Schneider Electric's CRM Success Begins

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Schneider Electric North America is using CASH to build sales. A tough economy and turnover at Schneider's customer companies that affected many of the people Schneider's sales reps had been calling on for years left Schneider in a precarious situation. Old sales strategies were losing their effectiveness--it was time for a change. Hence, the introduction of CASH. The effort will target strategic relationship building. "The nature of our relationships has changed profoundly since the recent recession, and we have to change, too," says Chris Curtis, vice president of sales at Schneider. "By establishing and adhering to a standardized sales process, we're actually providing structure that eliminates not only guesswork, but also some of the anxiety that comes from competing in what is really a new marketplace with a new challenge." The primary objectives of this initiative, according to Curtis, are targeting growth, time efficiency, and the construction of a world-class infrastructure based on heightened standards of performance expectations. The program includes a set of indicators designed to help Schneider's sales engineers move more smoothly through the sales and customer service process, as well as a new set of sales performance criteria. These criteria, organized into sales engineer--specific and managerial-specific levels, are intended to simplify both the identification and, ideally, replication of the behavior of top performers. For example, on the managerial level they target market share and sales efficiencies; for the sales engineers, they focus on items like sales volume and sales margin per head count. "We are beginning to measure value-headed time," Curtis says. "All of this goes a long way to improving efficiency and making it possible to provide more insight, which is what customers really value today." The idea of this new CRM strategy is to elucidate a path for the sales engineer amid an often unclear environment. By creating a more concrete definition of the sales engineer's position, CASH is designed to provide direction in ways never before offered. The process also makes it easier for managers to know exactly what kind of assistance their reps need to expedite business. Schneider presently uses a Lotus Notes--based, homegrown CRM tool to support the new sales program. Although the CRM software runs on a national platform, it has not yet been rolled out on a national level. It currently services 10 regions, a third of the total number planned for the full rollout. Based on results extracted from the 10 areas in which Schneider has executed the solution to date, the company has already experienced a 20 to 25 percent boost in sales per employee and an improvement of about 15 percent in sales-to-base cost under a forecast assumption that will run through September. In addition to the sales department, Schneider's marketing group, manufacturing sector, and organizational development group have all begun to experience performance improvements and other benefits. "A critical success factor has been rigorous and continuous follow-up," Curtis says, crediting consistency of execution as the driving force behind this initiative. The Payoff Using its CASH sales strategy Schneider Electric has seen
  • 20 to 25 percent improvement in sales per employee;
  • 15 percent improvement in sales-to-base cost;
  • a clearer definition of the position of the sales engineer;
  • a standardized sales process that has eliminated much of the guesswork sales engineers had previously experienced.
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