When Darrell Lea deployed a new customer relationship management (CRM) system for its licensees division this year, two of the division’s 18 sales staff left the company.
But that was a price that the division’s national business manager Lane Russell was willing to pay to begin tracking staff performance and do away with faxed invoices.
Russell’s licensing division began implementing Salesforce.com’s CRM system early this year, after executives decided that it wanted to be “an innovative company”.
Prior to deployment, the business stored licensed outlets’ contact details in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and had no way of tracking salespeople’s activities or performance.
“Up unto a few months ago, our entire accounts receivable contact management was done on an Excel spreadsheet,” Russell recalled.
“Every time they updated a contact, they would actually overwrite what was already on the sheet.
“I had no idea where my sales reps were. They were basically running their own show; there were no call cycles in place.”
Darrell Lea went live with a Salesforce.com CRM on 1 July, after a six-month implementation program with integrator Weblinc. The project cost $44,000.
Russell pushed ahead with deployment despite some resistance from some sales staff and the division’s “old school” IT manager, who called for an on-premise system.
“There was a period of time where we basically said, 'This is what we’re doing',” he said, noting that without metrics, some staff were making sales calls without asking to take orders.
“We were prepared to lose a portion of our sales team over the implementation.”
The new CRM was used heavily by two accounts receivable staff and to a lesser extent by 23 others in Darrell Lea’s licensees division.
Staff spent the past two months populating the company’s database of customer information, including birthdays and preferences – an administrative as well as relationship-building exercise.
The next step, Russell said, was to train sales staff to use the software. He also planned to use performance metrics to inject some competition into the business with “walls of shame”.
A ‘door wedge’ for IT
The CRM included order entry and credit management functionality and used information from Darrell Lea’s QAD MFG/Pro enterprise resource planning software.
Early next year, the licensees division plans to roll out a “customer portal program” that would allow licensed outlets – typically newsagencies, gift shops and pharmacies – to place orders and receive invoices online.
“You’re talking about a business – that six months ago, communicated with customers on paper – going completely online with our customers,” Russell said.
“This is the door wedge for us ... Being a family business, it can be small steps to move the business in leaps and bounds.
“We’re actually a long way behind the pack; we’re looking forward to being a bit more [technologically advanced].”
Russell said Darrell Lea’s three other divisions – retail, manufacturing and export – were initially “fairly standoffish” about the project but grew interested when his division’s CRM went live.
He hoped the project would lead to a larger IT refresh that would break down cross-division information silos and deliver new technology to up to 100 of Darrell Lea’s 1000 employees.