• August 24, 2010
  • By Juan Martinez, Editorial Assistant, CRM magazine

The CRM Elite: Curing the Sick

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As a provider of diagnostic systems, Sysmex America helps medical professionals work faster, analyze more accurately, and share information more easily. The 350-person company, a branch of Japan-based Sysmex Corp., competes to serve thousands of acute-care hospitals, laboratories, clinics, and other small sites, amounting to more than 40,000 potential leads, and prides itself on “[keeping] labs on the front line of patient care,” according to its Web site. Unfortunately, in 2003 Sysmex America found itself with a nasty case of CRM-itis. 

For sales pipeline management, Sysmex turned to a CRM offering from Pivotal, a company acquired by CDC Software that same year. Through 2007, CDC Pivotal integrated with Sysmex’s service CRM to produce contracts and equipment serial numbers, and to show details of service dispatch calls. The company was able to perform demo evaluations and manage workflow and product requests. But it wasn’t the robust package Sysmex had hoped for. According to Don Patulo, Sysmex America’s senior director of sales support, Pivotal 3.1 “was a horrible version.” In the end, Sysmex had to patch together three different service and accounting packages. 

In 2007, parent company Sysmex required that all corporate units switch to one unified system, from a vendor that Patulo declines to identify—an all-in-one choice that displaced Sysmex America’s three existing CRM systems. “[The vendor] had advertised that it would work with our back-end process,” he recalls. “The first time [we tried to install it], we used an outside contractor and it didn’t work. The second time, they used their own resources and it didn’t work again.” 

Luckily, Pivotal was set to launch version 6.0, a product that promised to meet Sysmex America’s three core requirements: complete integration with Microsoft Office, interoperability with Microsoft SharePoint, and the use of Microsoft’s .Net architecture. This time, Sysmex organized a group of staffers from sales, marketing, and accounting, and asked them to collaboratively design a product they’d be comfortable using. Because the process would include a rewrite of the old architecture, the group could discard what wasn’t being used and add what was needed. A solid interaction structure using Outlook, for example, was crucial, as was the understanding that Pivotal 6.0 had to cover the entire company, including finance, operations, regulatory customer service, and marketing. “.Net greatly helped [our] contractor to come up with the shape, look, and feel that we wanted,” Patulo says. “[Version] 6.0 has a very good structure in terms of team management [so we were] able to take what we had and execute it in a better manner.”

As the first company in the Americas to go live on Pivotal 6.0, Sysmex America’s system had bugs—incorrect documentation, for one—but Patulo says the Pivotal team was quick to resolve them. One particularly hairy obstacle involved transferring code from Pivotal 5.9 to 6.0, which led to failed launches in November 2008 and January 2009. Sysmex America was finally up and running in February 2009. 

With 6.0, reps are now able to log why customers decide not to make purchases—a cash-poor prospect, for example, gets a certain code enabling the company to offer alternative financial options. This program, designed by the marketing and finance teams based on information from sales reps, was a huge success, generating revenue that Patulo says would have been difficult, if not impossible, under three separate CRM systems. 

The ability to monitor accounts more often and react quicker to problems allowed reps to increase their win/loss ratios by 15 percent. The cost of doing evaluations proportional to sales dropped by approximately 20 percent from the previous year due to better reporting. Because of the Pivotal and Microsoft SharePoint integration, salespeople were able to perform express interactions with customers, thus increasing the number of touches by 30 percent. The sales cycle, which had averaged 189 days, was cut to 87 days. 

Simplifying the sales process delivered fiscal benefits as well. In just one year, revenue increased 20 percent, market share increased 6 percent, and the company saved approximately $1.5 million in unnecessary activity. “Our salesmen love the system,” Patulo says. “Our compliance rate is 100 percent. People say either I’m lucky or a liar.” 


  • Increased revenue by 20 percent.
  • Increased market share 6 percent.
  • Saved $1.5 million in unnecessary activity costs.
  • Increased win/loss ratio by 15 percent.
  • Decreased cost of sales by approximately 20 percent.
  • Increased customer touches by 30 percent.
  • Reduced the sales cycle from 189 days to 87 days.

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