The burgeoning company needed a better way to keep in touch with clients.
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The beauty of the CheerStix is that they're a Game Day giveaway. When I came on, the company needed a better way to keep in touch with clients--professional sports teams, universities, high schools, [and other] businesses that want to promote themselves. At the time paper...was being used [to process orders]. When you only have a few hundred repeat customers you can keep relationships going by memory, but as the company has exploded that's changed. When did you first implement the technology?
I'd had experience before using GoldMine. I'd tried some other products--they were OK, but [not] when it came to giving me fast information, notes, and reports. GoldMine worked, and when I came on board here in 2002, I decided to stay with what I knew. What were your key criteria for selecting a CRM vendor?
There might be 15 different people at a university we need to talk to--one says they want [to buy] 1,000 units, and someone else says 10,000 units. If we let the gung ho guy make the purchase, we could have a problem. The organization tree in GoldMine makes it really easy to see [who has final say over the purchasing decision]. I wanted GoldMine to be the heart of the system, because the customer is the heart of this system. How did you gain executive and user buy-in?
I have a lot of credibility behind me. In my earlier work I got results--and results help. CheerStix brought me in to solve problems. I just said, "We need to set up GoldMine"--and they knew to go with it. They took me at my word.
But we probably couldn't have done it without a partner. I found [our integrator] Team Automation a long, long time ago, and I hope our customers think of us the way we think of Team Automation.
With only seven people [to train], within three days they were fully functional--they didn't need to learn all the capabilities, they just needed [to get] all the information into the right fields. [That kept] the sales reps from missing calls and missing sales. What were the key challenges or obstacles, and how did you overcome them?
The first thing we did was populate GoldMine with all the [existing] records. But you can make a mistake with too many records. So I cleaned the database so it was more focused on our target. We got the number [of potential clients] down to about 8,000. Now we've [expanded] to 22,000.
But you also have to leave room for the folks who want to find you. We made it so that when a call comes in a record is [automatically] created, so no call is ever lost.What were the main results and rewards of CRM?
I can talk to [clients], but I'm not local. I don't have the ability to walk in the door. In order to secure a relationship, I've got to know whom I'm talking to, and GoldMine allows me to keep track of the information I've gathered. It makes me a very local personality.
I'm also not spending hours and hours getting information that [the system] tries to spit out. I just click on a field, print out a report, and I'm done. What are your next steps?
There are still a few snags [with reports]; we're trying to get them presented exactly the way [our CEO] wants. How many of the 300 calls we got this week were from high schools, for example--and how many resulted in further inquiries? Those types of business questions we need answered going forward. Once I get the reports ironed out, we'll be at 100 percent.
Lessons Learned There's no substitute for experience. Someone has to be familiar enough with the processes and the technology to steer the ship. Stick with what--and who--you know. Overreaching can be a terrible mistake. Playing to your own strengths leaves room for others to play to theirs. Trust your partner. You picked them for a reason. Let them remind you why. Results matter. A good plan and a lofty goal are great, but the outcome speaks louder than any of it.
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