Sage United Kingdom & Ireland - A model for modular Sage CRM success (part 1)

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Sage United Kingdom & Ireland - A model for modular Sage CRM success (part 1)

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As we know, Sage CRM is moving its’ value proposition to one of the “integrated Sage CRM & Sales, Marketing and Service modules of the Sage Business Management Solutions”. This is designed to speak of CRM capability within our range of accounting products (the aforementioned Business Management Solutions, or BMS for short) available around the world.

Skilling up a Sage company’s ecosystem of marketing, sales & service teams to talk “modular CRM within a BMS” requires careful consideration of people, processes and outcomes, across the ecosystem of both direct & indirect operations. A region that has successfully transformed its organisation to successfully sell integrated CRM is Sage United Kingdom & Ireland (UKI).

Based on a period over a large chunk of the FY16 year, the story follows how the UKI organisation (selling the Sage 200 product) transformed their approach to marketing & selling CRM modules. Having worked closely with the team (assisting in the design & delivery of programs), I believe the UKI story proves the value of first uncovering challenges, then working across teams to apply pragmatic & compelling reasons for the business to enact the strategy. The results, I believe, are plain to see as you will read below.

This article forms the first of four, where we first consider the overall strategic challenge, followed by the marketing & sales changes undertaken in support of driving increased CRM sales to our customers.

We hope you enjoy and take useful suggestions from this series. My thanks to the contributors for their considered opinions & bringing the story to life. Any errors are mine in transcription.

-= David
CRM Principal

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[David Beard, CRM Principal, Sage CRM] Can you set the scene, explain the Sage UKI strategy in general and for CRM?

[Peter Day, Channel Enablement Manager, Sage UKI] Similar to other operating companies, we needed to align with the global strategy of CRM as "Sales, Service & Marketing" modules, additive to the financial proposition. In our region, the financials product is known as Sage 200.

[David] What commitment was made to Sage CRM within 200 & how did you approach it?

[Peter] Katherine Shankland (Product Manager) sponsored an "attachment of CRM seats to financial sales" initiative and then, in turn, committed to a role to help achieve the outcomes of the initiative. There was no program of enablement in place, so, I was effectively hired into post without a mission.  Initially, my role was filling a gap in pre-sales (dedicated pre-sales having been removed some years ago), acting as a resource to help out with Sage & partner sales.  I came to recognise that “just supporting demos” wasn’t going to solve the larger issues and, along with Jon Cummins (Head of Customer Services), recognised the need to improve many parts of the business so as to achieve the sales metrics for Sage 200.

[David] So, What did you focus on first?

[Peter] I looked to gain commitment from a person in each area of the business (marketing, sales, development) that I could work with them to improve their processes. Essentially, I attached myself to each of those areas & their plans, acting as an "extra set of eyes" but also looking across the larger business at the same time.

I worked to map the full journey for a CRM lead, as it moved through our Newcastle office. Starting with lead development in Customer Development Team (CDT), the behaviours didn't seem right to me. Specifically, CDT were not having a CRM conversation with prospects - it was then I discovered the reward behaviours within the team were such that "just getting a 200 lead" was sufficient.  There was no specific incentive to "talk CRM" on any prospect calls. So, I worked with CDT's management to get an incentive to be, as well as a consequence of not to be, talking about CRM. In essence, we created an underpin of attachment to Sage200 leads, with no bonus without a set attachment of CRM to the lead - for example, 1 in 2 needed a CRM call out + financial rewards for those that created the most leads and the least rejections.

[David] Interesting - presumably you used that new behaviour to help built momentum for further work?

[Peter] Yes - the next stage of the internal journey was speaking to both Channel Sales & Internal Sales managers. What became clear to me is that they didn’t have solid data on who were their "good & bad partners" when it came to closing deals that contained a significant CRM element. So, I worked closely with them to help them gather data - looking at sales history compared to lead allocation, and other metrics.  And. the more evidence I gathered, I learnt that commonly held beliefs ("it's always the bigger partners who sell well") were not universally true: large value leads were sent to inappropriately skilled partners & what seemed to be smaller "3 seat" deals were developed into much larger opportunities by previously overlooked partners who really understood the potential of CRM growth within initial, smaller, sales.

[David] I am very pleased to hear that it was a case of "back to first principles" - studying the data & then making decisions. So, what happened next?

[Peter] I looked into the data further, looking at things like average unit price (AUP) and more. I also spent time with partners - big & small -  to understand their approach to selling. The learning included that the partners with the highest attachment were good at asking business-based questions (rather than just feature questions, even if they included following benefit statements). Also, the best partners, focused their conversation on the “gains to be made” for a business, not just developing the “pains being experienced” style of sales questioning.

Equally important was the best partners had a sales questioning approach that followed a sequential journey. The partner linked their "discovery process" to their prospect's end-to-end business (usually following a typical sales cycle of the prospect). As you'd expect, the best partners then demonstrated the entire Sage 200 solution (CRM & financials, etc.) in a similar fashion, showing all relevant products(s) in the same sequence & blending the story together.   All these best practices were very revealing to myself & our larger commercial team.  

----- Next time: Building the case further within the organisation -----

  • Great stuff.

  • Very useful and looking forward to the next pieces!

    If the customer can see their BMS as more than an an accounting product, truly as a means to manage the entire business, then the CRM 'modules' can resonate. On the sales side, elevating the discussion of Integrated CRM from 'modules' to a means of managing the front-end of the business, can open doors to drive the value of Integrated CRM with the sales, marketing and service managers.

  • If only we could work this in the NA Theater.