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Backcountry is the parent company of four business units that specialize in gear for wilderness adventures and outdoor sports, including biking, skiing, snowboarding, climbing, fly-fishing, hiking and camping. It operates: Backcountry, MotoSport, Competitive Cyclist and the Germany-based Bergfreunde. Backcountry and MotoSport use Sugar for sales, mostly B2C. 


Headquarters: Park City, Utah

Other offices and manufacturing: Oregon, Virginia, Costa Rica and Germany

Founded: 1996

Use case: Sales


Challenge: Implement a Customer Relationship Management platform that has scalability, extensibility, customization options and helps improve customer relationships.


Solution: Sugar Enterprise, cloud-hosted, with integrations for ERP and marketing automation.



  • Sales strategy becomes customer-focused
  • Increase in sales call volume because of CRM efficiency
  • Improved pipeline reliability


How a software platform changed a sales culture


There are strategic changes, and then there are small unrecognized moments that produce important outcomes and moments of clarity. 


Peter Tew, senior product manager for Backcountry, an international wilderness outfitters firm in Utah, has seen both.


While he focused on increasing user adoption for the company’s new CRM, the unexpected moment of clarity came in identifying how Sugar was driving a cultural change about customer orientation.


Like many companies, Backcountry staff logged and carried out rote tasks. It sold items, set up sales calls, responded to customer inquiries and provided customer service. But the tasks lacked goals, context and customer insight.


“We’ve turned that around, and in Sugar, we have a customer-centric view of our jobs instead of a task-oriented view,” says Peter.


Backcountry sells differently today because the progressive profiling logged in Sugar gives the sales team more insight into customers and more sales opportunities.



The company also I-framed a widget in Sugar called “Outdoor Passions” that lists each customer’s hobbies, sports preferences, clothing and shoe sizes – even the customer’s last adventure.


Sales reps don’t have to open a different database to get the consumer information; it displays within Sugar when sales calls up a customer profile.


Here’s an example from Peter about how that information in Sugar leads to a sales conversation:


“Let’s say you bought hiking boots. We’re going to call and ask how they are, what you’re planning to do with them. If they are for walking around, I’ve got nothing else to say. But maybe you say you are using them to climb Kilimanjaro. Then I say, ‘I climbed Killie and there are a few things I recognized I wished I had. Would you like me to send you an email about that?’ ”


Backcountry recently tripled its sales staff.


“We wouldn’t have been able to expand our sales staff and get the returns without Sugar,” Peter says. “Now we have accurate reporting on tasks and email, and that is changing behaviors for the good.”


Finding the Right CRM Partner


Choosing a CRM – whether you are moving from an old one or implementing one for the first time – is a challenging task that must leverage C-level support.


Peter says Backcountry started with a field of about 20 candidates, then short-listed Sugar, Salesforce and MicroSoft Dynamics.


Cost-efficiency and scalability were keys, as usual.



But Sugar’s personalized, extra-mile sales approach won the deal.


“I really liked that the Sugar rep listened and proposed a solution without trying to do a lot of upsells; it was a natural process. It took two weeks to get all the stuff signed and purchased and developing,” says Peter.


“Of all the third parties of Sugar’s size or bigger that I’ve worked with, this was the smoothest experience I have ever had, and the relationship and gotten better and better,” he adds.


Backcountry and MotoSport went live with Sugar within two months.


Peter used in-house developers. They had no prior experience with CRM but found Sugar’s documentation clear and easy to follow, Peter says.


It led to that dramatic moment of proof.


“The business processing was the big thing. I knew Sugar could do it, but when I saw it happen for the first time I was like, ‘Oh, man, this could be huge for us,’ ” Peter says.


With millions of data points, being able to identify a customer by phone number or by searching the email topic filed is huge for his sales staff.


Planning the Long Journey


Already, the Backcountry business units are identifying unique ways to expand Sugar’s capabilities.


MotoSport, which sells dirt bikes and gear, is working on customizing some of the Sugar fields to accommodate more specifics about its catalog. Information such as manufacturer, make and model of its bikes.


“I know we will be finding more uses for Sugar as we grow into it,” Peter says.



LiveEngage: live chat and SMS


Founded in 1841, Fordham University provides exceptional education distinguished by the Jesuit tradition to approximately 15,000 students in its four undergraduate colleges and its six graduate and professional schools. It has residential campuses in the Bronx and Manhattan, a campus in Westchester, and the Louis Calder Center Biological Field Station in Armonk, N.Y., as well as programs in the UK and China.


Headquarters: New York City

Customers: 15,200 students in undergraduate and graduate schools.

Founded: 1841


Partner: Squiz US


Challenge: Implement a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform that easily integrates with academic and business software and drives a business transformation toward the customer journey.


Solution: Sugar Professional, with cloud and on-premise options; integrated with about 30 other software solutions, including Banner, an Enterprise Resource Planning tool widely used by the education community. Sugar is re-labeled as “Fordham Connect.”



  • 360-degree view of students
  • Improved response time to constituent needs
  • Empowered university users to be proactive in working with constituents
  • Enhanced relationships and increased loyalty among students and alumni.



Creating the User Experience with ‘Constituent’ Care


Shaya Phillips’ business on-boards about 3,800 new customers each year – and most start within the same few days. That’s in addition to serving a base of about 11,000 customers who carryover annually.


The new customers are freshmen and first-year graduate school students at Fordham University, a private New York City Liberal Arts school where competition for admission is fierce, academic excellence is a given, and personal attention is expected.


The challenge for Shaya and his IT team is to make sure these customers have what they need when they need it, and to track their journey through college life and beyond.


Fordham, which also operates graduate schools and a law school, depends on Sugar and its integrations to ensure it has a complete view of its students.


“We call them constituents – our students, parents, alumni and others who interact with us – and we use CRM to manage those constituent relationships, says Shaya, associate vice president for Information Technology.


Modern CRM Focuses on Customers


With a modern approach to CRM – one that has evolved beyond sales tracking and marketing and instead focuses on customers – Shaya and his team have put constituent experience at the heart of the university’s efforts.

“We track students throughout the whole system. We recruit them, maintain them, give them the best customer service possible through graduation and keep them informed as alumni,” says Shaya.


“We build a relationship from beginning to end and establish that relationship not just with the student but with the extended family; a relationship that fosters giving and helps build a reputation as one of the nation’s best universities,” he adds.


Because of some easily written application program interfaces (APIs), Fordham officials can see a complete picture of a student or graduate without leaving the Sugar platform: transcripts, completed courses, required courses, academic standing, advisor notes, expected graduation date – even passport status.


“A lot of what we learn and collect with Sugar helps us to target students at different stages in their education.  We can see what courses they take, when did they pay, if they are at risk: actionable information that helps us serve our constituents,” Shaya says.


“Sugar has made a great different in the ways our users work with our constituents,” he says. “It has empowered our users in ways we never thought about because we can make constituent lives better and easier with the way they interact with the university.”

CRM as the Information Hub

Choosing an easily customized CRM that was hefty enough to handle all those integrations was a factor in Fordham’s decision to implement Sugar. About 80 percent of the software is cloud-based.

Says Shaya: “We liked the fact that Sugar was modular in a way that we could interact with it for our integrations. We had a lot of information from different systems that we wanted to bring into it, and it was customizable for the way we wanted to use it.”

With more than 15 integrations and about 30 APIs helping paint the Sugar customer image, administrators and staff are empowered to help students and alumni because they have a 360-degree view of each constituent.

Fordham uses two types of API calls: APIs that can be called on demand and APIs that allow you to make a call and retrieve a batch of data.


Because Sugar’s dashboards are easily configured and convenient, financial aid officers, administrators or professors have immediate insight about a constituent’s status. It’s a customer journey view at the click of a mouse.


“In Sugar, our people can easily see the current grade-point-average, the course schedule and the grades associated with each course,” Shaya says. “If we had to just use our Enterprise Resource Planning system, the administrator would have to go to different screens to view a full student picture.” 


Growing the CRM’s Scope

As Fordham’s Sugar use matures, Shaya envisions the versatile platform taking on even larger roles in the university’s business growth strategy.


The school decided recently to begin implementing IBM Marketing Cloud for campaigns.


Shaya knows the IBM product will integrate seamlessly with Sugar.


He wouldn’t expect any less: “So far we have not found anything we can’t do with Sugar.”



Banner: Enterprise resource planning

InformationBuilders: Business intelligence

OrgSync: Student engagement network

Star Rez: Student housing management

PowerFAIDS: Financial aid management system

ACES2: Student admissions

Technolutions Slate: Admissions applications processing and tracking 



Squiz US

183 Madison Avenue, Suite 1416

New York, NY 10016

Phone: 877 394 0640





T-Mobile is the mobile communications subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom. The brand operates in the United States, Poland, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic. In the Netherlands, where it has nearly 4 million customers, T-Mobile operates a discounted sub-brand called Ben, which targets younger users.


Headquarters: The Hague

Use case:  Customer Service




Challenge: Optimize customer care, support marketing, sales and dealer network, improve data management and inventory control.


Solution: Sugar Professional hosted on-site with integrations to business support and operating systems.


Results: Improved customer service response time; developed complete customer view; all customer service and transaction channels managed directly in Sugar.



One Click Empowers Customer Service  


T-Mobile’s Ben cellphone brand is sleek and hip. It is priced for young, budget-minded residents of the Netherlands who think more about urls and clicks than bricks and mortar when it comes to buying phones, service or SIM cards.


The brand, which was relaunched by T-Mobile in 2008 and loosely translates in Dutch as “I am,” operates mostly in the virtual world for sales and service, although some dealers also carry the line. Because the business model is essentially digital, Ben needed a sturdy, agile Customer Relationship Management platform that empowered the customer service staff and personalized customer interactions.


Sugar gives Ben's customer service representatives an integrated customer view across all channels (call center, ecommerce, dealers, etc.) and surfaces insights that tare the basis of fast, accurate and personal responses.


Through its customer portal, Ben subscribers can place orders, look at data use and invoices, manage voicemail and even activate a new SIM card. All with customers at the helm.

 The digital convenience created by the Sugar powerhouse also benefits Ben’s dealer network.


Dealers can place orders via their own portal, where they can see within a few minutes whether the order has been approved. In addition, they can integrate their website or application with Sugar via an API. This allows them to place, validate and request number portability via their own platform. Sugar generates the contract for the customer and the dealer simply downloads the form.


Sugar also makes it easy for Ben's marketing and sales staff to manage many products and packages because offers and price changes are implemented in real time.


These days, when residents of the Netherlands dial up new phone services with Ben, they get fast, customer-focused service that enhances their experience, because Ben dialed the right number with SugarCRM.


This case study is based on information provided by Sugar Elite Partner BrixCRM



Notable Integrations

Drupal, for content management

SAP, for ERP



Sugar Elite Partner


Headquarters: Almelo, NL

Phone: +31 88 10 20 600