Sugar's Larry Augustin Shares What Makes Sugar So Sweet
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By Chuck Schaeffer
CRM Podcast Series
SugarCRM CEO, Larry Augustin
SugarCRM is the undeniable open source CRM software leader. However, SugarCRM CEO Larry Augustin aims to make the company a CRM software leader beyond the open source platform. In this conversation, he shares the vision, business strategy, strengths and differentiators of Sugar CRM in an increasingly crowded CRM software marketplace.
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Key take away points from open source veteran and SugarCRM leader Larry Augustin.
SugarCRM's vision is to help customers make connections that matter, for example, helping sales professionals and other customer facing staff make connections to their customers and potential customers. By reviewing the customer profile in Sugar CRM prior to each sales call or customer interaction, sales staff and others can apply the most relevant and timely customer activities and history, to maximize call effectiveness—and ultimately contribute to a successful customer relationship management strategy.
Sugar serves a broad customer target market, from companies with 2 or 3 sales people, to a hundred thousand customer facing roles. The company is historically strong in the mid-market, and while that customer segment will remain key, Sugar is progressively expanding into the enterprise market. Similarly, Sugar satisfies small business customers, but has not capitalized on this market to its potential, and will seek to expand the small business market in the near term.
To aid enterprise market customer acquisitions, the company leverages its native open source platform flexibility to allow customers to build their sales and customer facing processes into the CRM software application—a contrary approach to telling customers to modify their business processes to satisfy the software. Additionally, Sugar CRM offers customers a choice in deployment, be it on-premises, private cloud or public cloud. In fact, by offering customers the ability to transition from on-premises to on-demand or vice versa, along with a choice in cloud providers—be it Sugar's cloud or other popular clouds such as Amazon or Rackspace, customers are empowered to use (or change to) the cloud platform that best delivers their particular performance, reliability, integration, technology and cost objectives. Deployment flexibility and cloud platform ubiquity are clear differentiators for Sugar, and appealing to both midmarket and enterprise organizations.
Despite being the open source CRM software leader, Sugar regards itself less as an open source CRM company, and more of a CRM company that leverages open source. This not so subtle difference, and transition from Sugar's earliest days, speaks to Sugar positioning itself beyond its open source capabilities, to the specific business objectives sought by its customers and in direct competition to the commercial software marketplace.
Social CRM remains strategic to Sugar's customers, and therefore, Sugar CRM. In part due to the company's global community, Sugar customers have benefited from social CRM tools, such as Activity Streams and Connectors, since early in the social media dawn. Going forward, the company believes social tools will advance the age old sales advice that selling is about personal relationships, and the more you know about your customer, the better the opportunity to personally connect and engage. You're looking to make a personal connection, because at the end of a buy cycle, people buy from people. Social channels provide the new venue to learn how to connect with customers.
The Sugar PPP (perfect prospect profile) currently tends to be a company in the mid-market, at 1000 or fewer employees, and with a focus on empowering sales professionals with the customer management and social tools they need to understand their customers. Due in part to global functionality (multi-currency, multiple languages, etc.) and a worldwide distribution and support network (often with local hosting by country), Sugar customers are international customers. Over half of Sugar's business goes through resellers, thereby providing local services on a global scale.
The Sugar CRM product road map looks to continue its push into more social, more mobile (including tablets and native client apps) and a user experience that is being heavily influenced by the B2C consumerization into the B2B marketplace—delivering a user interface that is more inviting and resembling of a social network, with the aim to reduce training, improve user engagement and increase adoption.
Sugar states that its differentiation and top competitive advantages include open source flexibility and openness, global community participation, choice in deployment models including cloud portability among cloud platforms, an impressive array of native mobile clients and notable social products backed by a social company. The product can be quickly and easily customized to the business processes of the customer, facilitating unique fit and complimenting the unique business processes that give its customers their competitive advantages.
Social CRM is a strategic consideration (for Sugar). [...] Selling is about personal relationships. Your looking to make a personal connection, because people buy from people. (Via social channels) People today are telling you all those things you can use to help make connections."