The biggest issue was the initial process of migrating historical marketing information.
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We had been using a system that didn't lend itself to the remote folks getting access, which was a big stumbling block. The internal sales reps were only using it as a contact management system: We were importing leads into it from other programs, but there wasn't anything else happening from a sales management perspective.
When did you first implement the technology?
We deployed Salesnet in September 2003, when we had the historical data migrated over. The implementation was a two-month process, including data migration, mapping out sales processes, and getting the new application set up.
What were your key criteria for selecting a CRM vendor?
The biggest thing we needed was something that people on the road could access, something Web-based and intuitive. The lack of remote access would have doomed this to failure. After that it was about ease of use, and looking at the security of the data and how it was handled.
Also, the vice president of sales used to go to the reps and aggregate information into weekly reports in an Excel format. We wanted to be able to pull that data on an ad hoc basis. I was also eager to make sure we retained the data regarding lead-generation tracking--what kind of events or direct marketing programs we received leads from. How did you gain executive and user buy-in?
Luckily, the vice president of sales was very committed. I worked closely with him to identify the milestones in the sales process, coming to a realistic understanding of what's critical from a tracking standpoint. If the system gets too cumbersome, people get fed up. We got to the right level pretty quickly by not trying to track with excruciating granularity every little step a deal goes through. The offline capability also helped sell the sales staff on the deal. What were the key challenges or obstacles, and how did you overcome them?
The biggest issue was the initial process of migrating that historical marketing information into Salesnet. If the existing data had been clean, it wouldn't have been quite as painful. But it was messy--and we had to go in and scrub the data. If I had to do it over again, I'd look at a more automated method for the data importing.
What were the main rewards and results of using CRM?
It's hard to quantify benefits from a revenue standpoint, but it's fairly easy to define time savings: Salesnet provides an intuitive set of reports that saves us an hour a week in reporting. On the marketing side we save two to three hours a week. We had the onerous task of importing leads into the database as they came in. Now the bulk of the leads are going directly into Salesnet--that's a big chunk of time saved. And those leads are in a format that sales can start to follow up on within minutes instead of days.
Other savings are more intangible. Before, with people handling their own contact management through Outlook or on their PDAs, it was hard to tell what business we were missing. We're also more confident with our sales forecasts over the next few quarters, knowing we have up-to-date data giving us a better projection on our activity. What are your next steps?
Wireless accessibility, for one thing. None of the reps has been using that yet, but that could be good to have down the road. Also, we plan to continue making refinements, making sure data entry isn't too burdensome a task.
Lessons Learned Think through the data-migration process upfront, and look closely at what data you have in the legacy system that you need to bring over. Work closely with sales to get a realistic understanding of the sales process. Get a good sense of marketing effectiveness to see what turns into deals. Make sure that data will be there. Keep things simple. The more intuitive the application, the less time and money you'll have to devote to training. Think about what kind of reports you're going to get. Think about the entire sales process, and look for commonality across the board.
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