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Intro
Let’s say you’ve implemented a marketing automation solution. If so, you’ve taken a great step in terms of providing a superior experience for your customers.  

A next step, for many organizations, is to continue focusing on the customer experience with a Customer Relationship Management, or CRM, system.

Why CRM?
A CRM helps organizations create excellent customer experiences. As an example, at SugarCRM, we are focused on helping individual employees in customer facing roles – such as sales and service people – create extraordinary customer relationships.

A CRM typically differs from marketing automation in that marketing automation focuses on digital marketing to large audiences, whereas CRM is designed around human interactions (e.g. sales or service) to individual customer (or potential customer) contacts – what we at SugarCRM call i2i, or individual-to-individual. For an optimal experience from your customers’ point of view, and for optimal efficiency in your own sales, marketing and service teams, an integrated marketing automation and CRM system is the answer.

Benefits
Integrating marketing automation with CRM provides value in many ways. From the prospect or customer’s point of view, they see a seamless customer experience, regardless of whether they are interacting with your organization through a marketing-driven interaction, or a sales- or service-driven interaction, and whether through digital channels like website, email, or social media, or through human interaction like talking to a sales person or service person.

For your own sales and service teams, they are now more efficient and more prepared since they have the full context from marketing automation. They can see exactly which emails, websites, web / social / mobile offers struck a chord with a particular prospect.

Considerations
If you’re evaluating an integration between CRM and marketing automation, here are a few things to look for:

  • Data synchronization An automatic and configurable synchronization between data objects like leads, contacts, and opportunities in your CRM and marketing automation systems is an absolute must. This ensures that the two systems can share data. Look for an ability to configure data mapping, frequency of synchronization, and conflict resolution. Ideally the synchronization can be two-way. And, since most marketing automation and CRM deployments have their own custom fields, make sure the synchronization supports custom fields in an upgrade-safe manner.
  • The ability to create prospects lists in CRM according to specific criteria, and to supply those lists as input into a marketing automation program. When setting up new programs or campaigns in your marketing automation tool, what better place to start than with the data in your CRM system, which represents what you already know about customers and prospects?
  • Automatic lead alerting between marketing automation and CRM. You want the ability for highly qualified leads in the marketing automation system to be automatically pushed over to CRM. The ability to apply workflow is helpful here. Workflow can be used for lead routing or assignment to a sales rep, as well as for lead escalation or reassignment (eg a lead that isn’t followed up on within 3 days gets reassigned with notification to the first level manager). Workflow can also be used to trigger notifications to the rep, like an email or text to notify the rep of their new hot lead(s).
  • The ability for CRM users (like sales and service reps) to see full context from marketing automation. When a sales or service rep goes into their CRM system to work a lead that has been automatically created from the marketing automation system, you want that rep to be able to easily see what the lead did in marketing automation that resulted in the high score. Which emails did they open? Which websites did they visit and what did they look at on those sites? What digital offers did they respond to?  If sales and service can’t see this, they will provide an inconsistent experience to the customer. If, on the other hand, they can reinforce previous digital interactions, then you have created an optimized and consistent customer experience across channels.
  • The ability for CRM users (like sales and service reps) to reuse marketing assets and programs. Many marketing teams create great assets (like well thought out, rich email templates) and programs (like sophisticated multi-touch campaigns). Yet many sales and service people can’t easily reuse these assets and programs. A well-integrated CRM and marketing automation system will allow the CRM user to seamlessly reuse existing email templates from marketing automation, and will allow a CRM user to drop a prospect into an existing marketing automation program.

Summary
Integrated marketing automation and CRM provides a consistent and optimized customer experience, across digital and human interaction channels, and across marketing, sales and service. By using the above considerations to evaluate a marketing automation and CRM integration, you’re well on your way to driving better customer experience, as well as on increasing your organization’s’ internal efficiency.

(Want to learn more about SugarCRM and Marketing Automation? Come see us at IBM Amplify, May 16 – 19 at Booth #125)

Digital transformation is a popular buzz phrase. But, what does it mean and how does it fit into your business?

There are many definitions floating around the Internet. This one from the analyst firm the Altimeter Group is good: “the realignment of, or new investment in, technology and business models to more effectively engage digital customers at every touchpoint in the customer experience lifecycle.” But I would extend it by saying it’s about engaging ALL customers — through both digital and human touchpoints.

Many organizations today are undertaking broad initiatives to transform how they engage with their customers. Whether this is classified as a digital transformation, a customer engagement transformation, a business transformation, or something else, a common theme is holistically incorporating capabilities such as social, mobile, data analytics, marketing automation and CRM into a complete solution for customer engagement along the entire customer journey.

The role of CRM in digital transformation

Digital transformation spans more than just CRM, but CRM should be a key component of digital transformation for the following reasons:

  • The CRM is a central hub for information about customers – a critical data source for human and digital touchpoints during customer engagement.
  • Almost all organizations still need human touchpoints such as sales reps, customer success managers, customer service agents, etc.  Even as organizations increasingly adopt intelligent digital capabilities like marketing automation and social media monitoring and outreach, at the point in the customer journey where that customer interacts with a human, it’s important that the human can navigate the CRM system to better connect with the customer. In this scenario it’s also critically important that the CRM system can tie into and both inform, and be informed by, the other digital systems and channels.

CRM requirements in the digital transformation era

To make your CRM a centerpiece of your digital transformation, it must easily integrate into other customer engagement tools so that the CRM user is presented with all the relevant information he or she needs to know about a customer, even if that information resides outside of the CRM (and much of it will). For example, can a call center rep see previous digital marketing interactions, social media comments, and even in-store / in branch activity, quickly and easily inside the CRM? From the CRM, can they then initiate other processes like a return process, check on the status of an order in the order management system, even add the contact to an existing marketing automation program? Can a sales rep be fully informed about all the prospect’s previous digital interactions? Are analytics quickly and easily measured in the CRM to provide “next best actions” or upsell recommendations, easily and quickly to the sales or contact center rep?

Why is Sugar the best CRM for Digital Transformation?

Here’s how Sugar is uniquely positioned to meet these needs:

Innovation Empowering the Individual

Tools used in digital transformation must be innovative. Unlike legacy CRM systems, Sugar is designed with the individual in mind, and offers the most innovative and intuitive user experience on the market – SugarUX™.  With SugarUX’s modern and immersive interface, every customer-facing employee can effectively engage with customers every time thanks to a consistent Sugar experience regardless of your access point or device. Embedded collaboration tools help break down departmental silos and increase engagement and service levels. And best of all, Sugar provides contextual intelligence from internal and external data sources—all within a single dashboard—to drive more actionable insights for every user.

A Customizable CRM platform

Sugar easily integrates with global enterprise applications and data sources. It is a highly customizable platform based on open technologies and using readily available skills (PHP, Javascript). Sugar offers full source code access with a full range of upgrade-safe integration points. And, Sugar offers single code base across all environments.

Note that in most cases, system integrators and customers who build customizations on top of Sugar, own the intellectual property. Therefore they are free to leverage their investment and harvest their customization as a remarketable asset, adding value for their customers and differentiating themselves.

Greatest business value

Sugar offers simple, predictable pricing with no hidden fees or forced upgrades. Unlike other CRMs, Sugar is less expensive to customize and integrate; includes sales, service and other core CRM capabilities in one price; and has lower long-term TCO: lower data and API costs due to flexible cloud options. Other CRMs charge additionally for additional API calls , and hence digital transformation initiatives with multiple CRM integration points end up incurring high CRM costs. Sugar does not charge for additional API calls.

Example of Sugar in Digital Transformation

Rodobens is one of the 100 largest conglomerates in Brazil, and operates seven business units, including automotive sales, leasing and rental, farm machinery sales, insurance, and banking. Rodobens undertook a complete digital and customer transformation, including Analytics, Marketing Automation, and CRM initiatives. To do so, Robodens turned to trusted solutions providers in IBM, for its business management model , analytics, and marketing automation offerings, and SugarCRM for a Customer Relationship Management solution that could handle the diversity of the various business units and easily integrate with IBM and other business applications. You can read more about the Rodobens story here.

SugarCRM is thrilled to be the recipient of an IBM Beacon Award in the Outstanding Commerce solution category.

Winners in the IBM Beacon Awards, a part of IBM’s business partner recognition program, are selected by a panel of expert judges consisting of IBM executives, industry analysts and members of the press. IBM’s Beacon Awards recognize Business Partners who have demonstrated business excellence in delivering IBM-based solutions to clients around the world to drive transformation and business growth.

SugarCRM won for the integrated “IBM Marketing Cloud and SugarCRM” solution. This solution empowers the delivery of exceptional experiences for customers across the buyer journey by leveraging customer data, providing analytical insights and automating relevant cross-channel interactions. The solution provides:

  • Automatic Customer Data Sync: Automatic data synchronization between Sugar and IBM Marketing Cloud delivers a complete view of customer activity across all departments and functions, and eliminates data duplication and inconsistencies.
  • Customized Alerts: Alerts can be set to inform key stakeholders in any department when a customer reaches a certain score or rank. Scoring models can be built based on a broad range of behaviors.
  • Contact Insight: Enables users across Sales, Marketing and Service to open and track all interactions with customers and prospects. Sales personnel can add contacts in the CRM system and trigger automatic inclusion in marketing programs.
  • IBM Marketing Cloud emails sent directly from Sugar: Sales teams can customize pre-configured email templates and use them to communicate personally with their customers and prospects.

Multiple customers, including Rodobens in Brazil, and Henry Wurst Inc., have already chosen to deploy this solution. You can read more about their usage here

To learn more about the solution, see sugarcrm.com/ibm/marketing-solutions

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(Editor’s note: The following blog post originally appeared on IBM’s commerce blog on February 4, 2016)

In the digital world, customer journeys have become much more complicated than they used to be. Customers may research a product or service online or via social media, visit the vendor website, or react to paid or owned media. They may talk to a vendor and/or its competitors at a tradeshow, or they might get around to talking to a vendor’s sales or call center reps. Many of these touchpoints in the complex journey involve separate technology solutions: a web personalization tool, a social media tool, a campaign management tool, or a CRM system being used by sales and call centers.

CRM can be an invaluable tool for designing, optimizing and coordinating the entire customer experience across all of these touchpoints. Although, what’s needed is a way to more easily tie together all the events across the journey, regardless of the systems and technologies that drive the interactions. IBM’s Universal Behavior Exchange (UBX) facilitates seamless connectivity of customer identities and events across channels, apps, and data sources to make this integration far easier.

SugarCRM enables businesses to create extraordinary customer relationships with an innovative, flexible and affordable CRM solution. SugarCRM’s integration into IBM UBX makes it easier to connect with all the systems and applications that drive digital interactions with customers, keeping sales and service reps fully informed about other activities and events that their customer has experienced. With SugarCRM and the IBM UBX ecosystem, organizations can more easily manage customer experiences across the entire customer journey, regardless of which tools are used to manage individual touchpoints.

Learn more about SugarCRM and IBM Marketing Solutions.

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SugarCRM’s integration with IBM UBX makes it easier to understand and coordinate interactions across the entire customer journey.

 

We all know the importance of customer experience. Watermark Consulting published a great study on this showing that customer experience leaders outperform the S&P 500 by 35 points, and customer experience laggards post a return 45 points lower than the S&P 500.

Yet, many organizations struggle with providing a consistent and optimized experience for their customers because of:

– internal siloes between sales, marketing and service teams

– disconnects between digital touchpoints, such as digital marketing initiatives, and human touchpoints, such as sales, service, and call center people

How many times can you think of cases where a prospect received an email or web offer, but then followed up with a salesperson who had no knowledge of that offer?

That’s why, SugarCRM is very excited to be working with IBM on the new IBM Marketing Cloud for SugarCRM. Multiple customers, including Rodobens in Brazil, and Henry Wurst Inc., have already chosen to deploy the newly released offering, which integrates Sugar for customer relationship management, and IBM Marketing Cloud built on Silverpop Engage, for marketing automation.

“We’re pleased to see how well this solution is being received by our customers,” said Larry Augustin, SugarCRM CEO. “IBM Marketing Cloud and Sugar have immediately resonated with clients who are looking to improve customer engagement and business performance. Together, Sugar and IBM Marketing Cloud enhance customer relationships while making marketing more efficient, sales more productive and service more satisfying.”

IBM Marketing Cloud and SugarCRM empower the delivery of exceptional experiences for customers across the buyer journey by leveraging customer data, providing analytical insights and automating relevant cross-channel interactions.

Integration with Sugar customer relationship management software provides:

  • Automatic Customer Data Sync: Automatic data synchronization between Sugar and IBM Marketing Cloud delivers a complete view of customer activity across all departments and functions, and eliminates data duplication and inconsistencies.
  • Customized Alerts: Alerts can be set to inform key stakeholders in any department when a customer reaches a certain score or rank. Scoring models can be built based on a broad range of behaviors.
  • Contact Insight: Enables users across Sales, Marketing and Service to open and track all interactions with customers and prospects. Sales personnel can add contacts in the CRM system and trigger automatic inclusion in marketing programs.
  • IBM Marketing Cloud emails sent directly from Sugar: Sales teams can customize pre-configured email templates and use them to communicate personally with their customers and prospects.

“At IBM, we’re committed to delivering exceptional experiences for customers across the entire buyer journey,” said John Mesberg, General Manager, Offering Management and Strategy, IBM Commerce. “Our integration with Sugar enables us to tap a rich store of customer data that includes all touchpoints – both human and digital. This comprehensive view makes for better decisions and more meaningful interactions at every step. We’re very pleased at the added value this integration delivers to our users.”

Learn more or register for a demo at the SugarCRM page here, the Sugar Exchange entry here, or the Silverpop page here. Or, come see it in person at any of the following upcoming events:

For the most up-to-date list of events, please refer to the SugarCRM events calendar here!

Picture this: you are interested in a product from a particular company. You look at that company’s website and register for a special offer. Then, you contact a sales or call center representative from that same company. But – the representative has no idea that you’ve already looked at the website, and that you’ve registered digitally for the special offer.
This is an example of a disconnected customer experience, where digital interactions (like web or email marketing) are disconnected from human interactions with sales or service people. Unfortunately, this results in an inconsistent customer experience for the prospect, and represents missed opportunity to increase return on marketing investment and to increase lead-to-cash efficiency for the company.

SugarCRM, an IBM global strategic business partner, is working together with IBM ExperienceOne to address these issues and to provide optimized customer experiences across marketing, sales and service; and spanning digital and human touch points.

At IBM Amplify 2015, there will be many opportunities for you to learn more about the exciting combination of SugarCRM and IBM ExperienceOne:
– On Tuesday May 12, from 2:45-3:45pm in Room 33c, listen to a panel discussion featuring Chris Wong, IBM VP ExperienceOne products and strategy; Clint Oram, SugarCRM CTO and co-founder; and customers and partners including Rodobens, a diversified financial services and automotive company, and Triscal, an IBM and SugarCRM business partner. You’ll hear Chris and Clint’s views on the intersection of marketing and sales automation. Listen to Rodobens and Triscal describe how they are providing a consistent customer experience across their disparate lines of business, with IBM Campaign, IBM Silverpop, and SugarCRM (session MHT-1286A).
– Also on Tuesday May 12, from 11am-12pm in Room 29A, you’ll get an exclusive preview from Dale Price, Senior Product Manager with IBM Silverpop, and Laurence Leong, Senior Director Strategic Alliances with SugarCRM, about the new Silverpop for SugarCRM integrated solution (session MEE-1283A).
– You can also visit the SugarCRM booth 606 to see and learn about these solutions yourselves.

Not going to Amplify? Learn more, and get a copy of the solution sheet, at sugarcrm.com/ibm/experienceone

How should marketing automation and sales automation come together in the future? What is the difference between CRM, marketing automation, sales automation, and customer experience management?

Find out by listening to this exciting podcast series with

  • Clint Oram, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer, SugarCRM
  • Chris Wong, Vice President, Strategy and Product Management, IBM ExperienceOne
  • moderated by Laurence Leong, Senior Director, IBM Alliance from SugarCRM

Clint_Oram_HR Chris Wong pictureBio Picture

In parts 1 & 2 of this podcast series, Chris talked about the SugarCRM and IBM partnership, and how IBM is not only a partner but also a customer. Chris also talked about how he deployed and managed the marketing automation system within IBM, and his views on how to use the marketing automation and CRM system to build relationships with customers. Clint discussed the evolution of the CRM market and how it has grown to be not only sales force automation, but also include marketing automation and all technologies that interface with customers in all stages of their sales cycle.

In part 3, the discussion turns to how marketing and sales can come together more cohesively – not just limited to marketing passing leads to sales, but how sales can leverage the marketing department through the entire process of selling to an individual prospect. Tune in to learn how companies can improve productivity for their sales teams and also be more relevant to the customer. You’ll also hear about some of the integrations available today with Sugar and IBM ExperienceOne.

Here are a few highlights (edited for clarity):

Chris Wong:

  • “It’s now about sales-driven-marketing vs marketing simply passing leads to sales: how do marketing and sales come together more cohesively?”
  • “There is an opportunity to improve productivity for the sales team and also to be more relevant to the customer. Nothing trumps the data more than a sales person sitting down with a customer and understanding what their needs are. What marketing needs is to bring that intelligence back into the marketing systems to make sure that it’s putting the right next content in front of that customer. Done properly – that can help both improve productivity and actually shorten the sales cycle.”

Clint Oram:

  • “Organizations want tighter integration with marketing automation software so the sales person can leverage the marketing department through the process of selling to an individual prospect.”
  • “Sugar is an application for sales people as well as customer service agents that sits in front of literally tens of thousands of customer service agents. Sugar can integrate with IBM ExperienceOne and make real time recommendations to put the right next content in front of the customer.”

Click here to listen to part 3.

In part 4, you’ll hear how technology can be a catalyst for a different relationship that a company can have with their customer and that inside sales reps can have with their marketers. You’ll hear about the rise of the Chief Customer Officer. Finally, you’ll hear how this applies to drive lifetime value of a customer- not just a single customer transaction.

Clint Oram:

  • “The prevalence of Chief Customer Officer / Chief Customer Experience Officer roles is growing. Analyst firms are talking about how the idea of a Chief Customer Officer is now in vogue and is the new way thinking about managing your business and engaging with your customers. What’s driving the rise of the Chief Customer Officer is the move to a digital way of doing business and is why people need to look at that role now.”

Chris Wong:

  • “Technology is a catalyst for a different relationship that a company can have with their customer, and that inside sales can have with the marketer. Many companies are still putting in marketing automation systems for the marketers and sales automation systems for the sales teams. Companies need to step back and look at the whole relationship management process across the organizations.”

Click here to listen to part 4.

How do you see marketing and sales automation coming together? Add your comments below and share your views on twitter by referencing @SugarIBM.