Linking field sales with telesales

Clicklogistics has a field sales force and a centralized telesales group and wanted to put both groups onto one system ...

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ABOUT THE VENDOR Salesnet is a global Sales Force Automation (SFA) subscription service. Salesnet's Business Solutions consultants guide companies in assessing their sales processes through a collaborative evaluation. Salesnet's capabilities include its patent-pending Process Builder, Report Writer, communications functionality, Web site lead capture, and customizability. Salesnet's service is being used to drive billions of dollars...

in revenue by thousands of sales professionals from enterprise companies such as American Express Incentive Services, British Telecom, Staples, Inc., and Tellabs. Salesnet is based in Boston, Mass. ABOUT THE CLIENT Clicklogistics, Inc. allows shippers to choose the precise combination of affordable logistics technology and professional logistics management services that meets their unique needs, whether they want to outsource some or all of their transportation management activities or need a transportation management system to support in-house logistics teams. The company's services include Clicklogistics Online (a Web-native transportation management system), logistics outsourcing services, logistics consulting, and spot transportation management. Clicklogistics, Inc. is a privately held company headquartered in Boston, Mass., and an affiliate of Cardinal Logistics Management Inc. ABOUT THE TECHNOLOGY Salesnet automates the management of the sales process. Salesnet's Process Builder gives customers the ability to custom define and build one or many Web-based Sales Processes. Each process will define and reinforce effective selling/closing behaviors among the entire sales team, regardless of their geographic dispersement. It becomes a virtual sales assistant, keeping sales reps organized and always aware of their next step. Sales managers and company executives get real-time access to critical sales team activities, sales reports, forecasts, and customer information, wirelessly or via the Web, regardless of the varied locations of the sales team. Clicklogistics has a field sales force that's spread across the country as well as a centralized telesales group. The company was looking for a solution that would allow them to put both groups onto one system so they'd have visibility to all calls and customer communications. Also, Clicklogistics was at a size where the typical spreadsheets or other simple SFA tools weren't delivering the reporting functionality that it was looking for. SearchCRM spoke with George Abernathy, Senior Vice President of Sales & Business Development, about the project. ------------------------------------------------------ SearchCRM: What were you looking for in a vendor? Abernathy: Our company has as one of its cornerstones a technology that's delivered by ASP, so we very much wanted to work with a company that provided an ASP deliverable. The ability for us to have reports that were customizable -- like what we're offering to our customers -- was also important. And bigger than all of that was the way that the pricing is done compared to traditional software. We were not interested in a significant license fee that traditional software would have, so the subscription pricing that an ASP gave to us was very attractive. SearchCRM: How did you choose Salesnet? Abernathy: We narrowed down the ASPs to a couple of different providers that both had the key functionality we were looking for. Salesnet met the criteria and came in in an aggressive manner not just in the short-term pricing per user, but they were also willing to provide us a multi-year option on our contract to maintain that pricing. So in 18 months I won't be dealing with a system that's going to cost me something I just can't afford with the people I have on it. SearchCRM: What was the most challenging aspect of the evaluation? Abernathy: Unfortunately, most of the CRM tools don't have the ability to try it before you buy it. In this circumstance, a couple of the ASPs had that, and that gave us the chance to do a little bit of trial on it. But we had to work pretty hard at it -- we spent six months in the evaluation, but the hard due diligence was at least three months before we settled on Salesnet. SearchCRM: How did the implementation go? Abernathy: Prior to installing Salesnet, we were tracking our field sales people's and telesales people's activity with spreadsheets, so we migrated those over and transferred that type of data. We were able to make very good use of the synchronization between Salesnet and our Microsoft tools that we used internally. This allowed the data migration from our side to happen pretty quickly. SearchCRM: Were there any challenges to the implementation? Abernathy: I've got folks who've used Siebel and ACT -- you name it, they've used it. Having them get used to the different way that Salesnet was set up was the biggest challenge. But the nicest part about the synchronization piece is that their offline tool can be whatever they've used previously. If you're using Microsoft Outlook or ACT or Goldmine, those can be synchronized. That speaks to the biggest challenge, which is the offline capabilities. As an ASP, the challenge is, how do I interact with my tool when I'm not connected to the Internet. One of the reasons we chose Salesnet was the synchronization tool that had the ability for you to work offline in another program and have the synchronization of your contacts, your calendar, your tasks, which allow you to do just about anything when you're offline. SearchCRM: What kind of training did you have? Abernathy: Very little. We did a webinar with the folks at Salesnet. We were able to bring our entire team up to speed in less than a four-hour session. Our technology competence served us well so we were able to get folks up and running. And I'll also praise Salesnet by saying that it's an intuitive, easy-to-use tool that allowed us not to have to take too much training on it. SearchCRM: Did you experience any internal resistance? Abernathy: The typical internal resistance against an ASP didn't take place because we're marketing our own ASP. I made our controller and the rest of the finance group very happy by not saddling them with a significant license fee. So the only internal resistance was from the people who were dedicated users of another SFA tool. But we were able to get past that because they didn't necessarily have to give up what they were doing in the synchronization process. SearchCRM: Can you give an example of how you use the system in your day-to-day operations? Abernathy: We have an inside sales force who is responsible for the initial prospect contact, whether that be contact via telephone or via a webinar. The eCRM Salesnet is utilized as the repository for all of those names. Once it's established that there's interest, a deal is established and that deal and all of the contact and company information pieces are transitioned seamlessly to a field sales person if that's appropriate, or it's maintained inside of the inside sales or business development group. So literally starting from a postcard that may land on one of our prospects' desks through to the eventual closing, we build a sales process inside of Salesnet that covers it completely. SearchCRM: Have you seen ROI? Abernathy: We definitely have. The ROI has been very quick. We started full-blown with Salesnet back in December, and given our subscription pricing, I'd say that our ROI occurred within a couple of months. We're saving money in being able to track the folks who aren't responding or who are looking for follow-up so that we don't end up duplicating effort. We've saved significant amounts of soft costs as far as people's time is concerned -- making sure they're making the right phone calls. We're also saving externally in the field sales force because we're able to coordinate our current customers, leverage them as referencable clients to these new prospects, and do it very efficiently through Salesnet's templates. SearchCRM: What advice do you have for other companies that are starting a similar project? Abernathy: My best advice would be to give the ASP model a full due diligence because the ability to deliver functionality across a large number of people is extremely popular. I believe that the ASP model is a very viable methodology of delivering functionality and saving dramatic amounts of money. Linda Formichelli's writing has appeared 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 April 2002

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