UTEC Survey: Uniting a Global Sales Team with Increased Individual Accountability Using CRM Software
by Paul Rudo on 07/08/12 at 4:41 pm
Houston, Texas-based UTEC Survey, Inc., specializes in the provision of offshore surveying services. They provide their clients, both oil & gas and offshore engineering companies, with detailed information on sea floor and subsurface conditions to ensure project success in any offshore venture. With a focus on the energy industry, the 230-employee company is truly global, operating in all major energy-producing regions of the world. These bases are located in the UK, UAE, Italy, Australia, Brazil and Singapore with the management headquarters in Houston, Texas.
While many companies’ sales cycles involve high volume, relatively low dollar amount deals – perhaps 10,000 sales annually at $500 per sale – the nature of UTEC’s services results in sales cycles that involve a lower volume of deals, but at a very high value. For example, while UTEC may undertake 200 projects annually, each project has a dollar sales range from $100,000 to $6 million. Due to the large dollar amounts involved, UTEC’s sales cycles are often lengthy (as long as three years!), complicated processes that occupy staff from multiple offices across the group.
As UTEC has grown and expanded, the challenges resulting from their complex sales cycles were compounded by the fact that their workforce was growing increasingly global. To close numerous deals, multiple sales team members in differing time zones often need to collaborate.
“We struggled as we grew to consolidate a central repository for sales status updates,” said Christina Thrift, UTEC’s marketing manager. “You can’t just call up a team member in Singapore to get a quick update in the middle of your work day because it’s the middle of the night for them.”
Therefore, team members often had to send their customer notes via email and then wait an entire day to get the updates they needed. This slowed the sales process with potential clients.
“The team as a whole needed to know the sales stage for each opportunity. Without that, it was difficult to plan which resources we could realistically allocate and which ones we couldn’t. Each separate office knew what resource was being allocated to which bid, but globally we needed to know what and who was working on which bid,” she said. “We lacked a cohesive way to get everyone was on the same page in their methods of reporting information. The prospect communication needed to be broad and include multiple groups across the company. We needed one common place available to all team members where they could readily and easily find the information they needed, and then load additional information for others to review.”
The company also lacked a tool to track and report the progress of individual prospects, which meant UTEC could not effectively evaluate how likely individual sales were to close.
“For us, losing even a single sale means the potential loss of significant revenue,” said Trevor Hughes, Director of Global Sales and Marketing. “We realized if we could get detailed, real-time updates on what was happening with each of our potential clients, we could adapt and refocus our solution to meet the ever-changing demands placed on us by our clients. It would also enable us to review lost sales to determine if we could have handled things differently.”
UTEC executives realized the company needed some form of customer relationship management (CRM) tool, to serve as a company-wide collection point for prospect status updates. It had to be capable of delivering detailed reports on the progress of individual deals, as well as the UTEC internal sales pipeline as a whole.
Hughes and Thrift, along with several other executives and IT staff, co-led a small committee with the goal of determining which CRM software would best meet UTEC’s needs. Committee members from around the globe brought their preferred CRM software to the table, along with research on its respective strengths and weaknesses, including cost effectiveness. Some of the CRM solutions the company considered were from Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics and Focal Point, as well as Avidian’s Prophet.
“Prophet was on the table because it solved the majority of the initial problems. UTEC has Microsoft ‘Outlook’ across all offices; therefore its GUI was consistent with what our staff used on a daily basis.” Thrift said. “As a previous user of different CRM software, I found that the ability to customize Prophet ideally suited our sales philosophy and proved to be the easiest to implement among the competing software — not only that, now that Prophet is available as a cloud-based service, the ongoing IT maintenance costs are minimal.”
UTEC actually purchased a version of Prophet two years previously, but other business priorities took precedence at the time and the whole CRM implementation was put on hold.
“When we started looking at implementing a CRM solution again, Prophet made sense from both a suitability and cost-effectiveness standpoint,” Thrift said. “Essentially, Prophet fitted the bill for us when we compared it to the other CRM solutions we considered.”
The company chose to implement Prophet Ultimate OnDemand edition. This gave them the ability to leverage Prophet across their entire organization, when needed – even beyond its sales team – while keeping their sales-critical customer information stored in Avidian’s secure, private cloud.
UTEC also elected to simultaneously implement Prophet Mobile Web, Avidian’s mobile CRM tool that allows users to access their contacts and opportunity information from virtually any mobile phone, tablet or web browser.
“The fact that all of our customer information is stored in the cloud means that mobile access to it won’t be affected by a server outage on our end,” Thrift said. “It also means we don’t have a dedicated CRM server to maintain in the first place. At the same time, we’re still able to gain access to all our information right inside each team members’ Microsoft Outlook desktop.”
“Our team is mobile, so we needed the ability to access the CRM anytime, anywhere, from any device,” Hughes said. “Prophet Mobile Web is a huge benefit for us. It was a critical element in the decision to adopt Prophet as our CRM solution.”
Before rolling out the latest version of Prophet across the company, UTEC worked with Avidian to customize the software to meet several of UTEC’s specific needs, including developing custom reports for external investors, as well as integrating UTEC’s quota management process. Avidian also helped customize several of Prophet’s windows to align with UTEC’s specific sales philosophy.
“Avidian’s customer service was invaluable,” Thrift said. “There were a couple of instances where I interacted with the Avidian executives to share some small issues we had with the actual implementation and I could tell they were concerned about me and my experience. ”
Once the customization was complete, UTEC began training employees on the new tool’s features and capabilities. They then gave employees two weeks to prepare for the transition all of their sales contacts into Prophet.
“After that, we started using the ‘Client’s Notes’ feature, which was adapted by Avidian to allow the running of weekly sales activity reports within Prophet,” Thrift said. “The CRM quickly provided a daily view of global sales activity to the sales team and is a powerful weapon in closing more deals.”
UTEC did encounter slight resistance among a few members of its sales staff using the new tool. In the initial implementation of Prophet, duplicate reporting activities had to take place, but Prophet’s integration with Outlook made user adoption less of a challenge than UTEC otherwise might have encountered.
“People don’t like change, so there is always a user adoption threshold that has to be crossed,” Thrift said. “Once the sales force realized their client interaction input was available to the whole team immediately after a meeting or call — rather than the past process of formulized weekly sales reports — they began to adapt enthusiastically. “
UTEC has been fully leveraging Prophet since May of 2012. In addition to team members now having 24/7 access to all the latest client status information literally at their fingertips via the mobile app., individual team member accountability has increased.
Thrift commented, “Now that everyone is on the same page and can see what everyone else is doing, it’s hard for people to make excuses to both themselves and management for why a potential deal isn’t developing as it should. At the end of the day, it helps our team members stay closer to their allocated clients and close more sales; that’s better for them, our company and our clients.”
“With UTEC’s low-volume, high-value business model, it can sometimes be hard for the sales team to see the progress they are indeed making, because things move slower, (up to three years to close a lead),” Hughes said. “Prophet’s ability to track each sales step paints a vivid picture of just how much progress individual team members are making. At the same time, they can now more easily determine any potential sticking points and use the power of the sales team’s global experience to determine a new strategy, or adapt a new solution, to meet the end client’s requirements.”
About UTEC Survey
UTEC Survey is one of the world’s largest independent offshore survey companies and provides a wide range of survey services including dimensional control, laser scanning and modeling, offshore positioning, construction support, AUV, geophysical and geotechnical surveys. UTEC Survey is now established across the world’s frontier and mature hydrocarbon regions, providing clients with a seamless and consistent high standard of service globally. For more information, visit www.utecsurvey.com.
About Avidian Technologies
Avidian Technologies is a high-tech company that creates both cloud-based and on-premise customer relationship management (CRM) software solutions for users of Microsoft Outlook, Exchange and mobile devices. Avidian’s flagship product, Prophet CRM, is the leading customer relationship management software built inside Outlook. Avidian’s believes in creating easy CRM solutions that work the way people work, and will therefore actually use. Building Prophet inside Outlook helps Avidian’s clients overcome the hurdle of adoption and get more success with their CRM application. The company is headquartered in Redmond, Washington and does business on all 6 continents. For more information, please visit www.avidian.com.
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