A Slice of the Good Life: Rockford, IL--Rapid Granulator

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  • Tillery, whose staff is himself, led the implementation and customization effort and continues to operate the Clientele system he took live in January 2002 in-house, along with all of the other applications that keep Rapid running. In addition to the front- and back-end software, Web site, and Internet connection, "I run the phone system, four servers, and I put fires out and work on systems as needed," Tillery says. His CRM work is ongoing. 

    By 10 a.m. Tillery is immersed in installing a wave of new sales management reports in Clientele--putting the finishing touches on the company's improved, more accurate CRM forecasting methodology.

    Clientele tracks the customer database, manages call histories, and schedules events, and assists with the early stages of customization. Most of the more than 400 machines Rapid sells every year have some level of customization, which ultimately must be assigned a unique part number by the back-end software package. At present Clientele does not tie in directly with the Manage2000 MRP system at Rapid, but integration seems to be a secondary concern to making constant improvements to the CRM reporting and data collection capabilities already available in Clientele.

    A special sales meeting on improving forecast visibility called by Rapid's European parent occupies the entire customer side of the company all day. While the day-long meeting provides a breather from field demands, Tillery's CRM support duties are not on vacation. He recently put the finishing touches on the process to fully track the upcoming plastics industry trade show as a coordinated marketing program in Clientele. By 11 a.m. his attention turns to assembling a new presentation tool for field sales, transferring the content of a CD library and special multimedia interface onto small PC Card hard disks that are more portable and easy to access. When ready, those cards will be shipped out to the field sales managers, who will be able to deliver multimedia customer presentations without fumbling with jewel cases.

    David Miller, regional vice president of sales, stops into Tillery's office during a break in the sales meeting to discuss strategy. Reflecting on how the CRM effort has been so vital to Rapid in a tricky market for capital expenditures, Miller says, "Business is slow at best, and there are fewer opportunities, so the goal is, how do we generate more opportunities?" Epicor's sales applications allow his sales team to spend more time working on opportunities and less time on the minute details of account management, while reaping the benefits of automatically scheduled follow-ups with prospects and opportunities. 

    Feedback from the internal users and remote sales locations can come in to Tillery directly or through upper sales management as often as daily, and he has to decide whether a change can and should be made immediately, and whether that change should be populated through a database synchronization or by sending out a new CD. Today he is finalizing CDs he'll use to update the field laptops with a pipeline structure that better accounts for internal competition, not double-counting two differently configured machines submitted for a one-machine opportunity. In addition to handling the short-term user requests, Tillery also regularly holds court on the direction the CRM system needs to take. "We go through issues for a few hours at our quarterly sales meetings," he says.

    Tillery's day doesn't end at 5 p.m.--the sales meeting isn't over by then, so he remains in the office to discuss some action items with Miller and Rapid Granulator's U.S. president, Kirk Winstead. In fact, executive buy-in has been absolutely no problem for Tillery's continued efforts, because Winstead was the person who drove the adoption of CRM in the first place. "[Winstead] was the VP of sales when we piloted Clientele, so we worked hand in hand on how he wanted to implement it," Tillery says.

    During his meeting with Miller and Winstead, Tillery receives his new mandate: to implement more than 100 form letters for automatic delivery to customers when certain milestone events are tripped in the order and customer life cycle, and to enable a workflow system that schedules calls for sales managers as soon as an initial quote is registered in Clientele. The form letters will be sent in for inclusion over the next several weeks, while the new workflow automation needs to be completed in just 10 days. But that's a challenge Tillery happily takes on. Like the big plastic chompers rigged up in the warehouse not far from his door, Tillery keeps grinding away at success.

    Why CRM?

    Dan Tillery supports Rapid Granulator's CRM effort so the sales and marketing teams can:

    • track sales and sales opportunities for more than 2,000 plastics manufacturers
    • generate new opportunities
    • conduct reporting and data collection

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