Wastewater energy company achieves digital transformation and a boost in sales by leveraging Zoho CRM

"Optimizing Zoho CRM has gained SHARC competitive advantage. It's part of the secret sauce behind our innovation. I strongly recommend it as an entrepreneurial startup platform and I firmly believe in that value."

Mike TanyiDirector of IT and Marketing, SHARC Energy

The company

When it comes to the different kinds of renewable energy, the examples that most commonly come to mind are solar, wind, and geothermal energy. Since 2010, SHARC Energy has been on a mission to add wastewater energy to that list and bring awareness to it. SHARC aims to see a more sustainable world with reduced CO2 emissions, energy costs, and freshwater consumption. To achieve this, SHARC manufactures and supplies thermal energy recovery systems that utilize wastewater for sustainably heating and cooling buildings and even city districts, recovering wasted heat from sewer water as a clean energy alternative.

Based in Canada, the company has international client installations and a strong sales distribution network throughout North America.

The challenge

Initially, SHARC relied completely on MS Excel and Outlook, but soon faced the need for a CRM system that could help its sales and marketing operations shift and scale.

Mike Tanyi, Director of Marketing and IT at SHARC, recognized the need for a long-term solution with the ability to communicate with other tools easily. In his experience, a challenge businesses often encounter is "islands of data," which costs the business time and opportunities with its inefficiency.

Islands of data are essentially the phenomenon an organization faces when it deploys multiple software systems with no concrete way of connecting them all; the company's personnel then become the human glue that needs to hold the information together.

The solution

Having worked with Zoho's solutions previously, Tanyi advocated for the implementation of Zoho CRM internally and was confident that "islands of data" would not be a concern for SHARC Energy.

The company's goals were straightforward: digital transformation and high adoption.

To achieve this, SHARC brought into the picture Spikra, a Zoho Advanced Partner. Tanyi calls Spikra a "technical lighthouse" that has guided the company in implementing Zoho CRM and developing unique use cases.

"Among all the partners we considered, Spikra stood out as particularly voracious. Their style of engagement is what set them apart. Radha (Founder and CEO of Spikra) turns every request into a productive dialogue. She would come back with thoughts on our business—not just on a particular task, but showing an understanding of the greater whole of what we're trying to accomplish. That's the most important part—having a partner with whom you can have a conversation.   

Spikra has really been shoulder to shoulder with us on the front lines. I can't emphasize enough how important it is to have a good partner like Spikra."

Mike TanyiDirector of Marketing & IT, SHARC Energy

A consolidated system to capture leads from multiple sources

Naturally, SHARC Energy's sales process begins with lead generation. Because the company's website is a key source of leads, it features a contact form—created using Zoho Forms—that leads can use to provide necessary information and state their reason for reaching out—such as for product information, investor relations, partnerships, or other possibilities. Thanks to the integration between Zoho CRM and Zoho Forms, these form entries are pushed to the Leads module in CRM automatically. SHARC has also configured a workflow rule that automatically adds investors to a special mailing list after they reach out via the contact form, as well as one that sends notifications internally when certain fields are selected in the form.

Similarly, the integration between Zoho CRM and Zoho SalesIQ enables SHARC to import lead data from the website's chat box into CRM and track their visiting history. Other lead generation sources include the company's webinars, distributors, campaigns, and cold calls—for which the team opts to enter the data into CRM manually.

SHARC also directly receives phone calls from leads. To track them, SHARC and Spikra went above and beyond: When a lead leaves a voicemail, SHARC's telephony system downloads the message as an audio file and emails it to Zoho Desk. By connecting Zoho Desk with Zoho CRM, these leads are automatically assigned to lead owners on the sales team based on the lead's source and in accordance with SHARC's assignment rules.

Organized pipeline management for effective sales

SHARC's sales team uses the sales pipeline feature to nurture leads, qualify them, and eventually close deals. Each stage is defined by certain criteria—like the type of device the lead is interested in and the industry to which the lead belongs—which determine how and when leads move to the next stage. SHARC has implemented pipeline stages in the Leads and Deals modules, along with multiple workflow rules that automate and accelerate the sales process.

The sales team also utilizes the Microsoft Outlook plugin for Zoho CRM to synchronize contacts in CRM and to associate emails with leads, deals, and contacts.

Rapidly improving process management with Blueprint

Elisa Kimus, Operations Integration Manager at SHARC Energy, works on the day-to-day optimization and implementation of the CRM system. Kimus utilizes the Blueprint feature to add requirements that streamline the process. For example, raw leads go through the successive stages of marketing qualification, sales qualification, and finally technical qualification—where the team goes to the lead's physical site to assess the feasibility of installing the equipment. In order to convert the lead into a deal, the technical team has to fill out and attach a form—created with Zoho Forms—detailing all the intricacies of the project, which enables the sales team to suggest which equipment would be best-suited for the customer's needs.

"Blueprint is the big architecture behind our lead statuses and deals stages."  

Elisa KimusOperations Integration Manager, SHARC Energy

Kimus has also implemented a Blueprint for the Deals module. Deals are often assigned to distributors mapped in the Accounts module. The deal first goes through the designing stage until it's finalized; once it's finalized, the deal becomes closed won and the distributor handles the estimate. The team utilizes a customized template in the Quotes module to send quotes to the customer directly from CRM. The integration with Zoho Sign enables SHARC to obtain digital signatures from customers as needed. Last comes the shipping, and then the commissioning of the final stage.

Turning data into valuable insights

The team has created customized reports in Zoho CRM to track lead and deal statuses. For example, the Distributor Deals Report gives the team a quick glance at a ranked list of all the distributors according to how many deals each distributor owns, which stage each deal is in, the initial quote, the name of each deal, and more.

For an in-depth analysis of the data available in CRM, SHARC relies on its integration with Zoho Analytics. With customized dashboards, SHARC has a clear understanding of its sales and project pipeline. Some dashboards include weekly and monthly metrics, such as the number of opportunities created, how many and which opportunities changed stage, the number of deals created in terms of dollar amount, and the value of the deals added.

In his role, Tanyi leverages the Campaigns module in Zoho CRM to diligently track every marketing campaign that's executed. The module tracks details like the target audience, objectives, duration, budget, and more for each campaign—which is crucial for Tanyi, as he plans and analyzes the company's yearly marketing budget based purely on this. Reports that outline marketing spend are easily generated and shared—entirely from Zoho CRM. Thanks to the integration with Zoho Analytics, Tanyi can leverage this module to create reports and dashboards so he can show the leadership team the amount spent on each campaign, the number of leads each campaign brought in, their conversion rates, and the overall revenue on a quarterly or annual basis.

"The reports and dashboards have had a huge impact for us as they provide clarity in a way that SHARC has never seen before. The dashboards are designed in such a way that it gives intelligence to the C-suite. The business can make better, more informed decisions like never before."

Mike TanyiDirector of Marketing & IT, SHARC Energy

Out of the box requirements made feasible

By integrating Zoho Analytics and Zoho CRM, SHARC Energy has built an interactive customer map on its website that offers website visitors an overview of some of SHARC's customers.

SHARC utilizes Zoho Flow to orchestrate various internal processes. For example, job seekers may use the contact form on SHARC's website to inquire about recent job openings. Because all the submissions of this form are pushed into CRM directly, the system automatically analyzes the submitted information. If the "interests" field contains the term "career," a new record is created for the job seeker in Zoho Recruit, and the Leads module in CRM is updated accordingly.

When a record created in the Deals module is won, it triggers a webhook that fetches the record's details and checks whether a project has already been created for it in Zoho Projects. If the project reference is null, a new project is automatically created with the information available in CRM. Simultaneously, an email is also automatically sent to the technical team notifying them about the new project.

Because the sales team is not involved directly in the shipping or implementation of the equipment, any updates made in Zoho Projects regarding the project are mapped out in Zoho CRM as well, as a result of the integration with Zoho Flow.

"We have a lot of audited lines that go back to Zoho CRM. It is certainly the source of truth for us." 

Mike TanyiDirector of Marketing & IT, SHARC Energy


Since deploying Zoho CRM, SHARC Energy has seen a steady increase in the system's adoption rate over time and a noticeable increase in sales leads and efficiency.

"Optimizing Zoho CRM has gained SHARC competitive advantage. It's part of the secret sauce behind our innovation. I strongly recommend it as an entrepreneurial startup platform and I firmly believe in that value." 

Mike TanyiDirector of IT and Marketing, SHARC Energy
  • Industry typeEnergy
  • EmployeesBelow 50
  • Type of businessPublic

Looking forward

Upon noting the boost in sales since the deployment of Zoho CRM, SHARC recognizes and appreciates the value it brings to the company. The company plans on further exploring more products in the Zoho One suite. Additionally, SHARC is already working on implementing Zoho IoT with Spikra to develop applications that suit its unique requirements.

SHARC's journey with Zoho doesn't end here; this is only the beginning.

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