How Come You Just Do SalesLogix? (Part 3)

Part 3 – SalesLogix Makes a Lasting Impression

When SalesLogix declined to bid on the project, I called the SalesLogix salesrep and asked, “Why?”. He told me they weren’t willing to do and spend what they’d experienced two of the other contenders would do and spend to cinch a big deal. At the time, I didn’t understand their answer. I appreciated their transparency, candor and honesty – whether it made sense or not.

The final selection and negotiation process taught me just how sound their reasoning was.

I’d done so much digging into the features, functions, benefits and costs of the SFA tools I was reasonably confident that SalesLogix should have won the deal.

The same person, Pat Sullivan, developed and brought to market both SalesLogix and ACT! (both are still a big players in the CRM market). What he learned developing and promoting ACT! he brought with him to the development of SalesLogix: Specifically, a ton of knowledge about what sales and marketing needs to do their jobs AND about how to put it all together into an easy-to-use, easy-to-configure, extensible package.

Their total cost of ownership, return on investment and payback were the best of the bunch – hands down. For what they were asking, they had the least expensive, most powerful and flexible solution. I say this because the SalesLogix architecture was just as powerful and just as elegant as the winner’s; yet it was about a third of the up-front cost and about a sixth of the total cost of ownership over time.

Nevertheless, I had to respect their decision. Who can say whether they’d have won or not? The eventual winner did many (IMHO) cheesy things to make sure their bid was always on top and engaged in some “very creative” shenanigans that certainly swayed the final decision in their favor.

Quite a project.

Ten years later, we used everything I learned to select a strategic CRM offering for MBI Systems and our customers.

That strategic offering is SalesLogix. It’s still a bargain.

Fast forward to today. We recently attended the worldwide conference for partners and customers of SaleLogix’s parent company, Sage Software. As expected, it was a grand event, and from a seminar and workshop content point of view, it was exceptional. But that’s not why we went. We attended to make sure we’d made a smart decision to remain committed to offering only SalesLogix as MBI System’s CRM offering.

I’m pleased to say, “Sage confirmed our decision”.

Sage Software continues to commit the right resources to improve, market, sell and service SalesLogix. They still don’t spend quite as much advertising their product as some of the firms listed in Gartner’s “Magic Quadrant”. Nor do they step outside the bounds of defensible ethics or common sense to close a deal. Instead, they’ve put together very capable sales, marketing, channel management and consulting teams who genuinely seem interested in providing real CRM value and provably cost-effective solutions. I personally appreciate the way they stick to telling the truth even when it’s not in their best short-term interest. We returned from the trip assured we’ve made a good business decision at MBI Systems in our commitment to represent only Sage SalesLogix as THE CRM product suite we choose to sell and support.

Treating our customers the way we’d want to be treated remains our most important business mantra.  SalesLogix helps us do that.

I’ve seen a lot of products come and go. Sometimes for good reason and sometimes not. While I can’t predict the future, I understand small and mid-sized business and have developed a good feel for what helps them succeed. Since SalesLogix fits the bill in all regards, we’ll stick with it as our only CRM offering for the foreseeable future.

Just seems like common sense to me.

How Come You Just Do SalesLogix? (Part 2)

Part 2 – Why do we believe SalesLogix is the best solution?

In 1998 I helped develop software requirements for a comprehensive computer based selling solution for a major US retailer. I then guided them through an intense request for proposal (RFP) and selection process designed to produce an apples-to-apples product comparison of the (then) top 25 sales software offerings in the “Sales Force Automation” (SFA) market. We used the apples-to-apples product comparison to rank, select and negotiate the eventual 3500 seat SFA software license. I saw the down payment check for $3,000,000. Quite a deal!

At the time, some of the top SFA contenders included:

  • GoldMine Software (now FrontRange Solutions)
  • Market Force (out of business)
  • Oracle (now owner of Siebel Systems)
  • Pivotal (now part of CDC)
  • Scopus (acquired by Siebel Systems during our RFP process)
  • SalesLogix (acquired by Sage Software)
  • Siebel Systems (now part of Oracle)

… and a host of names I can no longer find.

After running the vendors through a 130+ page RFP that included a review of their business viability, software features, functions, architecture, core languages, logical and physical data models (and then some), I saw two very clear distinctions between superior products and the “also rans”:

  • The first distinction was data architecture. Superior products had one; the others didn’t.
  • The second distinction was whether or not the developing company used their SFA offering internally or not.

A “yes” answer to the questions, “Was your SFA solution architected?”, and “Do your use the tool yourself?” immediately cut the list down to five players.

Honestly, each of the top five could have done the job. The difference was in how, using what development tools and at what cost. Among the remaining contenders, there were huge price differences and surprisingly few important differences in what the software could do.

During the negotiation phase of the project, the top five list was whittled to three contenders. One firm was acquired by another; another declined to bid.

Cost per seat of the eventual winner was easily twice as much as all the others. Their sales team spent a fortune convincing the executive team that their solution would help everyone keep their jobs. So what if it cost the most? The tool was elegant and sophisticated, the IT guys loved it because it was “state of the art” and the winning firm spent an awful lot of money closing the deal. The eventual winner was not the best solution in my humble opinion.

The best solution was SalesLogix, and SalesLogix declined to bid. 

Why?  The story continues in Part 3.

How Come You Just Do SalesLogix? (Part 1)

Why just SalesLogix?

Often, when we participate in a CRM evaluation, someone asks us, “How come you just do SalesLogix?”

Fair question.

Short answer is: It’s all most businesses need.

It isn’t because SalesLogix is the only tool we’re familiar with, it’s because we did our homework and realize SalesLogix handles 95% of all typical sales and marketing automation needs, runs like a well-tuned Ferrari, costs like a mid-sized Honda, and works equally well for any type and any sized company.

Its price point makes it accessible for even small firms, you can effectively add seats into the thousands, and its flexibility makes it workable for even the most unique selling situations. Not only that, SalesLogix has a capable, established partner channel, a well-run parent company (SAGE software) and a design flexible enough to deal with any sales or marketing need I’ve ever heard about.

Every other CRM tool we’ve investigated either costs more, does less or has major flaws you’ll never hear about until after you’ve plopped down your money. More specifically:

  • SalesLogix works on smart phones.
  • SalesLogix works on your laptop pc.
  • SalesLogix works on your office pc.
  • SalesLogix works on servers.
  • SalesLogix works with Excel.
  • SalesLogix works with Outlook.
  • SalesLogix works with Open Systems tools.
  • SalesLogix works in the cloud.
  • SalesLogix works for the sales team.
  • SalesLogix works for the marketing team.
  • SalesLogix works for the call center.
  • SalesLogix works for the operations team.
  • SalesLogix works with or without an ERP and gives businesses a lot of flexibility and choice.

If you sell or market for a living – SalesLogix just works….

That said, who helps you implement it will make a HUGE difference in your opinion about all that. I probably shouldn’t admit it, but for many organizations – you can work with us for a day or two using the free SalesLogix cloud demo and get 80% of what you need in a CRM tool done for little more than the price of the software licenses.

Coming up in Part 2 – Why do we believe SalesLogix is the best solution?

Effective Project Managers

Over the years, I’ve managed hundreds of projects.  Some small; some large.  For profit; not-for-profit.  Software development, sales process, customer relationship management, construction, hardware development – a bunch of stuff.  I have a bent for analysis, detail and strategic thinking, but to say I learned project management the hard way would be a laughable understatement.  Nonetheless, learn it I have. 

Along the way I made many mistakes and made note of what does and doesn’t work so well.  Though I’m still learning, and because I haven’t given up the ghost yet, I’m jotting down the most important principles that do work consistently – in spite of the nature of a project and in spite of what circumstance dishes out.  These principles underpin what I call Common Sense Project Management.

I hope they’ll keep you focused on and accomplishing your dreams.

An effective project manager:

  1. Listens actively.  You repeat what you hear from each project participant in your own words and then listen for validation and corrections.  Repeat until each participant nods their head up and down – the universal signal that “you got it”.
  2. Plans meticulously and still understand that plans generally become useless as they’re being printed.  Your planning process prepares your mind for many possibilities, but what happens happens.  The best plans help you focus and refocus on what’s most important when the inevitable surprises occur.
  3. Keeps detailed project plans with dates and times to yourself.  You know perfect execution rarely happens and how long it takes someone(s) to get from A to B is dependent on many things.  When you do show your detailed plans to others you’re careful to remind them often that you know the only things GUARANTEED wrong on every project plan are dates, durations, costs and planned completion dates.  This doesn’t mean deadlines aren’t important; truth is the opposite – they’re what drives what you ACTUALLY DO and how you do it in a press.
  4. Understands deadlines and target dates are different and understands the importance of those differences.  If you have a deadline, you’re honor bound to hit it or let EVERYONE know you might not, can’t or won’t as soon as you have good reason to believe you’re off target.
  5. Remembers the dates don’t change.  Just because you do or don’t hit a milestone when you originally intended, you’re honor bound to hit the next one sooner to catch up or at least give yourself a way to do a better job of estimating next time.
  6. Plans for surprises by working around them and building slack into plans whenever feasible.
  7. Models the fact project management involves honest relationship and demonstrates that relationships build on trust, common interest, loyalty and candor.  Common interest can be missing, but trust, loyalty and candor may not.  Trust and loyalty take years to develop and a second to destroy.
  8. Understands project MUST be constrained by the client approved balance among time, money and resources.  This “constraint triangle” defines the boundaries of what you can and will deliver (deliverable scope of work) in exchange for the area of the time, money and resource triangle you negotiate.
  9. Always treats everyone in a project as if your roles were reversed AND you both knew what you were doing.
  10. Understands your MOST IMPORTANT roles are clear and effective communication of the truth and maintenance of a project environment conducive to successful accomplishment of the desired result in the desired time at the desired cost.
  11. Begins each project developing a crystal clear vision of the desired result as it appears in the minds of the paying project stakeholders.   The more clearly you can describe the end result of a project to the project “sponsor”, the better and more cost-effective your result.
  12. Establishes clear lines of authority, channels and acceptable methods of communication, planning tools and reporting specifics.  To the extent possible, you’ll use what works best for your client.
  13. Creates and communicates boundaries that describe:
    1. what you will do
    2. what you won’t do
    3. Anything important to you or your client’s health, well-being or core values
  14. Monitors commitments and let people who know best how to carry out a task set their own due dates and work methods
  15. Manages expectations constantly.  You start as you’re negotiating a deal and you continue throughout the life of the deliverable(s).  You always want to underpromise and overdeliver and that doesn’t just happen – it requires constant observation and constant communication.  Remember:
    1. Telling someone, “I don’t think that’s possible” is MUCH better than saying, “Sure” and then failing to deliver
    2. Saying, “I don’t know, but I’ll find out” is MUCH preferable to guessing or stretching the truth
    3. Spend as much time as necessary getting clients and delivery team members to clearly understand and agree on a scope document that they all help to write and markup.
  16. Oh yeah…  And remember to have some fun.  Life’s short.  Who you work with, how and why are much more important than what you work on.