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2016

Craig Alberino, CEO

Grey Jean Technologies

 

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Today’s consumer sees thousands of ads in any given day. He or she has become savvy at tuning out marketing messages. Just look at how pervasive ad blocking technology is today – the market has grown 41 percent over 12 months, with no signs of slowing.

Consumers are sick of being marketed to in mass. They want brands to understand their personal preferences and behaviors, and tailor communications to them as individuals. Because of the data trade off that they are willing to make – providing personal information in order to get something of value in return, they have come to expect personalized communications. And there’s no industry where that mentality is more prevalent than retail.


While this data can be incredibly valuable – especially when combined with POS, social and demographic data, retailers are drowning in the sheer amount of data available to them (oftentimes in silos). As an industry facing a shortage of data scientists, most retailers are only able to make sense of what already happened, rather than predict what will happen next.

The silver lining is that technology has evolved to the point where artificial intelligence (AI) can help retailers decipher the information, and make it actionable for CRM. AI enables retailers to understand and predict consumer behavior patterns, giving incredible insights into not only what motivates an individual shopper to buy, but which products that specific person is most likely to buy next – and with incredible accuracy. By integrating these personalization engines with CRM, retail marketers can predict what every customer on their list wants, and push contextually relevant ads to them – at the exact right time and place.

These relevant messages build trust with shoppers, making it far less likely that they will tune your brand out when presented with an advertisement or marketing offer. Rather, AI-powered marketing recommendations will differentiate your brand message from the thousands of irrelevant ones shoppers are tuning out every day.

 

Through Grey Jean’s AI product in combination with Vedicsoft and SugarCRM, retailers can automate the 1-to-1 marketing efforts via advanced algorithms. The benefits to the businesses and, more importantly, to each individual customer of the retailer include tailored communications that break through the everyday marketing clutter.

The ability to consolidate several data points from multiple sources, including CRM, to perform comprehensive data analysis is no longer optional if companies want to remain competitive, it's essential. In order to do that, companies have typically relied on business intelligence (BI) solutions that are often complicated to use, costly to maintain and don’t’ provide the ability to do analysis on the fly using the most up-to-date data.

 

Traditional BI solutions require a skilled IT analyst to create reports and perform advanced analysis for a diverse set of users. IT analysts may be skilled at data access, data mining or data warehousing, however they may not be best to identify relevant business insights from the data to make the best decisions for the business or data discovery. This is why blending multiple data points and enabling self-service, ad-hoc reporting and analysis is the key to empowering sales and marketing teams to improve customer relationships, spot trends, and identify opportunities for growth.

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Sugar’s in-app reporting capabilities help you access basic information, but if you need more in-depth analysis across multiple data sources, not just CRM, you need a solution that gives your users data these discovery capabilities.

Data discovery is all about easy data blending and exploration, the ability to do mashups and display results in visually compelling ways. That’s where the value to your business is. The newest version of Informer, scheduled for release later this year, expands upon the existing data discovery, visual analytical capabilities of Informer to deliver a data discovery platform to take your business to the next level.

 

To learn more, stop by our booth at SugarCON 2016 for a demo and see for yourself, check out our listing on SugarExchange, or our visit our website.

iCRM.jpgDoing any kind of billing, sales, marketing, support or operations without an integrated CRM is like fishing for tuna with a big net, catching 1000 fish, and having no idea which fish are edible, which fish are toxic, or not even knowing if the fish are really tuna. Sounds like a recipe for going hungry!

The point is that CRM without an integrated strategy is the definition of controlled chaos. It couldn’t be a more inefficient way to achieve organizational success. Integrating systems with your CRM is the first step in the right direction toward getting all the teams in your organization the visibility they need to ensure operational success.

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With all the information that is coming in and out of ERP systems, Cloud document platforms and Marketing Automation tools, there is absolutely no reason that all of the data shouldn’t be accessible by everyone within an organization.

The “Hub” of the organization means that ALL customer related data flows into a CRM software. Information about leads, customers and critical data sources for all human and digital touch-points during customer engagement needs to be in one repository.

Software that stands alone can result in silos, redundant data entry, and duplication of effort, unintended errors…and just overall unhappy people. Wow that sounds bad. When you integrate software, you’re bringing software and people together. Our clients integrate Sugar with everything that they can. As a result, our clients see fewer errors and greater productivity; they have faster access to data, streamlined operations and overall happier people.

Sounds like a recipe for success doesn’t it?

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The rich untapped source of social data lying latent in your company

In today’s high-tech environment leading organizations are increasingly utilising data and analytics to better engage with customers. For organisations looking to gain an edge over their peers, timely and actionable insights from data has become a critical source of competitive advantage.

In a recent study by Avanade, 75 percent of respondents said their organisation will make additional investments to improve their capability to analyse data within the next 12 months.[1] Companies are increasingly recognizing that data analytics can fundamentally change the way they compete in the market. In time, those who succeed will be those who have successfully harnessed the value of data and analytics to drive transformation.

Sales in the Socially Connected Era

Cold calling is dead! Today, product information is readily available online, as are product reviews and candid opinions. Customers are in greater control of the sales process than ever before, often engaging with your brand without you even knowing it. In this context, cold calling is of little use. Trust becomes increasingly important; trust in a brand, in subject matter experts and in relationships. People are influenced by those who they know and trust. Referrals, Recommendations and Relationships are the three R’s that modern sales teams must master. But how do you ask for a referral to a client or prospect if you don’t know that a relationship even exists.

Cold calling has typically less than 2% success rate of securing a meeting. Referrals however, are a very different matter; warm introductions have a 40% success rate.

Sales teams commonly look to social networking sites like LinkedIn to find common connections who might be able to facilitate warm introductions. However they often fail to leverage one of the most valuable sources of referrals – their own colleagues. This is because finding the right colleagues is its own significant challenge.

Challenges of keeping track of relationships

For sales teams it is not just what they know but also who they know that makes them successful. Sellers who are well-networked often succeed where others fail. As such it is important for sellers to keep track of and manage relationships with prospects, clients and colleagues. According to research by Prof. Robin Dunbar[2] the average person can only effectively maintain around 150 meaningful relationships at any one time.  This is essentially a ‘hard wired’ limitation of the human brain. Technology can now be leveraged to extend this ‘number’ by helping to better track business and personal relationships.

In this era of hyper-social connectivity, people also often mistake “connections” with “relationships”. We talk about how many Facebook ‘friends’ we have, or judge a person’s influence by how many connections they have on LinkedIn. However a ‘connection’ is not always a ‘relationship’.  You may have met a connection just once and ‘accepted’ their request. A  relationship is more than that.  It is generally someone who you have several interactions with over time. Thus a relationship is much more valuable than a mere connection.

At TrustSphere we specialize in ‘Relationship Analytics’ which recognizes that a better understanding of organisation-wide relationships helps individuals and teams to better understand their customers.

The Power of Collective wisdom

Currently many organizations underutilize one of their most valuable assets – their collective social network.  Organizations are a collection of people who have relationships. Being able to leverage the collective network can be exponentially powerful. TrustSphere’s research shows that the average employee has around 130 relationships. In a 1,000 employee company the collective reach for the group would be tens of thousands of unique relationships. Providing sales teams and others in the organization the ability to navigate this collective network can be very powerful, particularly in the new sales paradigm.  But without technology it is extremely difficult to leverage properly.

According to research by the Aberdeen Group, using analytics, sales teams are able to achieve their sales quota 54 percent more often. Having efficient access to the collective network is a pivotal step towards a more effective and efficient sales process.

So how do you enable sales teams to leverage the collective network of the company’s entire network? The right processes need to be put in place, complemented with the right technology. For example, TrustSphere has developed a simple solution which enables companies to let their employees leverage the company’s collective network using their mobile phones and/or CRM systems. Called LinksWithin, it is as simple to use as conducting a Google search. When a prospect or contact is entered into a search bar, the top ten colleagues from within the organisation who provide the best path to that contact or prospect are shown. No data other than who has the best connections and how current these are is shown. This protects individuals’ privacy and because only limited data is returned, people’s own networks are protected. However, the task of finding the right colleague to provide that warm introduction is transformed.

Data analytics will play a critical role for organisations to maintain their competitive advantage in an increasingly competitive and technologically connected business environment. Understanding and leveraging an organisations collective relationship network is already having significant impact on sales and customer engagement. Early adopting organisations are already reaping significant rewards from tapping into this traditionally difficult to leverage corporate asset. After all, the power of collective wisdom should be available to help teams leverage revenue opportunities, collaborate better and more effectively serve customers. Technology, data and analytics can help those companies with the appetite to win achieve greatness.


 


1 Avanade Big Data Analytics Study 2012

 

2 Robin Dunbar: http://www.psy.ox.ac.uk/team/robin-dunbar

There is considerable confusion around sourcing tools and technology—which tools are needed and when. This is particularly apparent with CRM systems and an ATS (applicant tracking system). Most people who have ATS do not think that they need a CRM system. Even in cases when they see the need for both, they end up with different systems.

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ATS are designed to manage individual talent for a particular position and account for where they are within the hiring process. An ATS’ primary function is to provide a central location and database for a company's recruitment efforts and to better assist management of resumes and applicant information. Data is either collected from internal applications via the ATS front-end, located on the company website, or is extracted from applicants who are on job boards.

 

The data entered in ATS is largely considered as administrative data that supports process workflow but is rarely leveraged for analytics and reporting. The systems don’t measure engagement and give end users no quick way of seeing how active or engaged a client or candidate might be.

 

Instead, candidate activity is limited to formal interactions versus additional engagement, information and insights on the candidate and their interaction with the company and/or recruiter. Similarly, talent organizations have no standardized or centralized way to measure or monitor recruiting relationships. After screening resumes, there is no way of figuring out what they want to do as opposed to what they’ve already done. ATS are not a CRM if the system stores data that’s almost completely reliant on just resumes with little to connect the dots.

 

CRM systems on the other hand help companies manage and analyze customer interactions and data throughout the customer lifecycle, with the goal of improving relationships with customers and assisting in customer retention while driving sales growth. CRM systems are designed to compile information on customers across different channels -- or points of contact between the customer and the company -- which could include the company's website, telephone, live chat, direct mail, marketing materials, and more.

 

Recruiting companies have two sets of customers – clients who require resources and candidates who are in need of jobs. A recruiting system helps match the requirements of these two sets of customers. To help companies improve performance of this task, a system should

  • Capture interaction between clients and candidates
  • Be able to analyze hiring and skills patterns of clients
  • Help understand which skills are hot in demand, and those that are not
  • Prepare candidates to align better with client requirements


Neither ATS nor CRM system by themselves address these needs. But CRM systems are designed to easily add custom features and integrate with other systems and provide an ideal platform to extend them to incorporate applicant management. That is the case with Vedicsoft’s industry-specific solution when uniquely combined with SugarCRM software. The result is enhanced recruiting that serves the needs of the employer and prospective employee.