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2017

Old McDonald had a farm…and it was full of potential profits…but his outdated systems kept him from discovering them. My spin on the classic children’s song may not have the bouncy rhythms of the original, but it has some truth. The agriculture industry has done a wonderful job of adopting equipment technology like combines and harvesters to automate tasks in the field, but when it comes to data, it’s an industry that still finds itself falling behind. Technology Advisors is looking to change that.

The idea to build a specialized agribusiness CRM first struck after a recent conversation with a CRM customer in the seed distribution industry. This customer hadn’t previously felt the need to implement CRM in his business. All his seed reps were long-time sales veterans with their own working processes. However, when one of those reps had to leave unexpectedly, the business owner found himself floundering through an Excel sheet of contacts not knowing who to reach out to first. He had to individually call each contact to understand their buying history, ordering quantities, and last contact with his company. At a seed conference later that year, we asked his peers about their sales experiences and were shocked to find that they too were using Excel files or some other outdated tool. Below, we’ll discuss why this approach is dangerous and how we’re using Seed CRM to try and help.   

 

Stale Technology

Regardless the size of the farm, if you're still using Excel spreadsheets to track business statistics, you're missing out on the power of your own data. Basic software like Excel spreadsheets is great when you’re first starting up. It’s inexpensive, easy to manipulate, and quick to update. However, spreadsheets only go so far. For example, Microsoft Excel’s FAST (Farm Analysis Solution Tools) suite attempts to address financial planning and crop management needs, but fails to connect customers with suppliers. When a business becomes more complex with additional land, crops, customers, and needs, Excel simply can’t keep up. Organizations such as Farm Business Farm Management try to help agribusiness professionals cope with the analytics and management gap of Excel’s limitations, but without a software tool, data management is still an ongoing struggle.

 

There are several smaller companies that offer CRM-like products. While these tools are certainly a step in the right direction, they too have analytic restrictions that limit you and your potential for profit. The companies that produce these smaller CRMs don’t necessarily specialize in CRM, so while the product may work to an extent, it most likely will not integrate with all your existing software systems or be easily reconfigurable to your individual business needs. In addition, without a full team of support and training personnel, the user adoption necessary to get your team up and running is often non-existent, so you end up spending a lot of money for a software program no one will ever use. 

 

 

Evolving Communication

Many small to mid-size operations rely heavily on word-of-mouth to generate sales and set up contracts. While this method may seem effective at first, it only reaches so many people at the local grain elevator. It used to be - especially in agribusiness - that you could pull up to a farm and talk to someone. These days, we're all moving so quickly that that approach no longer works. You are expected to call or text ahead of time and it's not always easy to get a hold of someone. It may be necessary to reach out multiple times to even set up a meeting. CRM is extremely useful to track all the interactions (or attempted interactions) so sales people can understand instantly where stand with a customer. Email communications are logged in the system so you’ll always know your last point of contact. Plus, add-on products for phone integration help you log phone conversations and double down on your communication data.

 

Evolving communication also demands mobility. With the mobility of devices like iPads and cell phones, agribusiness professionals are taking their tech out into the fields. With CRM, you can build targeted lists and automate reminders to send personalized messages to buyers in the right season. You can even keep notes on individual people and accounts to help personalize your sales interactions – when is their birthday? What is their favorite sports team?  Pull up that information on-the-go via the SugarCRM app so you have the information in front of you during an on-site meeting. 

 

How Can Seed CRM Help?

Technology Advisors has taken the best components of SugarCRM, a leading customer relationship management software, and added capabilities specific to the needs of the agriculture industry. Developers worked with seed companies to address the features necessary to grain businesses and customized functions to perform the actions most crucial to them. The result was Seed CRM, an innovative and pioneering way to reach your full data potential. A support team of tech specialists provide training, on-boarding, and in-house integration to complete your Seed CRM experience.

 

Seed CRM is a flexible, powerful way to unite all aspects of your data to analyze trends, buying habits, sales activities, customized opportunities, and much more. It works together with ERP (enterprise resource planning) and integrates with any back-office software, SeedWare, and Quickbooks to create a 360-degree view of your data, align your processes, and connect your systems. Its analytic power provides complete data transparency, allowing you to identify opportunities almost immediately. Seed CRM helps you support case management and tracking, monitor sales activities with smart follow-up and reminders, and recognize market trends. With this new way to look at data, you can better capture customer information, track buying histories, follow year-to-year buyer activity, and understand buying trends. Combine these features with the ability to automate processes such as marketing and quoting and your business potential is endless.

 

With fast implementation and complete support along the way, Seed CRM gives agribusiness professionals a seamless experience and unlimited returns on investment. Check out our quick video below for more details. 

 

We are all avid users of social media. Everyone today is using at least one social media platform be it Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, etc to stay connected. With the sharp increase in ecommerce and online shopping, customers tend to do their own online research about brands that they are interested in. They are part of online forums or communities where they give reviews and discuss the pros and cons of each new product that is launched in the market. A wealth of information is being generated every second on these social media platforms that calls for businesses to harness this information to gain detailed insights about customers. But how exactly can businesses leverage this ‘sea of information’? The answer lies in Social CRM. Don’t panic… We will explore the concept in detail today.

What is Social CRM?

Everyone is familiar with the concept of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. Simply put, it is a business strategy aimed at delivering excellent customer relationships. After all, customers are the reason why all businesses exist. If you do not place your customers right at the heart of your organization, your business does not stand a chance of succeeding.

There are dozens of definitions that you will come across when searching about social CRM but the one that best describes it in a clear and concise manner is as follows:

“Social CRM is a phrase used to describe the addition of a social element in traditional CRM processes. Social CRM builds upon CRM by leveraging a social element that enables a business to connect customer conversations and relationships from social networking sites into the CRM process. “ (Webopedia)

CRM and Role of Social Media

Listening to your customers is the best way to know them better and form meaningful relationships with them. It is for this reason that businesses cannot afford to ignore the recent advancements in social media and miss out on the opportunities to hear what the customers are saying about their product on the social platforms.

Social CRM

The need to connect your CRM with social media has become more important than ever. Since customers now live online, it has become the best medium to connect and interact with them no matter where they are located in the world. Just like customers prefer to communicate with their friends and relatives online, they are also eager to interact with brands. Almost every business has diverse social media channels to make its presence felt online. All they need to do is integrate their CRM system with these channels to reach out to more customers in less time and start building extraordinary customer relationships.

What can Social CRM do for your business?

A list of the key benefits that will result once you adopt social CRM:

1. Accelerate the sales cycle

With Social CRM, you can get detailed insights about your customers regarding their demographics, tastes and preferences, buying behaviour etc. This will help accelerate the sales process by allowing you to identify the leads that have the highest probability of being converted into deals.

2. Maximize marketing ROI

Social CRM will aid the marketing team in exploring new market segments and design personalized marketing campaigns and promotion offers.

This will result in enhanced productivity, optimal allocation of company’s resources and bring the desired ROI.

3. Work as a team

Social CRM

With Social CRM, every team be it marketing, sales or customer support can now stay updated by having access to real-time data related to a customer’s profile.

4. Get real-time updates

Social CRM will give your customer support team data about customers’ feelings and sentiments in real-time. Now it is up-to to you to use that feedback to make strategic adjustments and take the necessary action that enriches the customer experience.

5. Social Media Analytics

The sea of information generated on social media platforms will ultimately be treated as noise if there are no means to analyze it. Social CRM when integrated with the right tools will give you useful insights about the effectiveness of your social media strategy and empower you to unearth useful patterns in customer behavior that will assist you in serving your customers in an outstanding fashion.

6. Brand monitoring

A positive word of mouth can do wonders for your business whereas a single negative comment can do more damage than one can imagine. With social CRM, you can continuously monitor what is being said about your product. If there are any flaws, they can be rectified immediately before negative comments from the customers start tarnishing your brand image. Similarly, customer complaints can be resolved instantly as soon as they arise. This will ensure high levels of customer satisfaction.

7. Gather competitive intelligence

Equally important is to monitor how your competitors are faring. Social CRM enables you to track not only what is being said about your business but also your competitors. This will aid you in developing effective marketing strategies to counter the efforts of your competitors.

8. Predict the future

Social CRM

Today, customers having access to vast amounts of data know what kind of product they would like to buy in the future and that is reflected in their online activity. Social CRM will give you the ability to look into the future and develop products that customers wouldn’t expect to be in the market anytime soon.

Best CRM with Social Media Integration- The Options

There are a number of CRMs out there which integrate seamlessly with social media channels. Nimble, Insightly, batchbook are a few that you should definitely check out. However, I am going to recommend Sugar not because we are official SugarCRM partners but simply for the reason that it is highly scalable, flexible and extensible. It is due to these characteristics that Sugar is loved by companies worldwide.

SugarCRM as your Social CRM

Integrate leading social media services to help your organization learn from and engage with your customers at a more holistic level. Improve online collaboration and leverage social business application to increase productivity of your customer facing users.

Access different Social CRM solutions directly within Sugar. The Twitter dashlet allows users to view and access various feeds for specific twitter accounts via the record’s Dashboard and list view’s Dashboard. In addition, users can also view and access twitter feeds via Sugar’s Activity Streams as well as the Twitter dashlet on Sugar Dashboard.

You can also choose from a variety of SugarExchange Extensions for online collaboration, cloud storage and social CRM built by SugarCRM partners. Use Sugar Studio, Cloud Connectors and Module Builder to easily add additional Social CRM capabilities.

That’s not all-  SugarCRM has more to offer!

social CRM

Sugar has come up with a revolutionary product called ‘Hint’. Hint, the debut product from the company’s new Relationship Intelligence product line, automatically searches the web for personal and company information, delivering a wealth of information so customer-facing employees will quickly learn more about their contacts.

SugarCRM Hint enables users to provide only a few contact details (e.g. email, name, company) of an individual and then automatically searches, tunes, and inputs the rest of the personal and corporate profile details for that contact. Hint does the work for Sugar users by gathering and analyzing customer intelligence from a broad range of social data sources so users can quickly and efficiently learn more about their prospects to establish a productive relationship. Here’s a screenshot of what you get when you enter the name and the email address of a contact:

social CRM

You can import the information of your interest by clicking on the cloud button. It’s that simple and effective.

Bottom Line:

CRM software has evolved over the years. Businesses need to adapt faster to respond to the changing market dynamics.  Having a CRM integrated with social media has become a necessity. Your business can gain a lot of mileage by harnessing the wealth of information being generated everyday on social media platforms. Don’t be skeptical about it; adopting a social CRM will help you stay one step ahead of the competition. The best approach is to get in touch with a CRM consultant who can adequately define your business needs and chalk out the right strategy for you.

We are here to help

Still confused? Our experts can integrate your SugarCRM with any social media platform that you desire. Contact us to schedule a FREE business analysis session!

A Total CRM platform combines both marketing and sales force automation to merge your customer and sales data to improve the utility of each piece exponentially.  Read on to learn about Total CRM. For more information about marketing and sales force automation, check out Part 1 and Part 2 of this blog series.

Both marketing automation (MA) and sales force automation (SFA) platforms are specialized tools within a CRM solution. While both tools offer great support for your team, they are limited in the insights they can deliver. As standalone systems, their value is directly dependent on the company’s use case. Although you could get by with just a marketing or a sales force program, you would always be missing the essential pieces of customer data that you need to create broader insights.

Will you be attending SugarCon in San Francisco this year? We will be there! Check out our track session "You Want Better CRM User Adoption? Gamify Your System" or stop by our booth. Hope to you see there! 

Together, SFA and MA tools brings a unified view of your customer and sales data. When you integrate this data into a CRM solution, the utility of each improves exponentially. When your SFA and MA initiatives are within your current CRM software, these mature, powerful tools — such as Marketo, Pardot, Act-On, and HubSpot — expand CRM beyond its typical definition. It becomes Total CRM.

The core concept behind Total CRM is the integration of these tools, creating a depth of reporting and insight beyond the scope of any one tool. Integrations across these systems can take many forms, however, each with varying degrees of value, utility, and technical complexity.

Here are different degrees of integrations:

  • Shared Export/Import: A basic form of integration where staff manually exports raw data from one system and imports it into another.
  • Conversion-Level Integration: Data can be pulled directly from the SFA or MA, automatically updating the same data within the CRM. The data isn’t truly integrated, but merely synced across the platforms so that any change to a record will be reflected in both.
  • Shared Query Integration: Allows for queries to work across each tool. A user can be inside their MA tool, for instance, and pull a query or a filtered segment from within the CRM.
  • Total Integration: When these tools — SFA and MA — are able to sync their available data together in real time, these systems can be considered fully integrated. It’s all there — every ad they clicked, every white paper they downloaded, every webinar they attended — providing a 360-degree view of the customer.

Once total integration has been achieved, new options, such as lead scoring and form submissions, become available to the business.

The deeper and more comprehensive the integration, the more sophisticated the options for handling lead and customer data becomes. As a result, lead management can become much more efficient.

Don't forget:  Vote for us in this year'sApp Throwdown and put us on SugarCon's main stage! "Like" our post Splash - Gamification Platform for SugarCRM to make us this year's "Crowd Pleaser"!!

 

What is Onboarding?

Onboarding is the process of welcoming new customers, making sure their questions or issues are addressed, and offering new products and services as the needs become apparent. From welcome calls to user groups to training sessions, onboarding can take many forms, depending on the business. The process is widely regarded as a necessity for retaining customers and deepening their relationships, but many businesses struggle with both the organization of onboarding steps as well as their implementation across multiple departments. 

While many businesses fall short with a lackluster onboarding program, many more are using technology solutions like CRM to help them both implement and monitor the initiatives. When put to work as an extension of CRM's core functionality, a workflow or campaign centered around the new customer experience is a true game changer. Beyond the baseline contact and task management, the advantages of CRM become apparent when we look at data integrations, touchpoint automation, and cross-selling. In these areas, the system builds a safety net for new clients by ensuring a smooth and intuitive process where the business is aware of problems as they happen, no one falls through the cracks and gets forgotten, and opportunities to deepen a customer relationship are seized.

Integration and Automation

The billing process provides a great example of how easily customers can be overlooked. When new customers are invoiced and make a payment, this information is received and noted by the accounting department, and may not be visible to anyone else in the company. If that client is waiting on product delivery or if someone in the company should be reaching out to confirm that the client received what they paid for, the folks in accounting would have had to notify outside departments every time a payment is received. By integrating the finance data with other customer data in CRM, the company can open a window into what exactly is going on with that person and can make that information available to anyone with access to CRM (generally a much wider audience than those accessing accounting software). The customer service team can be automatically notified as soon as payment is received, triggering a customer care call or follow up email. By connecting employees with customers through the data, CRM helps make sure all clients are welcomed into the fold and have an experience that builds loyalty and satisfaction.

Cross-Selling

Businesses will state that "everyone is a salesperson," meaning that all employees should have their antennas up for customer needs and be willing to address them. This is great on paper but less so in practice, because selling takes a level of training and confidence that many employees just don’t have.  The onboarding process is a great time to start making some "soft sales" when customers are just learning what the company offers and are already receptive to the conversations around purchases and money. CRM helps warm up the sales conversation even further, delivering cross-sell recommendations to employees based on what the customer has already purchased and where their needs might lead them. By delivering contextually accurate notifications, CRM gives the business an opportunity to offer products and services to customers that are most likely to be well received.

Today’s businesses operate in a world where the margin for error with customers is very slim and where competition is fierce. The margins are even smaller in the fragile first days of any customer’s experience with that company. Ensuring receipt of the product and answering follow-up questions are the foundation of a welcome process that may include phone calls, emails, letters, or seminars and training. All of this can be a circus even for the largest, best-equipped company, and the prospects for smaller companies can be worse. Using CRM as part of an onboarding initiative will help manage the process by automating customer touchpoint notifications, displaying all of the customers’ information in one spot, and delivering timely cross-sales information. This technology behind the scenes will lead to a customer experience that is smooth, responsive, and attentive to their needs without being too pushy or too distant. The “just right” customer experience is hard to achieve but can solidify the customer relationship and create loyalty that keeps people coming back year after year.

This post was originally published on the W-Systems SugarCRM Blog.

How much effort does your company put into customer success?

 

The answer varies, but companies are starting to realize just how valuable customer success is. Done well, customer success can grow your business by improving customer satisfaction, retention, and recurring revenue. It can even reduce pressure on your customer support team.

 

But because customer success is such a broad arena, it can be difficult to make headway no matter how much time and effort you invest. How do you effectively bring sales, marketing, support, and training together to ensure that every customer you win is successful and has a long, happy relationship with your company?

 

There are a few proven systems that can help you create an effective customer success program, starting with your CRM and online community. These systems collect the information you need to launch customer success initiatives that work for your audience. Here’s how you can use SugarCRM and an online community to increase customer success and grow your business.

 

Step 1. Collect the Three Main Types of Customer Data

Customer success is heavily dependent on the customers involved. What helps one company’s customers may not help yours. So get to know your customers by collecting the three main types of customer data:

  • Demographic Data
  • Transactional Data
  • Activity Data

 

Demographic and transactional data are traditionally collected and analyzed to understand who your customers are and what they typically purchase. SugarCRM is an excellent tool for gathering and organizing this information.

 

Activity data is a newer type of data that usually comes from your website and online community. Activity data tells you how customers behave and helps you understand their interests, concerns, and priorities. A few types include page views, blogs read, and discussion posts published.

 

It’s important to collect all three types of customer data. If you’re missing even one, you won’t have a complete view of your customers and could miss a crucial component that helps customers be more successful with your product and, ultimately, increase the value and satisfaction they experience.

 

Step 2. Combine Data in a Single Location

Once you know you’re collecting the right information on your customers, you need get it in one place. This is important because data silos lead to fragmented views of customers and make understanding the big picture difficult.

 

Combine customer data from your CRM and online community, as well as any other systems that contain useful information, in one system. Many companies use their CRM as their central data repository, but third-party analytics or business intelligence tools can also be helpful.

 

When your data is in one place you can analyze it to get a complete view of your customers. You can match the products customers are discussing in your online community with their purchases, for instance. You’ll also be able to spot topics of interests as well as areas where customers may be struggling.

 

Step 3. Create and Implement a Customer Success Program

Based on your data, draft a customer success program that fits your customers’ needs. Your program may include:

  • Guidelines for managing customer expectations during the initial sales process as well as during upsell and upgrade conversations
  • An onboarding program that sets customers up for success from the moment they make a purchase
  • Ongoing training resources that address pain points and help customers user more product features more efficiently
  • Regular check-ins to head off any potential problems
  • Consistently updated content to help customers learn and get more value from your products over time

 

Each of these elements should be tailored for your customers and can be delivered using the tools in your online community and SugarCRM. You could create follow-up notes and reminders in SugarCRM and distribute content and training material in your online community, for example.

 

Bonus Tip: Keep your program flexible even after implementation. Continue collecting data and update your program when you spot new trends or changes in customer needs. The best customer success programs pivot with customers.

 

Step 4. Collect (and Use) Product Feedback

Your customer success program isn’t the only thing that needs consistently updates, your products and services do too. They’re not perfect, and with the rapidly changing landscape we live in, they never will be. You need to consistently improve your offers to make it as easy as possible for your customers to be successful.

 

One of the best ways to do this is through customer feedback. Use your online community to create a dedicated space for feedback, then ask your customers to weigh in on products and services. What would make them better? How could common user experience problems be solved? Let other customers’ comment or up-vote suggestions from their peers so you know how popular each piece of feedback is. The more positive attention a suggestion gets, the more likely it is that that making a change is that area will increase customer success.

 

And don’t forget to let your customers know when their comments lead to a change. It demonstrates just how much you care about their opinions – a key ingredient in any successful relationship.

 

Customer Success is a Long-Term, Company-Wide Investment

Using SugarCRM and an online community to collect and analyze data over time will help you spot trends in customer behavior and shift your strategies and products to fit customer needs.

 

The most effective companies also have organization-wide buy-in. Everyone, from executives to marketers and customer service representatives, makes customer success a priority. This attitude trickles down through tasks, teamwork, and technology to create an atmosphere that prioritizes the customer. Customers pick up on that, making it just a little easier for them to feel comfortable putting their trust in your business over the long haul.

 

Want to learn more? Contact us or check out listing on SugarExchange to learn what our solution can provide for you.

A Total CRM platform combines both marketing and sales force automation to merge your customer and sales data to improve the utility of each piece exponentially. Read on to learn about sales force automation and check out our marketing automation blog. The completion of this blog series will appear on Aug. 10 and highlights how these two important facets of your business come together in your Total CRM.

Sales force automation (SFA) allows you to automate certain sales functions, freeing up precious time for your sales reps and managers. Taking the leads that your marketing automation (MA) gathered, your sales team can dig into the data to find those prized opportunities. SFA makes it possible to manage a huge volume of leads, contacts, accounts, prospects and customers.

Will you be attending SugarCon in San Francisco this year? We will be there! Check out our track session "You Want Better CRM User Adoption? Gamify Your System" or stop by our booth. Hope to you see there! 

SFA also streamlines your sales team’s process because they can hop into the system and see where they left things with a prospect, logging every call, email and face-to-face conversation. For sales managers, this capability allows you to quickly see the progress of individual accounts, and to track how the sales team is spending their time.

Yet, as useful and efficient as SFA platforms are, they run into the same issue as standalone MA systems do. They only offer half of the big picture. Sales Force Automation platforms cannot show the entire customer relationship — the customer journey through the sales pipeline. They are limited to showing only one specific aspect of it.

Sometimes companies will have both MA and SFA solutions, but they do not connect them. This creates extra steps for your team. The best way to put together your puzzle pieces is to merge them in a Total CRM software.

Sales force automation is just one piece of a Total CRM platform. Learn how it all fits together in the Total CRM white paper.

Don't forget:  Vote for us in this year's App Throwdown and put us on SugarCon's main stage! "Like" our post Splash - Gamification Platform for SugarCRM to make us this year's "Crowd Pleaser"!!

Finding a competent outsource provider can be a real challenge on the one hand, but on the other hand it can bring significant advantages to your business since you get an educated workforce and availability of labor. One may wonder, why do I have to engage a CRM outsourcing company?

 

To find out the answer just ask yourself: Do I have the time or technical expertise to maintain or enhance my CRM system? In our experience, to extract the most value from your CRM system you need a wide variety of not only engineering and IT skills but methodological skills as well. For many business owners the decision to outsource CRM tasks does not come easy. There is a lot of sensitive information in your CRM solution, so finding trustworthy people is obviously a top priority. Of course, the development of outsourcing locations means that firms have several options to choose from if they want to nearshore IT services in order to modify or support their CRM solutions.

 

If you have never hired a CRM outsourcing company and do not know which factors to consider, take a look at our recommendations.

Know when to hire an outside help. It is important to bear in mind if you do not want to suffer from on-peak load when there is a need to change some part of a CRM system quickly.

Be strategic when setting a budget and timeframe. Negotiate the structure and the sequence of the project works. This will help you gain more cost savings, paying service provider on a pre-project basis or only for the hours rendered with your project.

Be specific in the business tasks and challenges description. This will help you guide the project in the right direction and gain more CRM customizations based on what you really want that will allow your business to scale at a greater level.

Discuss the categories of specialists you need. This one is necessary too. Make sure you take care of it. Knowing which specialists you need to carry out your instant CRM enhancement requests will provide you with a team of experienced and competent specialists. In addition, this ensures that you will get better support services and move forward faster.

Of course, outsourcing has its drawbacks. There can be problems with communication, security and privacy leaks, issues with quality of the solutions, to name a few. Still, nearshoring is on the rise thanks to the progress of collaborative technologies and a pool of highly qualified workers.

 

If you want to see other recommendations on all the benefits outsourcing presents and at the same time maintain control over a CRM system, guarantee confidentiality and service efficiency, please, look at this article. It is obvious, that nearshoring makes it much easier to integrate activities and to handle confidential material. However, the question still persists: Do you want to take on the burden of transformation and the associated risks alone or share it?

A Total CRM platform combines both sales force and marketing automation to merge your customer and sales data to improve the utility of each piece exponentially. Read on to learn about marketing automation and check back here on Aug. 3 to gain knowledge about sales force automation. The completion of this blog series will appear on Aug. 10 and highlights how these two important facets of your business come together in your Total CRM.

Will you be attending SugarCon in San Francisco this year? We will be there! Check out our track session "You Want Better CRM User Adoption? Gamify Your System" or stop by our booth. Hope to you see there! 

A customer relationship management (CRM) system gives your whole team access to customer information. When you take that one step farther, you can use that data to reach out to your customers through a variety of campaigns. Marketing automation is a fantastic way to utilize the information stored in your CRM.

A great marketing automation (MA) platform has five key functions:

  • Attract
  • Capture
  • Nurture
  • Convert
  • Expand

It needs tools to not only reach out to leads, but to gather all the information it can from them. A MA platform also needs tools to guide leads through their customer journey, no matter what channel they originated from. Most importantly, it needs to have a wide range of tools for winning business, sustaining customers, and growing interest in other products and services.

MA initiatives can take many forms, including highly-targeted email marketing to social listening, SEO audits, A/B testing and predictive analytics. No matter the avenue, the core of all these measures is to make it as easy and efficient as possible for the marketing team to find and win new customers.

Yet, there is one significant issue with MA-focused systems: They can’t see into the sales side of this process. To reap the biggest reward from your CRM, you need to be able to manage and see into the sales pipeline. Without a sales function, it is difficult to have a deep understanding of things like ROI. It also makes any customer-centric analysis virtually impossible to do.

To understand more about salesforce automation, check out part 2 of this blog series next week.

Marketing automation is just one piece of a Total CRM platform. Learn how it all fits together in the Total CRM white paper.

Don't forget:  Vote for us in this year's App Throwdown and put us on SugarCon's main stage! "Like" our post Splash - Gamification Platform for SugarCRM to make us this year's "Crowd Pleaser"!!

Like many businesses these days, we have been using live chat now for quite awhile now and realizing its benefits. Over the past year we have integrated our chat and CRM applications and quickly found that this should have been done much sooner than we had. Quite simply, it's a must to augment chat with CRM data.

 

Standalone Chat

 

Before we made the leap we did noticed some immediate benefits to having chat by itself, including:

 

  • Chat provided more efficient support.  It can be helpful to get on a phone call at times, especially for deeper issues, but nothing beats being able to effectively help multiple people at one time like you can with chat. It scales much more nicely.
  • Chat put a face to our business. People love doing business with other people versus a faceless business. It's comforting to know there is an actual person available when help is needed.
  • Chat improved our sales. We found that adding chat as an option improved our sales substantially. On top of having the option to start a chat, those who engaged in chat were much more likely to purchase as their questions were able to be quickly answered, removing those hurdles.

 

Chat with CRM

 

After tying in CRM data into our chat conversations we were able to realize a number of additional benefits, including:

 

  • Chat helped with renewals. With tying chat to current billing status we were able to do proactive chats to help with the renewal process.
  • Chat helped with at-risk trials. Based on certain indicators, our CRM marked certain trials as "at-risk". Having that information at hand not only helped our agents better understand how to help visitors, but we could also use that information to start proactive chats to ensure that the customer was getting the help that they needed in order to use it.

 

Chat with CRM & Zendesk

 

As we continue to grow there are new opportunities to improve, especially around the support side. This is why we are excited about the new Zendesk Chat product launch along with the only CRM integration currently available for it, Fanatical Labs' SugarCRM for Zendesk integration.

 

Multi-Channel Chat

 

While working with other businesses trying out the beta version over the past couple of months, we found that Zendesk and SugarCRM users benefited the most from:

 

  • Providing an additional avenue of support. Users are now able to quickly create support tickets based on chat conversations.
  • Advanced chat routing. Based on rules, including visitor behavior on the site, they can route....(word this to support or sales points of contact...)
  • Seeing contract info from Sugar. Support agents could quickly see what a visitor's support contract is so that the appropriate level of support could be provided.
  • Reducing steps needed from a customer. For example, if a customer is having an issue a support rep could see what their license key is within Sugar without needing to ask them for that additional information. Reducing steps such as these reduces the dedicated time required to get a customer the help they needed.
  • Proactively initiating chat based on behavior. Based on a variety of options, including current page, # of past visits, time on site, etc, automated chats can be sent to the visitor.

 

Zendesk Chat with SugarCRM data on the right

 

If you haven't started taking advantage of chat yet, or have and are looking to become more effective with it, there are plenty of opportunities to do so. The ways to use chat augmented with CRM listed above are just some of the many possibilities. I suggest starting with one or two, implementing it, learning from it, and then expanding from there. If you need help setting up Zendesk with SugarCRM schedule a call with us.