Salesforce Powers Energy Intelligence Sales
Increasing your business’s sales volume requires intelligence–and not just putting sharp salespeople on the ground. Businesses must also collect and analyze all essential sales-related data, then deliver actionable information to everyone from front-line sales teams to senior management and the board of directors.
The need for a better view of all sales-related information recently drove Energy Intelligence, which provides independent research, analysis, and market data to the global energy industry, to adopt Salesforce.com. The firm is no stranger to collecting actionable information–it provides energy sector news and intelligence to a wide variety of businesses, governments, gas and oil producers, as well as general industry watchers, via newsletters, research, and a variety of other informational products.
In pursuit of higher revenues, however, the company needed to bring that sort of analytical rigor to its own sales program, which involves salespeople and customers located everywhere from Moscow, Dubai, and India, to Houston, Singapore and China. To learn more about how Energy Intelligence pursued that goal, Innoveer’s Colin Robinson spoke with Robert Clayton, chief technology officer at Energy Intelligence.
Energy Intelligence: Q&A
Robinson: What business issues led you to implement Salesforce.com?
Clayton: Really, a lack of transparency. Sales reporting, for example, only came out monthly–and the board wanted reports in days, not weeks. Also it allows us to be more efficient in how we can manage our global sales force, demonstrates to the board how we’re progressing, and generally just brings us kicking and screaming into the 21st century.
Do you now manage your sales opportunities and pipeline in Salesforce?
We do. Every opportunity or client contact via the website gets logged directly into Salesforce as a lead, opportunity, or some other category. It’s a one-stop shop.
In terms of CRM applications, what all did you evaluate?
We looked at SugarCRM and Microsoft Dynamics, but Salesforce seemed to give us the best bang for our buck, not least because it was cloud-based. Also, having spoken to many existing customers of Salesforce, the sheer positivity was quite overwhelming–just in terms of the software doing what it said on the tin: It’s easy to deploy and easy to customize.
How did you begin working with Innoveer?
One of the problems we had was trying to integrate one of our existing subscriber databases with Salesforce. We [asked] Salesforce: “Have you got anyone you can recommend to us, a third party, who can integrate Salesforce with our existing, legacy, proprietary database solution?” And they said no problem at all, Innoveer are the guys–and we went from there.
What were you looking for, in an implementation partner, at that stage?
Someone in a U.K. time zone, as the previous implementers weren’t, and that gave me a bit of a nightmare. Also, really, people who were open, communicative, and able to clearly articulate what the scale of the work was, and whether it could be broken down into phases. Also to provide understanding and clever analysis at our project, and then provide solutions, both process-wise and technically.
Can you detail why integrating your subscriber with Salesforce.com was challenging?
Quickfill is our main subscriber database, and it contains 98% of all of our subscriber information. It’s our single point of truth, telling us who’s subscribed and who’s paid for which products. But it’s also a proprietary database–a closed system–and not easily programmable. Over time, we’ve made several lunges to our data to make it do what it was designed to do, meaning from that respect, it’s quite complex. Quickfill also has the challenge that records are stored in terms of a ship-to and billing address, as opposed to an account.
Getting someone in who could understand that, and then create the mapping that enables Salesforce to work, including account-based information and role-based information, was very important to us. We had to get that piece right, even though Quickfill wouldn’t talk directly to Salesforce.
The solution, for Energy Intelligence, involved setting up a batch operation?
Yes, it’s on a batch basis simply because it makes more sense that way. It’s data that we can close out of at the end of the day, then export overnight. It could have been done in real time, but that would have been of little value.
What new capabilities has Salesforce.com given Energy Intelligence?
The sales team now has great visibility into all of the activity on their accounts, across the globe. Now, they know exactly which orders have come in, within 24 hours. So they can see an update on their records, as well as see if anything has been closed while they’ve been away on holiday, or if someone has up-sold something on one of their accounts.
That’s made an enormous difference, especially because it now keeps sales team in sync with our fulfillment and account management teams. To enable that, however, we’ve also used change management processes, backed by training, as well as introduced a sales manual and specific, new business processes, along with Salesforce.
As an IT person, what do you see as the pros and cons of using Salesforce, given that it runs in the cloud?
Well, I didn’t have to run a supporting infrastructure, or wait for the infrastructure team to get everything up and running. It was just a click to turn it on. Obviously, the ongoing costs are higher–rather than the upfront capital costs–but that’s to be expected. So really, it’s been a positive experience, because we’ve been able to just get things up and running.
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