Archives For Marketing

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.

Visionary marketers are quickly progressing beyond simple process automation for demand generation and nurturing programs. The reason is that the buying process is no longer simple. The selling/buying cycle is complex, with many players and personas. Both sales and marketing are about revenue and performance, make no mistake.  In order to accomplish sales and marketing targets (artificial or not), the marketing and sales teams need to work in concert; beyond simple (aka fluffy) collaboration. It is time to focus on people.

To be successful, your organizational selling processes need align with the customer decision cycle. The marketing team needs to transition from pure demand generation to becoming masters of customer engagement, helping the sales folks along the way. The selling process should focus on shepherding buyers through their buying journey. The strategy should not be to move a mass of buyers through a process optimized for management reporting. Instead, the strategy needs to design an efficient process optimized to take a qualified lead and make that lead an engaged, profitable customer. And, once the process is perfected…rinse and repeat.

Taking Stock of the Current State

The proliferation of customers’ digital touchpoints has accelerated requests for and the flow of information, especially in complex business-to-business decision cycles. Furthermore, organizations continue to struggle to predict where prospects will go to look for information. This unknown is causing marketers to do a bit of hair pulling. The idea of determining the right “marketing mix”’ feels a bit too much like a finger in the air strategy when trying to keep up with the vast array of possible touchpoints, along the customer journey.

Marketing and sales need to align their strategies and coordinate communications; both content and timing of message. In many organizations, the most apt descriptor for the relationship between marketing and sales is “frenemies”. Further, being in marketing is often like being an athletic trainer and never knowing if your athlete won the race. The marketing team has limited visibility into leads after they became “sales qualified” and are handed off to the sales team. This lack of insight prevents marketing decision-makers from testing campaign effectiveness or determining why something did or did not work.

Overcoming a Few (relationship) Obstacles

The relationship, at all levels, between sales and marketing is one of the most important relationships within any organization. This bond is personally critical to both the CMO and VP of Sales. The key point of friction is that marketers are focused campaigns and nurturing, while sales folks are focused on the deal and the only metric that matters is revenue. One team is looking at something built for the masses, while another is focused on an individual.

Sales and marketing processes are built with an eye on internal efficiency. However, sales processes need to be reshaped, and should also include an external focus towards the customer buying journey. This is most evident in how success is currently measured in many organizations; monthly and quarterly goals, such as: lead conversion, number of sales qualified leads and likelihood to close (by some artificial percentage).

The Path Forward

It is time to focus on positive customer outcomes and define organizational goals that support and even reshape marketing practices to drive effective customer engagement. This is about customers, not products, features or solutions. Work hard to balance pushing customers towards the next step and make sure you understand where they are in their buying journey. Once you understand where they are in the process, the right information can easily be shared. Context is a critical element within the buying journey. Customers need care and feeding – the right information, at the right time, on the right device.

We are no longer in the information age, we are in the age of customer centricity, customer focus and customer engagement. In order to succeed, the sales and marketing organizations need to match the selling process with the buyer’s journey. Yes, this is about customer acquisition and revenue generation, but it is also about lifetime value and establishing lasting company/customer relationships. Many factors have come together that extend marketing’s role much further into the selling process; even through the very end. Marketing is accountable for content creation, but they cannot do it alone, the sales team needs to come along for the ride! Marketeers and marketing leadership need to collaborate with sales folk and sales leadership to design and build a lead management process that makes sense to all players. Organizational alignment around the buyer journey is critical to success – hard stop.

After aligning goals and objectives within the team, the next logical step is to be do aligned on the processes required to support the customer journey. In the next post within the series, the focus will be on process improvement and efficiency.

The scientific method is an elegant one – always experimenting in the pursuit of the truth and accepting that new facts overturn previous belief. Our experiences shape and builds our understanding, and and it’s critical to never assume we know everything.

Great marketing is borne of this mindset. Best practices, judgment, and instinct guide marketing strategy, but what sets makes it great is the practice of experimenting, observing, analyzing and breaking new ground.

If you’re a Marketer today, and you’re not thinking this way, it’s time to reflect on whether you’re doing your best.

Marketing must be transformational

Your organization might be failing because it’s not responding to changes in your marketplace. And, you might not even know it.

Unless you acknowledge that marketing needs to adopt an inquiring and observational mindset in order to identify and lead business transformation, then you’re missing a huge opportunity – for you and for your organization.

We’ve seen some spectacular failures where brands just haven’t responded to change quickly enough; Borders and Blockbusters have become sad case studies in failure. And, we’ve seen others like Amazon and Uber who have not only responded to new customer preferences, but been forward-thinking enough to shape them. So what about your organization? How can you make sure it’s a master of change, not a slave to it?

Understand and experiment based on holistic observation

Be brave enough to keep asking questions about your customers and your organization, and develop the means to answer them. Stay close to your customers – understanding what they want and why, what they’re doing, when and how.

This isn’t a new idea. But there are modern approaches that provide new insight, about customers, and opening up a whole new line of understanding. It has the potential to keep us right on the pulse of change so we can tell the organization how to respond.

What exactly is this new method?

SugarCRM recently partnered with Telsyte to talk with 255 CMOs in Australian & New Zealand about how they’re getting closer to customers and shaping business transformation based on their observations.

From those results, we produced a report for marketing leaders entitled “Digital Leaders Use Customer Journey Maps to Guide Business Transformation.”

The paper looks at the value of personas and customer journey maps in relation to business transformation, and some of the practical steps to implementing them.

About half the Marketing leaders said:

“Our team promotes an understanding of the customer across the organization, helping to shape its entire approach to business transformation.”

Are you in this half?

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!

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Welcome to our roundup of customer relationship management (CRM) industry news from across the web. This week’s roundup will help give you the tools and insight you’ll need to get the most out of your partner programs. We’re hunting the ‘net for the latest and greatest, and bringing them to you here, in one convenient weekly post.

High-tech vendors rely heavily upon their channel partners, to the tune of approximately $1.5 trillion in annual sales according to ZS Associates.

A direct relationship with a consumer is always the most valuable. In order to get there, though, you need the slingshot and momentum of other well-known partners. Often many more, depending on the business you’re in. (Alex Rampell, CEO TrialPay)

Given that channel enablement is vital in any technology company’s success, enterprises often face challenges in succeeding in their partner programs. Consider the following articles as a toolkit to jumpstart or polish your programs to ensure channel success.

3 Ways to Boost Channel Partner Success
“As demands on business grow, more organizations are using partners and contractors to provide needed support and expertise.” Cindy Mielke outlines three actionable ways you can boost your channel partner programs.

Partner Selling
“Rejection is often a good indicator of the lead generation process’ effectiveness. If too many leads get rejected, it might indicate that they’re too raw going out the door and that better nurturing is needed. However, if an individual partner has a consistently high reject rate, along with a poor win/loss ratio, it might say something about that partner.” – Denis Pombriant

3 Steps To Successful Voice Of Partner Programs
“IT vendor-partner relationships prosper when they both communicate openly with each other,” says Erik Long, Principal at ZS Associates

Alicia Fiorletta helps to share ways on overcoming communication as a challenge for channel enablement.

We hope you enjoyed this week’s edition of our Weekly CRM Roundup. We’ll be taking a brief hiatus from these weekly missives — in the meantime, you can still catch the latest and greatest in CRM industry news on Twitter at @SugarCRM.

As concepts like social media, mobile and big data add more and more information into the marketing mix, it is important for sales and marketing Summit Graphicprofessionals to embrace the concepts behind data-driven marketing. In today’s world, those taking advantage of the mountains of information available around our customers are the ones who will not only survive, but thrive and bat the competition.

To help marketers gain more insight around data-driven marketing, AgileOne is holding a FREE online conference all day on May 9th. As part of the event, SugarCRM co-founder and CTO Clint Oram will be speaking about how SugarCRM allows its users to delight today’s social customer.

The entire online conference is filled with great presenters and topics. Click here to register for free and join the conversation!

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Welcome to our roundup of customer relationship management (CRM) industry news from across the web. This week’s roundup provides a plan of action and offers an understanding of what it takes to be successful in generating leads. We’re hunting the ‘net for the latest and greatest, and bringing them to you here, in one convenient weekly post.

If you reached this page, chances are you’re looking for insight on how to boost your lead generation success. In today’s day and age, the buying process has changed as marketers struggle to be heard through the noise. As they say, ‘Content is king’ and the handling of that content – both on your site and elsewhere on the web – is critical to your lead generation success.

68% of B2B businesses use landing pages to garner a new sales lead for future conversion. (MarketingSherpa)

The following articles should serve as easy first steps to help you acquire and retain higher-quality leads by meticulously adjusting semantics, understanding the purpose of lead nurturing, and thinking differently about gated content.

My Leads Have Run Dry: 3 Steps to Obtaining and Retaining Leads
Given that consumers are inundated with marketing messages all throughout the day, getting your message in front of the eyes of your target audience is becoming harder than ever. Once they’ve reached your website after being referred through a marketing channel (email, social media, webinar, etc.), there is still work to be done. This article outlines 3 steps on how to optimize your strategies to generate the quality leads you’re looking for.
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Social Media Lead Generation: Opening the Gate for Gated Content
Anqi Cong explores the pros and cons of gating and not-gating your content. She does a comparison on the effect of gating and its implication on social sharing and “virility”. It is estimated that gating content reduces downloads to 2-5% of what they could’ve been, but for a trade off of higher quality leads.
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Lead, Nurture, Or Get Out Of The Way
This article takes you through the steps of launching a successful lead nurturing campaign by first, locating and identifying your best prospects, and then by implementing the process itself.

“No matter how simple or complex the B2B environment, understanding how your product or service fits in with your prospect’s organization is the holy grail of long term success.” – Robert Minskoff
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Lead Generation: The Power of Copy
“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind,” – Rudyard Kipling

The way words are received is directly correlated to the way they are spoken. John Tackett shows a simple way on how to see an increase in form conversion by tweaking one or a few words.
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We hope you enjoyed this week’s edition of our Weekly CRM Roundup. Go forth — tackle these easy lead generation actions and continue to create exceptional customer experiences. Got ideas for other great articles and topics we should include in future CRM Roundup posts? Let us know in the comments below!