(This post originally appeared on Forbes)
Former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has a new company called Sunshine that aims to make people and small organizations more productive. She’s doing that first by focusing on a very simple thing that goes to the very core of customer relationship management: an organization’s contacts.
“We’re creating technology to address practical, everyday pain points in the basic, foundational tools that connect us with the people we care about,” Mayer and her co-founder Enrique Munoz Torres wrote on the company’s website. “Ultimately, Sunshine will remove complexity in things like contact management, scheduling, event organization, and group communication so you can spend time more meaningfully.”
Mayer’s company, according to the Mountain View Voice, was founded in 2018 and has since raised $20 million in its first round of funding from investors, including Menlo Park-based venture capital firms Felicis Ventures and Unusual Ventures, as well as from Mayer.
It’s first application, Sunshine Contacts, promises to leverage the power of artificial intelligence to help users more easily find and better organize contacts as well as eliminating duplicates and keeping contact information up to date. Data will be pulled and synchronized from LinkedIn, Apple and Google contacts as well as other online address books and stored into one central location. More importantly, the app will display recent email correspondence.
Sounds simple, right? Don’t I wish.
My small and medium sized clients often come to me demanding CRM, CRM, CRM. And yet, when we start digging into their situation we don’t find a need for CRM. We usually find a different need: contact management.
Workgroups with as few as five or ten people oftentimes struggle to maintain a solid, accurate and complete database of an organization’s contacts. Fields are often left empty or not updated. Contact information is kept in multiple places and not synchronized. Simple activities such as appointments, notes and email communications are not shared within the workgroup.
Contacts are the very core of a CRM database. We all know that the value of a database is the actual data it contains. So when the most basic contact data isn’t accurate, how can we rely on it for sales, marketing and other CRM functions? We can’t.
Which is why Mayer’s new venture nails it. “When your contacts are organized and truly work, they create a flywheel where scheduling, planning, organizing, and being thoughtful about your relationships becomes infinitely easier,” she says. “When your contacts are complete, comprehensive, and accurately reflect relationships, you can spend your time building meaningful connections and shared experiences.”
I realize that Sunshine is taking a more consumer-focused approach regarding contacts (Mayer said in a recent Wired interview that her goal is to “build a suite of products, each aimed at addressing “smart, small-scale sharing” in areas like photo sharing or event scheduling”). But her model is very relevant to organizations and particularly for small businesses who want to succeed with CRM. That model’s first step is to succeed with contact management.
Just as a good high school education provides the foundation for a successful college experience, so does an accurate database of contacts provide the foundation for a successful CRM experience. Get contact management in your company right. Then you’re ready to move on to the next level.
It’s not as simple as it sounds.