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The 2013 CRM Elite
For the rest of the August 2013 issue of CRM magazine please click here
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Every year, companies figure out new and innovative ways to cut costs, bolster revenue, become more efficient, and increase productivity. This year is no different, and we've highlighted some of the most impressive examples of businesses that have done so in this year's CRM Elite awards. Congratulations to Angie's List, Rosetta Stone, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and Yapi Kredi Bank for raising the bar in their customer engagement efforts.

Angie's List: Unifying Member Promotions
Using TinderBox, the Internet rating site streamlines contract agreements.

THE CHALLENGE

Angie's List is a member-based Web site that seeks to connect quality local service providers and contractors with more than 2 million households across the United States and Canada. The company, which began in 1996 as a door-to-door enterprise created by Columbus, Ohio–based Angie Hicks, went live online in 1999, expanded into Canada in 2010, and became a publicly traded company just a year later.

Because Angie's List is a paid service, reviews and recommendations for everything from home repair to healthcare are carefully vetted for quality assurance.

In addition to being able to have confidence in the service providers they are referred to through the company, Angie's List members can sign up to receive exclusive email offers and discounts from highly rated service providers through Angie's List's The Big Deal program, which is similar to a Groupon or LivingSocial deal. On the flip side, sales representatives are continuously seeking out service providers who are willing to go in on a deal to increase their own business.

"What we'll do is negotiate on behalf of the buying power of our members and say, 'What if we could source forty to fifty jobs in a matter of days via an email campaign? Would you be willing to give us a discount for those jobs?'" explains Ben Ledo, director of The Big Deal at Angie's List. The next, and most important, step in the process of running a promotion or discount is structuring a deal through a contract, building out content, and emailing the deal to site members.

Finalizing and accepting the contract has also been a source of friction for the company, according to Ledo. "We kept running into the issue where we had service providers agree to the concept, agree to participate, and then we would lose them in the process of their application or contract," he explains. To put it simply, Angie's List needed a way to see where service providers would get stuck, where they would drop off, and how sales representatives could improve the flow of communication to increase proposal acceptance.

The Solution

Angie's List, which had until this point relied on a homegrown, "proprietary toolset" to generate contract proposals, in early 2012 turned to TinderBox, a provider of enterprise sales proposal, presentation, and contract management solutions, to see how it could tie its internal systems to TinderBox's flexible application programming interface.

Through customization, TinderBox was able to facilitate a proposal creation path to make it easy to create, send, and track proposals throughout various stages of the contract process. One of the immediate benefits was the visibility it afforded Angie's List.

"We can go back and look and understand and see where [the service providers] focused, where they spent their time, and start addressing their concerns," Ledo says. "Those conversations help our salespeople [target] true concerns and objections those service companies have. Also, it's measuring [activity]. You can't really improve something if you don't have that baseline to measure it."

TinderBox came to the aid of Angie's List from an organizational sense, as well. In the past, 45 sales reps would send individual emails with contracts based on past proposals. What resulted was a lack of uniformity and consistency. Using TinderBox's prebuilt templates to streamline the process, "reps would get off the phone with someone and feel like they had really closed a sale."

By using TinderBox, the company has been able to achieve an average close rate of 85 percent of its published proposals. Since it implemented TinderBox, the company has created more than 13,500 contracts using the software and has found that 48 percent of all proposals sent using the service were accepted by prospects last year. In addition, each Angie's List representative currently produces an average of 20 contracts per month, representing one deal per sales rep per business day.

Although TinderBox has been especially useful to Angie's List in its traditional sales stages and contract process, Ledo says the company is not opposed to deploying the software for post-sale processes. Once a service provider signs a contract, TinderBox has "a fantastic presentation [tool] where you can embed videos" and provide access to how-tos and further information. —Kelly Liyakasa

Real Results

  • Achieved an average close rate of 85 percent of published proposals.
  • Nearly half (48 percent) of all proposals were accepted within the past year.
  • Each rep produced an average of 20 new contracts per month.
  • Published 13,500-plus contracts to date using TinderBox.

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