SugarCRM – Not Just the Open Source Alternative

With an option for open source development, SugarCRM offers a sales automation system that encompasses pipeline management, social CRM, and the entire lead-to-cash process. “The SugarCRM core sales automation functionality includes lead capture and lead distribution, opportunity and account management, quotes and product catalog, quota and forecasting, as well as dashboards and reporting,” Clint Oram, CTO and cofounder of SugarCRM, told CRM Buyer.

“SugarCRM also includes a robust set of functionality for integrating with all the leading social collaboration tools, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, IBM Lotus Live, IBM Lotus Notes, Microsoft Exchange, Google Docs, WebEx, GoToMeeting and,” said Oram.


The Well-Connected Customer

The advent of social media is having an impact on sales and customer service because customers are now more connected, marketing authorMichael Port told CRM Buyer.

In the past, customer service was passed off to different departments, and this tended to cause a disconnect between sales and customer service, he explained.

Social media is changing this, because customers have the ability to complain to each other and to anybody who will listen, Port pointed out.

The term “CRM,” when applied to systems like SugarCRM, has been something of a misnomer in the past, he said, but social media may turn these CRM systems into true CRM tools because they facilitate making connections with customers.

SugarCRM is “doing some interesting things,” Brent Leary, cofounder and partner of CRM Essentials, told CRM Buyer.

Known primarily as an open source option, the company is trying to branch out from that and become a true CRM alternative, not just an open source alternative, he explained.

Sugar is concentrating more on core business functionality. It recently partnered with HubSpot to create an Internet marketing platform that helps generate more targeted leads, Leary added.

“They’re doing it from the standpoint of a new partnership,” he said.

Another new development is SugarCRM’s integration with IBM Lotus Live to integrate conferencing and enable them to do more online collaboration, he added.

Mid-Market and SME Companies

“SugarCRM serves mid-market and SME companies around the world,” Oram said. It offers customers three editions:

The open source Sugar Community Edition, which is free, provides basic sales automation functionality including lead, opportunity and account management.

Sugar Professional Edition builds on top of Sugar Community Edition with quotes, a product catalog, quotas, forecasting, dashboards and reporting. It’s priced at US$360 a year per user.

The most advanced version, the Sugar Enterprise Edition, costs $600 a year per user.

SugarCRM counts more than 60,000 organizations using the free Sugar Community Edition around the world and more than 7,000 companies using the Sugar Professional and Sugar Enterprise editions, Oram noted.

The company enjoyed 50 percent year-to-year revenue growth from 2009 to 2010, and it now has customers in more than 80 countries spanning dozens of industries, he added.

Although SugarCRM Community Edition is available free of charge, the open source platform might be too complicated for some customers, particularly smaller companies that might have a more difficult time using complex products because they do not have the technical resources and training, Port warned.

“There are lots of different kinds of business owners,” he noted. Large and small businesses need to use these products.

“I’ve used Sugar,” Port said, adding that the complexity of the system might be too overwhelming for some small business users. “It’s not going to be something that small businesses will utilize.”

The average user might take advantage of a mere 10 percent of more complex systems, Port pointed out.

A big problem for companies is having users resist adoption because they feel overwhelmed. It is vital to help users become comfortable with the system, so limited functionality might be better for some, he added.

Although cloud-based systems might be attractive to small businesses because they could be less expensive, that does not necessarily make them easier to use, Port pointed out. However, competitively priced and free versions such as SugarCRM Community Edition can still help small businesses.

“If they can bring prices down, that’s fantastic,” Port said, adding that If SugarCRM could design small business versions that were easier to use, that would be especially desirable.

Mission to Empower

“SugarCRM stands out in the marketplace with a very easy-to-use CRM application that can fit into any company’s CRM strategy,” Oram maintained. “SugarCRM’s mission is to empower every company in the world to gain and retain customers.

“We do this by delivering the most open, flexible and intuitive relationship management solutions, giving every business the ability to treat their customers the way they would like to be treated,” he said. “By embracing a philosophy of openness, SugarCRM leads the software applications marketplace with fully transparent business practices and a highly collaborative and open product development methodology.”

SugarCRM has recruited more than 250 value-added reseller partners around the world, Oram noted.

Successful CRM adoption relies on a company embracing a CRM strategy that allows people, processes and technology to work together, he explained.

SugarCRM’s network of local value-added reseller partners enable customers to get the personalized help they need in forming that CRM strategy, concluded Oram.

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