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  • Why CRM? The new CEO who took over our company a little over a year ago decided the way we were doing things was too scattered and that a CRM application was needed. He felt a CRM solution would help solve the problem--in particular, Best Software's SalesLogix, which he had used at previous companies.
  • What were some of the problems you were encountering? We had all this information in a number of different places. This was partly due to the fact that we were a much larger company that shrank, and parts of us were sold off. We retained the old legacy systems for managing the company and acquired some additional companies that came with their own databases. It was difficult to manage. The idea was to pull as much of that together into one location.
  • How did the implementation go? We've been working with one of the SalesLogix partners. They came in and started working with the sales team to figure out what our business processes were and how we wanted to use the tool. We made some modifications to the basic SalesLogix model to fit our requirements. I then came in a couple months later to look at how we could move the functionality we had in our proprietary support-database sales-contract tracking system and move that into SalesLogix.
  • How did you get everybody on board? Getting the support people on board hasn't been that hard because I basically said, "you're using this now," and they did. We've had some teething pains, and gone through and made modifications, and in fact we're still tweaking the system. On the sales side it's more of a challenge. I don't manage them, because if I did, I'd just tell them to use it. I think the way to get the salespeople to accept it is to have them understand the value to them, and in certain cases, make sure there are incentives tied to using it, or disincentives tied to not using it. Also, we brought data in from a lot of different places, so we're trying to get the data cleaned up. We ended up with over 26,000 accounts, and for various reasons, a lot of them are duplicates.
  • What have been the main rewards? The main benefit is that we have accurate, consolidated, and up-to-date information on all of our customers, including data from partner sales that used to be invisible to us due to a two-tier channel system. We can also do a much better job tracking and managing renewals for Tarantella software products. Also, I like being able to connect the salespeople with the accounts and the tickets. If they want to know what the open tickets are, they have them. The ability of the engineers to come up with specific views into the databases has been very useful. They can create their own groups and reports on the fly. It's enabled us to pull some interesting statistics out of our databases.
  • What are your next steps? The customer portal is what we're working on at the moment. It will enhance our use of SalesLogix not only internally, but also for our customers. Our hope is to add this Web-customer portal to gain the customers' view of our business. Also, we anticipate that automated data entry through SalesLogix will be 20 percent faster than our previous manual systems, and that automated letter preparation on the system will trim another 20 percent off the time required to create and ship mailings.
    Lessons Learned
  • Have one person in charge. Make it someone who understands the problem, realizes the benefits, and understands that the importance of the implementation from the company's side is critical.
  • CRM implementations take time. Don't underestimate the effort it will take to be successful. CRM implementations take months, not weeks. To make it happen, management needs to have the time and energy to invest into the project.
  • Unify and simplify. Get your data into one place, then understand which data makes a difference and which doesn't.
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