Best of CRM: November 4th

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Every week, we recount some of the best buzz around CRM and data integration. We’ll review our favorite articles and share the most pressing findings or key takeaways from each.

Data Connection Tools Help Link Cloud Apps for LED Franchiser
By: Jack Vaughan (@JackVaughanatTT)
TechTarget’s Jack Vaughan takes readers through the challenges and successes of LED Source, a North American lighting franchisor that sought out an all-cloud system stack. After deciding to switch out NetSuite for Salesforce and QuickBooks solutions, LED Source realized the two systems lacked an easy integration solution, and spent a good deal of time struggling to connect them in a cost-effective manner. After extensive research, the franchisor found a cost-effective integration solution that could easily scale to add new franchisees, allowing LED Source to enjoy the full cloud benefits of low maintenance and flexibility. LED Source Director of Marketing, Dean Earnst, warns other companies to consider the complex requirements of cloud integration before jumping in though. “Effectively combining data and analysis across applications and processes, regardless of where the apps and data reside, is [now] a fundamental requirement of businesses. It will be both more difficult and urgent as cloud and mobile uses increase.”

Maintaining IT Relevance in a Hybrid Environment
By: Mark Walker (@markatscribe)
Scribe’s VP of Technical Resources discusses the new requirements of IT in a cloud-centric enterprise. Since LOB managers can easily implement and maintain cloud solutions without the need for IT, technical personnel are in a transitional time where they must alter their MO to remain relevant. Despite the benefits of the cloud, integration and security remain significant challenges – in addressing these issues, IT has the chance to move from tactical support unit to strategic business partner. “The best CIOs today… can orient IT to help each department quickly achieve individual goals and build availability of corporate knowledge while providing a valuable service to all, starting with educating all parties on the value of shared information and eliminating silos.” In addition to breaking down silos, the most effective CIOs will help IT serve as a bridge across departments, demonstrate the value IT adds to SaaS discussions through long term strategic planning for an improved bottom line, and prioritize and iterate to provide consistent, measurable improvements across tech systems.

CRM Idol 2013: The Five Finalists are here
By: Paul Greenberg (@pgreenbe)
Paul Greenberg’s CRM Idol 2013 is progressing to the next stage, where the five finalists must produce a video for the public voting section of the competition. The finalists this year are BlueCamroo, Cirruspath, Mindtouch, Next Principles and UserVoice. On judging the selectiveness of the process, “one of the partners at a Tier One venture capital firm told [Paul], ‘the winner is the most vetted company in the world.'” BlueCamroo provides basic and specialized tools and applications to run a small business, Cirruspath integrates Google apps and Gmail with Salesforce, Mindtouch is a Knowledge as a Service (KaaS) provider focused on customer service, Next Principles provides an Insight-to-Action analytics platform specializing in customer engagement metrics, and UserVoice is a customer experience application that provides multi-channel customer service.

3 Ways CRM Improves your Business Processes
By: David Taber (@DavidTaber)
In another educational CRM piece, David Taber digs in to the hype of CRM promises to relate what benefits companies can actually expect. In its simplest form, CRM is “a piece of code providing visibility, automation and follow-through.” In truth, CRM systems can help companies realize their potential, and what they need to improve to reach that potential. In terms of the biggest use cases, one of the most basic is utilizing CRM as a filing cabinet, which is most useful for straightforward sales cycles that simply require the right information to close deals. On a more advanced level, CRM systems provide a useful tool for collaboration and coordination, benefiting companies focused on account management, renewing/upselling, and multi-phase contracts. This use-case requires integration with several other business systems to be of any benefit. Lastly and most ambitiously, CRM can be used as a primary task master and process driver. For this goal companies must combine the first two use cases, along with tighter linkage between business systems, to allow more complex tasks like workflows, approval cycles, escalations and management by exception. As your company plans its next CRM initiative, keep these use cases in mind and decide what effort to benefit ratio is best for your specific needs.

Pair CRM and Sales Proposal Software for Continuing Sales Success
By: Amit Davés
One of the biggest threats from the race to close sales deals is the lack of incentive to nurture relationships with existing customers. To combine a high volume of new deals with successful relationship nurturing, Amit explains the value of combining CRM with sales proposal software, which is a tool to create documents that aid in the post-sale environment. This is especially useful in handling high churn rate among sales people, helping provide a seamless onboarding experience for new employees. When combined, “CRM systems and sales proposal software work together to provide a full scope of information, so that a new team member can seamlessly pick up where a past team member left off.” This software combination also simplifies the interaction between products and services, ensuring a smooth and accurate process of creating and sending quotes. All told, CRM and sales proposal software can help employees across sales and marketing departments optimize the revenue/relationship balance critical for long-term success.


We hope you had a great week! We’ll see you again soon with a roundup of all the movers and shakers in CRM and data integration news.

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