CRM Legend Pat Sullivan Explains What CRM for Small Biz Should Look Like

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CRM Legend Pat Sullivan Explains What CRM for Small Biz Should Look Like

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is a song I can't get out of my hea:- Elvis Presley's "Long Black Limousines:"

Good news to pass on: it's been rumored that Paul Greenberg has been asked to do another edition of CRM at the Speed of Light. This is pretty well one of the few standard works on the subject, thanks to his publisher for realizing this and having Paul update it for what would be edition 4.0.

Today we have an interview with well-known CRM figure Pat Sullivan, founder and former CEO of ACT! and SalesLogix, who has recently joined the board of Infusion Software, whose CRM program is, according to Sullivan, "built specifically for small businesses -- which is really the last great opportunity in the CRM software market."

Sullivan is considered by some to be a pioneer and visionary in the sales automation industry and is attributed with creating the contact management software category. Sullivan most recently took public and sold ACT! and SalesLogix to Sage Software.

He was named one of the 80 Most Influential People in Sales and Marketing History by Sales and Marketing Management Magazine, twice awarded the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year award and recognized as one of the 10 most influential people in the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) industry by Sales and Marketing Management Magazine.

He currently serves as the CEO of Jigsaw Health, a company dedicated to helping those who suffer from chronic conditions.

"Of all the software companies in the market, Sullivan chooses Infusion to be aligned with," an Infusion official said. "Sure validates their Web-based CRM application as an emerging player in the small business software space."

FC: Regarding your joining the Board -- why Infusion Software, over all the other companies in the CRM space?

PS: The fact they are totally focused on what I consider the last bastion of opportunity for CRM: small business. Everyone else, for the most part have moved upstream, including ACT!. ACT! is not really CRM, but usually gets placed there.

FC: You talk about the small business market having been neglected by CRM providers. Why is this true, if it’s such a big market of opportunity?

PS: Look at what Quickbooks has done in the small biz sector. Nothing like a Quickbooks success story exists there. It is an extremely difficult sector. Hard to reach. Everyone simply goes upstream because it seems easier to reach.  The company that cracks the code for this sector will be a big success.  I think Infusion is cracking the code.

FC: What do you think is missing from CRM products marketed to small business?

PS: Mostly elegant simplicity. It needs to be powerful but not overwhelming. Most products have way too much hitting a small biz user in the face. Infusion recognized this and is constantly trying to hit this goal. I hope to help them accomplish this even more.

FC: You’ve been out of the CRM software game for some time now, why get back in now?

PS: Because I like the space. I spent 15 years in it. I know where the bodies are buried. In fact, I buried some of the bodies. I can be very helpful to Infusion simply because I know the space so well. I advise a number of software companies and it is fun to work with something I am intimately familiar.

FC: What would a vendor who comes to dominate the CRM for small business space do that none of the others would have done?

PS: Focus, focus, focus. Doing this is hard. The temptation to go upstream is very strong. Tuning the product, your marketing programs, your messaging, your methodologies to this market is a must. No one is specifically targeting that space now. That is what a company has to do to dominate this market.

FC: What's the best music to listen to at work?

PS: Jason Mraz, Sara Bareilles, James Morrison, KT Tunstall.

FC: ACT! has, as you note, done pretty well selling basically a contact manager. What small business CRM needs aren’t being met by that?

PS: Primarily great nurture marketing features. Using behavior of your customers to automatically drive marketing campaigns. Integration with ecommerce engines. Small biz is often living and dying by their Web site.

FC: might not be fully committed to the small business space, but how would a product committed to the small business space be an improvement, in terms of functionalities, over what does offer a small business?

PS: Their pricing quickly gets beyond what small biz wants to pay. Their functionality is beyond what small business wants and needs. They have become Enterprise because Marc Benioff wants to kill Siebel and Oracle. And he needs large sales to fuel his stock price. He is doing a good job doing both. But is not reaching small biz.

FC: You said there wasn't enough "differentiation" in other CRM products to compete with the established vendors, can you break that down a bit?

PS: Once the top three vendors are well established in a category, market segment, a competitor has to differentiate considerably to break thru.  Most everything out there is "me too" in terms of both features and market message.

This past spring, Infusion Software announced the Version 5.0 release of its flagship product Infusion CRM. Company officials said Version 5.0 offers an upgrade path for the company's entire customer base of software-as-a-service users.

The version includes conversion tracking, which allows users to insert a pay-per-click conversion code to the success page of e-commerce shopping carts inside Infusion CRM, "enabling small business to benefit from immediate ROI on specific pay-per-click advertising campaigns," company officials say.

There's also something called "Round Robin Sales Team Assignment Logic," which includes two distribution types available to use with Round Robin assignment -- One Record Per Round, or Random Based on Ratio. Evidently, when creating a round robin for distributing contacts, CRM can users select their preferred logic to distribute the records.

The "Expiring Credit Card Trigger" allows companies to create a trigger that automatically runs for a certain number of days before or after the expiration date of a credit card. Infusion CRM users can then follow up with customers regarding expiring cards without having to worry about getting their current information on-time.

In June, Infusion Software, selling what company officials call "active" Customer Relationship Management (CRM) marketing automation software for small businesses, announced the launch of Infusion U, described as "a learning platform for Infusion Software customers."

Infusion U will provide customers with "in-depth training for Infusion CRM, its small business sales and marketing software designed to put marketing on auto-pilot."

"We launched Infusion U to offer our customers the training to become 'power' users with our software," said Clate Mask, president of Infusion Software.

Infusion U instructors will lead two-day courses for customers focused on topics ranging from learning the basics (CRM Boot Camp) to more comprehensive topics such as mapping out business processes, drip marketing campaign development and exploring Infusion CRM's affiliate marketing functionality.

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Feedback for CRM Legend Pat Sullivan Explains What CRM for Small Biz Should Look Like

1 Comment

Wow...I agree completely. But can a vendor really do for CRM what Quickbooks did for book keeping?

Ramon Ray, Editor & Technology Evangelist,

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