Can installing contact management software actually help sales and marketing work together? Sam Sainty, marketing manager at EMPICS, a Nottingham, England-based sports photo agency, thinks so. Since using GoldMine, the company runs like the championship teams it photographs, with marketing running the play and passing off to sales for the win.
"It works really well that way," she says. "I can send out a welcome pack, then schedule a salesperson to call a week later. I know from previous experience that marketing departments are quite separate from sales. Information goes out and it's sometimes not followed through, but with GoldMine, you can actually schedule the relevant salesperson to follow up."
When Sainty joined the EMPICS team, the company was clearly sales-dominated. "There wasn't a marketing department until I came along," she says. "It had been purely sales-driven as far as contacting customers."
As she began to develop marketing campaigns designed to increase contact with existing customers, as well as pull in new customers, it quickly became apparent that the company needed a central place for data.
Client information had been stored in various places--some paper-based and some electronic--within each department. For example, the technical team stored clients' Web-site passwords to an online database, but had no address details. Accounts maintained client financial information, but often had outdated contact information. Sales mainly used file folders to keep track of customer contact and contracts. Too often, client details weren't updated in all sources, resulting in duplication, multiple addresses and an unclear picture of the company's customer base.
"We had some diverse pots of information," says Sainty. "There were filing cabinets of information, and we had a couple of computerized systems, but they didn't talk to each other. To be able to mail out without duplicating records or sending out inaccurate letters, we had to pull it all together into one pot."
To develop that single source of customer information, the company began looking at software. Though the initiative began in marketing, goals were outlined for the entire company. The 12-person sales force needed a more efficient structure that would enable them to plan ahead, be fully up-to-date with client activities and know when to make the follow-up call to close the sale.
The sales and marketing director wanted software that could be used to manage sales activity and gather market information for effective company planning. With major marketing campaigns in the works, Sainty needed to ensure fully up-to-date information for client mailings and a way to segment customers and monitor campaigns.
After evaluating several contact management packages, the company chose GoldMine 4.0 standard, along with Seagate Crystal Reports from London-based OpportunIT, a consulting firm and GoldMine reseller.
"We felt GoldMine best suited our needs for flexibility," says Sainty. "We were able to add in fields to record those details about customers which were important to us. We could use as little or as much of the system as we wanted, from starting out with just the basics of keeping track of where we are with our customers, to in-depth analysis of our customer base, forecasting sales and business planning." Adding Crystal Reports to the mix would provide more in-depth analysis of the information stored in GoldMine.
Pulling Together as a Team
OpportunIT began installing the client-server system in August 1998. A Pentium PC running Windows NT was chosen for the server. The company was able to use existing PCs running Windows 95 PCs as clients.
Though gathering information together for inputting into the system was a big job, Sainty says the whole company pulled together. "Everybody got involved," she says. "We went through file cabinets and salespeople went through details about the customers they talked to. It was all kind of hands-on really to see what we'd got and get it into order."
EMPICS was able to import some of the data from one of its computerized systems. Other information had to be entered manually. Sainty says it took one person working full time about two weeks to input the data, with others in the company advising and checking information accuracy. "Because we had different sources of information, what it said in the filing cabinet might not necessarily have matched up with one of our computerized records," she says.
Once the client files were in place, OpportunIT provided staff training in-house. Sales received a day of basic training. Marketing and Technical departments received an additional day of advanced training for system administration and Crystal Reports.
Today, 20 people use the system, which has become an integral part of EMPICS' organizational structure. "Coming from a mainly paper-based record system, GoldMine was initially met with trepidation," says Sainty. "However following implementation, the EMPICS team was converted and now can't operate without it."
EMPICS directors now have a clearer picture of the company and where they are in terms of forthcoming sales through the software's report creation and sales forecasting features. Because all the information is in one place, anyone new coming into the company can access everything she needs to know about a particular customer by clicking on the history tab. GoldMine also allows any correspondence that has been sent to be linked with the customer record.
"It's made my life easier," says Richard Holt, account executive at EMPICS. "I can very easily source historical records of who my customers are, and what dealings I've had with them. Anyone who rings me up, as long as I've got a record of them, I can find them within 5 seconds."
Holt says he often surprises customers. "If they've got an invoice query, I can pull that information up in seconds. Of course they say, ‘Here's an efficient chap, he's one we want to deal with.' " Having a complete sales history record also helps salespeople provide better service and up-sell customers to monthly contracts.
While Sainty says company sales have increased dramatically, it's difficult to determine how much can be attributed to the software and how much to proactive marketing activity. However, Holt says moving from a paper-based system to the software has definitely played a large role.
"Although we did have PCs on each desk, I tended to do my sales on paper and that was dreadful," he says. "I possibly lost as much as 20 percent of sales due to the inefficiency of paper. Now, things don't fall through the cracks as much."
GoldMine's features of scheduling calls, actions and appointments has provided the sales team with a structure to call new contacts proactively and maintain a regular dialog with existing customers. But it's the spontaneity of marketing campaigns and the follow-through from marketing to sales where Sainty says the software really shines.
"From the marketing point of view, the main thing was just to be able to respond quickly and easily," she says. "We can pull together a list of people to target that's quite specialized and send out a mailing straight away without too much hassle. I just press a couple of buttons and I've got a big pile of labels running off, whereas before GoldMine, it would have been impossible."
Customers are segmented by sport preference, customer type and account manager, allowing Sainty to target promotions to specific customers on-the-fly.
"It's excellent because we can instantly see which customers could be interested in the pictures we've got coming in," says Sainty. "For example, say we got some brilliant pictures in from last night's football and we wanted to contact our customers. We can actually do a search in GoldMine for any customer interested in football and come back with a list."
Those targeted could then be contacted by phone through the salespeople or a mailing could be sent. "Over the last year or so, we've done a mix of things," says Sainty. "Sometimes we send out mailings with CDs, such as the best of the Grand Prix selections. Other times, salespeople want a list of people to call by phone."
The software also helps manage each campaign. Sainty looks at who was targeted and compares it to responses. She can then determine which customers may need a follow-up phone call or mailing. "It's been most useful during the actual campaign, because you can evaluate the success as you go along and decide if it's worth salespeople making another call or sending another flyer." By comparing results over the long term, she can fine-tune how individual customers like to be contacted and which formats they prefer.
The software has also helped on the Internet front. Sainty has developed promotions to encourage customers to use its Web site to download photos. In addition, the software tracks information about customers' use of the online photo library. "We can pull off detailed logs about what customers have searched for," she says. "It could be that customers are searching for images and not actually finding anything because they've been typing in the wrong key word, so we can gather all that information about the customer to keep a picture of them in GoldMine."
Now that the system has been in place for about 16 months, Sainty says the company has learned some valuable lessons about using the system efficiently. Because the company spent many hours correcting customer information when constructing its database, data integrity has been a key issue from day one.
"It's important to set company guidelines from day one, so everyone uses GoldMine in the same way and fills in details in the same style," says Sainty. "That ensures reports are accurate, mailings are consistent and if the account manager is absent, someone else can help the customer."
She also recommends that companies allocate a person to police the database, ensuring records are up-to-date. At EMPICS, they schedule regular meetings, during which all involved can air their views, suggest improvements and share best practices.
Now that the company has months of data, Sainty would like to begin doing more analysis with the Crystal Reports software. Because of limited resources, she says they haven't spent as much time analyzing the effects of campaigns as much as she would like.
"We know that the analysis side is something we need to look at more," she says. "We didn't get into it first of all, because you need to have left it for awhile so that you've got enough information to analyze." In the meantime, the company has relied on preset and customized GoldMine reports.
EMPICS is also investigating the possibility of synchronizing GoldMine with Palm Pilots during client visits to capture client information. While the sales force does about 90 percent of its work by telephone, salespeople visit customers about once a month.