A hosted CRM solution improves opportunities and cuts costs.
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InFact Group, a systems integrator that helps Web systems connect to back-end technologies like inventory and scheduling, had no cohesion between the different countries where it has operations when Richard Napier was hired as director of business development two years ago.
"It was like we had five separate companies," Napier recalls. "We had five different rules for sales management, five different rules for service requests. One of the jobs that I was tasked with was bringing this all under one roof from a public perspective, as well as an internal perspective. People [the public] thought we were operating five different companies."
Beyond the public misperceptions and the internal inefficiencies, the disparate operations also meant the company was missing sales opportunities. According to Napier, there were countless times when InFact salespeople did have access to information already in InFact files. For example, a salesman in India might be able to close a sale with XYZ India if he had ready access to information about the parent company, XYZ France, which was in an InFact database in Paris.
In the first six months since adding CRM capabilities, the company has already closed some deals in similar situations that may not have closed using the legacy system, according to Napier.
"There were three possible considerations for CRM," Napier says. "We could buy a solution that was installed, buy a hosted solution, or build something ourselves from the ground up."
InFact executives determined that building a system themselves would take too long and be too costly to be practical. An installed system was impractical as well, because InFact has only 100 total employees, with some offices manned by a single person.
So Napier looked at a handful of hosted solutions, and then narrowed the list to Siebel OnDemand and Salesforce.com's CRM application. InFact salespeople tested each application during 30-day free trials. They told Napier that the OnDemand application was a little cleaner (faster, easier to use), so the company chose the Siebel technology, going live with it in August of 2004, only 30 days after making the decision.
"A lot of times our salespeople are working from hotels and their connection speeds aren't that good, so it was important that they could find the information they needed [from the application] quickly," Napier says.
The company's sales force uses OnDemand to track opportunities, monitor sales activity, and manage contacts. By recording this information in OnDemand, salespeople give managers the ability to see a worldwide perspective of the company's sales opportunities and activities, according to Napier. The application integrates with Outlook, which most of the company's salespeople use for scheduling.
"We now have the opportunity to close business more quickly," Napier says. "I'm not saying that we wouldn't close some of this business eventually anyway, but [OnDemand] gives us the opportunity to do more business more quickly."
Though Napier had already made the decision to go with Siebel OnDemand, he was even more confident about his decision when Siebel unveiled the multilanguage version of its product before InFact had gone live with the application. InFact currently uses English and French versions, and may add German in the next few years, according to Napier.
The OnDemand application enables InFact to conduct comprehensive marketing campaigns that cross national borders and to survey customers. The company uses the application to track documents and marketing analytics so that it can adjust advertising campaigns as necessary, Napier says. Customer responses to survey questions automatically feed into other InFact backend systems for a variety of marketing and business uses.
Though the hosted solution has been successful for the company to date, as InFact grows, it may opt for an installed CRM system or a hybrid solution with installed CRM application in some locations and a hosted solution for other locations.
By deploying Siebel OnDemand, InFact Group has
improved sales forecast accuracy by 50 percent;
decreased service response time by 25 percent;
reduced overhead with automated forecasting by $33,000 per quarter.
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