Q Event Briefs
Q Event brief - SugarCon 2017
SugarCRM has been around since 2004 and they are one of the few CRM vendors who have managed to maintain a constant presence in the market. While vendors like Salesforce have expanded exponentially, other solutions like GoldMine or SalesLogix are now almost forgotten.
SugarCRM adopted a strategy of sustainable growth based on gaining customers’ trust rather than relying heavily on marketing and advertising. This explains why they have been number 1 in PC Magazine for years, while their competitors’ net promoter scores have been very low.
Another important aspect that differentiates SugarCRM from its competitors is that they offer both horizontal and vertical solutions. Most CRM solutions are too generic to be successfully used in verticals like manufacturing or financial services. SugarCRM offers options for companies with generic needs, as well as for verticals such as manufacturing and professional services.
What customers are saying
The CEO of SugarCRM spoke about putting the “R” back into “CRM” and also went on to consider whether too much focus is placed on technology and too little on relationships. This type of frank talk is not very commonplace at software conferences and customers have confirmed that the focus on relationships is indeed one of the main reasons why they like Sugar CRM. For instance, a major CRM vendor was eliminated from a customer’s selection process because they tried to oversell them. They did not appreciate the vendor’s focus on selling rather than on building a relationship with the client. Functionality and cost aside, these are the considerations that can make or break a deal.
SugarCRMs customers appear to be more comfortable giving more weight to the sales and marketing teams when selecting CRM, and limiting the influence of IT and finance (who may not always be aware of the real issues that CRM can solve). Also, 500 of their customers are vocal advocates and SugarCRM is now being used by more than 2 million people in over 120 countries and in 26 languages.
The most important announcement was, no doubt, the availability of its mobile software development kit (SDK). Since most sales people spend a lot of time on their mobile devices, allowing customers to create and customize mobile apps gives them a lot of freedom and flexibility to adapt the apps to their needs, and not the other way around. Other departments that have an impact on customer experience, like field service, can also benefit from the integration with native device capabilities like GPS and camera.
SugarCRM also announced its partnership with Act-On and the release of a product and support bundle created by Act-On for SugarCRM customers. The bundle includes: native integration between Act-On and SugarCRM, engagement insights powered by Act-On Data Studio, and premium Act-On support for SugarCRM users. This bundle allows SugarCRM users to better understand customer behavior and journeys, and to improve their customer engagement strategy.
Another important announcement was the change of the release schedule for both cloud and on premises. Quarterly releases will be provided for the cloud version and a yearly release for on premises. SugarCRM will also offer extended support for v 7.9, 8 and 9 which means that a customer can stay on a version for 30 months. Also, releases will be renamed Fall, Winter, etc. as opposed to having version numbers. This is an important step forward as it will help customers better prepare for future releases.
While other CRM vendors focus on marketing to attract new customers, SugarCRM prefers to build relationships with its customers. This seems to be mutually beneficial and allows SugarCRM to have a loyal customer base, which is an important advantage for buyers willing to make long term investments in CRM.
SugarCRM measures its business performance based on its Annual Recurring Revenue, followed by upselling to existing customers, and by its ability to attract new customers. This is the opposite strategy adopted by many CRM vendors, who tend to focus on new customers and upsell opportunities, placing little value and effort on customer loyalty.
SugarCRM is also unique in this market because they are a horizontal solution with a focus on a few verticals. This allows them to cover generic needs as well as to address specific industry challenges. Most CRM solutions are either too generic or are too focused on one or more industries, which results in one of two things: either customers don’t have their specific needs covered, or they cannot benefit from advanced CRM features like relationship intelligence.
SugarCRM is striving to find the right balance between providing robust functionality, and focusing on relationships with its customers - and I think they’re on track to achieve it.
The 3 pillars on which SugarCRM measures performance