CRM – A Balancing Act

Last night since the Giants were losing, I switched to watch Diners, Drive Ins and Dives. I love watching the concoctions local restaurateurs come up with and am always impressed with their ingenuity in comfort food creation.

While part of me would love to devour some of the gastric creations, the other, more rational half of me says, “Wow, that’s great but it’s too much of a good thing.”

It’s a fine line isn’t it? The rare times I’ve gone out to fancy restaurants, there have been times where I’ve felt that I wanted to hit the drive-thru after because I’m still a little hungry from the small discrete portions I’ve paid an exorbitant amount for.

On the other hand, if I was able to finish some of the plates on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives, I’d feel like a bear who had enough fat stored up to hibernate for the winter.

Same goes with CRMs and Email marketing programs – I touched on this last blog, but I’ve worked with some CRMs and email programs which almost do too much and take a long time to get where I want to go. Lots of features, but the accessibility to those features stinks. And then there’s the bare bone cheapie programs which don’t do a whole lot at all. You can work with them for what they are, but you’re left feeling dissatisfied that there has gotta be something more.

Our continual effort at Soffront is to provide both a very functional and accessible CRM, marketing and customer service program at a great price where you can control your customer management from one-screen and see everything you need to see for that customer right there in front of you.

Likewise for our email marketing programs – we know marketers, like salespeople, are busy folks and they want to put an email program together quickly because after this deadline another one is coming up right behind it.

Our master chef and CEO, Manu Das, has spent years perfecting the balance between just enough and not too much as far as our product goes. And where you’re happy to pay the bill because you’re getting a great plate of CRM, Email marketing and service at a great price.

And the dish isn’t done – we continue to spice up our offerings and change things around if we find customers saying, “There’s too much cilantro in my CRM,” or “Can I have fries with my email marketing?”

If you’re not already a satisfied, returning customer you know, if not, give us a try at Soffront.com.

Just a lil’ ol’ Seamless CRM

I’m going to admit right from the start that I don’t have any industry or business to share. What I am going to share, however, is my 20 years of trying to configure CRMs from databases and using CRMs myself during that time.

I’m fairly new here at Soffront – I’m the marketing manager, so you know where I’m coming from and there’s no mistakes that I’m a bit partial. My first initiation to the early rudiments of CRM, although no one knew that acronym at the time, was circa ’92 or ’93 when I had to self-configure FileMaker Pro into a contact management and invoicing tool.

It took a long time to set up but it was good experience when CRMs did arrive on the market. Heck, I’ve been around long enough to use PageMaker when it was thought to be an innovative graphic design program. It wasn’t.

As a marketing guy who’s been around the block a couple times, I’ve used a lot of CRMs, old and new. I’ve used Goldmine, ACT, SalesForce and a couple others during the years. With ACT, I was able to send out mass emails, but the directions were like asking someone for directions at a small general store out in the country - turn left at the red barn, hang a right after a couple miles at Murphy’s pond and you know you’re getting close when you see the tire swing hanging from the maple tree on the right. Not the easiest thing in the world, but when you’ve been around long enough to remember DOS commands, it was doable.

And then you have your email programs – I’ve used Lyris (where our IT guy had to help us set up mass emails), SilverPop (very hit or miss) and Constant Contact (good for what it is, I guess). The problem was/is that the CRMs didn’t talk very well with Email programs which didn’t talk very well with the data. In Greek mythology there’s a tale about a hero who meets three sisters who share one eye amongst them – sometimes it felt like those sisters trying to get the CRM, the Email program and the data to handshake. I felt like I could’ve been a UN diplomat translating for international statesmen with that experience.

I admittedly didn’t know how competitive the CRM market was when I joined Soffront a few months ago. But the reason I joined the company because the product was such a revelation compared to what I’d had to make or use in the past. Here it was: CRM + Email Marketing + Service in one package. And the other great thing was the amount of email templates, the image library and scheduling options for all the different kinds of emails you can do – one-time blasts and sustained periodic campaigns. I’m not lying when I tell you I almost cried. I didn’t.

I showed a sales manager I worked with and he was floored too. He had worked with me at a previous company using ACT and Lyris and knew the “misery loves company” feeling very well also.

As I stated above, however, the CRM market is very crowded and as marketing people are wont to do, exaggerate claims about their product. You’re shocked, I know. If you’ve followed me this for this confessional or self-reflection of my own struggles through the land of CRM and Email marketing programs, I hope you’ve been able to relate a bit.

As the marketing guy for Soffront, I’d admittedly love for you to try and buy the product. Some of you may be able to remember Victor Kiam, the owner of Remington shavers, who’s tagline for the TV commercials he appeared in was, “I liked it (the Remington electric shaver) so much, I bought the company.” Now, I can’t buy a company but the reason I joined was because I was so impressed with the product and thought, as a marketer, I could get other people to try it and like it too. If one of you reads this blog and decides to give it a try, I’ve done my job. If a hundred read this and try it, I’ll definitely write more blogs.

Next blog I promise to share some third party industry or business news which I think will be valuable to you or at least hold your interest during your morning cup of coffee. But for now, this is it.

It’s good when Sales and Marketing Talk

I’ve been doing marketing communications for over 20 years now. Typically, sales will use a CRM to manage leads and marketing communications will use an email program to send out an email blast or part of a regular interval campaign, often called a “drip” or something similar. While the goal is that marketing support sales and sales knows how marketing does that, because they are working with different programs, sometimes they don’t communicate as well as they could.

I saw this article in marketingprofs.com the other day and it speaks to that isolation that occurs on both sides feel sometimes.

I haven’t been with Soffront for very long, but as a long-time marketing person who’s had to navigate between CRMs and email programs, I found it a revelation to discover a CRM that did both and wondered why it hadn’t done before. Some programs say they do both, but if you ever had to struggle with making a CRM into a mass email program, let me tell you it’s not very fun.

Anyway, I hope this article is helpful and makes just one more marketing person think of sales and vice versa. We’re in this together!

 

Soffront – Top 10 CRM Companies to Work for in 2014

Today, a blog on GetVOIP listed Soffront as one of the top CRM companies to work for in 2014 , according to jobsite, GlassDoor.com.

In this list, Soffront joined other CRM companies, such as SalesForce, Infusionsoft, Zoho and NetSuite as a premier workplace in the estimated $146 billion CRM market by 2017, according to Gartner.

The great thing about this article is it accurately featured all the reasons we love working here at Soffront. Those include factors like the ability to do a good job in a fairly autonomous environment and be appreciated for it.  The other thing we enjoyed seeing was how the article pointed out the niche we inhabit in the crowded CRM field, combining sales and marketing in one CRM package.

I think everyone here would agree that our CEO, Manu, is an inspirational leader who only expects what he expects of himself and is also driving us to do our best. He also bears in mind that we have families too and there’s only so many hours in a day. A sense of realistic perspective is a nice thing in Silicon Valley.

It reminds me of Sheryl Sandberg, COO at Facebook, who leaves each night at 5:30 so she can have dinner with her husband and children. While everyone loves working here at Soffront, Manu realizes we have important other jobs being with our families.

I even think that the somewhat negative comment that lateral mobility sometimes supersedes vertical growth could also be seen as a sign of strength.