The CRM Madness Trophy finds a home (thanks to a mess of real friends and fans)

By Chris Bucholtz

A couple of weeks ago, those of us in the office were excited to discover that our little company had advanced to the “sweet 16” in a round-robin “tournament” of sorts being held by Capterra. “CRM Madness” was the title given the tournament (although I think this was originally a term for a psychiatric diagnosis that described what happened to enterprise CIOs in the 1990s when they tried to implement CRM).

Over the final four “games,” SugarCRM bumped off several much larger companies in its overloaded bracket, finally emerging with a victory by defeating Pegasystems in the final.

And guess who has the trophy – a basketball with a “CRM Madness” sticker and autographs of all the Capterra-ites? I do. It’s in my office:

Not to worry – we’re building a new office here, so this is not its permanent home. It’ll go somewhere a bit more public sometime in the next 8-12 weeks.

This was really a popularity contest – you could vote for your favorite in each matchup once a day – so in no way does this “victory” indicate that Sugar’s the ultimate solution, or that it is perfect for every single CRM user out there. However, it does hint at something that SugarCRM does particularly well – and which all other CRM vendors should emulate. Heck, all other vendors of every type, period, should emulate it.

The votes SugarCRM received – about a third of the total votes in the whole contest! – were far too numerous to have been from its employees alone. They came from somewhere – and that somewhere is the ecosystem of partners and customers the company has cultivated over the last few years.

The product has real fans among the users, and partners who are profiting by reselling Sugar, and by building integrations to it. The users are running their businesses better, and the partners are profiting more because their skills and innovation are rewarded from working with a product that was designed to help them succeed.

You can talk about gaining “fans” and “friends” in social media all you want. If you want real friends and fans, do things for people that help them succeed. That’s something that pre-dates the era of social media. Unfortunately, the terms have been co-opted and made somewhat superficial in past years by social media; being a friend or a fan goes a lot deeper than just clicking on a link on someone’s Facebook page. It’s something created by shared experiences, by fulfilled obligations, by unilateral extensions of support and by the cultivation of trust over time. Like a lot of CRM basics, this pre-dates applications and automation; we do this in our daily lives without really being aware of it.

So, I think, you can chalk up our win to SugarCRM to our friends and fans – the ones the company’s earned the old-fashioned way. Thanks! And I promise to keep this award away from the engineers on their basketball days.