Secret of My Success: This Old CRM

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  • What does your company do? MarketSharp provides direct marketing and contact management software solutions specifically designed for the home improvement and remodeling industry. We're a niche vendor--CRM for the home improvement industry. Years ago I decided it would make sense to develop a software solution that would allow the industry to track and manage contacts. At the time I knew nothing about computers--I had never even turned one on. So, I went out and purchased a Macintosh computer, learned how to program, and six years later finished the program. Now we have 1,700 customers.
  • What problems were you facing? Our problem was two fold. First, we needed a solution that would allow us to demo our software to potential customers--we couldn't afford the travel costs associated with jetting around the country to industry events or to meet with customers face to face. Second, providing training for newly acquired customers was difficult. It was like when you go to the county fair and watch the chefs use the Ginsu knives. They can do anything with it, but when you get it home, you cut your fingers off. We could do anything with our software during the demo, but the customer would struggle with it. We couldn't afford to hire a huge training team to fly around the country and individually train customers.
  • How did you select the vendor? I began looking at various conferencing products to solve our demo/training dilemma. We looked at solutions like WebEx and Microsoft Office Live Meeting. They're good products, but their pricing models didn't work for us. They were too expensive. They had lots of hidden costs, such as per-minute charges. I just kept an eye on the market and finally found Citrix's GoToMeeting Web-conferencing tools. When Citrix came out with GoToWebinar this past year, we purchased that as well. The vendor put in some really nice features for us, such as on-the-fly polls, and reporting functionality to calculate average attendance times and rates. Additionally, GoToWebinar has a great capacity limit of up to 1,000 per Webinar.
  • How did you get end-user buy-in? Citrix allows customers to demo the product for a few weeks, so we let our employees fool around with it. It's a very intuitive solution. It's easy to set up meetings, send out invitations, remind attendees, and use the reporting functionality to slice and dice the Webinar results. The product also has quick responses to screen movements. There isn't a big delay between clicking the button and slides actually changing, like with other products.
  • What have been the main rewards? We've dramatically cut back on our travel costs. Today we save more than $35,000 a year in travel expenses. We also slashed our cost-per-sale by 50 to 75 percent. We've integrated GoToWebinar with our Web site. Now we have MarketSharp Online University, where customers can sign up for Webinars and receive training. GoToWebinar has reduced customer turnover. Last but not least, GoToWebinar means I don't have to fly anymore.
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