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Partner Corner

25 Posts authored by: Jennifer Karpus-Romain

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.

Heading toward my first SugarCon, I was excited to attend sessions, speak to other partners, customers and Sugar’s team. Luckily, SugarCon 2017 did not disappoint and I came home with a smile on my face and knowledge in my brain. What more could a woman ask for?

Here are the Top 10 Things I learned from SugarCon 2017:

10. Love what you do.

Billy Beane is known for the book and movie Moneyball so it’s not a major surprise that he is a captivating speaker. Billy Beane shared much information with the crowd, but what really stuck with me is that Beane not only stayed in the same industry, he stayed with the same team, doing the same thing. Moneyball may have added some fame to his name, but at the end of the day, he kept doing what he wanted to do.

Loving what you do is important. It keeps your mind sharp, your quest for knowledge fresh and your drive at the forefront of everything you do. I admire his dedication to his craft.

Bonus tidbit from Billy Beane: You have to make decisions without the noise around you.

9. C-R-M: Don’t forget the R.

Customer relationship management (CRM) systems are why were all at the show. Whether attendees work for SugarCRM, partner with the company or its customer base, CRM systems are the reason why we showed up in San Francisco.

One of the biggest takeaways from SugarCon is that SugarCRM is not forgetting about the relationship aspect of the business. In fact, they are focusing on it. SugarCRM CEO Larry Augustin said the company is doubling down in the “R” with both relationship management and relationship intelligence efforts (See #3 for a Hint).

8. It doesn’t matter who is buying or selling, it’s about the relationship.

SugarCRM let us know that relationships are important to them. But it was also a driving point of Tim Draper’s presentation at the show. He said at the end of the day, it does not matter who is buying or selling; it’s ultimately about the relationship between the two sides.

7. CRM is becoming the world’s best personal assistance.

Life is about fulfilling lives, not fulfilling a calendar, said Rich Green, chief product officer. Green walked us through the near future on how merged time between personal and professional lives will be. AND how CRM software helps us navigate through our worlds.  

6. People are not buying things, they are using things.

Green also said that people are not buying things, they are using them. While this thought was not earth-shattering, it was enlightening. When I thought about Netflix, Spotify, AirBNB, le tote and more, people are leaning more to subscription-based use than all-out purchasing.

5. Not a news flash: Companies struggle with CRM user adoption.

While the Superhero theme carried through the show, the struggle of CRM user adoption was also highly discussed. It makes sense. Customers have invested their time, money and effort, but if no one is using the CRM software, then what? There were a lot of suggestions, but one user adoption-focused application won SugarCon’s App Throwdown (see #1).

4. Sugar has some cool things coming down the pike.

With a focus on relationship management and relationship intelligence, Sugar has some innovative technologies coming down the road. From core relationship management modules to amazing new relationship intelligence tools like Hint, there’s a little something for everyone.

3. Hint is already here.

Hint is SugarCRM’s relationship intelligence tool, which lets you automatically search the web for personal and company information, including social data, with just a name and email address.

2. Sugar is a talented group of innovative team members, partners and customers.

Going into my first SugarCon, I was not sure what to expect. What I learned was SugarCRM’s group of team members, partners and customers are all a fantastic group of people who work together. From speaking to other partners to touching base with SugarCRM’s customers, the collaborative spirit in the room was impressive.

1. Intelestream’s App Throwdown win was the cherry on top of an awesome conference.

Our team was pumped going into SugarCon 2017 to be selected as the utility belt app in the App Throwdown for Splash for SugarCRM. It was beyond exciting to win the competition!

Interested in learning more about SugarCon 2017 or Splash for SugarCRM? Contact us today. 

Earlier this year, Intelestream debuted Splash, a gamification platform for SugarCRM. Now, we're ready to unleash it at SugarCon 2017’s on Sept. 25!

Splash incorporates a variety of game-like design concepts to make the CRM experience more engaging for users. Why is this so important?

One of the biggest challenges CRM implementers have is getting their team engaged with the system. In fact, low user adoption rates are the cause of 65 percent of all CRM project failures. By incorporating gamification features, the CRM experience becomes dramatically more engaging for users.

Gamification is at the center of Intelestream’s “You want better CRM user adoption? Gamify your system” session on Sept. 26 at 1 p.m. in Continental 2.

The Intelestream team will also be present at the “Manufacturing: How to gain and retain customers in the manufacturing business” Birds of a Feather session on Sept. 27 at 1 p.m. in Continental 3.

Have questions on Splash or gamification, or any other of Intelestream’s innovative integrations and plugins? Stop by Booth G1 during the show!

Chicago-based Intelestream was founded in 2007 by former SugarCRM employees and is a CRM product development and consulting firm that offers solutions related to business processes and CRM technology.

 

Customer relationship management (CRM) software allows you to store all your customer data in one place, pull the sales reports you most need, and more.

CRM systems are highly customizable, allowing you to get the most from your software. But what happens when you sign up for the most basic version of the CRM software, only to realize that you need something more advanced? Or what do you do when your CRM system becomes outdated?

In some cases you can update your CRM with minor upgrades, but sometimes that’s just not enough. In those situations, a CRM system reboot is in order.  

Are you going to SugarCon? Visit us at Booth #G1!

There are two major reasons why your CRM software needs an upgrade.

1. Your CRM just isn’t working.

It’s difficult for a team to acknowledge the CRM system they’ve spent so much time working on is failing.  CRM software is a huge investment of capital and time, and it’s only natural to try and salvage those hard-won successes, even if it means sticking with a system that just isn’t up to the task.

However, if the workflows and tools are not performing, it makes skeptical employees even more reluctant to use the system. Low user-adoption rates are one of the biggest causes of CRM failure, with employees simply giving up on systems that have underperformed in the past.

To save this project, you need to do something drastic. It’s time to reboot your CRM implementation.

Just because a CRM has failed doesn’t mean that all is lost. There are valuable insights to be gained from a botched implementation, making it that much easier for the next iteration to be complete success.

2. Your business is growing

Even successful CRMs can occasionally require a reboot, especially as your business grows and evolves. When you expand your capabilities, your CRM needs to progress as well.

Lifecycle of CRM

To understand why your CRM software needs an update, it’s helpful to understand the lifecycle of a CRM system:

  1. Searching: The initial process of looking for the right tools, partners and vendors for the CRM solution.
  2. Starting: Designing, building, and otherwise implementing the CRM.
  3. Scaling: Adapting the CRM as the business expands, incorporating new use cases and tools that may be beyond the scope of the initial implementation.
  4. Struggling: Managing the limitations of the system, and creating increasingly complex workarounds for cases where the CRM is no longer up to the task.

Once a company is in the struggling stage, it is officially time to reboot your CRM. Just like when you first implemented your system, you need to take some time to determine what your goals and needs are. From there, you can work with a CRM expert to help shape and execute the implementation process.  

The success or failure of a CRM is rarely a matter of the software running the system. It’s all the other stuff — adapting the system to work with existing workflows, integrating needed third-party tools and plugins, testing the user experience, training the staff — that truly matters. Without the right partners with the right expertise to guide them, however, it’s the CRM software that tends to take the blame when the implementation sputters.

Do you need help determining if it’s time to reboot your CRM software? We are here to help. Contact us today or call us at 800-391-4055.

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"!!

 

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"!!

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"!!

Customer relationship management (CRM) software is a fantastic way to house all your customer data to best serve your clients. For the most efficient use of your CRM, you need your whole team to use the system. With a lot of your sales team in the field, having a CRM that is easily-accessible on mobile is key.

Companies may overlook the need for mobile-access, but it’s crucial for success. Years ago, the office setting was sitting at a desk. Employees had both their computer and their desk phone in arm’s reach at all times. But that is not the world we live in anymore. While the office computer is still important for some, an outside sales rep can conduct most of their business with just a tablet and a smartphone.

Consider how your team works when setting up your CRM. When a company doesn’t have a mobile version of their CRM, or if the mobile version they have isn’t very good, this creates two centers of gravity. For optimal success, you need your CRM to be the sole hub of your business.

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.

Increase your CRM user adoption rate by streamlining the process for team members. Don’t make your sales team take extra steps to input data into your system.  An employee in the field would have to juggle two completely different processes to accomplish tasks that should be simple. Ease their process by making it accessible in their most-used tools.

A mobile user should always have easy access to all the tools and resources they need to do their job. Establish a workflow that removes any stumbling blocks from the mobile experience, and include mobile interface optimization into the CRM implementation itself. Tools like text-to-speech and automatic call logging can also help to simplify and enhance the mobile experience.

Customer relationship management (CRM) software can assist your company in everything from storing client data to getting the most from your sales meetings. But it’s offerings extend far beyond front-office applications and sales force automation.

Dig deep into your market with your CRM by applying the data you collect toward better understanding industry trends, seasonal shifts, emerging technologies and more.

Use customized software

One of the greatest aspects of utilizing a CRM is that it is not one-size-fits-all software. It can evolve with you and store valuable information, while helping you best manage leads and prospects.

Manufacturing firms have many moving parts and CRMs give you a bird’s-eye view of your industry. While customer data is crucial, having material stored about suppliers, vendors, affiliates, partners, etc. expands your knowledge base.  

Whether you want to check in with suppliers in one facet of the market or tap into vendor resources, your CRM gives you information at the click of a button. Your business isn’t cookie cutter and your software doesn’t need to be either.

Ironically, some manufacturing firms have had bad experiences with CRM because they fail to use customization. They instead invest only in the default version of the software. They see the feature list of the CRM that includes a range of modules available and insist on activating every bell and whistle.

Instead of a smooth, simple system for managing opportunities, the CRM becomes a tedious, productivity leaching pain. Just like on the factory floor, the best solution is usually the most efficient one.

Even companies with unique structures and pipelines can benefit from CRM. As an adaptable set of modular tools, CRM can be adapted to any manufacturing process, industry, sales cycle, or other factors. It’s simply a matter of embracing the flexibility and customization options of the CRM software.

Listen to customers

This is simple. Pay attention to your clients are telling you about their business. Plug in this intelligence into your CRM and then look at similarities and differences across the board. Maybe you have three customers that are considering entering a new emerging market. Or are struggling to sell one type of solution.

If you only had customer information in the individual minds of your sales team, you don’t see trends. You directly serve your client, but you are missing the big picture.

With predictive analytics capability, your CRM can forecast sales more accurately and better understand seasonal effects on your business. For instance, get the most from your sales and marketing teams by understanding when they are busy with customers and when they have more lag time for creative efforts.

It does not matter what industry you are in or the customers you serve, sales data should always be at the forefront in forecasting, strategic analysis, and planning. Your CRM can provide forward-looking reports that can breakdown financial trends, such as production capacity, production rungs, and raw material purchases.

CRM data can help to improve cash flow, predict sales lulls or spikes in demand, and reduce transportation and inventory expenses. Using CRM-derived data, your analysts can even craft strategies for reducing churn or increasing overall profitability.

Grasping what your customers’ needs are, their foothold in the marketplace and where you fit in, allows you to best serve your clients. It will grow your relationship with them, which not provides an increase in overall sales, but can optimize other aspects of your business as well.

Stay ahead of the curve by applying a CRM software to your business. Download ourManufacturing & CRM eBook to learn how to effectively manage your customer relationships to
increase sales, boost engagement and manage growth.  

Humans love games. We challenge each other in countless sports, match wits in card and board games, and entertain ourselves with an endless variety of video games. From childhood to adulthood, and even into old age, games are universal part of the human experience across every culture.

With this in mind, it shouldn’t be surprising that game-like mechanics and design ideas have found their way into other settings, including business contexts. By incorporating game-like systems into non-game situations, it’s possible to make even boring and tedious tasks more “sticky” — more compelling and motivating, that is — to keep people engaged with the job at hand. Handled correctly, this “gamified” system can even steer specific behaviors.

Gamification can be found everywhere: Loyalty card programs, frequent flyer miles, social media check-ins, and even progress-tracking apps are all examples of customer-facing gamified business strategies. But what about a situation where gamification is used by a business to improve results internally?

A “gamified” CRM can be used to improve sales processes, drive employee performance, boost motivation and improve revenue. Check out Intelestream's gamification white paper for more information.

In the context of a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, gamification uses similar game-like design concepts to create business processes that are also more “sticky.” This kind of gamification is nothing new — sales organizations have used contests and leaderboards for decades — but always in a piecemeal way.

That’s why we’ve created Splash, our gamified “motivation engine” for SugarCRM. It brings all those pieces together.

Splash is a fully integrated gamification platform, incorporating a variety of game-like mechanics to the day-to-day activities you’re already doing in SugarCRM. Splash’s seamless user experience makes these gamified elements feel intuitive, improving user engagement. There are three core elements to the system:

Improved User Adoption: This makes the platform more “sticky” to users, providing incentives for users to log in, explore the system, and master common tasks.

Engage Employees: Using rewards, challenges, competitions, rankings, achievements, and prizes, workers (or other users) become more engaged with specific tasks and goals.

Drive Measurable Results: By rewarding specific kinds of behaviors — from hitting specific goals to completing a set number of tasks — management can create strong incentives to improve KPIs.

How does Splash incentivize user behavior? Let’s take a look at a few examples:

  • Earning points, coins and levels by completing challenges
  • Gaining status and recognition through leaderboards and competitions
  • Unlocking achievement badges
  • Competing in contests, both as an individual and as teams

Coins are a good starting point to talk about Splash’s version of gamification. Every time a user completes a pre-determined “challenge” within the CRM, like “close 5 sales” or “create 10 user accounts,” the system rewards them with a set number of coins. These coins can then be traded for prizes — these can be virtually anything, from a $10 gift card to dinner with the CEO — giving users an incentive to complete even more challenges. Along the way, users steadily increase their skill and experience with CRM.

Leaderboards are another kind of competition-driven incentive. Some users might keep an eye on the leaderboard every day, and strive to climb their way to the top. Even those users who aren’t interested in fighting their way to the top of the leaderboard can be motivated by this system, as no one wants to be at the bottom. Other metrics, such as overall rank, ranking by month or year, and ranking within a team, encourage even moderately competitive workers to put in a little extra effort.

What about users who aren’t motivated by competition at all? Not all games are about winning or being the best. There are plenty of games where the goal is to explore, collect, build, or collaborate. People play games for all kinds of reasons, and a great gamification platform uses every motivational tool available.

This brings us to another key concept: Achievements. They work much like challenges, but are more targeted to a specific outcome or skillset. In a support setting, for instance, a challenge could be something like “close five open cases.” Once the user has completed that task, they unlock a badge — a virtual merit badge seen on their CRM user page — showcasing their accomplishment.

Achievements like this are a major part of modern video game design, providing the user with both a goal to work towards and a kind of bragging rights when badges are unlocked. For people who are more motivated by collection than competition, achievements and badges can provide a solid incentive.

In addition to being seamlessly integrated with SugarCRM, Splash is also fully compatible with Hoopla, allowing leaderboards and other information to be broadcast to a livestream. Few things are as motivating as knowing your ranking will be shown to the entire office throughout the day. The Hoopla integration provides yet another tool for driving user behavior, and getting people to do what needs to get done.

Splash also comes with an administration interface, where administrators can configure and customize anything about the system, setting details like the point thresholds for levels or the details of specific challenges. It even allows control over the game actions within Splash, allowing elements from custom modules to be incorporated into the system.

This is just a glimpse at the many powerful features Splash brings to SugarCRM. It’s a seamlessly integrated platform designed to dramatically boost user engagement, encourage improvement in KPIs, and protect the company’s CRM investment. And, if that wasn’t enough, it can also make the using the CRM itself just a little more fun.

Splash is now available for purchase from the SugarExchange.