilized in many companies. All the data tells us retaining and expanding relationships with current customers is much more cost-effective than turning leads into new customers. Marketing teams should ask themselves, “What else can we do to build loyalty, turn our current customers into advocates and offer additional products to increase revenue within the current customer base?”

Q: There’s no escaping customer experience as a hot topic today. Marketers can use CRM to enhance many aspects of CX; some areas more than others. Where should marketers focus their use of CRM technology to make the biggest positive impact on CX?

A: Here’s why the customer experience is so important today: with a few exceptions, different companies in the same industry usually offer just a variation of the same services or products. And every one of those competitors are just a simple Google search away from each other.  How you win customers is now based on how you treat customers as much, or more than, as what you sell.

That means the need for an exceptional, and unique, customer experience is more critical than ever before.  Think about it, I’ve stayed in many business class hotels all over the world. There are some minor differences, but they all offer a comfy king-sized bed and a bathroom. The list goes on: airlines, rental cars, even Uber vs Lyft. How do you differentiate yourself when you offer similar goods or services as your direct competitors?

The answer is your customer experience. The companies that win in this era of empowered and intelligent customers win because they create better relationships with their customers. That makes sense, but a natural follow-up question (and the key question to this whole blog post) is: How can you create a better customer experience when you are using the same, uninspired CRM system as your competitors?

Q: Let’s get into the weeds a bit. One benefit of a CRM tool or platform is the efficiencies it can bring to marketing and related processes. Where do you see marketers stumbling here? Where are they getting it right that others can learn from?

A: Automation does bring a lot of efficiencies to marketing. But, to me, the key is building processes that match the way you work – not the other way around. I see too many examples of marketing teams running their campaigns based on what the technology can do. It should be the other way around. A flexible CRM tool adapts to your unique business; you don’t adapt to it. With our advanced workflow capabilities in the Sugar platform, we’ve made it so anyone can redesign and deploy these business processes with a visual design interface. Our advanced Workflow can also be integrated with external systems

Q: Let’s wrap with a look forward. What’s coming up that you’re excited about in two areas: in the market in general—perhaps a trend or tool; and within SugarCRM—any new features or upcoming upgrades?

A: Artificial intelligence is hot right now; you may have heard. There is a lot of noise about AI, and quite frankly the technology industry has overhyped it a bit. We won’t wake up one day and be in era of artificial intelligence. Instead, it will slowly creep into the marketing industry just like most other technologies.

I will say this, adding cognitive intelligence will free up CRM users from tasks like searching for and organizing data things that machines are better at than humans. This will allow humans to focus on what they are best at, which is communicating with other humans. Marketing people, in general, are creative people and they are going to love when AI frees them from the tasks they don’t like, and allows them to unleash their creativity.

Along those lines, look for some really interesting announcements from SugarCRM related to our Sugar Intelligence service. We’ve heard all the AI hype, but we think we are building things the right way in a way the market will accept.

We are in the era of digital disruption and it’s not just about companies like Uber and Airbnb. Organizations in every industry, because of the ridiculously fast pace of technology innovation, are dealing with disruption. They must develop digital transformation strategies that focus on utilizing new technologies and business models to more effectively engage with customers at every touchpoint.

Furthermore, there is clear evidence that companies that embrace digital transformation and offer a superior customer experiences are outperforming their competition in terms of attaining and retaining customers.

Part four of this series is for the marketing teams out there. SugarCRM’s Martin Schneider recently sat down with Doug Rickard, Act-On’s Channel Manager. Act-On’s marketing automation platform seamlessly integrates with Sugar makes it easier for marketing to deliver more highly qualified, sales-ready leads to the sales team. Martin and Doug discussed how Act-On and Sugar work together to disrupt the competition.

IBM, with the power of Watson, is a leader in bringing cognitive intelligence to many industries. As IBM’s CEO, Ginni Rometty, said earlier this week, “this year we expect Watson will touch one billion people—through everything from oncology and retail to tax preparation and cars.”  With that kind of market penetration, it is no wonder that companies are lining up to partner with IBM.

At SugarCRM, we’ve had a strategic partnership with IBM since 2010 and continue to work with many of IBM’s lines of business every day. We are also a member of IBM’s Business Partner Advisory Board.

As the world (and CRM industry) figures out how to utilize the power of AI, our team is working closely with IBM to bring the power of Watson into Sugar to help companies offer a better customer experience.

Sugar has been deployed in the IBM Banking Center of Excellence to showcase how Watson and Sugar are helping the financial services industry handle digital disruption and deliver exceptional customer experiences. The IBM team even created a fantastic video to show it off. Because of our longstanding relationship with IBM, this is a solution a customer can view a demo of, and purchase today.

 

Available on SugarExchange, Watson Analytics Expert Storybook for SugarCRM, helps SugarCRM customers identify strengths in their business approach by deal size, campaign effectiveness and company type by evaluating sales wins and losses. We debuted the Storybook at World of Watson last year.

Also, we are very proud that SugarCRM was the recipient of the 2016 IBM Beacon Award for Outstanding Solution for what is now called IBM Watson Customer Engagement (formerly called IBM Commerce).

We look forward to continuing our fantastic relationship with IBM.

We are in the era of digital disruption and it’s not just about companies like Uber and Airbnb. Organizations in every industry, because of the ridiculously fast pace of technology innovation, are dealing with disruption. They must develop digital transformation strategies that focus on utilizing new technologies and business models to more effectively engage with customers at every touchpoint.

Furthermore, there is clear evidence that companies that embrace digital transformation and offer a superior customer experiences are outperforming their competition in terms of attaining and retaining customers.

As valuable as the Sugar platform is, it never stands alone. Sugar becomes the hub of a front office when it delivers a holistic view of the customer. To build that 360-degree view, you need to integrate multiple systems together, which is much easier on the white board than in practice. There are often very sophisticated requirements for de-duplication, data transformation, and access control.

Enter Magic Software’s enterprise-class integration platform that helps companies accelerate integration to keep pace with, and get ahead of industry disruption. SugarCRM’s Martin Schneider recently sat down with Brian Pitoniak, Magic’s vice president of sales & operations to discuss how Magic helps companies accelerate integration to better relate to customers and enhance their business.

We are in the era of digital disruption and it’s not just about companies like Uber and Airbnb. Organizations in every industry, because of the ridiculously fast pace of technology innovation, are dealing with disruption. They must develop digital transformation strategies that focus on utilizing new technologies and business models to more effectively engage with customers at every touchpoint.

Furthermore, there is clear evidence that companies that embrace digital transformation and offer a superior customer experiences are outperforming their competition in terms of attaining and retaining customers.

Recently, we had the opportunity to sit down with a number of our software partners to get their perspective on how they are reacting to and taking advantage of this era of disruption. In part two of this series, SugarCRM’s Martin Schneider talks with Guillaume Seynhaeve, vice president of marketing and business development at 3CLogic. The two discussed 3CLogic’s next-generation call center platform and how they are working with SugarCRM to drive disruption in the marketplace.

Want to hear more partners talk about disruption? Head over to the Sugar Community to view all the disruption series videos.

Last week, a survey by a company out of the UK came back with an interesting headline, “Only 17% of customer relationship managers believe their CRM is generating revenue.”

Hmmm…really? Though those results surprise me, the data is based on a poll of 500 CRM managers. As they say, “you can’t argue with the people.” So, for the 83% who are struggling to understand how to generate revenue from their CRM. Here are five ways a sound CRM investment drives revenue:

CRM increases sales rep productivity – Some industry data suggests salespeople spend only one-third of their time actually selling. The rest is spent on administrative work like qualifying leads, and data entry. CRM will streamline and cut down that time, so reps can spend more time selling. The more time selling, the faster deals can close.

CRM help reps prioritize – If configured correctly, CRM helps reps prioritize their time by focusing on the deals that are more likely to close so they don’t chase low percentage opportunities.

CRM helps with retention – By making sure customer service professionals have access to the CRM to review the details about the customer’s journey with your company including, purchase history and account status, your customers will be less frustrated and less likely to leave. Customers that feel like they are a priority lead to upsell opportunities and solid growth.

Integrated marketing and sales activities – A modern CRM allows not only the sales team, but also the marketing team to stay plugged into leads at every stage in the process. This enables marketing to be part of the sales cycle and helps prevent leads from falling through the cracks. 

Automating post-sales processes – By using your CRM to automate and speed up everything that happens after the contract is signed, activities like user onboarding and the billing process, improves time to revenue and increases available cash flow for an organization.

If you are not seeing revenue from your CRM, you should ask yourself: 1) are my daily users getting the most out of our CRM 2) is it tailored my specific business processes 3) am I partnering with the correct vendor who cares about my business success and considers me a priority?crm