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Partner Corner

28 Posts authored by: Jennifer Karpus-Romain

There’s more to growing a business than winning new customers and clients. To experience real growth, you need to optimize, streamline, and centralize your core business processes. Then you can get the full picture of your company’s operations.

For your salespeople and customer service reps to gain the insights they need, you may need to invest in a customer relationship management (CRM) solution. But what about all your processes that aren’t focused on sales? That’s where an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution comes in.

 

ERP systems are designed to collect data from a wide variety of business processes, including HR, supply chains, manufacturing, procurement and billing. And they make that data more accessible and usable. In fact, a well-implemented ERP can empower its users to eliminate information silos, which will create comprehensive insights, analyses and reports. So it perfectly complements the sales-and-service focus of CRM.

 

If you’re thinking about adopting an ERP solution for your business, it’s important to understand some fundamental concepts before you invest your company’s time and money in it.

 

So here are 10 important tips about ERP implementation:

 

Optimize for higher productivity but lower risks.

A well-designed ERP platform allows for many of the most tedious and time-consuming daily activities (such as sending email updates, generating reports and identifying delays) to be fully automated. This benefit also creates an opportunity to reduce the guesswork and uncertainty of many business operations, which reduces the impact of human error.

 

Your top priority should involve improving insights and reports.

Since ERP solutions put a wealth of vital information at your fingertips, they make life easier for everyone who uses them. But to be truly effective, all of this data needs to flow to your company’s decision-makers. In other words, you need to invest in the development of useful dashboards, standard reports and in-depth analysis tools.

 

Focus on the ERP modules you actually need.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to ERP implementation. Since most ERP software is modular, it gives thousands of possible configurations—right out of the box. Always remember that your ERP solution needs to align with your company’s specific use cases.

 

Frequently, you’ll need to ignore the bells and whistles. To create a more streamlined ERP experience, you may even need to remove unused functionality.

 

Understand the types of ERP, as well as their use cases.

Does your ERP require full control over a dedicated, on-site server? And do you have a geographically distributed team that includes people working in the field? If so, cloud-based ERP might make more sense.

 

Identify the correct size of ERP for your business.

A small, family-owned company has vastly different ERP needs than a midsize international business. So if your ERP implementation partner doesn’t understand those differences, it can create a huge range of problems down the line.

 

Planning and preparation matter.

According to some estimates, 50% of new ERP implementations fail. And in almost every case, the root cause is a poorly planned, rushed roll-out process. So take your time, and get it right.

 

Create a realistic timeline.

ERP vendors can be optimistic to a fault. This trait is especially common when it comes to estimating the timeline of a successful roll out. These vendors tell their clients what they think they want to hear, even if it means fudging the launch dates.

As a result, most ERP initiatives take 30% longer to complete than their original estimates. Overall, a good ERP implementation partner is completely transparent about the potential delays you may face along the way.

 

Set a realistic budget.

It’s extremely common for new ERP implementations to go way overbudget. This outcome is often the result of trying to cut corners on steps like user testing—only to realize late in the process (even after the launch) that an essential feature is missing.

 

A great ERP implementation partner will be candid with you about the costs involved in achieving your company’s goals. This transparency will allow you to create an accurate budget from the get-go.

 

Find the right implementation partner.

When deciding whether to adopt an ERP solution, many companies focus on the wrong things. For example, they obsess over:

  • The specific features of ERP software suites.
  • The length of time the implementation will take.
  • The amount of money they can shave off the final budget.

 

To keep your project on track, you need an implementation partner who’s willing to take the time to understand your company’s unique needs, challenges, and use cases.

 

Plan for post-implementation revisions.

Most new ERP systems require usability upgrades and improvements after implementation. These post-implementation upgrades should be an essential part of your ERP strategy. And your implementation partner should have a cost-effective plan that will continuously help you improve your results.

 

Conclusion

Your ERP solution is one of the most important investments your business will ever make. It’s a major expenditure of time, money, and other resources. So the last thing you want to see is your ERP implementation fail because of a completely avoidable problem.

 

Remember, the most important thing is to get it right, which could involve thinking bigger than just ERP. In many cases, it makes more sense to launch a combined ERP/CRM solution. When you combine your ERP and CRM installations, you’ll have complete visibility of every aspect of your company’s operations.

 

To learn more about the ways ERP and CRM technology can transform your company, contact FayeBSG

Customer experience is rapidly becoming a top priority for businesses. More consumers are placing their loyalty with companies based on their experiences, rather than pricing and product.

In fact, reports say that 86 percent of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience.

Overall, you want to give your customers the best user experience (UX) possible. But to do that, you need to have the best customer relationship management (CRM) software. That’s why SugarCRM has upped its game by guaranteeing outstanding UX via Sugar Sell.

 

SugarCRM has always been known for the reliability, satisfaction, and tech support it provides. But how does Sugar Sell equip businesses with the most innovative yet affordable solutions on the market? Sugar Sell brings customer data into one place, then builds a complete system for sales automation, collaboration, and reporting on top of that underlying data.

Sugar Sell offers the ultimate ability to craft a story about your customers, your company, and the future of your business. And it’s the UX solution to use when you want to empower every employee by giving them the right information at the right time—which is before they even ask for it.

Here are some key features of Sugar Sell:

  • Management

You can oversee leads, opportunities, accounts, and contacts.

  • Transparency

You can give everyone in your organization a context for each customer interaction, as well as insight about what to do next.

  • Reporting and Dashboard

With out-of-the-box customized reporting, you can drive strategic business decisions and inform leadership about important qualities of the business. You can also monitor your key business metrics and utilize reports that will turn customer data into business insights.

  • Product Catalog and Quote Management

By placing your product catalog right in Sugar Sell, you can effortlessly search and browse for products. And while viewing your customer account record, you can create custom quotes on the fly. In addition, you can run reports on the opportunities and revenues associated with each product, which will help you anticipate demand and fully understand each product’s performance.

  • Sales Forecasting

With Sugar Sell’s quote management, you can streamline your sales cycle and increase deal velocity. And with sales forecasting, you can improve the visibility and predictability of your overall business.

  • Sugar BPM

With robust business process management, you can improve your sales efficiency and productivity by spending less time on manual effort, and more time engaging with customers. Then you can automate almost any business process, including lead routing, quote approvals, customer email notifications, and much more.

Essentially, Sugar Sell customers can drive revenue, increase efficiency, reduce sales costs, and deliver unmatched customer-buying experiences.

 Want to learn more or see a demo? We’re ready when you are!

In an ideal world, all your company’s software solutions would be able to easily share information. If you needed an important detail about a customer’s purchasing history while working in your customer relationship management (CRM) platform, it would be simple to call it up from your enterprise resource planning (ERP). Within a few clicks, everything you need would be right there.

But in the real world, software integration tends to be a little messy. It can take a lot of work to get two unrelated business programs to talk to one another, much less reliably share their data.

Meanwhile, it’s never been more important for business software to make these essential connections. Overall, the more efficiently these systems work together, the better it is for your company’s bottom line.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at five software integration trends that have become increasingly important for all types of businesses.

Here they are:

1.       Cloud ERP with CRM

Cloud ERP solutions aim at combining the flexibility and cost-savings of self-hosted software with the reliability, security and access of the cloud. This solution can be powerful for the right business.

While a Cloud ERP is typically known as your “back-office,” the trend has shifted toward an integrated ERP platform with CRM. By integrating a CRM solution with a Cloud ERP, your company can gain a 360-degree view of your entire operation.

2.       Social Media and Digital Marketing Integrations

It’s no secret that today’s sales teams increasingly rely on social media and online marketing to effectively do their jobs. Unfortunately, most older CRM solutions weren’t built with social media and digital marketing in mind.

Today, sales professionals rely on external tools. This outcome isn’t ideal, as it tends to make the CRM itself less useful. Unsurprisingly, CRM integrations for both digital marketing platforms and social media are now on the rise.

3.       IoT Integrations

To many people, the Internet of Things (IoT) still seems like a science-fiction dream. But for some industries, it’s reality.

IoT technology has created a world where warehouse shelves can run inventories on their own, and every machine on a factory floor can give instant updates about their own efficiency. This information is useful for integrating ERP with CRM, and it allows managers to gain real-time insights while they improve demand forecasting and other long-term projections.

4.       AI Integration

From a customer-service perspective, so-called “conversational AI” has the potential to be a total game changer.

Most of the support calls your company receives probably don’t require the involvement of a real, live human being. Customers usually have routine problems that could easily be solved through an automated system, or even by looking up the solution on your website. But when something goes wrong, most people prefer to talk to another human being about it. This tendency involves having an expensive human being on the other end of the line, even for the most mundane support issues.

If only there was a way for your customers to talk to an automated system in a more organic way. That’s where conversational AI comes in: using natural language-processing to create virtual assistants that are almost as good at their jobs as real, live people. Customer service integrations are just the beginning for this advanced AI. This technology is just scratching the surface of its usefulness in business.

5.       Gamification

One of the most frustrating things about investing in CRM or other business technology solutions is realizing that your employees just aren’t interested in using it. They don’t see the long-term benefits, such as the boost to efficiency. They just see more work.

But what if there was a way to make this entire learning process more engaging? Or even kind of fun? That’s what gamification is all about. By using game-like mechanics (such as competitions, leaderboards, badges, and prizes), you truly turn your CRM into an employee-motivation engine.

Don’t get behind on software integration trends.To learn more about the ways your company can benefit from the right software integrations, contact FayeBSG for a free consultation.

Even though we live in a world that’s dominated by rapidly evolving technology, plenty of businesses are still very skeptical about every new advancement. For instance, old-school tactics are surprisingly common in sales. These “traditions” include paper contracts, siloed recordkeeping, and in-person only interactions.

Meanwhile, companies that embrace modern sales technology see results that would have been impossible when using traditional sales tools. As a result, the organizations that insist on sticking to the old methods are quickly becoming obsolete.

If your sales teams is having trouble keeping up with the times, you’re in luck.

Here are 11 technology resources that will help your company greatly improve at sales:

  1. Use Your CRM to Improve Sales Funnel Visibility

 Most sales organizations have poor visibility into their sales funnels. This method can make it difficult to know where any given prospect is in the sales process. While this problem is very significant, an even larger one is that it’s much harder to identify bottlenecks that impact the entire sales process. By tracking the customer’s progress, a well-designed CRM can dramatically improve the overall visibility into your sales funnel.

  1. Level Up Your Team with Virtual Learning

The success of every professional is contingent on continuing education, and this fact is even more applicable to sales professionals. We’re living in a golden age of online classes, workshops, and webinars, and your organization has every reason to take advantage of it. If your team members need a little help with their cold-calling techniques or want to improve their closing rates, why not provide them with access to today’s best virtual learning tools? It’s certainly cheaper than a sales seminar, that’s for sure.

  1. Switch to the Cloud

When it comes to their customer and prospect data, sales teams can be pretty territorial. The idea of sharing that data makes them feel uneasy, as does uploading every detail to a shared platform (where it can be sliced, diced, analyzed, and reported on). But the benefits of a cloud-based approach include collaboration, real-time insights, mobile access, and other integrations. These advancements actually make sales faster and easier, and result in better prospect interactions and more closed deals.

  1. Invest in Data-Driven Insights

By the time most sales reps—or even most sales managers—notice a new customer trend, it’s usually too late to proactively respond to it. But when all sales data is available to be analyzed with the right tools, these trends can often be spotted early. This tactic allows looming catastrophes to be averted, and undiscovered opportunities to be exploited.

  1. Embrace Collaboration

The best people in your sales organization may never have the opportunity to be in the same room—or even the same country—at the same time. But by using collaborative tools, you can create a true brain trust of talented, capable people who can collaborate to accomplish tasks and tackle ideas that were once unthinkable. A well-designed CRM solution can allow your best people to tag-team problems, learn from each other, and improve results across the board.

  1. Lean into Video Conferencing

If you think video conferencing is just for remote workers, think again. By using tools like Slack, Skype and FaceTime, you can fundamentally change your business for the better. Instead of investing thousands of dollars in cross-country and international sales meetings, you can virtually build face-to-face relationships. Your teams can also be anywhere, meet any time, and instantly share documents and resources. Better yet, reps with colds can keep their germs at home, but still contribute to sales meetings.

  1. Refine Your CRM

Most companies treat their CRM implementations as a “one and done” kind of thing. They never take the opportunity to further refine their workflows and processes. However, even the best CRM solutions can benefit from the occasional tune-up. For example, a small annual investment in streamlining the user experience can result in serious ROI improvements, and it steadily decreases the costs for training new hires on an easier-to-master CRM.

 

  1. Adopt Mobile Sales Skills Tools

It’s hard to overstate the impact of the iPad in closing face-to-face sales deals. Today’s reps don’t need to dig around in a briefcase for the right contracts, then laboriously fill in the same details across multiple copies. Today’s field reps have everything they need to close the sale, right at their fingertips. The forms self-populate with customer data, and handy prompts show the customer exactly where to sign. Payment can even happen on-the-spot, which makes it that much faster for the rep to get their commission payment. Everyone wins.

  1. Automate Your Follow-Up Messaging

How many sales have been lost because a rep didn’t promptly respond to an email? By automating your follow-up emails, you can do more than send out the occasional reminder to a would-be customer. You can personalize replies, track response rates, utilize A/B test language, and do countless other things that will ultimately result in improved sales.

  1. Improve Customer-Facing Technologies

If your company has an online customer portal, don’t overlook its potential as a tool for driving sales. By tracking user actions, you can glean valuable insights about their needs. For instance, you can find out which products they’re searching for, and which pieces of sales and marketing content they download. This tactic can create more opportunities to cross-sell and upsell, and it can also help you understand purchasing cycles and buying priorities.

  1. Create a New Center of Gravity with CRM Integrations

Your sales team’s entire workflow is centered around one or two key pieces of software. For instance, perhaps everyone uses a shared Excel spreadsheet, or heavily relies on Google Calendar to manage their meetings. These tools are the “center of gravity” for your company. In many cases, they’re being used for tasks they really weren’t designed to handle. But by integrating these programs into your CRM, you can access all their functionality and use the right tool for the job.

Learn More

Have more questions about the best technologies for improving sales at your company?Contact Intelestream for a free consultation.

A major part of any CRM implementation is migrating data. This process involves getting input from multiple departments, creating processes, and (of course) your data.

Since migration is so challenging, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. But don’t fret. You can tackle migration one step at a time.

You’ll be able to navigate your way through the successful migration of CRM data by sidestepping these common pitfalls:

Data Pulled from Multiple Sources

Before you migrate your data, you need to identify where your data lives. So check in with all customer-facing teams, and find out where they store their data. This data might be in a CRM system, Excel files, Google Drive, Desktop, Dropbox, emails, or an old-school file cabinet.

Once you find all the data, you need to determine which location has the most accurate information. If you try to cobble together data from multiple sources, it could be a difficult undertaking.

Consolidation is a major task, and it’s prone to user error. It is possible to successfully navigate migration via this route, but prepare yourself for complications and headaches. Instead, figure out which source is the most accurate, and go from there.

Additionally, don’t make the mistake of setting up the new system like the old one. Remember, you’re making a change for a reason.

CRM Data Migration

No Clean Data

One of the most important goals of CRM data migration is having clean data, which involves detecting and removing any corrupt or inaccurate records from your files. Remember, your CRM migration partner is not responsible for cleaning your data; you are.

To correctly clean your data, you need to have dedicated team members who understand the process and have enough time to complete the task. It’s not just about finding the most accurate data source and transferring it over to the new system.

For instance, some team members may have logged a secondary phone number in the email address field because there was no other place to put it in the old system. If you transfer that information as is, it will end up in the wrong data field, which could lead to more confusion for your team.

So you can save yourself trouble down the road by allocating the time to qualified team members. Then you can take things one step farther by normalizing your data, which will create easier user input, easier filtering with normalized values, and generate more meaningful reports.

Lacking a Point Person

Who’s overseeing your data migration? Who’s in charge of making decisions? Sometimes, it’s the same person. Other times, a point person presents information to the decision-maker. Either way, you need to have a true CRM project manager who focuses on migration. If the CRM data migration is delegated to an undedicated employee, your timeline will keep getting pushed back. Even worse, it may never get completed.

Look for a candidate with the following attributes:

  • A passion for meeting deadlines
  • Appreciation for the project
  • Good management skills (time and people)
  • An understanding of the new system
  • Knowledge about the goals of the new system

Misunderstanding Team Roles

Once you establish who your point person is, determine who else is involved in the migration process. The project manager will be working with designated stakeholders, such as sales members and members of the IT department.

Many project managers factor in every possible stakeholder, but this decision is a mistake because it weighs down the project too much. You need to put a process in place that determines who the decision-makers are, and how much of a say they have.

Not Sticking to a Timeline

While there may be small adjustments to your project timeline, too many companies get into the weeds during their CRM data migration. Instead, go through your process, migrate your data, and go from there. You can keep things moving if you set short- and long-term goals.

Looking for more information on CRM data migration? Download our white paper today!

When it comes to software, every business has a unique set of needs. In an attempt to create the perfect solution to those needs, most companies end up cobbling together a collection of products that includes a CRM, an ERP, a sales and marketing suite, and an email solution. While these individual pieces function just well enough to get the job done, the companies who use them don’t realize just how inefficient it can be to switch between these tools.

In the course of an average day, salespeople switch from their CRM to their email hundreds of times. Each time, they lose a few precious seconds of productivity while the software is loading and they’re reorienting themselves to a different layout. When you multiply these seconds by dozens of employees, those seconds quickly become hours (or even days) of needlessly lost time.

But when you connect your company’s most essential tools through software integration, you’re doing more than streamlining workflows. You’re saving your company serious amounts of money. So how do you fully integrate these tools to yield the greatest possible benefits for your business?

Make It Fit Your Needs

Combining your software should make things easier, not harder. Connecting two platforms isn’t that helpful if your ultimate result isn’t a simplified workflow. Ideally, you should integrate your software in a way that allows your team to share and update between both tools.

Any platform integration should start with a thorough examination of your company’s processes, and you should look for opportunities when integration makes the most sense. Once you know where the disconnects are, it becomes easier to identify the integrations that will provide the best results.

Streamline Your Processes

If you want to understand the least efficient parts of your company’s software setup, here’s the best place to start: Find the people who have to deal with that software every day. Then ask them about the most frustrating issues they encounter when using these platforms. Since they know exactly where the cracks and roadblocks are, get their feedback about how their workflows can be improved.

If the current workflow requires them to manually enter the same new customer information into two systems (for example, your ERP and CRM), they will be the first people to point out how inefficient this process is.

Get the Most from Both Platforms

When it comes to integrating your company’s most-used software, boosting worker efficiency isn’t the only benefit you’ll get from integrating your company’s most-used software. You can also improve your operations across the board, which provides your employees with new insights and tools. By removing the barriers between these various systems, your teams will have everything they need in one place.

One great example of this consolidation involves integrating a CRM solution (such as Sugar) with a sales-and-marketing platform like HubSpot). Need to see which types of marketing initiatives are resonating with a specific customer? If you simply select a HubSpot dashlet within Sugar, all of that vital marketing data is right at your fingertips.

In fact, we offer this exact integration here at Intelestream. It’s called HubSpot for Sugar®.

Conclusion

By utilizing software integration, you’re doing more than just improving the efficiency of your workflows. You’re changing the center of gravity for your business. You’re helping your teams succeed in ways that would never have been possible before. And that’s a smart investment for your business.

The more you know about marketing automation (MA), the better it sounds. What’s not to like? It’s a software solution that takes care of the most repetitive and mind-numbing parts of managing your company’s marketing work.

Marketing automation provides you with real visibility into the effectiveness of your marketing efforts, which allows you to pinpoint exactly what works (and what doesn’t). So for any company looking to maximize their results, it sounds like the perfect solution.

At the same time, it’s important to remember that every marketing automation solution isn’t the perfect fit for every company or use case. Since your company’s needs and goals should inform your decision-making process, we’re going to zoom out a little, and explore some of the finer points of marketing automation you might not have thought about.

Get the most from both your CRM and your marketing automation software. Read our Total CRM whitepaper.

  1. There’s more to marketing automation than email blasts.

The best automation tools allow you to fine tune every part of your marketing process—from A/B testing every element of your communications to writing content that targets prospects along specific stages of the pipelines.

  1. It delivers great results for businesses of every size.

Even relatively small businesses with specialized products for niche industries can benefit from MA. Are you worried that your company just isn’t big enough to see real benefits from marketing automation? If so, think again. Some marketing automation tactics actually work more effectively with small and midsize businesses.

  1. Automation doesn’t mean your marketing is on autopilot.

Marketing automation is about eliminating tedious tasks, not letting a machine captain your ship. It allows a marketer to have more time to test ideas, explore new options, and scale operations. But there will always need to be a human hand at the helm.

  1. Time is money, and marketing automation saves you both.

Marketing is a detail-focused job, which requires extensive planning skills and a strong creative streak. The more people they reach, the better the company’s bottom line will be. If a technology helps streamline workflows and other processes, it will directly translate into more revenue.

  1. The more streamlined your marketing process is, the more efficient your operation becomes.

Many companies don’t prioritize their marketing technology. While the rest of the company is using modern ERP and CRM technology, the marketing team is stuck using tools that date back to the days of print media and slow everything down. By fully integrating a new marketing automation solution with the tools used by other teams, the entire company gets a major efficiency boost.

  1. Marketing automation takes the headache out of both tracking and targeting.

Without the right tools, it’s hard to identify customer segments. It’s basically impossible to follow prospects as they move through the funnel. So if you have a properly-designed marketing automation solution, you can accomplish both of these goals right out of the box, and you’ll have deep insights into every aspect of your customers.

  1. It scales with your business.

Before the advent of marketing automation technology, scaling your marketing operation was a challenge. The only option was to hire new people and give them a bigger budget. Today, one skilled marketer can handle the same amount of work that used to require a dozen or more people. MA makes it exponentially easier to scale the marketing side of any business.

  1. Lead qualification becomes a stress-free process.

The less time your sales team has to spend on qualifying leads, the more time they have to make sales. By automating the first several interactions with potential customers, marketing automation software essentially allows leads to qualify themselves.

  1. Real-time monitoring allows you to quickly respond to changes and challenges.

When something isn’t working with your marketing, you need to know about it as soon as possible. By properly setting up the alerts and dashboards on your marketing automation software, you’ll be able to see and respond to trends and changes long before they become serious problems.

  1. To learn more about your customers, test everything.

Even tiny tweaks to an email or social media post can result in double-digit changes to conversions. By using your marketing automation tools for A/B testing, you can discover exactly which messaging, images, and CTAs generate the best responses from your customers.

  1. Great results require quality content that is delivered at the perfect time.

When a new prospect enters your company’s marketing funnel, he or she actually takes a guided tour through your company’s most compelling selling points. Marketing automation allows you to target exactly what these prospects learn during each stage of the funnel. This benefit weeds out the prospects who aren’t ready to buy. It also sends the ones who are ready to the sales team.

  1. Results are only as good as the quality of your data.

For any marketing automation solution to work as planned, clean data is essential. If you have dirty data in your CRM or related databases, it’s imperative that you work with your software implementation partners and scrub it until it shines. As your marketing operations bring in data about new leads, that information must also meet the highest possible standards, cleaning it up before it passes to other teams.

  1. Your competition is already doing it, or they will be soon.

Every company is looking for an edge, particularly when it comes to winning new customers. For companies that rely on emailing, digital advertising, retargeting, or social media to bring in new business, marketing automation tools are huge advantages. If you aren’t using marketing automation to drive your results, you’re only making it easier for the other guy to reach them first.

marketing automation

It’s been about a week since I left SugarCon 2018 in Las Vegas. I wanted to take a step back and have time to reflect on what I learned at the show. There is so much innovation and change coming, what does it mean for us?

Here are the top ideas I learned at SugarCon 2018:

1. Sugar Fall ’18 is here and ready to go.

Sugar announced its newest update is here with features, including:

  • Quotes module user interface configuration
  • Reports integrated with data visualization
  • Revenue line items in preferred currencies
  • Advanced workflow recipient list

Here is a YouTube video link for more information.

Overall, Sugar is focusing on moving away from a transactional-based Legacy CRM, and moving to a modern CRM that instead puts the relationship aspect back into customer relationship management.

2. Peer reviews are now more important than ever.

Vendors have less control of the buyers’ first impression and the result of a bad service experience is multiplied. Why? Because peer reviews are now the most trusted source of information on a purchase and continue to rise in importance.

In fact, 84 percent of buyers said they seek input from peers and existing users, while 57 percent do so within the first three months of the buying process before ever talking to the vendor they are buying from.

3. Focus on recurring customers.

There is so much effort in gaining prospects. While that is important, did you know it costs five times as much to attract a new customer as it does to keep an existing one?

Statistics tell us that you are 14 times more likely to sell to an existing customer than a new prospect.

Don’t forget to put focus on the customers you already have!

4. Technology is allowing us to work less, not more.

We are now more digitally connected than ever before. It’s a common thought that because of this connectivity, we are working more now than ever. Leonard Brody broke it down for us, showing us that we are actually working less.

Annual hours

5. Toothpaste isn’t just toothpaste.

“Innovation that you don’t have access to is toothpaste left in the tube.” — Zac Sprackett, vice president, DevOps at SugarCRM.

When Zac took the stage at SugarCon 2018, no one would expect that a big takeaway would involve toothpaste. He asked what size toothpaste tube you buy. Because if you buy the big tube, you are saying you don’t believe that there will be any innovation with toothpaste in the time you are using the product.

Think about this in terms of your technology and it’s a game changer.

Intelestream is an Elite Partner of SugarCRM. Interested in more information? Let’s schedule a demo or start a free trial!

Whether you’re upgrading from a homegrown customer relationship management (CRM) system or switching from one software provider to another, knowing exactly how to migrate your CRM can be a challenge.

But you can take comfort in knowing that most current CRM systems allow you to export the data from the application. From there, you can import the data, but to make a smooth transition, many steps are still required.

Wondering if it’s time to reboot your system? Find out how to know for sure here. 

While the implementation process can seem overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be. There are helpful tools out there, and there are experts available who can make the transition less chaotic and stressful.

For a detailed walkthough, download our CRM Migration Checklist.

Here are 10 tips for a successful CRM migration.

1. Set Goals and Understand What You Want

This tip seems simple, but it can often be overlooked. Whether you outgrew your old system or need a price change, you’re migrating your system for a reason. Before you dive headfirst into a CRM project, understand what you want your system to do.

Talk to your team about the functionalities your old system was missing, and the improvements they’d like to see. And make sure you aren’t duplicating your problems with the old system in the new one.

2. Prepare Your Team.

Migrating your CRM is a big deal. It will affect multiple departments, including all the people in them. There will be changes, training, and more training. So set realistic expectations for your CRM migration

3. Get Your Team to Buy In

Create a roadmap for the integration, and facilitate buy-ins. Most importantly, make sure everyone involved understands his or her role. If your team isn’t onboard with the migration, then it’s going to be a bumpy road.

4. Manage Customized Fields

One of the best things about CRM systems is that they’re highly customizable. While this perk is extremely helpful for your business, migrating your CRM requires a time commitment.

5. Make a Backup Plan

As you move forward, it’s important to know where you came from. So make a backup plan to ensure that you can always go back if you hit a snag along the way. You don’t want to have to start from scratch.

6. Cleanup Data

Before you start migrating your CRM, make sure your data is ready for transfer. It’s the perfect time to do some housecleaning, and get rid of some legacy data.

7. Understand How to Migrate Additional Content

Migrating additional content (such as attachments, emails, and history records) might not be as simple as entering information into standard fields. If you’re handling the migration yourself, using a migration tool, or working with an outside vendor, make sure you understand how this data transfers over.

8. Double-Check to Make Sure You Didn’t Forget Anything

Did you forget something? Do you need to export a contact list? Are you missing a functionality you were hoping for? Speak now, or forever hold your peace.

9. Perform a Test

This step might be the most important one. Don’t jump too far, too fast. To make the transition as smooth as possible, you should do multiple rounds of testing with your team. Then you can work out the kinks before you go live.

10. Partner with an Expert

Even with the most valuable internal resources, migrating your CRM system can still be a challenge. My best advice is to partner with an expert, who can walk you through the migration process and train your team, especially your technical support.

Are ready to migrate? Or do you just have questions about what your next step is? Either way, contact us today!

The definition of gamification is incorporating game-like systems into non-game situations. Gamification makes it possible to turn boring, tedious tasks into compelling jobs for your employees. It’s not about turning work into a game. Rather, it involves bringing in the elements  we all love about incorporating games into work: challenges, competitions, and rewards.

Do you have team members who thrive on being “the best”? Are there employees who do their best when they feel appreciated by getting real-word rewards, such as gift cards or long lunches? Do you have anyone on your team who likes collecting things?

Splash for Sugar® incorporates all of these game-like elements into your CRM system. It’s a powerful toolkit for any company that’s looking to incentivize great results, even for the most monotonous and repetitive tasks.

But how does gamification actually work? Challenge workers with leaderboard-driven contests and show them how to unlock “badges” when they complete tasks. Then users can earn “coins” or “points” that are redeemable for real-world, virtual prizes.

Think of gamification in terms of your favorite childhood pastimes:

Scouts: Badges

As a Boy or Girl Scout, there was nothing better than littering your vest with merit badges. In a gamified CRM system, managers can create different badges for users to earn as they navigate the system.

Tennis: Singles Competitions

Like singles tennis, this game is one-on-one. Create challenges for your team and have them compete in them. Then you can both reward the users at the top of the leaderboard, and inspire the users at the bottom to step up their game.

Competitions can span from simply logging in each day to closing five deals by the end of the month.

Basketball: Team Competitions

Whether you have multiple sales or customer-service teams in your office or around the world, gamifying your CRM system can create team competitions. You can see which team is winning, and who’s at the bottom of the leaderboard.

Arcades: Real-world Rewards

As a kid, there was no greater feeling than hitting the jackpot at Skee-Ball or Whac-A-Mole, and seeing all those tickets pour out. Then you’d get to exchange those tickets for a stuffed animal or candy.

In a gamified CRM system, users can level up and get coins they then cash in for real-world rewards. Managers post the number of coins that a challenge is worth and assign coins to rewards. Whether it’s a $25 gift card at a local restaurant or a “free” PTO day, it will go a long way if you customize these rewards to offer what employees care about most.

Looking for more information about gamification? Check out our whitepapers: Gaming the System: Gamification & CRM and Big Data Games for Productive Employees.

Both customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) are powerful tools. But combined, they give your company full access to both front-office and back-office activities. In this three-part blog series, Intelestream dives into both the why and how you should connect these two systems.

This blog focuses on the benefits of integration. Stay tuned to blogs 2 and 3 for more information on what data to integrate and best practices to sync.

Understanding the Difference

CRM vs. ERP

The first step in understanding why you should integrate CRM and ERP software is to understand the difference between them.

While both systems keep track of information, they are designed to reach different goals. On the most basic level, CRM software handles your front-office activities, while ERP focuses on the back office.

Customer service and sales teams use CRM to track essential information about customers as they move through the sales funnel. It can also provide useful insights about the ways the sales team interacts with their customers, and provides hard data to managers in the form of reports and analytics.

On the flipside, your ERP system allows you to track customer activity. Sales reps check ERP if they want to know when an order was placed, what products were on the invoice, or what packages left the warehouse.

An ERP system may show some customer data, and a CRM system may show specific sales or details about customers. But in essence, these two systems don’t overlap much.

Connecting CRM and ERP Benefits

When these two systems are separate, you’re not getting a full view of your customer. And when customers call your sales department to find out the status on an order, valuable time is wasted as the sales rep contacts the back office, or tries to figure out an unfamiliar ERP system.

Whether you’re a salesperson or a technician, you need to be efficient.

Here are three of the biggest benefits to linking CRM and ERP systems:

  • They provide better opportunities for mobile applications.

A technician in the field does not have time to log into CRM and look up customer information, then pull up details about past orders and pricing from ERP. So these systems are in one platform, valuable information is now at the technician’s fingertips.

  • They assist with internal controls.

All of the data your team members need will be in the CRM system, which helps eliminate information silos. It also keeps employees out of systems they don’t need to be in (such as a salesperson going through the accounting system), just to find out details about a payment or quote.

  • They boost business intelligence.

 CRM has an opportunity forecast online, while ERP shows historical data, lagging indicators, and past orders. When your team has easy access to all of this information, they will be able to forecast more accurately.

Now that you know why you should connect your CRM and ERP systems, are you wondering what data should be integrated, or how to sync it? If so, check out the next two blogs in this series, which will be available on March 22 and April 5.

Customer relationship management (CRM) software, by definition, manages your customer relationships. It houses all the data points for your current and potential customers in one place. However, CRM capabilities extend beyond clients, and can also keep detailed data about partners, resellers, co-workers and more.

Satellite Offices

Large companies with satellite offices around the country, and even all over the world, have a lot of employees. If a person working in Phoenix needs to reach out a New York counterpart, a CRM system can make this a simple and informed process.

Resellers

Sometimes businesses work with similar companies that resell their products. Resellers would benefit from having access to a CRM-driven portal for registering leads and collaborating with salespeople.

Partners and Vendors

Similar to resellers, you frequently work with various people in different companies. From the person who restocks your coffee to a partner business, keeping a record in an easy-to-find place has merit.

Service Desks

CRM can also play a huge role in service desks. Do customers need a login to submit tickets? Do they want to see their past orders, or track the status of a current order? In an educational setting, where the “customers” are students, a CRM-like system might be used to manage courses or check grades.

In all of these situations, the goal is the same: Using all available data to create a 360-degree view of the customers. It doesn’t matter what the source of the data points come from — even third-party vendors can play a big role — the important thing is that all of this customer data is piped into a CRM system. The more robust the customer data, the better the relationship with the customers can become.

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

When launching a customer relationship management (CRM) program, you want to do it right. Your company invests significant amounts of time, energy and money on your software. There are 5 concrete steps you should take to ensure you get the most from your investment.

Looking for a quick hit list for reasons why your CRM fails and how to fix them? We’ve got you covered.

1. Identify your need

Diving into a CRM project without a game plan is a recipe for disaster. Most executives and employees can appreciate the benefits of housing all customer information in one easily accessible system. When it comes to actually implementing that CRM solution, however, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the scope of what needs to accomplished. Like any big project, it helps to break things down into manageable steps and clear priorities.

Are you implementing a new CRM system? Answer the following questions:

  • What type of efficiencies am I looking to achieve?
  • What departments are involved?
  • Who should be the CRM champion?
  • What is the budget for this project? What are the most important tasks you want to accomplish?

If you are rebooting/upgrading your system, consider these questions:

  • Does your system meet your original needs?
  • Were there efficiencies not accomplished?
  • Are there breakdowns in the sales process you are hoping to correct?
  • What is the budget for this project?
  • What is most important in the reboot to change?

2. Choose your vendor

There are a lot of CRM software options on the market. Taking the time to figure out exactly what you want your CRM to do makes it much easier to find the right vendor. With a clear list of requirements — essential software capabilities, available modules, plugin compatibility, price points — you can quickly identify the perfect vendor for your needs.

When selecting your CRM software partner, consider the strength of the vendor’s product and their experience in the CRM market. Have they worked with companies similar to your size? Do they have experience with your industry, and understand how to integrate specialized tools like ERP or CPQ systems? Additionally, does the vendor’s corporate vision complement your own? What is the knowledge level of the vendor’s employees?

3. Understand the use

Once you have identified the right CRM partner, it’s time to think about how the system will actually be used on a daily basis. Who will use the CRM? Will it be primarily used by the sales team? Will customer service and marketing teams also need access? If so, what will their use cases be? How will the CRM integrate their existing workflows and tools? How can the system make their work easier, faster, or more efficient? As you craft your CRM plans, make sure to include ample time and budget to allow for user testing and training.

4. Create phases

It’s best to roll out your CRM implementation in phases.This allows you to slowly introduce key pieces of the CRM while also allowing for adjustments and revisions. If some critical element of a process or workflow has been overlooked, the entire CRM project won’t need to be halted while a solution is found. This approach also allows managers to gain insight into the process, identifying inefficiencies, areas where additional training is needed, or potential problems for the next phase of the roll out. This staggered approach to release also helps to prevent the staff from feeling overwhelmed by the new system, greatly reducing the odds of CRM failure through low user adoption rates.

5. Reassess and adjust

Once the new CRM is in place, it’s important to step back and assess the results. Almost all CRM projects require a few adjustments after their initial launch. By making a few tweaks to the system early on, it’s possible to save substantial amounts of time and money that would otherwise be lost to minor inefficiencies. This is also a great time to compare the current CRM product with your goals. Check back to those initial questions you answered about what you wanted from your CRM. If the CRM isn’t generating the results you hoped for, now is the time to find out why. In most cases, these problems have relatively simple fixes. Don’t be discouraged! The hard part — the actual CRM implementation — is done. Now, you just need to fine tune the results.

Get the most out of your CRM platform. Take a journey with us. Download our white paper about the power of successful CRM implementation.

When launching a customer relationship management (CRM) program, you want to do it right. Your company invests significant amounts of time, energy and money on your software. There are 5 concrete steps you should take to ensure you get the most from your investment.

Looking for a quick hit list for reasons why your CRM fails and how to fix them? We’ve got you covered.

1. Identify your need

Diving into a CRM project without a game plan is a recipe for disaster. Most executives and employees can appreciate the benefits of housing all customer information in one easily accessible system. When it comes to actually implementing that CRM solution, however, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the scope of what needs to accomplished. Like any big project, it helps to break things down into manageable steps and clear priorities.

Are you implementing a new CRM system? Answer the following questions:

  • What type of efficiencies am I looking to achieve?
  • What departments are involved?
  • Who should be the CRM champion?
  • What is the budget for this project? What are the most important tasks you want to accomplish?

If you are rebooting/upgrading your system, consider these questions:

  • Does your system meet your original needs?
  • Were there efficiencies not accomplished?
  • Are there breakdowns in the sales process you are hoping to correct?
  • What is the budget for this project?
  • What is most important in the reboot to change?

2. Choose your vendor

There are a lot of CRM software options on the market. Taking the time to figure out exactly what you want your CRM to do makes it much easier to find the right vendor. With a clear list of requirements — essential software capabilities, available modules, plugin compatibility, price points — you can quickly identify the perfect vendor for your needs.

When selecting your CRM software partner, consider the strength of the vendor’s product and their experience in the CRM market. Have they worked with companies similar to your size? Do they have experience with your industry, and understand how to integrate specialized tools like ERP or CPQ systems? Additionally, does the vendor’s corporate vision complement your own? What is the knowledge level of the vendor’s employees?

3. Understand the use

Once you have identified the right CRM partner, it’s time to think about how the system will actually be used on a daily basis. Who will use the CRM? Will it be primarily used by the sales team? Will customer service and marketing teams also need access? If so, what will their use cases be? How will the CRM integrate their existing workflows and tools? How can the system make their work easier, faster, or more efficient? As you craft your CRM plans, make sure to include ample time and budget to allow for user testing and training.

4. Create phases

It’s best to roll out your CRM implementation in phases.This allows you to slowly introduce key pieces of the CRM while also allowing for adjustments and revisions. If some critical element of a process or workflow has been overlooked, the entire CRM project won’t need to be halted while a solution is found. This approach also allows managers to gain insight into the process, identifying inefficiencies, areas where additional training is needed, or potential problems for the next phase of the roll out. This staggered approach to release also helps to prevent the staff from feeling overwhelmed by the new system, greatly reducing the odds of CRM failure through low user adoption rates.

5. Reassess and adjust

Once the new CRM is in place, it’s important to step back and assess the results. Almost all CRM projects require a few adjustments after their initial launch. By making a few tweaks to the system early on, it’s possible to save substantial amounts of time and money that would otherwise be lost to minor inefficiencies. This is also a great time to compare the current CRM product with your goals. Check back to those initial questions you answered about what you wanted from your CRM. If the CRM isn’t generating the results you hoped for, now is the time to find out why. In most cases, these problems have relatively simple fixes. Don’t be discouraged! The hard part — the actual CRM implementation — is done. Now, you just need to fine tune the results.

Get the most out of your CRM platform. Take a journey with us. Download our white paper about the power of successful CRM implementation.

Customer relationship management (CRM) software houses all your customer data in one place. Whether your sales team is primarily at the office, or out in the field, essential customer information is always at their fingertips. Thanks to this easily accessible data, your sales team has new tools to enhance every aspect of their work. It’s even possible for salespeople to check the status of prospects, identifying their exact placement in the sales funnel. That’s also great news for sale managers, allowing them to instantly track their team’s performance and determine where leads tend to stall out in the sales process.

There’s more to tracking sales performance than simply measuring the number of calls made and deals closed. The more customer and sales data you collect, the clearer the overall picture becomes. A CRM not only provides you with a system for tracking the “activities” of your sales team — calls made, emails sent, meetings taken — it also enables you to measure the “motion” of your sales efforts. This allows you measure the effectiveness and efficiency of any sales strategy or activity.

By tracking sales motion, you can see how many potential customers are being moved through the sales funnel by your team. For the first time, you can see something once thought to be impossible: Tracking the ‘untrackable.’

Instead of viewing performance in terms of a specific set of actions, tracking motion allows you to measure process over time, gauging the success of your sales efforts over weeks, months, quarters, and years. It also gives you a greater degree of control over the sales funnel itself. If prospects are stuck at a stage in the sales funnel, reps and managers can collaborate on ideas for moving them forward.

This new approach to the sales funnel can be baked right into the CRM itself, with the necessary tools and processes for tracking sales and activities and motions being put in place during the CRM design and implementation phases. These tools can provide the insights you need to win deals, create strong customer relationships, and develop strong strategies for the future.

Benefits include:

  • Better management of your sales pipeline.
  • Enhanced communication between marketing and sales teams.
  • Optimized demand generation efforts.
  • Greater insight into your sales operations.

To get a better idea of how these benefits truly work, lets take a look from the perspective of a VP of sales. Tracking motion within a CRM, allows the VP to know how many viable opportunities have become stuck in some stage of the company’s sales funnel and can easily track how long the opportunities have been lodged there. From there, the VP can determine if the opportunity is stuck there because the deal stalled out or if the reps didn’t have the knowledge or resources needed to move them along to the next stage. The additional information CRM software provides grants the VP the ability to make educated decisions, instead of shooting in the dark or hoping for the best.

By examining the sales process, it’s even possible eliminate these “logjams” before they happen.

Download our white paper for tips on measuring sales success.

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