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2017

We hear a lot about analytics or artificial intelligence.  But the question I have is, can you see it?  Do you know what it feels like when you ACTUALLY see it?

 

I equate the feeling to an experience I had this past weekend while surfing with a friend in Satellite Beach, Florida. We were minding our own business waiting for the waves to come in, when suddenly a spinner shark breached the surface of the water in full spinning mode. Picture a 4-5 foot (1-2 meter) shark jumping out of the water and spinning about 5 times.  What a sight to see!

 

The spinner shark was about 12-15 feet (4+ meters) away from us.  After the shock passed, we began to contemplate: should we get out of the water? We looked at each other and said “wow, that was cool,” and decided to keep surfing. 

 

Now picture yourself in the water with a shark VERY close and you can feel the vulnerability you experience with a new level of visibility. Yes, it was a bit scary, and it was definitely on our minds as we kept surfing, but being face to face with the dangers of the water made us more alert and conscious to pay attention to the water around us and not just the waves.

 

Seeing the shark in the water, is like finally experiencing the visualizations in SugarCRM for all the things that analytics companies claim. Accent Technologies brings this new level of visibility, supercharging SugarCRM, so the reps can be more productive and effective.  This level of visibility lets the reps and the managers quickly assess what is going on without sifting through spreadsheets or lines of data trying to filter and figure out what has changed on the opportunity from the last time they spoke.  It allows you to see activities and the effectiveness of those activities.


This is important for several reasons:

 

  • Analytics or business intelligence typically rely on historical data that is stored in Sugar. Accent leverages historical data but without requiring any additional data entry by the rep, it adds additional components like company specific standards that drive the desired behavior of the business.  This allows the reps to go after what the business decides are attractive opportunities and is always delivered real time. 
  • Additionally, our smart digital assistant, gets the reps aligned with the right activities and visualizations that help move those opportunities to the next step.
  • Powered by intelligent analytics, Accent delivers more accurate forecasts helping prioritize the right opportunities at the right time for better forecast accuracy. Algorithms based on different model types allow for the system to learn what is an ideal opportunity, what activities are most effective and visually representing what is happening in real time.

 

See the shark! Visualize the value with Accent Technologies and SugarCRM.  Stay tuned for our announcement and expect to see us on SugarExchange soon.

American Specialties, Inc (“ASI”), a Sugar and W-Systems customer since January 2016, was a featured presenter at this year’s SugarCon 2017 conference. The presentation, “Getting Independent Sales Reps and the Manufacturer on the Same Team”, was designed to promote how a successful CRM implementation could, and should, be executed, and to help provide insights to other Sugar customers going through similar implementations.

Avi Bar, National Sales Manager for ASI, and the architect behind their global CRM rollout did a terrific job outlining what a successful implementation blueprint should look like.

Let’s take a look at a few of the challenges that Avi, and ASI faced:

1000+ Users and 30 Territories Across the Globe

  • Challenge: In the manufacturing space, ASI works with independent sales reps who often times who represent other manufacturers. As you might imagine, this presents a unique challenge related to user adoption. Unlike traditional sales environments, ASI has no authority to mandate the use of their own internal tools, yet compliance is critical to overall success.
  • Solution: In order for ASI to gain full adoption, they needed to provide a tool that truly provided value to their reps, otherwise they simply wouldn’t use it. So, how did they do that? Well, they spent 9 months working very closely with the reps across the globe. They did this with one-on-one face-to-face meetings, calls, etc. with the goal of; 1) planting the seeds earlier on so the reps knew what was coming; 2) making sure their voice was heard and that they felt that they were part of the process; and 3) building specific functionality that would help them be more productive. On top of all that, they convinced the sales people that utilizing this new tool would have a direct impact on their ability to make more money, the sweetest sound any salesperson can hear.

Data Visibility and Security Across 100+ Teams

  • Challenge: With all these different reps/companies accessing the system, ASI knew they would have to convince the reps that their data was secure and visible only to those with the requisite permissions. Without it, they knew it would be unlikely that they would get the data input they were requesting.
  • Solution: Utilizing the Sugar built-in Roles and Team security (with a little bit of added magic from W-Systems), ASI deployed a sophisticated security structure that provided the reps with the confidence that their “proprietary” data would not be exposed to any vulnerabilities, or shared outside its own user-base.

Data Aggregation and Analysis

  • Challenge: With no systems in place prior to the deployment of Sugar, there was little data to analyze that would allow ASI to accurately evaluate performance
  • Solution: With the addition of Sugar, ASI now has the ability to furnish reports that allow them to better evaluate the performance of their reps. This gives them insights that they did not have before, which can now be used to help change behaviors and selling strategies.

Encourage Reps to Focus on Untapped Opportunities

  • Challenge: One area of long-term success for ASI is to sell to Architects during the planning phase, however, because these sales cycles are long, reps don’t like to spend their time there, they want low-hanging fruit…
  • Solution: ASI knew that if they presented these opportunities to their reps in small increments, they might be able to get them to focus some attention… They decided to integrate Sugar with a data services provider (“Dodge”) that automatically populates real opportunities in Sugar. All project details, customer accounts and contacts make it very easy for reps to quickly follow up and submit bids.

Training and Education to Aide with Adoption

  • Challenge: With a global, distributed sales force, ASI needed to make sure they provided a comprehensive training strategy to ensure adoption and compliance.
  • Solution: ASI developed and delivered live training in “easy to consume” sessions generally lasting no longer than 1 hour. From there, they created much smaller training “clips” (approx. 15 minutes) that they posted on a YouTube channel dedicated to Sugar training, and lastly, they opened up a Help Desk specifically to answer Sugar-related inquiries. This combination of training and support channels ensured that users were never left in the dark and helped them get optimal value from the tool.

These are just a few of the ways that ASI was able to follow a regimented plan for a successful implementation. As it turns out, past experience proved invaluable for this customer, and by sharing some of their experiences, ASI is hopefully your organization can find similar implementation success.

This article was originally published on W-Systems' SugarCRM Blog.

A CRM system can give your business both a look forward and backward, and be the centralized hub for customer information. While you understand the reasons you need to use CRM software, you may struggle on getting the most from the solution. In truth, the technology is only as good as it’s users. Are you wondering how to get your team to utilize a CRM platform for your company?

Here are 5 best practice tips for CRM use:

1. Customize for your needs

CRM systems can have many bells and whistles. However, you do not want to make your employees’ process any more difficult. Take the time to learn what will help them.

For example, if you are a manufacturer of a solution used in medical adhesives, there are only so many customers that will use your product. You already know who the customers are in your marketable universe, so it does not make sense to qualify leads. Anyone that is interested in this medical-grade compound is already qualified and is an opportunity. Thus, you do not need a Leads module in your CRM because your data can go right to the system’s Accounts module. If your sales team is uploading information into the Leads module, this creates extra, unnecessary steps.

Speak to your team about what they are interested in and then build from there.

Do you know the difference between a lead and an opportunity? Learn how to best differentiate these terms and utilize your CRM.

2. Define objectives and KPIs

Once you determine which facets of a CRM you want to use, you need to decide what goals you want to meet. Maybe you are most interested in growing qualified leads. Or you want to discover where in the sales funnel people drop off. Either way, define what your goals are prior to launching a CRM. Keep checking back to make sure you are achieving your goals and if not, adjust your strategy.

3. Manage expectations

Be realistic when you set personal goals for your team. How many leads would you like each team member to enter into the CRM? What data fields do you think are most important? Set your expectations so you can see where adjustments may need to be made.

4. Create buy in

Team members are not going to go full throttle into a new technology if senior leadership does not show passion for the system. Take the time to speak to your staff about why everyone needs to use the CRM and how using it is going to increase efficiencies.

5. Continue training

A common mistake is to only conduct training on the CRM system during implementation. A one-and-done training model leads to minimal effort from your team. It is not that they don’t want to use the CRM system, but when they start to use it and get stuck, they can feel too busy to take the time to figure out the issue and continue on. Instead, they may go back to the old way of doing things. However, with continued training, you will reinforce your message of using the CRM system and be available to troubleshoot issues.

Want more good stuff? Then check out all our apps on SugarExchange!

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest”. –Benjamin Franklin

I will cut straight to the chase. There is a long list of reasons why SugarCRM has managed to establish its footprint in the CRM industry in such a short span of time. Loved by SMB’s to large enterprises alike, SugarCRM has always put its customers at the heart of its organization. Regardless of company size or industry vertical, SugarCRM has managed to transform businesses to drive profitability and increase customer satisfaction.

If that still does not answer the fundamental question why SugarCRM? Let me  share with you the top six reasons why SugarCRM is an optimal CRM solution for your business.

 

1. Affordability

SugarCRM has somehow managed to pull off the ‘More for Less’ value proposition in the CRM industry. Although SugarCRM no longer offers its FREE Sugar Community Edition, the other three editions cost way less than their counterparts. With all the core CRM capabilities that require a one time payment and no hidden fees and complexity, SugarCRM is an affordable CRM solution that you can blindly trust.

 

2. Easy to use

Choose SugarCRM for your business

With a simple user interface that is easy to navigate, your employees will not find it difficult to use Sugar at all. Sugar is known to have a high user adoption rate, a must have feature as it is ultimately the end users who determine the success or failure of implementing a CRM system.

 

3. Customizable

Choose SugarCRM for your business

No matter which CRM you purchase, a default solution will not empower you to carry out all your operations. The need for customization would always arise. You would like to get your SugarCRM theme, modules, dashboards, workflows, fields etc. customized to have a complete bespoke system that would serve as an all encompassing platform to manage your business. SugarCRM takes the lead in this area too. As an open source CRM, you can get Sugar configured according to your exact business needs.

 

4. Integratable

Choose SugarCRM for your business

Customizations would only get half the job done. To get 100% results, you need to connect your Sugar with all the departments of your organization through third-party plugins/integrations. SugarCRM allows you to virtually connect with any software that you desire be it marketing automation, sales automation, social media, payment gateways, data analytics, content management systems, ecommerce platforms, etc.

 

5. Reporting

Choose SugarCRM for your business

Sugar is extremely competent in comparison to other CRMs when it comes to handling large amounts of data. It lets you gather data from various modules to generate reports that give you an excellent handle on your analytics. In addition to the four basic reports, Sugar lets you create advanced reports. And even if that does not suffice, you can get custom reports built to analyze the wealth of information stored inside the database.

 

6. Deployment

Choose SugarCRM for your business

One of the most distinctive features of SugarCRM is the deployment options it offers. SugarCRM supports four deployment methods: On-Demand, Private Cloud, Public Cloud and On-Premise. You get complete freedom to choose from any of the four options and can always make a switch as your customer base grows and business evolves.

 

We are here to help

With Sugar by your side, meaningful customer relationships and excellent customer service are just a click away. So what are you waiting for?. Contact us to schedule a FREE business analysis session

We always talk about the value and necessity of data, but there’s one caveat that rarely gets mentioned. Whenever we say “data,” we mean clean and relevant data. We refer to data that offers real value to reps—not the 30% of rotten data that experts say accumulate yearly in your database.

It’s rotten data that has given CRM a bad name. While it’s true that CRM adoption has had exponential growth and that investment in the business has steadily increased, CRM failure remains a major concern, with as many as 1 in 2 businesses saying that the CRM is no help at all.

A CRM fails a business when it contains contaminated, irrelevant, useless, and dated information about customers. As a relationship database, the primary function of a CRM is to help marketers, sales reps, and support reps understand a customer better.

That’s not possible if your data is five years old and hasn’t been changed since. Or if your CRM is full of old contacts that are no longer considered as customers or prospects. Or when looking for a contact is creating more problems because you have multiple entries with different information in data fields.

All these problems will get in the way of using your CRM, and eventually affect your service. To avoid getting knee-deep in decaying data, try the following tips and start keeping a tidier, more effective CRM.

  • Keep everyone on the same page about CRM use.

Invest time and effort into training everyone with access to your CRM on the proper data protocol, from data collection to verification. This would ensure that everyone appreciates what clean data is, and the difference it makes to CRM and customer care. It will also help cultivate a culture of data awareness and raise the skill level of your employees in terms of handling customer information.

 

  • Integrate your system.

CTI can help you maintain clean and accurate data in your CRM. Integration will ensure the accuracy of data by automatically capturing data and logging it into your database, removing the intervention of human reps who may or may not follow the standard procedure of data entry.

 

A great example of how this works is the Tenfold and Sugar integration. Sugar is praised for its intuitive and simple design that’s different and better than the usual enterprise-level CRM. With Tenfold’s enterprise assistant technology, inputting data into Sugar and accessing that data during customer interactions become a breeze. Tenfold logs calls, and offers additional features like click to call and pop-up notifications.

 

  • Institute routine data health checks.

People change—that’s the reality of life. If you can’t keep up with the changes in your csutomers’ lives, you’ll have low-quality data that will just be a hindrance to your business objectives. One way to counter this is by doing data verification with your customers every not and then. If you fear that routine data verification will be tedious, then use automation tools to lessen the time and effort. You can also automate communication with your customers regarding data confirmation.

Data is only good for business when it’s clean and accurate. For optimum data health, choose an integration solution and have trustworthy data at your fingertips any time of the day.

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See how Tenfold works in action with Sugar: Tenfold Demo (SugarCRM) on Vimeo 

Tenfold @ SugarExchange

Today, the implementation of CRM software is nearly ubiquitous. In fact, a 2016 study conducted by CSO Insights found that 80% of companies are investing in CRM to drive sales productivity.

 

Successfully migrating CRM data is a big part of any CRM implementation project. The process of moving CRM data can be quite complex. Whether you’ve worked with CRM software for months, years or decades, you could probably still stand to learn a thing or two. Here are some things to consider before, during and after migrating your CRM data:

 

Pre-Migration – Scope your migration.  As an organization you should agree on what legacy data is valuable and critical to the new CRM system. Start by identifying the source of the conversion, then develop a business understanding of what that source data is being used for. Next, figure out if you’re doing a simple contact migration or if more complex data such as meeting history, call logs and emails will be included. Don’t gloss over the details, it can lead to expensive and painful realizations later in the project.

 

During Migration – Catch errors.  During the migration make sure you have a design that will report and log errors such as malformed data rows, un-matched or orphaned relational records, and sub process failures. No migration is perfect on the first try, and without logs you will be wasting a ton of stressful time trying to explain to the client what happened.

 

Post-Migration – Have your test ready. Be ready with how you will test the data migration upon completion.  Use before and after table record counts to demonstrate the completeness of the migration. Also, use before and after representative records to show specific, previously agreed upon records both in the data source system and in the new CRM system. Lastly, inspect each data element and verify that the data ended up in the expected location in the new system.

 

A Bloor Research Data Migration report found that nearly 40% of data migration projects were over time, over budget or failed. This may come as no surprise if you’ve ever been involved in a large-scale CRM data migration, as you already know how daunting these projects can be.

 

We have carefully compiled even more of our best practices in our new white paper, “Best Practices in CRM Data Migration.” Download it today to discover our proven framework for CRM data migration success.

 

And don't forget to check out all of our apps on SugarExchange!

The importance of moving beyond spreadsheets and email.

Every child first learns addition and subtraction, only then moving on to more advanced ideas like multiplication and division. With those fundamental concepts mastered, students can then tackle more advanced topics like algebra, calculus, and beyond.

But what if we stopped learning math after we were taught addition? What if we let simply let every elementary school child stay in their mathematical comfort zone? Would most people’s daily lives actually be all that different? People could still add things together — slower than multiplication, but it creates the same results — so the biggest problem would simply be how time consuming certain mundane tasks become. While not ideal, it’s probably fair to say that most people could probably get by only knowing the mathematical basics of addition and subtraction.

What’s less obvious, however, is just how much time would be wasted on those slow, trivial calculations. If we want to know how much it would cost to buy 15 cans of beans at $1.05 each, we can just multiply them. That’s a far, far more efficient option than adding them together one at a time. It’s obviously a better, more efficient, and streamlined solution. And yet, there are countless business processes and workflows that are as slow and counterproductive as relying on addition and subtraction for every operation.

Consider the spreadsheet. When personal computers were introduced 30 years ago, the spreadsheet was considered the apex of business technology. It was as much of a practical leap forward as the electronic calculator was from a slide rule and paper. Even today, executives rely on Excel and other spreadsheets. It’s easy to see why: Excel is simple. You only need to click into a cell, and then enter your data. From there, it’s possible to run that data through every imaginable equation and situation, color coding rows and columns to keep things clear. But should we be moving beyond spreadsheets?

We can’t ignore that spreadsheets are primitive tools. While it’s entirely possible to create a semi-functional lead database or pipeline management system within Excel, that’s also an incredibly inefficient way to manage that data. It’s as inefficient as relying on addition and subtraction for every mathematical problem. Yes, it’s technically possible to make it work, but what a headache!

Spreadsheets just can’t compete with software designed for those specialized business tasks.

Email is another tool that has become a “center of gravity” in many companies. Yes, it’s possible to use an email program to store customer data, share contracts, and even track the progress of deals. It’s just a terribly inefficient way to do any of that. It’s the wrong tool for the modern workflow.

The fluidity of email use is a huge problem. A salesperson might have a wealth of prospect information in their Gmail account, but there is no way for the rest of the sales team to access or make use of it. All that information — which clearly belongs in a categorized, searchable, reportable, trackable, shareable, and summated system — is only accessible through a crude email search system.

How does a company move past these inefficiencies?

Using multiple platforms creates confusion among employees and slows down workflows.

These inefficiencies are hardly limited to multitasking. Consider a typical sales job at a small company without a CRM. Just to do their job, they may use:

  • Excel to track leads
  • Word to pull up the appropriate sales scripts
  • Google Calendar to schedule calls
  • Google Docs to update a shared opportunity status spreadsheet
  • Dropbox to access contracts
  • Skype for team meetings and some sales calls
  • Gmail to handle their email

These are seven completely different, largely disconnected applications, each with their own quirks, costs, and limitations. None of these tools are hard to use, but switching between them can create serious inefficiencies.

Remembering how to input data into a specific spreadsheet takes time, as does remembering to check a calendar, or hunting down the right sales form in a shared Dropbox folder. This eats away at time that could be spent talking to prospects, making deals, and closing sales.

Get your time back by creating a new center of gravity: a customer relationship management (CRM) system that stores all necessary customer information, all in one place.

It’s the same principle of learning multiplication as a child. While you could technically use addition to put together your equation, but once you learn multiplication, even mundane tasks become exponentially easier. In the case of CRM software, this small investment in efficiency makes it much easier to improve everything from workflows to knowledge transfer.

It’s not enough for your CRM to be a part of your business, it needs to be the nucleus. Download our white paper to learn how to make it happen.

Business applications are useful because they help you do something. Whether it streamlines a process, helps store information, or increases other efficiencies, a business application’s purpose is to assist you. However, if you have too many business applications, or if they don’t work together, these tools can instead cause confusion and chaos.

How? When your resources are not connected, it can be easy to lose track of where your data is. Even making a simple sales call to a potential customer may require you to search through a mountain of emails, wade through countless cells in an Excel file, hunt down physical copies of contracts and other paper, and even scan your phone for relevant call times, voicemails, and texts. By the time you find what you were looking for, you may even have forgotten why you needed it for in the first place.

Beyond that, what about the information you need while you’re on the call? What if a customer has a question that you weren’t prepared for? What if you need to know the CTR of an email campaign, or want to pull a forecasting report? Putting all those pieces together takes time, which can be a serious drain on your company’s resources.

With CRM software, you can put all this crucial data at your fingertips, in one place. The four cornerstones of CRM software are:

  • Marketing automation
  • Sales force automation
  • Reports and Analytics
  • Service Desk

Marketing automation

Marketing automation needs tools to not only reach out to leads, but also to gather all the information it can from them. MA platforms have tools to guide leads through their customer journey, no matter what channel they originated from.

MA initiatives can take many forms, including:

  • highly-targeted email marketing
  • social listening
  • SEO audits
  • A/B testing
  • predictive analytics

Sales force automation

Sales is a hands-on job, but there are some tasks that do not need as much attention as others. Sales force automation (SFA) allows you to automate certain sales functions, freeing up time for your sales reps and managers.  SFA makes it possible to manage a huge volume of leads, contacts, accounts, prospects, and customers.

Your sales team’s process is streamlined, enabling anyone to hop into the system and see where they left things with a prospect. Vital information — from logging every call and email to face-to-face conversations and contract dates — becomes easy to find.  

CRM systems also allow sales managers to quickly see the progress of individual accounts, and to track how the sales team is spending their time.

Reports and analytics

The more data you have in one place, the better overview you have into your sales, marketing, forecasts, and other data. CRM systems are also highly customizable, allowing  you to pick and choose the reports you need.

CRM software allows you to get a bird’s eye view of your business practices, and then provides the opportunity to dig deeper. When your sales force and marketing automation programs are connected for a Total CRM solution, you gain a complete view of your leads, customers, and other essential aspects of your business.

To provide the greatest insights into productivity, CRM reporting needs to move beyond simple activity reporting. With a little bit of guile in structuring these reports, it becomes possible to focus on motion as well as activity, tracking efficiency and productivity across teams and individuals.

Service desk

Your service desk makes and takes many calls, every day, every hour. Creating efficiency for your team is important so they don’t waste valuable those valuable moments on slow load times, inefficient customer data storage, or confusion on next steps.

A complete CRM solution isn’t about the software, it’s about creating a comprehensive strategy for enhancing all customer relationships. The better those relationships are managed, the more effective the marketing, sales, administrative, and customer service functions can become.

A CRM system can mean anything from a marketing-automation service to a back-end reporting tool. Learn your definition by checking out this informational white paper.

Are you looking to expand your business and capture new markets? Maybe you need to develop a new app or service offering to capture a market opportunity. Or maybe you have an existing proposition but need to stay ahead of the competition; provide more value to your customers; and/or drive more revenue from your install base.

 

If so, then you know that speed, agility and innovation are key. You need to get to market quickly and iterate to align your offering with customer expectations. To stay ahead of the competition, you need cutting-edge technology. And, you need an industry-leading, innovative partner, so that you don’t have to “go it alone”.

 

These are all good reasons to look at partnering rather than building. By partnering, you can:

- Accelerate your time to market

- Lower cost and risk

- Leverage existing industry-leading functionality

 

Whether you want to offer:

- Your own branded CRM;

- CRM “light”;

- Or an product that includes any or all of contact, account, lead, opportunity, campaign management;

partnering to take advantage of SugarCRM’s proven, industry-leading functionality is quicker, more cost effective, and more innovative than building your own.

 

Example - Access Group

Access Group, a leading author of business management software, drove 1M$ in year one of launching their CRM Powered by SugarCRM, representing about 25% of net new business for aCloud, the brand under which Access Group markets Sugar within its business services package.

 

“A few years ago, we recognized that we needed to have a transformation strategy that moved to a cloud solution – that’s the way the market is going – and that it made sense to have a CRM as part of that strategy,” says Greg Dennick, head of aCloud operations. He concludes: “Sugar was the best fit for us.”

 

As a “Powered by SugarCRM” partner, Access Group realizes: 1M$ net new revenue; faster time to market with a highly customizable CRM; deeper CRM functionality as part of an integrated suite of business applications; a stronger customer centric product that adds value for customers. Learn more by reading the SugarCRM OEM Access Group Case Study.

 

Example - Vodafone

Vodafone has launched a suite of role-based customer management apps for Small and Medium Enterprises, Powered by SugarCRM, hosted in the cloud and available from their Digital Marketplaces.

 

For more information, message me (Emma Price) in the community or, if you prefer, drop an email to oem@sugarcrm.com.