Locking Up Data To Unlock Leads
A company that hosts highly secure information for professional sports organizations and political institutions knows the real value of data. So when Dallas-based NeoSpire was searching for a new CRM system, a vanilla solution would not do. “We host mission-critical data for customers,” says Jim Ciampaglio, NeoSpire’s chief operating officer. The company’s data delivery, he says, “simply cannot go down.
NeoSpire’s services may be complex, but its business need was fairly simple: a system to better manage leads and store sales information. Ciampaglio says that when he joined NeoSpire as vice president of sales in mid-2009, he took stock of the then-11-year-old firm’s sales technology and quickly realized that an 8-year-old version of FrontRange Solutions’ GoldMine CRM software just wasn’t getting the job done.
“It was such a manual process,” he recalls. “It was like the 1980s—salespeople were working off handwritten notes.”
Not only was the system out-of-date, but leads were presented in a manner so rudimentary that the sales team essentially had no information at all.
Ciampaglio had prior experience using both Salesforce.com’s Salesforce CRM and the open-source offering from SugarCRM. Working with technology partner Astadia, he decided that Salesforce was the better fit.
“Astadia’s real magic was [its] ability to understand our individual business model so quickly,” Ciampaglio says. “What matters most is if the sales guys are going to acclimate and use the CRM that gets chosen,” he says. “In my past…
implementation of SugarCRM, the look and feel at a user level was more difficult than [with] Salesforce.com.”
Ciampaglio says his anxiety diminished soon after NeoSpire’s switch to Salesforce CRM in June 2009. “Within two weeks,” he recalls, “I was looking at the sales funnel and information and different stats on leads that I had never had visibility into before.”
The implementation, Ciampaglio says, went without a hitch—a success he credits, in part, to Astadia’s assistance in developing a one-off version of Salesforce that embraced a number of NeoSpire’s unique security needs.
Adoption remained a concern, Ciampaglio says—and one particularly tech-averse sales rep embodied NeoSpire’s obstacles. The salesperson—known for a seemingly unorganized system that involved plastering his desk with Post-it notes—didn’t even use Microsoft Word or Excel. “I thought he’d be the most difficult guy converting to Salesforce,” Ciampaglio recalls. “He never had his information in any one place at any time.”
During training, however, the Post-it employee took the sales team by surprise. Not only did he embrace the system, but he ended up teaching others how to link their Outlook accounts with Salesforce CRM. “Now, every aspect or conversation, he puts in the system,” Ciampaglio says, adding that the productivity of that one employee went up 50 percent year-over-year, and his overall performance has improved 210 percent. Mr. Post-it’s turnaround may have been exceptional, Ciampaglio says, but adoption was quick, seamless, and painless for the entire company.
Ciampaglio says it’s hard to gauge Salesforce CRM’s specific impact—partly because NeoSpire also hired additional personnel this year—but says he’s confident the solution has enabled the business to operate more effectively.
“Now I can change the progression of the leads through the sales funnel,” Ciampaglio notes. “We can make better business decisions for where we spend our money.” Activity-level reports, for example, have become a real boon to daily decision-making.
One of Ciampaglio’s favorite examples came just a month into the rollout. The system revealed that a certain third party was contributing a huge share of NeoSpire’s sales funnel—about 25 percent of the total number of leads. The visibility enabled NeoSpire to nurture that relationship, Ciampaglio says—instead of losing it. “Without Salesforce.com we might have shut it down and lost a huge chunk of revenue,” he says.
But that’s just one example. Metrics are up across the board, Ciampaglio says, with sales funnels two or three times larger than last year, and larger deals in those funnels. More important, the deals are closing—driving revenue up more than 200 percent over last year. And NeoSpire anticipates continued growth in both revenue and sales headcount.
“Astadia and Salesforce.com helped us change who we are as a sales organization,” Ciampaglio says.