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May 3, 2004
Jean Marc Pigeon
More Cash in the Bank
Why CRM? At Inortech we supply raw materials for paint, inks, plastics, and adhesives to manufacturers of all types. We also provide formulation expertise and in-depth R&D support services. Because of the volatility inherent in the chemical distribution business, we've found maintaining a competitive edge to be a continuing challenge, especially in a lackluster economy. We're constantly striving to improve customer service. We looked at issues that would impact customer service, as well as bottom-line costs, including improving our sales processes, reducing training time for new reps, and having better customer information in hand, including credit information. CRM software seemed like a smart way to get to the bottom of these issues relatively quickly.
When did you first implement CRM? We first began evaluating CRM software in April 2002, and were running the ACCPAC CRM system within three months.
What were your key criteria for selecting a CRM vendor? We selected ACCPAC CRM through the recommendation of consulting firm Implanciel, which supports us for our ACCPAC accounting system. It was important to us to have solid service and support, which is what we've experienced with Implanciel. Likewise, we had confidence in ACCPAC. Another important factor was that ACCPAC CRM and our ACCPAC Advantage Series accounting system could be fully integrated. One of our key goals was to reduce the time needed for collections while improving overall sales processes. It was critical that the CRM and accounting systems were well integrated, yet few CRM systems provide this basic capability. ACCPAC has excellent experience in this area.
How did you gain executive and user buy-in? As president of the company I am constantly looking for ways we can improve. I took direct responsibility for the CRM initiative, because I could see its potential to improve customer service and create efficiencies, especially for our sales force. There's just too much potential for errors in customer service operations that are paper-based. Our accounting staff was already using ACCPAC accounting products, and the integration between ACCPAC accounting and CRM is excellent, so training is minimized. The day-to-day efficiencies that the software provides compared to our previous methods has made staff acceptance a nonissue.
What were the key challenges or obstacles? And how did you overcome them? One of the key challenges was mapping out how we could best take advantage of the capabilities of ACCPAC CRM versus our paper-based approach. The software is highly customizable, including support for workflows, so we needed to identify up front what our ideal processes would be, then set up workflows in the ACCPAC CRM system to support them. We relied heavily on the expertise of Implanciel to help us work through these ideas and how we could optimize our use of the software.
What were the main rewards and results of using CRM? Staff training has been dramatically reduced. We hired a new sales rep shortly after implementing ACCPAC CRM, and were able to get him through training to be productive in weeks, as opposed to the months it took previously. ACCPAC CRM paid for itself in the first quarter of use, and actually created positive cash flow. Part of that cash flow improvement has been because of the reduction in collectibles time, which has dropped by an average of 10 days. That gives us more cash in the bank, and improves our credit prospects.
What are your next steps? Our focus has been heavily in the sales management side of the software. Our next steps will be to take greater advantage of the marketing automation and help desk tools built into the system.
I can't emphasize enough the value of the three key decision factors that guided us:
an expert consulting organization that understands our business
software that integrates easily with other systems
a vendor that has a track record
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