• May 1, 2008
  • By Marshall Lager, founder and managing principal, Third Idea Consulting; contributor, CRM magazine

Skin in the Game

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Those sharp-dressed men and women with briefcases you sometimes see in your doctor's waiting room are salespeople, and if your doctor does anything involving the skin, those salespeople might be from Obagi Medical. Obagi provides physician-dispensed skincare products to more than 5,000 medical practices nationwide. And while Obagi was already pretty smooth before trying the Centive Compel compensation management solution, the new possibilities offered by the software made things soft and silky, as well.
"Two years ago, we were still working in a homespun environment; there was a lot of limitation related to the software environment," says Bruce Carter, Obagi Medical's director of IT. "We were using [Sage] MAS 200, but it wasn't sufficient for our sales volume." The company had numerous manual processes, and couldn't get information to its 115 field salespeople in a timely manner. "I was brought in, in part, to solve this, and also to manage the commission plan. I had to find a solution that would be flexible. The Centive folks were willing to bend over backwards."
People put in the situation of buying business software usually say they want to be treated as if their business truly mattered, but on this point Carter may have been unusually insistent. "Centive was very customer-focused. I didn't want a vendor to sell us an application; I wanted a partner we could work with," he says. "They're every bit of that, and then some."
Implementation of Compel went smoothly; from rollout to first payout took two months, April to June 2006. "It was one of the smoothest implementations I've ever seen," Carter says. "If there was a problem, they put people on the case until it was solved." One time, Obagi Medical accidentally double-posted an entire quarter's worth of data. Centive loaded Obagi's backup onto a second server so that the quarterly posting could be done on time while the original instance was straightened out. "We hounded [our Centive liaison]--at all hours, [given] the time difference between Boston and southern California--and he was always available."
Centive was even willing to take a temporary hit in the wallet so that Obagi could get its salespeople ready to work with their end of the new software. "Our people know skin, not technology; we held the field rollout until [December 2006], so that the language in the dashboard was very easy to adopt," Carter says. "Centive was very flexible with the license. They could have charged us for all 115 seats, but they worked with us to scale the cost to the rollout, charging us half at first and the rest as we went on," he adds.
"Now we're looking to add [sales force automation]," Carter says. In a twist, a smaller vendor is driving sales for one of the bigger ones: "We're looking at Salesforce.com because of its dashboard integration with Centive."

Thanks to implementing Centive Compel, Obagi Medical:
g increased net sales by 32 percent;
g increased operating income by 56 percent;
g increased net income by 149 percent; and
g added 200 new active physician accounts, an 18 percent increase.

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