Why Bluewolf's CEO spent the day on a road with a Sysco food salesman
Businesses have been using CRM systems to collect data about customers for years. How often does that make life any easier for their customers -- let alone the employees who deal with them?
The typical IT department isn't building apps with either of those principles in mind, according to Eric Berridge, CEO of CRM supplier Bluewolf. But they're going to have to learn.
"In the business to business world, apps still look like a green screen. But customers don't care about your internal siloes; they care about the experience," he points out. And improving the customer experience might be the single best way to improve your business' profits.
"Organizations are starting to realize that to grow they have to improve engagement with clients because it costs three times more to acquire a new customer than to retain one. Gallup says only 20% of customers are engaged with brands. If you can double that number, as a provider of a service or a product, you can double revenue. Because when customers are engaged they don't care what they're paying. They buy twice as much, they buy more frequently and they spend more. When they're having a bad experience? That's when they look at the costs and try to get you out of their lives."
Take the example of giant food suppliers Sysco. They came to Bluewolf wanting to develop a Salesforce-based CRM system for their 8,000 salespeople who call on delis and restaurants and hotels every day. They'd already tried a pilot that hadn't done very well.
Berridge suspected that was because the people who built it didn't really know what the people out on the road actually needed. So he spent the day with a New York City sales rep.
"He spent the whole day on the go. He was in a taxi, on the subway, stuck in traffic, stuck in the rain, waiting at the lights, back in the rain… there was a lot of walking!"
None of those locations were a good place to track the details of his visits, and being in such a hurry meant any app would need a simple interface.
The customers he visited were just as busy. "They all have five minutes, maximum, to deal with him; they're running a business, they have to deal with cash registers and waiters and deliveries. The notion of this guy using a CRM system in front of the client in the five minutes they have for him is a complete disconnect from how his job works." The salesman Berridge shadowed told him he was part of the pilot system. "He didn't turn it on once."
The time of day that Sysco salespeople really care about is 4.30 a.m. That's the cutoff for getting orders in for the day; if they don't get an order into the system, the customers don't get the food they've ordered and the sales rep doesn't get the samples he needs to take back to the businesses that said they might be interested. And that's what the salesman asked Berridge for help with. "He told me, 'If I see fifteen customers, I have at least fifteen followups where they want to try something new. That's a lead. But on average I probably forget one or two of them a day. I'm trying to write them down but I don’t have time and when I get home, I forget. And if I forget to bring a sample to a client, he's not going to buy from me.'"
That was the opportunity for Sysco to make their CRM system useful, Berridge realised. The missed opportunities across the entire sales organization turned out to be a potential revenue uplift of some $400 million from existing customers it didn't have to pay extra to acquire. All they had to do was understand what a CRM could actually be useful for - capturing those leads.
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