CheerStix' Plan for Better Client Contact

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  • Why CRM?
    The beauty of the CheerStix is that they're a Game Day giveaway. When I came on, the company needed a better way to keep in touch with clients--professional sports teams, universities, high schools, [and other] businesses that want to promote themselves. At the time paper...was being used [to process orders]. When you only have a few hundred repeat customers you can keep relationships going by memory, but as the company has exploded that's changed.

  • When did you first implement the technology?
    I'd had experience before using GoldMine. I'd tried some other products--they were OK, but [not] when it came to giving me fast information, notes, and reports. GoldMine worked, and when I came on board here in 2002, I decided to stay with what I knew.

  • What were your key criteria for selecting a CRM vendor?
    There might be 15 different people at a university we need to talk to--one says they want [to buy] 1,000 units, and someone else says 10,000 units. If we let the gung ho guy make the purchase, we could have a problem. The organization tree in GoldMine makes it really easy to see [who has final say over the purchasing decision]. I wanted GoldMine to be the heart of the system, because the customer is the heart of this system.

  • How did you gain executive and user buy-in?
    I have a lot of credibility behind me. In my earlier work I got results--and results help. CheerStix brought me in to solve problems. I just said, "We need to set up GoldMine"--and they knew to go with it. They took me at my word.
    But we probably couldn't have done it without a partner. I found [our integrator] Team Automation a long, long time ago, and I hope our customers think of us the way we think of Team Automation.

    With only seven people [to train], within three days they were fully functional--they didn't need to learn all the capabilities, they just needed [to get] all the information into the right fields. [That kept] the sales reps from missing calls and missing sales.

  • What were the key challenges or obstacles, and how did you overcome them?
    The first thing we did was populate GoldMine with all the [existing] records. But you can make a mistake with too many records. So I cleaned the database so it was more focused on our target. We got the number [of potential clients] down to about 8,000. Now we've [expanded] to 22,000.

    But you also have to leave room for the folks who want to find you. We made it so that when a call comes in a record is [automatically] created, so no call is ever lost.

  • What were the main results and rewards of CRM?
    I can talk to [clients], but I'm not local. I don't have the ability to walk in the door. In order to secure a relationship, I've got to know whom I'm talking to, and GoldMine allows me to keep track of the information I've gathered. It makes me a very local personality.

    I'm also not spending hours and hours getting information that [the system] tries to spit out. I just click on a field, print out a report, and I'm done.

  • What are your next steps?
    There are still a few snags [with reports]; we're trying to get them presented exactly the way [our CEO] wants. How many of the 300 calls we got this week were from high schools, for example--and how many resulted in further inquiries? Those types of business questions we need answered going forward. Once I get the reports ironed out, we'll be at 100 percent.

    Lessons Learned

  • There's no substitute for experience. Someone has to be familiar enough with the processes and the technology to steer the ship.
  • Stick with what--and who--you know. Overreaching can be a terrible mistake. Playing to your own strengths leaves room for others to play to theirs.
  • Trust your partner. You picked them for a reason. Let them remind you why.
  • Results matter. A good plan and a lofty goal are great, but the outcome speaks louder than any of it.
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