CASE STUDY: The easy way to automate the sales force

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Founded in 1989, with its headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, Soft-ex produces communications management systems for voice, Internet and e-mail and VOIP.

Henry Woods, co-founder and CEO, has seen the company grow from three to 110 people employed around the world.

The challenge
Managing sales is a major challenge for the company, because of the dispersed locations and time differences associated with its global network of offices.

“In the past we were using a manual sales system with spreadsheets and customer and prospect databases. Information was sent by email and collated. It was unwieldy, to say the least, especially as we are growing with sales people across the globe.”

First reject
Soft-ex examined one sales force automation product, but rejected it, partly because it was not online.

Then the company heard about salesforce.com. As easy to use as a website, it provides all the power of enterprise class CRM software for a very reasonable cost per user per month. By offering the application as an Internet service, it eliminates the need to buy, install or maintain hardware, software or networks and can be implemented in hours at a significantly lower cost than traditional enterprise software.

“We put it through a rigorous evaluation, and it addressed all the issues we needed,” said Woods.

An easy decision
“At the end of the day it was an easy decision. Especially when you take into account the capital expenditure cost of the alternatives. As well as its capabilities, the cost per user with salesforce.com was an attractive consideration,” he added.

It was easy to get up and running; within Soft-ex, one employee was given overall responsibility for project managing installation of the system. “We are not a new company. We have been around for some time, so we had a lot of data to update and install.”

Growing by the day
The system now has almost 40 users of which about 25 are sales people. “We are adding to it every day,” added Woods.

Woods has been able to view the benefits first hand, as at the time of writing he was acting sales director. “I use it myself and am probably online a couple of hours a day. One of the main benefits of salesforce.com is that it allows me to keep right up-to-date on new prospects being added. From my base in Dublin I can keep track of what is happening in other countries.”

Transparently successful
The service has dramatically increased the transparency of the sales process which not only aids management information, but boosts customer service.

“If someone is away on holiday or out sick, we can see exactly the current status of their prospects, including last communications or email with them. If I am travelling, meeting customers, I can log on from anywhere in Europe or Central America to get an update on customer status.”

Salesforce.com is helping to increase sales productivity by helping to provide more accurate analysis of sales leads. He says the system also leads to more accurate sales forecasting. “We get a better feel for the order pipeline as each prospect has a probability rating which we are able to review with the sales person.”

Hot prospects
An added bonus from a management perspective is that the transparency of the system identifies which sales people are hot, adding prospects and generating sales.

No falling over
“We have also found the system to be very reliable,” concluded Woods. “It doesn’t fall over. Centralising the sales process has provided us with much greater focus and openness. We have no doubt that it is boosting productivity of our sales operation.”

The Soft-ex partnership programme includes blue chips such as Ericsson, Microsoft, Oracle, Dell, Nortel Networks, Siemens and Philips. Thirteen Telcos/PTTs distribute Soft-ex products, including Eircom (Ireland), Telenor (Norway), Telia (Sweden) and KPN (Netherlands).

The company has US headquarters in Boston with offices in New York, Dallas and San Diego, as well as, nine overseas locations including Dublin, Reading, Manchester, Paris, Dusseldorf, Oslo, Rotterdam, Kuala Lumpur and Honduras. Soft-ex products are installed in 50,000 companies worldwide, including Oracle, UPS, Regus, The United Nations, Proctor & Gamble.

Soft-ex

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