CRM – What does a CRM do and is it a must have for an SME?

You’ve probably heard the term “CRM” if you are a business owner or sales manager. But what does it really mean?

CRM is an acronym that stands for Customer Relationship Management. At its most basic level, a CRM system allows businesses to manage business relationships and the data and information associated with them. With CRM, you can store customer and prospect contact information, accounts, leads and sales opportunities in one central location in real time. In essence, a CRM system should present a company with a 360 degree view of their customers, with each function of the business having the data information made relevant to their particular needs. Ideally the CRM system would exist in the cloud so the information is accessible by many.
While a CRM system may not currently attract as much enthusiasm as social networking platforms such as Facebook or Twitter, any CRM system is similarly built around people and relationships. And that’s exactly the reason why it can be so valuable for a growing business.

Any business starts out with a foundation of great customer relationships. You, the vendor, connect with people who need your product, the purchasers. Yet, as your company grows, these business connections can grow to become more sophisticated and complex. So it’s no longer not just a simple transaction between the buyer and seller. You start to manage a multitude of connections, over time, within each organisation that you do business with. You need to share data and information across the various teams within your own organization who are making contact with the same customers. A CRM system can serve as the central resource to help maintain and manage the many connections that happen in a growing business.
For small businesses, a CRM system may simply help you put your data in the cloud, making it accessible in real time, across any device. But as you grow, a CRM can quickly expand to include more sophisticated features to help teams collaborate with colleagues and customers, send customised emails, gather insights from social media conversations, and get a holistic picture of your business health in real time.

These days growing businesses manage customer connections and information in a variety of ways. Some continue to rely on the traditional Rolodex or card system. Others may store information on their mobile devices. Others use Excel spreadsheets or Google documents. While that may help in the short term when you have a small team and don’t plan on scaling your business, if you want to scale for sustainable growth, it may be a good time to consider a more suitable CRM system to help you collect your vital business data into one place, make it accessible through the cloud, and then free up your time to focus on 100% customer satisfaction rather than letting valuable insights and information go unnoticed.

To ignore using a CRM process will result in you missing out on key opportunities to develop a robust information gathering process that can be used across all the functional areas of a business.

The key advantages of a CRM are:

• Management decision making is fast and responsive – improved identification of market and customer opportunities

• A CRM sales process generates higher quality leads – these can be segmented and targeted accordingly, which makes it easier to identify the ‘hot’ opportunities

• It builds an effective sales pipeline which can be automated – this is the ‘life-blood’ to sustainable growth, and helps to reduce admin and/or management time

• Helps to better identify customer needs. This improves the ability to ‘fit’ the product or service offer to those customer needs which reduces client churn

• Total seamless information available across business functions e.g. customer histories for sales team, sales history for the finance team etc. All business units can coordinate activities and process across one information platform.

Is it time to consider whether you need or are getting the most of your CRM. Missing out on the advantages it brings may compromise your ability to maintain a competitive edge.

Maybe it’s time to see how your company can harness the benefits of a better CRM process today…

Contact nuOrder to ask for Independent advice.

SugarCRM’s Growing Momentum

SugarCRM’s Growing Momentum.

SugarCRM hits a sweet spot in the CRM market

Great SugarCRM article……

Written By: Gerry Brown Published: 17 September, 2012 Content Copyright © 2012 Bloor

SugarCRM’s Acceleration show hit London last week. CEO Larry Augustin kicked things off presenting to 200+ followers, fans, and sales prospects. I chatted with him afterwards.

Larry has an interesting profile. He has always worked in the open source community (SugarCRM is an open source CRM application). He founded and IPO’d VA Linux as CEO, and then became a venture capitalist and angel investor before joining SugarCRM. No sign of an IPO for SugarCRM on the horizon just yet though. As a seasoned finance professional I suspect he is watching the markets assiduously to get his timing right.

Larry is making waves again at SugarCRM. Revenues were up 68% in 2011, and 73% in the first half of 2012. SugarCRM is the fastest growing CRM vendor out there (including His VC investors clearly like it. They provided another $33m in funding during Q2 2012. You might be forgiven for saying “But CRM is an old mature technology – where is all this growth coming from?”

Larry argues that CRM market penetration is tiny relative to the market potential – everyone who touches customers (and that’s nearly all of us) should have a CRM system. The trick is to make the software affordable, easy to use, and easy to deploy, he says. And that is exactly what SugarCRM is doing.

Affordable: the SugarCRM open source version is downloadable for free, and the Professional (paid for) version starts at $30 per person, per month.

Easy to use: a modern user interface and clear, uncluttered screens.

Easy to deploy: SugarCRM offers 5 deployment options – a SaaS version, a private Cloud version (powered by IBM), a public Cloud offering, a Partner Cloud offering, and an on-premise version.

Most SMBs go for the simple SaaS version, but Enterprise accounts like Sugar’s multiple deployment options, and the ability to move from one deployment type to another with a minimum of disruption. SugarCRM has sold mostly to small and mid-size companies, but is now forging a presence in large enterprises. This is helped by SugarCRM’s close reseller and technology partnership with IBM, which was the platinum sponsor of the Acceleration event. It’s no surprise therefore that SugarCRM has a IBM-centric Corporate version (including mobile support), an Enterprise version (including IBM DB2 and Oracle database support plus other features), and an Ultimate version that includes a Lotus Domino server connector.

Why IBM has not got its enormous wallet out and acquired Sugar or another CRM vendor as part of its software vendor acquisition strategy is not entirely clear. Perhaps it just suits IBM that way, or maybe IBM doesn’t want to alienate those fiercely independent open source developer types who are integral to Sugar CRM’s business model. Either way, SugarCRM must be eternally grateful.

SugarCRM’s go-to-market model is dependent upon IBM and 350 other technology and/or reseller partners. These include IBM Cognos, GoodData and fellow open source vendor Jaspersoft that help to extend SugarCRM’s business intelligence capabilities. In addition SugarCRM has the open source community of developers who develop all kinds of add-on apps to extend the product offer. The scalability of SugarCRM’s business depends largely on growing its global reach through local reseller partners, rather than by building an expensive direct presence in every territory.

The main competitors for SugarCRM are and Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Although is drifting away from CRM into other areas recently (for example HR, Marketing, Databases), it is still a formidable competitor. However, salesforce has its hands full competing with Microsoft’s CRM Dynamics Online. The latter has 20,000 customers and is being aggressively marketed as a alternative. SugarCRM’s positioning as a niche challenger to the two titans is attractive for those customers fearing enterprise vendor lock-in.

The future for SugarCRM is based around the trends of Social, Mobile and Cloud computing. New updated native iPhone and Android mobile versions of SugarCRM will be available shortly to complement their iPad and Blackberry platforms support. SugarCRM will “stick to the knitting” of building deep and rich CRM functionality rather than being distracted into other adjacent market spaces such as marketing automation and call centre management. This makes SugarCRM an attractive partner for vendors of these kinds of customer management applications.

Larry’s vision of “CRM for everyone” is on track and looking good. He and SugarCRM’s team have done a great job of differentiating SugarCRM to date against their well-heeled rivals. As David might have said to Goliath “it’s focus rather than size that matters”. And that sums up the fun and colour of the Tech industry, after all. We wish them well, and will watch Sugar’s progress with interest.

Is the CRM Market Stagnant?

Is the CRM Market Stagnant?.