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 by companies such as American Express Incentive Services, British Telecom, Staples, Inc., and Tellabs. Salesnet is based in Boston, Mass.
ABOUT THE CLIENT
Sovereign Bancorp, Inc., headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is the parent company of Sovereign Bank, a $37 billion financial institution with approximately 530 community banking offices, more than 1,000 ATMs, and about 7,500 team members in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. Sovereign Bank is currently the third largest bank in New England.
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 dispersion. Sales managers and company executives get real-time access to critical sales team
Because of Sovereign's quick growth, the company needed a more efficient way to track sales processes, prospects, and contacts. SearchCRM spoke with Bill Patten, director of MIS and project administration, about the project.
SearchCRM: What were you looking for in a CRM vendor?
Patten: We were looking for something that was going to be simple to implement and that wasn't going to involve a lot of customization of software. And, this is very important, we needed something that wasn't going to involve a lot of IT or technology resources in terms of building and developing on our own part. Many of us in the company had had experience with some of the larger, service-based CRM applications from the banks we came from previously. This product really jumped out because it's Web-based, so you can access it from your PC, from your house -- anyplace you can access the Web. It doesn't involve the replication of data or downloading to servers, and it was a very clean approach. Cost was a factor, too. Web-based products at this point seem to be remarkably less expensive to purchase and support than server-based products.
SearchCRM: How many vendors did you look at?
Patten: I'd say we seriously looked at three. We had some fits and starts and came to the conclusion of Salesnet at the end of last summer. We hired a consultant who many of us knew in the banking industry to analyze what our needs were, to understand the sales processes we were going to put in place, and to find something that we could get up and running in a short period of time without a lot of technical complexities and resources. He looked at many sales force automation systems and full-blown CRM systems and matched our needs with the requirements we set up and with what we wanted to accomplish over the next three to five years.
SearchCRM: How did you kick off the project?
Patten: We took our commercial lending unit in Massachusetts and Connecticut and sat down with the team leaders, market managers, managing directors, and some tech people, and sort of designed what we needed to design in about three months. We worked with Salesnet to have it implemented. We started the project on September 1, and by January 1, we had the entire unit up and running. We wanted to do something efficiently and do something well and know that we had the opportunity to build off it. The piece we've bitten off of Salesnet is a very good, digestible chunk of those pieces of the project that we haven't implemented yet. We want to get everybody at least using the software for contacts and prospecting and for closing the deals. We'll roll out the rest of the components and the rest of the functionality as soon as we have everybody up and running and we have a good feeling of how far we want to go with it.
SearchCRM: Did you experience any internal resistance?
Patten: From our company's perspective, growing so quickly from primarily a retail and thrift bank and then sort of exploding on the commercial side, we have a lot of people who come in from various backgrounds in commercial lending. Many people have worked for two, three, four banks. So there's always a cultural issue you have to address in terms of explaining to people how we came to this decision, why we came to this decision, and where we're going to go forward. One of people's first reactions is, "Uh oh, I'm going to become a clerk and do data entry." So we spend an hour and a half with every employee who's going to use the system, in a group setting, and explain how we came to this decision, how easy it is to use, and what the benefits are.
Another thing we did was build in the incentive component of our plan, and the Salesnet system will be the source system for some of their incentive payouts. We've tied certain reports and data from Salesnet to their incentive plan.
SearchCRM: What kind of training did you do?
Patten: We've got 275 people who have to go through the training aspect of this, and that's a tremendous challenge for us. We do two kinds of training. One is called framework training. We sit down with a group of officers and administrative assistants and go through the process of explaining the rationale and what we've been through so far to get to where we are. Then for 30 minutes we log on and show them very simply what the software can do and how easily accessible it is.
Then we have them go away, and two or three weeks later, we bring everybody back into a traditional classroom setting and give them a three-hour training session on how to use the software.
SearchCRM: How do you use the CRM solution on a day-to-day basis?
Patten: We do a number of things. We have downloaded from our commercial loan system all of the existing customers into each relationship manager's account profile. If I were a relationship manager, all 60 or 70 of my accounts would be in there currently. I would go in there and put in all of my contacts. As I go on a call, I put that information in there. If I make a personal call on a prospect, I put it in there. If I make a proposal, I update that. If I go through the credit process approval, it goes in there. We've got five business processes that take us from us introducing ourselves to a prospect to eventually closing the deal. So it tracks, via my input, every stage of that business process. I can find out at any point where I am with that customer, what the next steps are, what my deliverables are, what my last conversation was.
SearchCRM: Are you seeing ROI?
Patten: We don't have specific financial information to defend that argument, but we know there has been a substantial ability for us to track deals and monitor the progress we make with new customers. We know the value relative to the new business that we're putting on board and the quality that we're getting from that business.
SearchCRM: What are your future plans?
Patten: About 50% of our relationship managers are in the mid-Atlantic region; we'll have them up by the end of July. We've got to take the month of August to make sure people are using it properly. Then we'll take a look at using the cross-selling module. That'll be the next big chunk we bite off, then we'll do the whole communications module.
SearchCRM: What advice would you give to other companies starting a similar project?
Patten: Don't make the project more complex than it has to be. You can buy the fully-blown model and customize it and spend two and a half years doing that, and by the time you roll it out, you've lost a bit of momentum. Our approach is to find something that fits, that's easy to use and easy to understand, don't make it complex, and just go ahead and do it.
Linda Formichelli's writing has appeared in Woman's Day, Wired, Writer's Digest, Family Circle, Psychology Today. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or check out her Web site http://www.twowriters.net
This was first published in June 2002