SugarCRM says competitors have fallen short in helping salespeople sell, but new Sugar 7 features will fill that gap.
CRM hasn't well-served the needs of salespeople because it's too focused on rolling up forecasts for sales management and the CFO while doing too little to help salespeople sell. That's the assessment of Larry Augustin, CEO of SugarCRM, who spoke at a conference in New York on Tuesday about the future of the company's open source CRM system.
"We've built tools to help salespeople with their own pipeline management, showing them what they need to do to meet their quotas," Augustin said. "We've also added an intelligence panel where we deliver information that helps the seller as they're engaged with the customer, whether that's cross-sell and up-sell recommendations, or insight on who else in the company knows the contact and what interactions they've had."
The intelligence panel also surfaces examples of other deals that match the profile of sales opportunities in progress, and other deals in similar industries, Augustin said.
Sugar is available in many flavors starting with Sugar Community Edition, the core open source product actively used by more than 50,000 companies and 1.2 million end users, according to Augustin. SugarCRM offers commercial support for Professional, Corporate, Enterprise and Ultimate versions of Sugar, and these are used by 6,500 paying customers with more than 200,000 user seats as of the end of the second quarter.
SugarCRM supports multiple deployment modes, with various flavors of "cloud" accounting for two-thirds of paying customers. There's a SugarCRM multi-tenant service (a.k.a. SaaS), and a private-cloud service and hosting (a.k.a. managed service). The private-cloud option was added last year with the introduction of Sugar 6. SugarCRM manages the private-cloud services, but it uses IBM or Amazon Web Services to provide the cloud computing capacity, depending on the customer's choice of infrastructure providers.
"Multitenant gives you the lowest cost option, but it has the least flexibility," Augustin explained. "With SaaS, everybody is kept up to date on the latest release, which is good, but you don't have control over the timing of upgrades. Private-cloud gives the customer options."
The competition to SugarCRM is pretty obvious -- Salesforce.com, Oracle Siebel, Microsoft Dynamics CRM -- even if you don't spot the "Switch to Sugar From ..." options detailed on the company's website. A head-to-head comparison, as portrayed by the company, shows Sugar costing $90,000 per year versus $285,000 for Salesforce.com. Siebel is artfully depicted as "last-century CRM." And the appeal versus Microsoft is not getting "locked up."
SugarCRM isn't the only competitor talking about CRM that starts with the sales challenge, not revenue forecasting. SAP has taken the same focus with SAP Sales OnDemand, which was introduced last year. And certainly most other CRM vendors are talking this talk, even if the more popular spin these days is around "customer experience management."
From "the customer company" (Salesforce.com) and Oracle to Pegasystems and Kana, the hottest CRM topic these days in many ways seems as old as the maxim "the customer always comes first." Now it applies in a multi-channel sense, and consistency across those channels is crucial.
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