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Helping the sales force StayinFront

ABOUT THE VENDOR

Headquartered in Fairfield, New Jersey, StayinFront, Inc. (www.stayinfront.com) is a provider of enterprise-wide customer relationship management (CRM) applications, decision support tools, and eBusiness systems.

ABOUT THE CLIENT

Cytyc Corporation, based in Boxborough, Massachusetts, designs, develops, manufactures, and markets sample preparation systems for medical diagnostics.

ABOUT THE TECHNOLOGY

StayinFront's Visual Elk provides a CRM solution to manage all aspects of customer interaction, including sales, marketing, customer support, and Web integration. It enables headquarters and field sales and support personnel to profile, understand and better service customers.

Another StayinFront product, Panorama, is a data analysis and decision support tool specifically designed for non-technical users. Panorama can be delivered as a Windows(r) application or through a browser, via the Web. Through the use of intuitive Drag, Drop and Drill technology, Panorama can be used to analyze sales, marketing and financial information from any ODBC database.

Cytyc's business was booming, but along with growth came some big decisions about the best way to achieve the company's long-term goal of having the best sales force in the industry. Cytyc believed that its sales representatives had to be equipped with relevant and accurate information, and managers needed access to real-time

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reporting, in order to sustain effectiveness during its fast-paced growth. As a result Cytyc selected a fully integrated CRM solution from StayinFront, Inc.

SearchCRM spoke with Annette Brewster, Cytyc's director of marketing operations, about the project.
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SearchCRM: Why did you decide to evaluate CRM solutions?
Brewster: We have a growing sales force, and we didn't have any sales force automation at all. Our data was getting stale because of that, and we felt that a sales force automation tool would keep our data more current and give our sales force more access to the data to improve their account management.

SearchCRM: How did you choose StayinFront?
Brewster: We were looking at moving to a customized system, but we weren't happy with any of the existing systems. None of them seemed to have enough flexibility to meet our business needs. So we decided to take our existing custom system and use developers to develop a remote system. In doing that, I stumbled across StayinFront's Visual Elk. When I saw it, it was obvious that it would give us the flexibility that we needed and some cost efficiencies versus setting up our own custom system.

SearchCRM: What else were you looking for in a CRM solution?
Brewster: Most importantly, we were looking for a system where our reps could enter in calls and one that would allow us to place the data in a way that reflects our market and the way we do business. We call on multiple markets, and the markets have a relationship with one another. We wanted our database to reflect those relationships. Once we had that foundation, we wanted to be able to record their calls and use it as a full contact management tool.

SearchCRM: So how do you use the system?
Brewster: Before we went into Visual Elk, we were having our sales force fax in their call activity, and we manually entered in that data. Now, our salesforce enters in all their call activity -- in our case, it's with labs, hospitals, or physicians. Then we share that information with one another, so it's a more team-oriented approach. The benefit that the field is excited about is that even though they have to enter in their own calls, they also have complete control of their data -- so they can keep their contacts up-to-date, they can update what products they're using and how much they're using them, and so on.

SearchCRM: What kinds of customization of the system have you done so far?
Brewster: There are two things. First, the way we wanted to record our sales rep activity was a little different than the way that the basic Visual Elk product was set up. With Visual Elk, you call on one individual person -- but we wanted to record the call on an individual facility and then say which contacts within that facility we met with. We were able to make that modification and make our own call activity form. Second, we have designed our own forecasting tool within Visual Elk that is completely customized to our business needs.

SearchCRM: How did the implementation go?
Brewster: We had a very fast implementation. We decided to go with Visual Elk in April of 2000 and we had a two-tier implementation. We first implemented our laboratory sales force, which is a smaller sales force, and we had that system in pilot by July and in full production by October. Then, between October and January, we created our physician module.

SearchCRM: Were there any challenges with the implementation?
Brewster: The biggest challenge we had was ensuring that managers really bought into the product -- that they saw the value of it, and that they used the data. We find that the reps follow the managers' lead. There's so much value and power in this data. If the managers run the reports, look at the data, and manage the reps through it, then the reps will be right behind them.

SearchCRM: It sounds like a huge change for your reps, since they now have to enter in their own data. Did you have any internal resistance to that?
Brewster: Actually, we were very happy with that aspect. Our sales people had only received laptops about a year earlier, so they were not at all computer savvy. The training in January went extremely smoothly. It was a three-day program, and the feedback from the field is that Visual Elk is very easy to use. It looks similar to Microsoft Outlook, and our reps had already been using that program, so a lot of the tools were very familiar and the reps weren't afraid to use it.

Linda Formichelli's writing appeared this year in Woman's Day, Wired, Writer's Digest, Family Circle, Psychology Today. Contact her at linda-eric@lserv.com, or check out her Web site: http://www.twowriters.net

This was first published in August 2001

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