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

CRM Eases the Pressure for WIKA Instruments

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Measurement and regulation are important issues with industrial machines—and also with the companies that make them. Such is the case with WIKA Instruments, the Canadian subsidiary of WIKA Alexander Wiegand GmbH & Co. The subsidiary makes pressure gauges, chemical seals, thermocouples, resistance temperature detectors, thermowells, and other parts crucial to pressure and temperature measurement and control. But its sales force of 30 outside executives and 40 inside salespeople, as well as numerous product managers and project leaders, relied upon manual processes in spreadsheets and text documents.

That would be bad enough in one office, but WIKA Instruments has 300 people in its three main facilities, located in Edmonton, Alberta; Oakville, Ontario; and Deer Park, Texas—not to mention the numerous sales offices located across Canada and a distribution network throughout the United States. The complexities of the firm’s projects only made matters worse. “In engineering, the work is often done up front, and income arrives later,” says Victor Pawluk, WIKA Instruments’ national sales manager. “The selling cycle has gotten much more complicated. Projects can run eight to 10 years, but engineers come and go, and sales territories change.”

No sudden event got the ball rolling. “The need came to me as a gradual realization over eight years at WIKA,” Pawluk says. “We weren’t using CRM at all; our system didn’t tie in quotes, emails, or call reports.” It was a challenge to review quotations, bids, sales calls, and products for its customer base. In 2004, Pawluk evaluated and implemented a CRM system, one he describes as having “minimal features and functionality.” That system wasn’t able to grow with the company, and was weak in quotation functionality, planning, and call reporting—the very things WIKA Instruments needed.

The old CRM wasn’t a great communicator, either. “The previous version was [client-server],” Pawluk recalls, an offline hosted system that wasn’t always available. “Canada is a big, open country, and being able to connect on the road isn’t always a given.” Because of this, records were often badly out of sync.

In looking for an alternative, Pawluk found Selltis, a provider of CRM sales solutions tailored to industrial concerns similar to WIKA. Version 5.0, released in February 2008, was the company’s first software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering; previous versions had been offline-only. “We were...a little bit concerned about going to a Web-based system,” he says. “We looked at other CRM vendors, but none were as complete a solution as what we had with Selltis.”

Selltis added partner management to the mix, as well as a way to link quotes from multiple offices so that WIKA Instruments could always be consistent with its prospects. Those quotes came 50 percent faster as well, “which is significant considering the thousands of quotes that are generated on an annual basis,” Pawluk says. The long cycle for engineering projects ceased to be a problem because the Selltis system allows companies to retain knowledge despite comings and goings of salespeople and client liaisons.

SaaS from Selltis proved to be the solution Pawluk needed to combat the laggard updates and poor server connectivity WIKA Instruments used to have—Selltis was always available. The sales team had a tool that actually helped it do its job, one that was reachable from anywhere; the team began to keep records in order, the way the company needed. “Nobody likes to be held accountable, but eventually everybody sees the value,” Pawluk says. “By going Web-based, we solved that issue.”

The Payoff
With Selltis 5.0, WIKA Instruments:

  • reduced quote generation time by 50 percent;
  • cut time for sales-manager onboarding to one month, from three to six months;
  • solved its out-of-sync customer record problems; and
  • gained partner management capabilities and institutional memory.

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