Ani: Before we begin, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Natalie: I’m a consulting partner from Germany with over 7 years of experience. I run my own firm with 13 employees, and I’m proud to be accredited as a Zoho Premium Partner.
Ani: Wow! Seven years! You must have a big picture view of the whole SaaS landscape in Germany. Can you tell us a bit about it?
Natalie: Yes, I can speak about my region — which is Bavaria — and Germany as a whole. This is a country that offers the best of both worlds. On one hand, there are the old guard, traditional companies who are looking towards building a future-ready business. On the other hand, there are these exciting start-ups springing up across the country and disrupting businesses.
The thing with technology is that it has the ability to bring change and be a bridge across these two different generations. The future for SaaS technology in Germany is very bright!
Ani: Bright, indeed! However, there must be something beyond the promise of a good market to get you into the business of SaaS consulting?
Natalie: Prior to setting up my own firm, I was a sales consultant for several German companies. This was a time when everything was being done manually on spreadsheets. Everything from sourcing to the management of leads was very difficult and ultimately brought down the productivity of the agents.
On encountering Zoho CRM and doing a deep-dive, I could clearly see that this was a much simpler and more effective solution that could be applied to all my clients. I immediately signed up to be a partner, and this has been my life’s work ever since.
Zoho products are very dynamic; they find their place across domains and industries. Over the years, we’ve been able to provide solutions for companies that operate in manufacturing, services, energy, and pharmaceuticals.
Ani: You mentioned the presence of traditional companies. Was it challenging to convince them to move to the cloud, and how did you overcome them?
Natalie: The major challenge was the clients’ concerns about data and security. However, this issue has been eased out ever since new Zoho data centers came up. Clients are also convinced when they see the apps working in harmony in real time. It’s a far cry from when they had to wait for a long time to get even a single record of data. Now, everything is instant!
Ani: Great! Please tell our readers about your most challenging assignment yet.
Natalie: So we were working for a large German corporation. It had about 300 subsidiaries, and each of them had their own newsletter and methods of communication. There was absolutely no control.
The solution we came up with, using Zoho Campaigns and Zoho Reports now helps the company to speak through all their subsidiaries in one voice. It was a lot of work, but the results were very rewarding.
Ani: We know that your firm means more to you than just work. You co-run your consultancy firm along with your husband. Can you tell us how that came about?
Natalie: Rene was still working when I started the firm and joined when the business started to materialize; he now handles the implementation of large deals. I must admit that it’s a rare work-life balance we’re able to have. It’s not just for us; this place is like family for all our employees. We are 13 of us spread across marketing, sales, operations and consulting.
Ani: That’s great! You’ve mentioned marketing. How do you get companies to notice your firm?
Natalie: We spend a lot of time on social media and in creating targeted newsletters. We also have a referral program and have invested in creating videos and learning resources in German. Conducting events and regular webinars also helps to get the word out.
Ani: It’s that time when we talk numbers. How has the year been in terms of growth?
Natalie: It’s been a very positive year. We’ve achieved last year’s revenue target in six months and, as far as projections for this year go, we’re on track. To be specific, we’ve achieved 83 percent YTD.
Ani: Thank you Natalie, now we finish with what we would like to call the final four.