Speck Design Empowers Its Sales Force by Implementing CRM Software


Case Study

Avidian Technologies’ Prophet CRM helped the company achieve 42 percent annual revenue growth in 2010

Speck Design is a product design and development firm. It is focused on providing full turn-key service to its clients beginning with the product design phase all the way through to the manufacturing process. Specializing in consumer, medical, telecommunication and industrial products, Speck has designed everything from toys and furniture to complex, high-tech gadgets such as wireless cameras, robotic systems and teleconferencing environments.  Founded in 1996, Speck has 35 employees based in its Palo Alto, Calif. corporate office and an additional 20 employees at its Shanghai, China facility.

Challenges

For Speck, the sales process is not a simple progression. With a wide variety of clientele, ranging from small two person start-up companies to 20,000 employee Fortune 50 enterprises, its sales cycles can sometimes take upwards of three to six months. They also often involve multiple high-level decision makers within each potential client organization. Speck’s management realized the challenges created by its complex sales cycles were being compounded by the fact that the sales team had no formal means of tracking its progress with individual prospects.

“Our primary problem was that we lacked a systematic method for our salespeople to make sure they had identified all the pertinent decision makers, tracked down their chief concerns and noted which had been addressed,” said Peter Mills, Speck’s vice president of business development. “We frequently had verbal discussions about who these individuals were and what needed to be done to get them on board with us, but none of this was getting recorded and some important information seemed to fall through the cracks.”

This lack of visibility into each team member’s sales pipelines also resulted in an inability for them to honestly assess where they were with each potential client and determine an appropriate course of action.

“Without a tool to organize our sales process, there was no way for a salesperson to really assess where they were with each potential client and decide where they needed to spend a little extra time to fill in any holes,” Mills added. “We really weren’t empowering our sales team to manage their own pipelines in the way we wanted them to.”

It became clear to Mills that the solution to the challenges Speck’s sales force faced was customer relationship management (CRM) software.

Solution

Once the need for a CRM solution was fully realized, Mills narrowed his top choices down to three: Salsforce.com, Landslide and Avidian Technologies.

“The first and foremost thing I was looking for was a tool designed for the sales person, not for management,” Mills said. “I didn’t want to burden them with something they had to use for my benefit; I wanted something they would want to use because it could help them work more effectively with clients.”

With this viewpoint, he took his top three picks to the sales team and asked them which they would embrace, which they would hate and why. The response he got back was that they did not want to have to learn something new, and that Avidian’s Prophet was hands down above the others because it is built inside Microsoft Outlook. Since the sales team was already using Outlook for everything from emails to tasks to calendaring, Prophet would simply add CRM functionality to an application they were already using every day.

What put Mills over the top for Prophet, though, was the fact that in addition to a cloud-based offering, such as those from Salesforce.com and Landslide, Avidian’s Prophet was also available in an on-premise, server-based edition.

“Call me old fashioned, but I still think software installed locally on our own servers is faster,” Mills said. “And I didn’t want my sales people burdened with having to sit around waiting for a page to load. I just didn’t want to do that to them and they wouldn’t tolerate it anyways.”

Implementation

Before Mills was ready to roll out Prophet to his sales team, he took the time to customize Prophet’s Opportunity Manager feature with nearly 20 custom fields.

“To solve our core problem of tracking our complex sales cycles that sometimes involves many gatekeepers, I customized Prophet for the sales people to document who the key stakeholders were and what their perception of Speck was,” Mills added.

Once he had developed these custom fields, he deployed the solution to his sales team, which at the time consisted of three users, but now has five. Mills allowed the team to grow accustomed to using Prophet in its basic configuration for about three months. Then, over the course of an additional three weeks, he implemented additional features and the customized fields and tabs.

“The best part of Prophet is that I have a tool that my sales team uses without having to be badgered,” Mills said. “In a past life, it was like pulling teeth to get people to keep an updated record of their sales pipeline. Now that they can do it from Outlook; it’s easy.”

Speck implemented Prophet in October 2009 and saw its best year ever in 2010, growing revenues 42 percent over the previous year.

“Though I can’t say all of our success last year was directly attributable to implementing Prophet, I believe it was a crucial aspect of the overall improvements we made to achieve those results,” Mills concluded. “In 2011, we’re looking into upgrading to Avidian’s Prophet Ultimate and adding two additional users.”

About Speck Design
Speck Design is a product development firm. It partners with the world’s leading companies and most promising start-ups to bring forward thinking products to market and memorable experiences to people. Its engineers and industrial designers are passionate about problem solving and its clients rely on them with their toughest decision challenges. Its clients benefit from 15 years of project history and the expertise it brings to every project in networking, medical, complex B2B and B2C products and beyond. For more information, please visit www.speckdesign.com.

About Avidian Technologies
Avidian Technologies is a software company specializing in creating both cloud-based and on-premise software solutions for users of Outlook and Exchange. Prophet, developed by Avidian Technologies on the .NET platform, is the leading contact management and CRM software built inside Microsoft Outlook. The company is headquartered in Redmond, Washington. For more information, please visit www.avidian.com.

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