Archives For CRM Success

I just read a report from Grand View Research that said the global healthcare CRM market is expected to reach USD $17.4 billion by 2025. For comparison’s sake, the same report said healthcare firms will spend about $6.5 billion on CRM in 2016 . The study said, “rising demand for workflow automation and a single platform for tracking medical information provides coordination of patient care, service and timely delivery which is expected to drive the industry growth.”

At SugarCRM, we obviously like hearing about growth in CRM no matter what industry. However, our customers in the healthcare industry have always been some of our favorites. Doing our part to improve the relationships between providers and patients, caregivers and those in need, and helping to simplify the complicated medical insurance industry is extremely gratifying.

In fact, we just received a new report from Nucleus Research that examines the success of a global healthcare provider that relies on Sugar. Because of the sensitivity of patient/insurance data, we are withholding the name of the customer for security reasons. But here are the highlights:

The Company

The company profiled is a global provider of eHealth and digital imaging solutions, specializing in radiology, enterprise imaging, hospital IT and integrated care.

The Challenge

Prior to SugarCRM, the company had a homegrown funnel management application. Customer data was siloed between software solutions, preventing a single view of the customer across departments, and made it difficult for marketing and sales to cultivate and manage opportunities effectively.

The Strategy

The company began exploring potential CRM solutions in January 2013, putting together a list of business requirements and sending a request for proposal (RFP) to six qualified CRM vendors. Salesforce, SAP, and SugarCRM were evaluated, and ultimately the company’s global team unanimously chose SugarCRM based on the following reasons:

  • On-premise solution: With its unique interfaces, the company believed it would be better served by an on-premise solution. SugarCRM has both SaaS and on premise, which would allow the company to transition to the cloud later if they so chose.
  • Mobile: Of the vendors considered, SugarCRM had the most robust mobile solution, on and offline, which was essential for the company’s sales teams.
  • SugarCRM ecosystem: The company was attracted to the large number of apps that integrate with SugarCRM, because they had many solutions to interface with including SAP, Lotus Notes, and a third-party quoting tool.

The company began customizing the solution to fit its business needs and deployed it for testing in January 2014. In October 2014, it went live in North America and employees underwent one full day of training. In preparation for deployment in Europe, the company performed gap analysis and worked with Sugar to make minor adjustments for the European market, going live there in October 2015. Sugar continues to manage design and development for the company. By June 2016, design work was complete and the solution was live in North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America with over 500 licenses.

Key Benefits

Implementing SugarCRM enabled the company to replace its customer relationship management processes with an on-premise, CRM solution that meets its global business needs. SugarCRM has broken down data siloes, enabled sales and marketing to become more effective at managing accounts, and increased profit overall at the company. Key benefits driving increased profits include:

  • Growth of new business: SugarCRM enabled sales to manage prospects more effectively, equipping them with the tools to capitalize on new opportunities and move them through the sales cycle seamlessly.
  • Expansion of existing accounts: With a single view of its customers, the company has a more complete picture of customer histories, enabling it to maintain relationships more effectively and take advantage of upsell opportunities.
  • Improved collaboration between marketing and sales. SugarCRM has provided a framework for sales and marketing to collaborate and manage accounts, reducing duplicate efforts or opportunities falling through the cracks.

Key Costs

Over the three-year period, the largest cost area was software, taking into account both expensed and capitalized software costs. Other costs included consulting, personnel, and training.

Best Practices

With so many offices located around the world, the company needed a highly customizable CRM solution which would suit a wide range of needs. The company also needed a partner which could design, develop and integrate customizations into the platform for them. With SugarCRM’s open platform and third-party integration capabilities, it can integrate other applications while still having a unified, on premise solution.

For colleges and universities, student outreach begins with the first recruiting interaction and it must continue throughout the student’s time on campus and into his or her career as they become a potential donor.

CRM is the technology foundation that many colleges and universities use to focus on engaging with students and alumni. It enables schools to coordinate and track the student journey throughout their time on campus and beyond.

SugarCRM customer Fordham University uses Sugar to build relationships and boost loyalty among students and alumni. We caught up with Shaya Phillips, the associate vice president for information technology at Fordham, to discuss how the university gets a complete view of its students and empowers its staff by putting Sugar at the core of its student relationship management.

Check out the video:

I am happy to announce a new podcast series from SugarCRM. This, among others to come, will be a series of short, but useful vignettes focused on forging a path to long-term CRM success.

The first series is titled: CRM Secrets Revealed. It outlines a lot of “secrets” (but for many of us who have deployed CRM – these are more truisms than secrets) that some CRM providers DON’T want you to know. The series represents the launch of our podcast channel: CRM Insights.

I hope you can tune in to these podcasts, and hopefully learn something new that can help your CRM evaluation or deployment. Or, simply sit back and be entertained during your commute or time on the elliptical!

I read this passage in an article on CIO.com yesterday:

Most election prediction shops and public polls in recent days foresaw Republican Donald Trump losing the U.S. presidential race to Democrat Hillary Clinton.

They got it wrong, bigly. And the failed predictions could cast doubts on some hot technology sectors, including big data and customer relationship management.

Let me begin by saying this isn’t a political post. Instead, I’m going to focus on the value of clean data. No matter what side of the vote you come down on, I think we can agree something went terribly wrong with the almost all of the pre-election predictions. The reason, the forecasters were working with incomplete data. Which, led to a shockingly inaccurate (at least according to what the data predicted) result.

Relating this back to the CRM industry. If your CRM has inaccurate data, you will also get an inaccurate result. If you are dealing with dirty data, how can your CRM project be successful? How can your sales team be efficient and perform at an optimal level? Once dirty data enters the CRM, it can be painstaking to cleanse.

Luckily, intelligent CRM can help by automatically bringing in a broad range of accurate data for a more complete view of the customer. In so doing, the CRM solves a problem that has often been a stubborn obstacle to CRM adoption — the time-consuming effort of having to add, edit and update information in the system. Even more important than gathering a tremendous amount of accurate data, a product like Sugar Intelligence will use predictive analytics to sift through the data to enable the CRM to make intelligent recommendations for insights and best actions to take when engaging with customers.

It’s been said we are in the era of “big data politics.” Perhaps by 2020, we’ll have evolved to a political era of predictive analytics or even machine learning. But, I’ll save that for a future post.

A couple weeks ago, I was speaking with a journalist about all of the recent “artificial intelligence” announcements in the CRM industry. We both agreed the marketing and PR people have found their new buzzword, and the AI-craze is getting to be a bit much.

What we disagreed about, is how important predictive analytics and machine learning will be for the daily CRM user in the future. His take, “If I’m a salesperson who is good at my job, I don’t need the CRM to tell me what to do next. I can already anticipate when my key accounts need attention and prioritize my hot leads. The benefits of AI seem marginal at best.”

My counter argument, “You’re not really getting it are you? Data is gold, and there is so much of it out there, and the value of AI is that your CRM will automatically gather it, organize it, and make recommendations based on the data far better than any human ever could. If a salesperson is already good at his or her job, imagine how much better they can be with his or her own tireless personal assistant.”

Then, over the weekend I read this very interesting HBR article, “Customer Relationship Automation Is the New CRM.” The author, Clara Shih (CEO and founder of Hearsay), made the point that CRM must evolve and incorporate data analytics and machine learning to reach its full potential. She wrote:

“Just as Amazon proactively suggests to someone who has purchased a stroller that they may also want to buy the coordinating car seat, enterprise apps should proactively advise enterprise users on what the highest-value or most-urgent tasks are so they can prioritize them. Artificial intelligence and decision-support algorithms that can offer data-driven suggestions will unleash a new level of productivity among workers, allowing everyone to focus on what matters and to continually help one another improve.

Harnessing the power of machines to recommend actions and approaches allows every salesperson to become data driven, freeing their time to focus on the human trust and relationship aspects of closing business.”

She brings up a great point. AI in CRM isn’t about replacing salespeople with machines, rather it’s about making them more productive and freeing them up to do what humans do best, which is to relate to other humans. Granted, there will be a learning curve and a needed cultural shift so that salespeople learn to trust the data and the CRM’s recommendations. This shift is coming sooner rather than later, SugarCRM’s initial version of Sugar Intelligence will be available early next year.

Clara concluded her article: “The future of CRM is harnessing predictive data to become a proactive system. Sales reps who are able to leverage robot assistants are the ones who will thrive in this new world.”

Agreed! So, if the question is: Does the CRM Industry Need AI? The answer is absolutely.

(Editor’s note: this post was originally published by DestinationCRM.com)

How did we, as an industry, get to a place where so many CRM customers have buyer’s remorse after they invest in a new system? I hear about it on social media, in user forums, and in meetings with prospects: Customers feel like they’ve been duped.

It helps to take a look at how we got here. Basically, the big traditional CRM and enterprise software companies have quietly promoted a set of CRM assumptions that steer customers toward antiquated solutions that fall far short of meeting the real needs of customers.

The negative impact is palpable, and making the wrong CRM choice makes it difficult to differentiate your business, removes choice and flexibility, doesn’t help create seamless customer experiences, makes individuals’ jobs harder, and winds up costing a lot more than expected.

It’s time to debunk these myths, and empower a new breed of CRM that helps customers transform their businesses by building extraordinary customer relationships from the first engagement forward.

Myth #1: I need to choose the most popular CRM to keep up with my competition.

Doing the same thing everybody else does is actually a risk. Why? It’s a terrible way to differentiate your business—and isn’t that what you’re trying to do? Being better means being different. If you want to differentiate yourself, go with a CRM that will transform your customer relationships, re-energize your customer-facing employees, and help you provide a truly exceptional customer experience.

The companies that win in this era of empowered, intelligent customers win because they create better experiences and better relationships with their customers. But using the same old CRM is the best way to deliver the same old customer experience.

Don’t be afraid to demand more from your CRM than adequate, average, and the status quo.

Myth #2: The cloud is the future, so the deployment environment doesn’t matter—just give me a cloud.

Ten years ago, the vendors who invented cool new SaaS offerings had to create their own cloud infrastructures—because there weren’t any others. But that was a long time ago. It’s now time for CRM champions to get much more sophisticated and choose the deployment model that meets your business, security and regulatory needs. Today, there are modern clouds from Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Rackspace, IBM, etc. These modern cloud environments are more affordable, flexible, reliable, and secure than any vendor’s proprietary cloud. Most importantly, they give you something you need and deserve: choice. And, don’t forget about private and hybrid cloud options. Those should be on the table as well.

Make your CRM deployment adjust to your business needs, not the other way around.

Myth #3: I have to buy different “suites” for the different departments in my business.

Traditionally, companies have been organized by function and department. The concept of CRM “suites” for different departments followed, and as a result, many organizations are often stuck in their old habits, using their legacy CRM technology to support separate, siloed business functions.

Buying multiple suites or clouds and development platforms to support sales, marketing, and service people increases complexity, cost, and time-to-market for your users. It also means you have to try to integrate different solutions, and that can be difficult, even if they are from the same vendor.

Instead, let’s look at the purpose of CRM from the beginning. What do you need it for? Isn’t it to build better relationships with your customers? Shouldn’t that apply to everyone in your company who interacts with them?

By making CRM available to all your teams, it ensures that no one in your company can claim ignorance and everyone has the latest on the status of your customer base.

Myth #4: When it comes to CRM, the sticker price is only the beginning.

For far too long, enterprise software vendors have gotten away with complex pricing models that make it very difficult to know how much your CRM is really going to cost. Vendors publish pricing that looks straightforward on the surface but requires a team of lawyers to really understand all the limitations and up-charges you’re going to face if you actually try to make the system do what you need it to do. These include:

  • Upcharges for system usage, which are often very hard to calculate and budget.
  • Charges for API calls, which equate to connections to other data sources.
  • Storage-based fees can balloon when storing large files such as PDFs or presentation slide decks in the system.
  • Charges for mobile access and more all make it very difficult to understand what your CRM solution is really going to cost.

There really is a better way. Simple and straightforward pricing should be the rule of the day so businesses can make their CRM initiative a strategic differentiator at a cost that works for them. Organizations should be able to make as many API calls as they want, store as much data as they want, and never be surprised by unexpected fees.

Myth #5: My CRM vendor can never be a true partner.

This one really bugs me. As an industry, we haven’t done a good job of being true partners that our customers enjoy doing business with. Sure, we need to make our products easy to use, pricing straightforward and deployment flexible. But even more important than all that, a CRM vendor should strive for an open and accountable relationship that creates trust.

Your CRM should be committed to our role as a trusted partner in your success, providing a holistic view of how you can balance people, processes, and systems to build extraordinary customer relationships—and steering clear of the above CRM myths is the first step in achieving this goal.

First-generation CRM vendors have sold a lot of software. But they haven’t helped a lot of companies build great relationships with their customers.

It’s time to stop accepting the conventional wisdom about CRM, and start exploring the power of being different.

Maybe this experience is familiar to you: You want to grow your business, but don’t have confidence in your growth machine. Your current sales organization performs adequately, but ramping up new reps is hit or miss, some are total flops.  It’s clear the growth formula just isn’t there. Making it harder, marketing keeps handing over leads that are barely qualified and rarely pan out.  And, the constant pressure to grow, grow, grow, is weighing on the team.  

How to solve this when you have too little consistency in how your sales reps engage with your prospects? And customer hand-offs from department to department also seem to be a constant challenge. After all the hard work of signing up a new customer, it frustrates your sales team to no end when new customers have less than an ideal experience with the rest of your company.

On top of all that, your budget is finite, and you aren’t exactly sure increasing your sales and marketing spend is the answer (yet) to dramatically increasing growth anyway.

If this sounds familiar, I have a suggestion that will help close more deals and keep more customers, all without blowing the budget…take a close look at your CRM implementation.

Here’s why: a new, fresh approach to your CRM can change the way your organization interacts with customers, qualifies leads, manages the sales cycle, and helps you differentiate yourself from the competition. In many cases, this self-analysis will lead you to evaluating a new CRM solution for your company.

It’s simple really: Legacy CRM is primarily all about reporting numbers to management with little, to no, focus on helping your people deliver an awesome customer experience. This is amazing to me given that, 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?

Last month, at SugarCon 2016, we heard many great stories from SugarCRM customers who started out by looking for a different approach to CRM. We heard over and over again that they didn’t want to look like their competitors. They realized that they needed a different kind of CRM to build a different kind of customer experience.  These folks were all mavericks, disruptors, mobilizers of change. They were tired of adequate, average, and the status quo. They saw Sugar as a chance to find a better way. And, their research and investment paid off:

  • Jaime Morillo of Marathon Sports said his organization has seen a 225% increase in customer purchases during monthly promotions and increased customer retention from 47% to 57% since implementing Sugar
  • Naomi Ward of CitySprint in the UK talked about how Sugar is powering their logistics and delivery company’s fight against major disruption from the likes of Amazon and Uber, while driving sales growth.
  • Rober Amber of Unifin, a financial services company in Mexico, said his organization was able to reduce credit application processing time by 60% and grow sales revenue by 300%

These organizations, and many others, understood they had options when it came to CRM. They felt playing it safe was not really all that safe. They realized a modern CRM could help them sell more, increase revenue and build their brand without having to increase budgets.

I challenge you, don’t be a follower. Separate yourself from the CRM pack. If you follow your competition’s tools, you’ll follow everything else.

Besides, the view from the front is much better.