How to spread the gospel of Sage CRM

Lemme hear a "Sage CRM"

It’s been an overly long hiatus since I last blogged about my life’s mission: spreading the Sage CRM gospel to anyone and everyone that will give me their time (in five minute increments).

For those of you that care, I haven’t been idle during this hiatus.

I am always challenging myself and my team to look for new ways to help other Sage partners understand Sage CRM better and to help them get it in front of their prospects and customers.

I’ve used my time away from the blog to conduct some in-depth conversations with partners about the best ways to make this happen.

The culmination of this effort is going to materialize this month and I hope it’s something that will be of huge benefit to you.

We are launching a series of monthly events (for lack of a better word just yet) focusing on different CRM related topics. Each event will consist of a webinar, a white paper and some blog articles about the monthly topic.

These events are not going to be hard sell documents about Sage CRM. We are focusing on the brass tacks about CRM and the benefits of a successful implementation for the average small business and some of the risks associated with ignoring CRM and why it has grown in importance.

Why should you care about all this?

Well – the goal is to conduct these events in conjunction with you – in a co-branded exercise to drive awareness and to uncover opportunities within your current client and prospect base.

Our objective is to provide all interested partners with an easy-to-implement, co-branded series of CRM focused marketing events to participate in.

We will do this by creating a specialized landing page for participating partners with their logo, contact information and other particulars. All of the documents related to the event will also be co-branded with partner information.

We will be making it easy for partners to do as much or as little work as they want.

If you would like to be responsible for drumming up attendees and getting the message out, we will provide email templates to use and a summary of the core message being delivered. If you would like to off-load the responsibilities, we will take care of the work for you.

It’s your choice.

Regarding the actual events, while our hope is that partners will want to participate each month, if you want to participate in some months and not others, again … it’s your choice.

You tell us which events appeal to you and which don’t. It’s that simple.

We are starting small in February and have limited sign ups to three interested partners. We intend to expand that to five partners in March and seven in April. I would like to see it grow over time from there.

In the end, our goal is to create a marketing machine that will help you deliver the message of Sage CRM consistently with no hassle.

I welcome any feedback and suggestions to help improve this plan.

Take advantage of the easy to use, powerful Sage CRM dashboards

Sage CRM Dashboards[Note: We are continiung our walkthrough of how to introduce Sage CRM to MAS and Accpac clients.]

In addition to the core functionality that supports finding, getting and keeping customers, Sage CRM offers a lot of bells and whistles that help businesses become more effective and efficient. One of the most powerful features is the Sage CRM Interactive Dashboard.

In software systems, a dashboard is typically a user interface that presents easy to read, at a glance views  of key indicators and are designed to help people do their jobs better. Many times dashboards are interactive and allow users to drill down or drill sideways to present the metrics from different angles.

The Sage CRM dashboard ably meets these requirements.

Dashboards are made of Dashboard Gadgets. These gadgets can represent a wide variety of information including:

  • Calendar
  • Chart
  • List
  • Menu Item
  • Notification
  • Record Summary
  • RSS Feed
  • SData Feed
  • Summary
  • Task List
  • Website

With this kind of flexibility, you can build Sage CRM dashboards to meet any particular need.

A really cool feature allows individual gadgets to be linked – meaning you can click on a record or piece of information in one gadget and update one or more other gadgets with relevant information. This allows you to get access to the information that matters quickly and easily without hunting around in the system.

Ex. your dashboard might display a list of companies you are calling on today and by clicking a particular company, their last five phone conversations display in another gadget.

Another nice benefit of the Sage CRM dashboard is that each Sage CRM user can have multiple dashboards defined to help them manage their workload.

For example, a salesperson might have a daily dashboard listing phone calls, meetings, tasks required for the day alongside a list of customers that will be contacted or visited during the day. The same salesperson might also have a quarterly dashboard that allows them to see how they are doing against quota, a summary of quarterly sales, comparison of sales year over year or other important metrics.

Sage CRM DashboardThe same consideration can be given to other departments. With each person having their own pre-defined dashboard or set of dashboards,each person in your company can better measure performance against the company goals.

Sage CRM dashboards are not limited to individual user information – they can also be configured to display an entire team’s performance. This is useful for managers that want to toggle between team members or review their group as a whole.

As you build these different dashboards,you can design layouts exactly as you want with the flexible dashboard designer. You are not limited to any particular size or grid arrangement. Each gadget can be configured to take exactly as much space as you need.

This makes sense as some pieces of information don’t need as much room as others.

One final feature that I would like to draw attention to is the Company Dashboard. Whereas the other dashboards are typically configured around an individual user or a team, the Company Dashboard is present on each customer, prospect, vendor or other company record in your system.

Like the user and team dashboards, you can configure the Company Dashboards however you want.

This makes is extremely simple to define a quick, at a glance summary of companies that you do business with (or want to do business with). You could define the Comopany Dashboard to display total revenue year over year, top xx product purchases, last xx touchpoints (phone calls, meetings, etc.), key contact information, outstanding customer service issues, etc.

This is a powerful feature and helps your team get up to speed before calling on a contact or when a contact calls in.

The Sage CRM dashboards are a powerful, easy to use feature and help set Sage CRM apart from other mid-range CRM solutions. I didn’t cover all the features so if you have any questions, please comment below or feel free to contact me for more information.

Improve your customer service immediately with Sage CRM

[Note: We are continiung our walkthrough of how to introduce Sage CRM to MAS and Accpac clients.]

I believe that the heart of CRM, the “holy trinity”, is finding, getting and keeping customers is the heart of CRM. “Keeping customers” is an important piece of the equation and we will discuss how Sage CRM delivers on this today (check here for more on “finding customers” and here for more on “getting customers”).

One of my favorite examples of the importance of keeping customers is found in a popular Seinfeld episode that shows Jerry’s frustrated attempts to pick up a rental car:

Jerry: I don’t understand, I made a reservation, do you have my reservation?

Agent: Yes, we do, unfortunately we ran out of cars.

Jerry: But the reservation keeps the car here. That’s why you have the reservation.

Agent: I know why we have reservations.

Jerry: I don’t think you do.

Jerry: If you did, I’d have a car. See, you know how to take the reservation, you just don’t know how to *hold* the reservation.

Jerry: And that’s really the most important part of the reservation, the holding. Anybody can just take them. [Said while miming grabbing reservations out of thin air.]

It’s unlikely that particular car rental place will be getting Jerry’s business in the future unless they respond quickly and decisively to turn around the problem satisfactorily. And that’s true of all of our businesses … particularly in this world where people can find a competitive service or get a recommendation from friends (and even strangers) within a few minutes on their favorite social networks.

Sage CRM helps you manage these situations and effectively turn around what could be a customer-ending experience.

At the core of improved customer service,Sage CRM allows you to track and manage these complaints as “Cases” (which you can rename to anything you want,”Service Tickets”, “Issues”, “Help Requests”, you name it).

The Cases work as a central place to organize and track communications and actions taken to resolve a particular problem. This includes phone call notes and emails back and forth with the other party, co-workers or external agents.

The emails can be built upon pre-established email merge templates for quick, professional looking responses. This helps ensure a consistent, high quality customer experience throughout the customer service group.

To further ensure that consistent, high quality customer experience, Sage CRM allows you to easily set up notifications to alert you upon certain conditions. Much like a watchdog in your backyard, barking at strangers trying to break in, the notifications can be set to email the assigned customer service agent if a case has set idle for too long. If that doesn’t get a response, the watchdog in the form of the notification engine can pop up a message on the manager’s desk and let him know there’s a problem.

The cases also support the reknowned Sage CRM workflow engine which delivers the same amazing automation and control that we discussed with the sales process.

This allows you to create a consistent, yet dynamic, path for customer service issues through your organization. A call comes in, it gets sent to the correct person for resolution, the customer is contacted, the resolution is verified, the call is closed. And if you want, you can create different resolution paths based on the type of problem or the individual customer (ex. Gold card members get higher priority).

In addition, the workflow engine helps ensure the many touchpoints that can make or break a relationship (we call these “administrivia”) are accomplished effectively.

As an example, the Sage CRM workflow engine can automatically email the customer when a case is initially logged, or progressed through the workflow from stage to stage (ex. “Logged” to “Investigating”). Or it can put a notification in to the marketing department to follow up with a customer two weeks after the problem is reported as resolved to make sure they are content.

Now you are talking about customer service turning into marketing – taking a bad situation and making it good.

Sage CRM makes all this and more (automatic case tracking history, knowledgebase, customer service portal and more!) possible.

Great stuff!

Kick your sales into overdrive with Sage CRM

[Note: We are continiung our walkthrough of how to introduce Sage CRM to MAS and Accpac clients.]

Finding, getting and keeping customers is the heart of CRM – I refer to it as the holy trinity of CRM. This time around, we are going to discuss the “getting customers” piece of the equation (check here for more on “finding customers” and here for more on “keeping customers”).

For a lot of people, sales and opportunity management *is* CRM so it’s important to note that Sage CRM is extremely strong in this area.

Sage CRM allows you to easily track sales opportunities through the stages of their natural lifecycle – suspect, prospect, opportunity, sold or lost. While it offers default stages out of the box, you can define and control this lifecycle using whatever language fits your business and your particular sales lifecycle.

If you choose to, you can also segregate really early stage, “cold” leads from warmer leads. This is done by using the appropriately named “Leads” area of the system. Some businesses use the leads as a holding area for purchased lead lists while they are being processed and warmed up. Once they are warm, they graduate to a true company, person and opportunity in the system.

You can view and manage these leads at the individual level or at the departmental group level. This helps companies manage individual sales efforts and the entire organization’s sales efforts as a whole if needed.

Each individual sales person can stay on top of their pipeline easily with their sales dashboard and analyze the big picture and,with a single click,drill down into the details. This helps you stay on top of hot sales prospects and keep things moving along to ensure sales come to a successful conclusion.

And with the proper security configuration, specific people (ex. managers) can view any individual’s particular pipeline and dashboard. For management, this is particularly useful as they can catch up to speed on their team’s sales efforts on demand when it’s convenient for them even if the individual sales person is not available.

One of Sage CRM’s strongest features is it’s workflow engine. For the non technical among us, the workflow engine is the piece that controls and automates the sales process – helping define how a sale moves from one stage to the next.

Again – the workflow engine is one of Sage CRM’s strongest features and is particularly important when it comes to sales.

As part of controlling the sales flow, it allows you to automate the many touchpoints that can oftentimes make or break a sale. We call these touchpoints “administrivia” -  there are many of them, most sales people hate to do them as they are typically mundane and yet they are extremely important.

Sage CRM makes administrivia a thing of the past.

For example, when you send a proposal to a prospect, the Sage CRM workflow engine can be configured to put a reminder on your calendar to do a follow up call in three days to check in. When you make a sale, the Sage CRM workflow engine can automatically send a thank you email to your new customer and also put a follow up on your marketing person’s calendar in ninety days to check on the work and ask for references.

The possibilities are endless. And it’s the workflow piece that makes this possible.

Sage CRM also makes it easy to stay on top of forecasting. For most organizations, forecasting is a time-consuming activity in which individual sales people spend a good chunk of time at the end of the month putting numbers into a spreadsheet that they send to the sales manager. The sales manager, in turn, spends a whole bunch of time bringing the indivdiual spreadsheets into a single master sheet to analyze.

This is time-consuming and unnecessary. With Sage CRM, forecasts are assembled for review within minutes using the sales opportunities in the pipeline.

Bottom line, Sage CRM allows you to improve your visibility and control of your sales process which, when done right, will lead to increased revenue and greater profitability.

Find customers easily with Sage CRM marketing

http://www.flickr.com/photos/stuckincustoms/3780481716/sizes/z/in/photostream

How sweet does your pipeline look?

[Note: We are continiung our walkthrough of how to introduce Sage CRM to MAS and Accpac clients.]

As we discussed previously, at it’s heart CRM is all about improving visibility and control across an organization to allow for better finding, getting and keeping customers. I refer to this as the holy trinity of CRM functionality.

Let’s focus briefly on the “finding customers” piece of it. After all, it all starts here (check here for more on “getting customers” and here for more on “keeping customers”).

Well-known business management pioneer and guru Peter Drucker posited that if marketing was good enough there would be no need for sales. Now that’s a powerful thought, isn’t it?

I firmly believe that it’s true. If it’s possible for such a thing, I think it’s even more true now than when he originated the thought.

In today’s world, there are a lot of options and choices available for individuals. And the information is all out there and available with a click of a mouse or via a single Facebook post requesting information from your social network. People are drowning in choices and unless you are great at marketing, your ideal prospects will pass on by without giving your organization and products a second glance.

Sage CRM helps you manage this in several ways.

First off, you can link your website to your Sage CRM database with a mere 30 minutes of effort. This allows you to put a contact form on your website (or replace your existing one) and have the data entered automatically flow into your Sage CRM system to be processed by your marketing or sales team.

Sage CRM also provides a great way to categorize and sub-categorize lists of customers, prospects, suspects, leads,whatever you want into manageable groups that can be marketed to in various capacities. You can use these groups with one off email blasts,scheduled telemarketing, snail mail merges, etc.

Or you can combine a group (or groups) with a full-blown marketing campaign.

Essentially, a Sage CRM campaign is used to coordinate several activities around a single marketing push to, as example, drive awareness for a new product launch. You might start off doing an email blast to previous customers, follow that up with direct phone calls to make sure they got the information, then follow that up with a webinar about the new product benefits, etc.

If you use the marketing campaign feature, you can track interest and even eventual sales back to the marketing activties which gives you the power to measure what works and what doesn’t from a real-world, money on the table perspective.

With this functionality at your fingertips, you can use Sage CRM to perform A-B messaging – where you split your groups in half and send one message to one group and a different message to the other group. This allows you to refine your messages and see what works … and what doesn’t. This is hugely powerful – even for a small business (maybe especially for a small business?).

And … when you are ready to step up your marketing, you can integrate your Sage CRM system with Swift Page using the eMarketing functionality which gives you even more precise analytics concerning your email messages. What’s working, who’s clicking on which links, who’s opening the messages, etc.

All in all, this is powerful stuff. Sage CRM delivers the goods when it comes to marketing.

What’s at the heart of CRM?

http://www.flickr.com/photos/59937401@N07/5858011914/sizes/z/in/photostream/[Note: We are continiung our walkthrough of how to introduce Sage CRM to MAS and Accpac clients.]

As we discussed last time, Sage CRM provides a way for companies to have better visibility and control across their organization. I firmly believe that this is essential in today’s rapidly moving world where the competition is a single click away on the Internet.

Better visibility and control help businesses streamline operations and deliver a consistent, high-quality experience across the organization.

At the end though, the ultimate purpose of enhanced visibility and control is to help you find, get and keep customers more effectively and efficiently.  Which is great, since, for most of us, finding, getting and keeping customers is an essential part of our businesses! :,,)

I consider finding, getting and keeping customers as the holy trinity of CRM functionality.

Many people talk about CRM as if it was only a sales tool – the “finding” piece of the trinity. Or if they are feeling generous, a sales and marketing tool.

From my experience, that’s a narrow view of the power of CRM. Our best customers have completely embedded Sage CRM throughout their organization and use it for operational and transactional control and to define automated processes that are designed to create a high quality, consistent experience. Doing this not only increases operational efficiency, it also increases operational effectiveness which can help a company build a strong, consistent brand which, in turns, helps makes sales easier.

This is a nice lead-in to one of my favorite quotes:

The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself. – Peter Drucker

Peter Drucker is well-known and generally accepted as one of the first true business geniuses of the modern era. He made it his life’s work to study, think about and report on business. When he makes comments like the one above and other similar ones that underscore the importance of marketing, I think it’s good to take note.
 
To me, this is why it’s extremely limited to think of Sage CRM as merely a sales tool. It’s important to recognize it for what it is really designed to do: help businesses find, get and keep customers.
 
And, by helping to make all three of these things happen, Sage CRM  allows people to do more with less … and do it better than they could without the system. This translates to increased profitability.
 
I think we can all agree that *this* is a very, very good thing.
 
If you found this of interest, please comment below or take a few seconds to subscribe to ensure you don’t miss new articles. Enter your email address in the right-hand column where it says “Don’t miss out!”. 
 

What is CRM?

http://www.flickr.com/photos/valeriebb/3006348550/sizes/z/in/photostream/

[Note: We are continiung our walkthrough of how to introduce Sage CRM to MAS and Accpac clients.]

It all starts here, doesn’t it? How can we achieve the goal of successfully introducing Sage CRM to MAS and Accpac clients if we don’t know what Sage CRM is?

It’s important to know that there are a lot of definitions for CRM out there. Most of them talk about CRM being a strategy or a business tool or methodology. All of that may be true. In fact, I would even suggest that it *is* all true.

For the average MAS and Accpac client out there though, it’s simply too much to get their arms around. It’s overkill.

When I first meet with a prospect, I describe Sage CRM as follows:

CRM provides a central, web-based repository to securely share key information in an efficient, timely manner.

What exactly does that mean and why is this definition effective when introducing Sage CRM to customers? Basically, by saying this, we are telling people that CRM gives them a centralized place to store all their important information and provide secure access to whoever needs it,when they need it to do their jobs.

For most organizations,this is a huge benefit. Organizations today are struggling with a need for better visibility and better control.

People need to do more with less.

They need to do more sales, more services, more calls, more orders, more, more, more. And it’s with less time, less mistakes, less allowances, less … everything really.

The only way to achieve this goal of doing more with less is to have a tool that allows you to have better visibility and control.

The visibility aspect allows individuals to keep better track of their days and prioritize their activities in a proactive manner. It also allows managers to see who’s doing what and how things are going across the organization and track prospect and customer relationships at the company level (as opposed to in individual’s heads or their Outlook or their individual contact management systems).

The control aspect of Sage CRM allows the company as a whole to define and maintain a consistent, high-level quality experience for prospects and customers from one end of the organization to the other. This is done through several different aspects of Sage CRM such as the workflow engine, notifications, business rule automation, etc. And it’s done in such a way that everyone in the organization benefits and understands and can deliver this consistent experience.

By using the definition given above and drawing on the importance of visibility and control, hopefully it’s clear why CRM appeals to business owners and departmental heads.

It’s important to realize that while this definition is used for the initial introduction of Sage CRM, it’s equally important to eventually address the parts about CRM being a strategy, methodology, even a philosophy. We’ll re-visit those points in an upcoming article.

Please comment below or reach out to me if you disagree, agree or just want to speak your mind.

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It’s not you – it’s me! (or is it?)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ajc1/4598283411/sizes/z/in/photostream/Please bear with this article as I violate the cardinal rule. Instead of writing about you and your needs, I’m going to write about me and the Azamba team of Sage CRM experts.

I promise I will make it brief.

The question is why would I violate this primary rule? If you follow me on any of the other social networks where I’m commonly found, you will find I preach this basic idea over and over and over again.

So, again, why would I violate this rule?

In part, it’s because I’m writing a series articles that follow my powerpoint that I deliver to Sage MAS and Accpac partners that explains how to introduce Sage CRM to your clients. The first few slides of this presentation give an overview of my organization, Azamba Consulting Group. In an attempt to follow the powerpoint, it would make sense that I have an article about those slides.

The real question then is: why do I include those slides in the presentation? If it’s not about me and it *really* is about you, what purpose do they serve?

The entire purpose of those slides – and the ensuing discussion about Azamba’s wide range of Sage CRM experiences – is to help you feel comfortable that the advice provided here at www.azambapartners.com is based in the real-world and from working with partners like you since we opened our doors in 2007.

In fact, you should know that 90% of our revenue and most of the nearly 300 Sage CRM projects that we have worked on comes from working with other Sage partners.

You may appreciate that our entire mission at Azamba is dedicated to helping as many organizations as possible survive and thrive profitably through successful Sage CRM implementations. Knowing this, you probably understand why, in pursuit of this mission,we work with other Sage partners,since this approach gives us a wider audience and opportunity to spread the Sage CRM gospel.

With Azamba, you are working with a firm that works closely with over three dozen Sage partners in all facets of introducing Sage CRM to their MAS and Accpac clients. You can count on us for Sage CRM implementation, configuration, training, customization and ongoing support. You will find that we are easy to work with and focused on making the client’s happy for a mutual win-win-win.

You might also want to know that you can count on us to help with conducting marketing programs, pre-sales questions and answers, sales, demonstrations, you name it. You won’t be charged for those services. Of course, we strive to do a great job so you will hopefully want to bring us in to assist or conduct the implementation services as well.

Not every partner brings Azamba in for the services. That’s ok if you don’t.

Again, for us, it’s part of our mission and you will find that we are always happy to help spread the message about Sage CRM.

Hopefully you will find as others have that we do a pretty good job at it. You should rest easy knowing that we’ve won the Sage Spirit Award two years in a row in big part because of other Sage partners voting for us.  It’s been quite an experience, honor and pleasure to work with and help them all and their clients.

With that, I’m done talking about me and my team. With the next article, let’s get back to what’s really important: you and helping you introduce Sage CRM to your clients.

(If you are hungry for a bit more information about this blog, the reasons to read it and a tiny bit more about me and Azamba, check out the About page.)

Where’s the Silver Bullet when Introducing Sage CRM to MAS and Accpac Customers?

I confess… the title is misleading. Sadly, there is no silver bullet when it comes to introducing Sage CRM to your MAS or Accpac customers.

There is no sure-fire trick, gimmick or approach that will work every time. CRM is a complex system and – just like MAS and Accpac – you need to do some homework before presenting and recommending it.

With that said, over the next few articles, I am going to review a *general* approach that will help you better position Sage CRM and help your customers better understand its value.

If you would like a sneak peek, see the slideshare presentation below. I’m going to be using this presentation as a general guide for the discussions.



 

Join me for a deep dive on marketing and selling SageCRM at Summit 2011

How’s that for a direct title?

I’ve been receiving a lot of requests to put on a session at Summit about marketing and selling SageCRM. I struggled with it for awhile because there are so many great official sessions covering similar material.

After relaying this to one of the MAS partners I work with on a regular basis, he said “Pete – It’s different coming from another partner. You offer a unique slant because you are out doing it every day. You know what does and doesn’t work so get off your @$$.”

Ok. Consider this me getting of my @$$.

If you are interested in the real-world perspective on marketing and selling SageCRM, join me on Tuesday morning, July 12th, from 11:30 am – 12:45pm in room Baltimore 2.

I will have a loose presentation designed to elicit questions and establish a discussion. We will cover any and all topics related to marketing and selling SageCRM including:

  • Discuss why you should care about CRM and how it will impact your business in the very near future (if it hasn’t already!).
  • Discover the inherent benefits and necessity of CRM and why CRM is the answer to many of your clients’ problems – and yours too.
  • Learn proven approaches to presenting CRM to your clients – who wants it, what drives them and how to get started.
  • Understand what it takes for small and medium sized organizations to succeed with CRM (hint: remember the tortoise and the hare?).

(Stolen right from http://azambapartners.com/about/)

Above all else: the session is designed for YOU – to answer questions that you might have about the importance of CRM to your business and your clients and how to present it properly. Come prepared with questions!

Please RSVP in the comments below or at http://events.linkedin.com/Marketing-Selling-SageCRM-ERP-Clients/pub/713308.

For more details and the official announcement, please visit: http://www.azamba.com/news/azamba-consulting-group-announces-dynamic-new-sagecrm-session-for-sage-summit-2011.aspx.