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Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Larry Augustin, CEO of SugarCRM (Part 2)

Posted on Wednesday, Oct 22nd 2014

Sramana Mitra: Let me comment a little bit on what I’ve heard so far, and then we’ll double-click on a few things. Firstly, this notion of your competitors in the industry not focusing on the sales people and how the customers are facing people—this is the whole notion of social CRM that has come about. Everybody is paying attention to that. Today, people know and believe that you want to dig and ask somebody to introduce you if you want to get into an account as opposed to cold calling somebody.

LinkedIn has become a major player not just in the HR function, but also in the sales and business development function. If they are ranting on about social media, somebody needs to deal with it. We get leads through social media all the time these days. All this is happening. Your competitors are also talking about this. That’s just my comment. You kind of blanketly painted that nobody is paying attention to that. That’s not what I see, at least.

Larry Augustin: There is certainly a lot of talk about that in the industry. But if you look at what Salesforce is delivering in the space, I think there’s a lot of gap that’s still to be filled. You can see that in some of the ways. For example, a number of small companies are starting up in the space and innovating around CRM. A number of them are trying to innovate on Salesforce, for example, in terms of adding functionality to deliver in this integration to social media. Look at, fundamentally, the way Salesforce presents information. It’s still a database view on the customer record. I think of that as a system of record, not a system of engagement. It’s not something that’s part of the activity. That’s what I think has to fundamentally change. Just recording more data isn’t the solution. It’s about being the relationship process and building around that.

Social CRM is an interesting angle on that. Social CRM has been something that I would say is in a little bit of the trough of disillusionment. By that, I mean we heard a lot about it two to three years ago. I think people are still struggling to understand where and how that’s a solution for pieces. It was a big push there. We see a little bit less hype around it in the market today. I’ll tell you what I think the reason for that is. Like most new things that come along, there was this big promise. People looked into the reality and the reality is there are valuable things there. But on some level, it’s not a fundamental change for how we do business.

Think about this. Before LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter, how did you sell? A salesperson might go to a customer and visit and walk into that office. They’d look around that office. They’d see photos on the desktops, books on the bookshelves. They’d see a person sitting there in the office, and they get to know that person. Fundamentally understanding the values, needs, and pain points of the customer is a big part of how you put together a solution. You understand that person. You understand who they’re selling to. You understand them as an individual, and not just as a prospect. You do that, in part, by understanding where they come from, their family, what things they’re interested in, where they went to school, or their job history.

This segment is part 2 in the series : Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Larry Augustin, CEO of SugarCRM
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