Every week here at Sage CRM HQ, we take time out to review recent sales to customers. These are both new customers as well as additional seats to existing customers. In the latter category, we saw an additional order from a customer who has been using Sage CRM since 2010 - truly using Sage CRM as a foundational platform in their company. I thought it useful to talk to this customer's Sage partner & learn more about their approach. In particular, I wanted to learn more about long term customers and what CRM has meant to their own business - in this piece, I talk to Jon Luning, from Planet Earth Projects Incorporated, based in Danbury, Connecticut.
[David Beard, CRM Principal, Sage CRM]
Tell us more, Jon, about your story and that of PEP (as the company is more easily known!)
[Jon Luning, President, Planet Earth Projects]
Well, we go 'way back', starting as a reseller in the ’DOS' days with the precursor of Sage 300, Accpac. We focus on working within the manufacturing & distribution industries, with a value proposition of helping customers "move up the food chain" in terms of their use of strategic information technology. I have quite an entrepreneurial mindset & see software as a set of tools to solve business problems - for me, Sage CRM is all about helping our customers effectively move business flows & data around a business.
We were very early into the CRM as a platform concept & loved what we considered the rapid application product that was Accpac CRM. We became a reseller & developer partner, using the product to build on top of the accounts product. We saw it as adding process flow & data movement with all the out-of-the-box functional pieces. For us & our customers, the Sage CRM product was a great tool at a very reasonable investment point - something we still say to our customers today. It's a great value proposition for customers' business management needs.
Talk to me more about how your approach the CRM story with your customers
I know a lot of people say it but we focus completely on our clients & their business needs. And we figure we must be doing it right, as the vast majority of new business comes from referral. We have learnt that clients bragging about what great work we’ve done for them get the phone ringing!. Our approach is engage consistently & positively - no matter how small the interaction - so that customers trust us & know who to call, whatever their issue. When projects are taking place, we always make time to talk with the customer – both of their immediate & long-term ideas – to help them express the need, deliver against that need & then reflect upon it with them. That is the key to a long term relationship, especially as it applies to CRM installations that evolve over time.
What's the big 'lightbulb moment' for the majority of your customers?
That it stops things falling through the cracks. As soon we talk with customers from this angle, they (& we) see a 1000 different things in their business – all the moving parts across their processes & departments. Using the flexibility of the Sage CRM product – dashboards, workflow, etc., we can do so many things for every customer, absolutely guaranteed. Sage CRM helps us fix these cracks – wherever they exist in a company. Sometimes we may not even utter the term "CRM" to a client if it’s not relevant - instead, we just solve their problem with the core product. One example example is using the out-of-the-box case management capabilities to manage warehouse logistics queries - it works really welll for many of our customers.
What about Sage CRM integrating to financial information - does that make sense to all the customers you look after?
We integrate CRM information with financial data DEPENDING on what the company does. Typically we do when there is a very sales focused culture within a company & their metrics span a need for accounting information to give '360 degree view'. On the other hand, a company that is in (say) manufacturing with a limited set of stakeholders who are interested in financials, it’s less of a motivation & we leave the systems separated. It's been fascinating to watch over the years that, once you start implementing CRM in one department, they ‘brag about it’ to other departments, colleagues, peers, friends, etc. We always find the number of CRM license seats FAR outnumber the typical sales, marketing & service LET ALONE the financial users.
Next time - about PEP - what has working with Sage CRM meant to the PEP business