theroad_cropWe have recently been writing about our company’s experience with CRM systems, both bad and good. We are in a great place right now with our current Zoho implementation, and we finally have right tool to help us manage and facilitate the sales and marketing process that we as an organization have identified as right for us. The combination of having the right process and the right toolset to implement it has been the catalyst for positive change within our organization.

As a software company, we provide a solution that helps our customers streamline their fundimental business processes (Sell the Job, Design the Job, Deliver the Job). Our specific features and benefits are targeted to residential and commercial AV, Networking, and Security integrators. Our software is a deep, complex platform that requires a commitment from the purchasing company to adapt to and in many cases make changes to their current way of conducting their day to day operations in order to fully benefit from the software and acheive ROI. As many of Adam’s recent blog posts have pointed out, we have struggled when trying to apply the same dynamics to the right CRM tools for our particular business.

When I first got to D-Tools we were on the NetSuite platform. As Adam has pointed out in previous posts the feature set was quite robust and there were a lot of features that from a Marketing perspective were adequate. I could create web-to-lead forms to capture new leads, I could create specific targeted lists for email marketing, and I could create email campaigns from within the system. For the most part I made use of the system and we had good visibility into our sales numbers. I was learning both our CRM system and the process we had in place as an organization, and as long as I stayed within the established lines, we were generally OK.

We started to run into issues when we identified that we wanted to be more proactive in tracking our sales activities and really start to drill down to helping our sales team develop a better process for building pipeline and tracking activity. Because we wanted to make a shift in regards to how our team went about thier daily activities, we had to take a fresh look at the platform we were using to be sure that it could meet our needs should we make these process changes.

By that time we were already looking at getting away from NetSuite so we looked at putting the right process in place with whatever CRM system we were going to utilize next, which happened to be Oasis. We began the the internal process of making some fundimental changes in our communications and sales approach, how we were going to handle day-to-day activities, and what type of reporting was needed to help facilitate the process we were going to implement. When we got the new system online there were some major holes in areas that we knew needed to be addressed or we wouldn’t be able to acheive our objectives. I don’t need to go into any details about that implementation as that has been covered in previous posts.

What we learned through both of our previous implementations was that the process that we wanted to implement required the right toolset for us to be able to be successful – and that ultimately once we found the right system that both supported the way we wanted to work as well as allow us to make changes to better adapt to our particular style, we would see improvement in many areas – which turned out to be the case once we implemented Zoho. Not only did we have an internally agreed upon methodology for approaching our business, we now had the tool that compliments and supports the process.

One of the keys for success for many companies is the ability to quickly adapt to change – both internally and changes driven by market forces. Visibility into our day-to-day business and for my team especially, the ability to dive deep and communicate to specifc segments of our customer base is essential to our business. Our sales team has developed very good relationships with our customers as our industry is one that is still driven by personal relationships. We now have a CRM system in place that helps our team stay in touch with our customers and gives them the ability to quickly and easily reach out and schedule appointments for upcoming shows, inform our best customers on breaking news and timely offers, and most importantly helps my team make the most of their time everyday.

As a marketer, I can now make sure that my messages are timely and most importantly relevent to my constituents without having to make the system perform unnatural acts to determine who we would like to communicate with. As a sales manager, I now have visibility into the deals my team is working on, what our numbers may be for a particular month or quarter, and as an executive team we have the information we need to make better decisions. We are contiuning to adjust and adapt our process to make the most of both our team’s skillset and the advantages that our CRM system can deliver – but it is the marriage of a well thought-out process and the toolset to deliver on it that makes it the winning combination – which is the basis for our business and now the reality for our internal processes.

Tim Bigoness