Should a CRM Give Everyone Complete Visibility?

ECS Business Services has a competitive sales environment where reps are very protective about their leads and clients. If they deployed a company-wide CRM application it would reveal all that intimate information. Zoho worked with ECS Business Services to come up with a solution.

The business

ECS Business Services audits utility invoices, such as electric and garbage expenses, for large commercial properties. They make sense of complicated utility bills. They look at each line item to make sure their clients are not being overcharged, and if not, they look for ways to help them save money on an ongoing basis, explained Joel I. Kruger, Vice President of Business Development.

The challenge

“It was archaic…It was old school. There was no method to the madness,” admitted Kruger of ECS’ organization method for leads, prospects, and clients that existed all of just 12 months ago. Each person managed their own client case. And there was a big filing cabinet where much of the data was stored. Some was copied into an Excel spreadsheet. There was tons of overlapping information.

If a rep wanted to know if someone had spoken to an existing client or a potential client, they’d have to call into the office and hope somebody knew. It became very poor for client relations and attracting new clients because they’d have two different reps from ECS calling the same potential client. It looked horribly unprofessional, admitted Kruger.

Finding a CRM solution for their internally competitive environment

Given that a few people in the office had some knowledge of CRM, they knew they needed a CRM solution. It took them quite a while to come to a decision as they did trials with multiple CRM vendors and looked at quite a number of solutions such as Salesforce, ACT!, Goldmine, and anything that was web-based. They wanted their reps all across the U.S. to have access to the system, even on the go, so having a mobile solution was important as well.

What they didn’t like about the big companies is you really had to take it as is. There was very little easy customization they could do.

They had one request that wasn’t that unusual at all when you look at traditionally competitive sales environments. Each rep wants to keep their client base as much to themselves as possible. Meaning they don’t necessarily want other sales reps to see their clients, their notes, and relationships. But at the same time, they don’t want anyone accidentally stepping on their work by calling an existing client or prospect without knowing there had been previous contacts, explained Kruger.

ECS wanted a general search feature within the CRM where a rep could search a company, see if it belonged to anybody, and when was the last day of contact. It would reveal nothing else. That would signal to the other rep that it was either owned, or had been languishing. The inquiring rep could contact the other rep to ask the status. Kruger’s research revealed that none of the other CRM programs had that feature, including Zoho.

Zoho was eager to listen. They set up a conference call with ECS and asked what they wanted in the CRM application and why they wanted it. Even though Zoho didn’t have this feature, they were intent in creating the feature and making available for ECS and all their clients. This was just a few months ago and while the new feature is not 100 percent ready yet, Zoho has a variable that ECS is using now, explained Kruger.

“As a small company it’s all about the way you’re treated. You want to be treated just like the big guys are,” said Kruger about how well they were treated by Zoho. “Expectations were blown out of the water…They were really interested in us and our needs.”

We’re always talking about CRM offering complete transparency to all, but in a competitive sales environment, that’s not always desired. You want a certain level of visibility and non-visibility.

CRM became transformative to the business

We saw an instant change because everyone has visibility and you can collaborate on projects, said Kruger who discovered, thanks to the Zoho implementation, that one of his prospects was actually the best friend of one of his coworkers.

“If you’re in a small business, one, two, or three people, it doesn’t matter, you need to get some kind of program that will help you get organized, and remind you to call people when you need to call them and not lose out on a major opportunity,” said Kruger. “It is such a great organizational tool that will help your business grow.”

2 Replies to Should a CRM Give Everyone Complete Visibility?

  1. I think it should be pointed out that even when organizations do not believe that they want – or need – to limit access to “pools” of data to specific reps or jobs responsibilities – in other words – it is OK that everyone see EVERYTHING, there is a reasonable expectation that this may change in the future as the organization changes and grows.Being able to easily implement this capability at any time is an important and valuable benefit that should be on ALL CRM requirement checklists.You can envision the pain – and cost – involved in implementing a CRM system that does not support this ability either in a flexible enough way to support your firm’s needs or not at all only to find it becomes a “must have” 12 or 18 months after you implement.Time to start over! Not good.

  2. I think visibility should be maintained within an organisation. The fact you can see who has each client, allows people to not step on each others toes. But it also keeps each worker on their toes and stops them from languishing with their clients. It is also true with these larger firms to find a CRM that is white label.

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