• May 1, 2009
  • By Marshall Lager, founder and managing principal, Third Idea Consulting; contributor, CRM magazine

Partners Grow Routes

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For the rest of the May 2009 issue of CRM magazine, please click here.

Since selling its first portable navigation device (PND) based on the global-positioning system (GPS) in 2004, Amsterdam-based TomTom has been headed in one direction—up. Yet its B2B sales organization was having trouble making its way. Manual processes left over from TomTom’s 1991 founding were draining workers’ time while failing to capture complete and accurate information, and salespeople wanted a better way to manage leads.

“TomTom started off like so many other startups, using spreadsheets to track sales data,” says Tim Roper, executive vice president of sales. “But because they were spreadsheets, only one person had control; everybody was running around to see who had the current version. Tracking resellers, managing terms and conditions—it was a nightmare. We moved to a European solution, but it wasn’t very good for U.S. companies. It was also slow—we literally had to send each keystroke overseas and wait for it to register.”

By the autumn of 2007, TomTom’s U.S. sales team had decided it had had enough, and began looking in earnest for a better way to manage sales data. One employee had prior experience using Intuit QuickBase and suggested it as a possible solution. QuickBase’s Web-based interface promised automated data capture, centralized lead management, and more.

“TomTom was looking for what many of our customers are: a system customizable and flexible enough to meet their needs, but still be accessible by many,” says Peter Fearey, QuickBase business leader for Intuit.
TomTom didn’t have to wait long for implementation, either. “It didn’t take a team of engineers, just one person,” Roper says. “She came in, set QuickBase up, made some changes, and we were all set.” Simplicity was welcome. “It’s fundamentally different from other systems I’d used in other jobs,” Roper says.

The initial success was in getting rid of hand-entry of—and the accompanying errors in—distributor data. “We use [QuickBase] to authorize and approve resellers—we used to do it via fax and Excel spreadsheets, and there was a high error rate because of the manual process,” Roper says. “By sending resellers to a Web portal, QuickBase cuts errors by 20 to 25 percent.” The portal captures more data than paper forms ever could, and without transcription errors.

The implementation has evolved dramatically since then. “Customers contract us to solve a particular immediate problem—that’s the first ‘lightbulb moment,’” Fearey says. “The second lightbulb comes on when the customer sees a way to solve several issues. The third is when many people can use QuickBase to solve problems throughout the organization.” TomTom extended the use of QuickBase across its distributor chain, improving communication and prospecting opportunities through better pipeline management.

But one of the neatest moves was the integration of QuickBase with TomTom’s own devices and software for fleet management and mobile sales. “The unique thing about TomTom is that they brought deep understanding of their own product, and found ways to integrate our product with theirs,” Fearey says. One of those integrated solutions, he says—fleet-management system TomTom Work—allows two-way communication for remote workers, ensuring truth in workforce management and the ability to update appointments based on GPS locations. With QuickBase, TomTom knows where it’s going. 



Switching to Intuit QuickBase allowed TomTom’s U.S. sales organization to:

  • eliminate manual steps from the retail-distributor–reauthorization process;
  • reduce errors by 20 percent on retail-authorization forms;
  • convert 25 percent of B2B resellers to the system;
  • save time monitoring reseller activity; and
  • integrate its own products with the system to improve remote access.

Every month, CRM magazine covers the customer relationship management industry and beyond. To subscribe, please visit http://www.destinationcrm.com/subscribe/.

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