Karl Storz Endoscopy is getting a clear picture of Maximizer CRM's effectiveness from the rocketing sales of the software's users.
Karl Storz Endoscopy has stark proof of the effectiveness of customer relationship management (CRM) software.
Given the business the company is in – manufacturing and supplying precision instruments for peering into hidden cavities – it's entirely appropriate that it can show a clear link between CRM use and sales performance.
Matthew Richards, IT manager at the Sydney-based subsidiary of the German surgical instrument maker, says the biggest users of the company's Maximizer
CRM system also happens to be its most successful sales reps.
"It just goes to show, if you enter the data in a timely way, you get the results," said Richards, who adds that the company is taking a gradual approach to getting its 40 sales staff used to the system.
With as many as 7000 customers ranging from hospitals to vet clinics and aircraft and ship repairers, and about 50,000 product lines, the company has good cause to be using a CRM system.
Richards says Karl Storz had made two earlier marketing-driven attempts at implementing contact management systems, but both had flopped. When the task fell to him, he took a very deliberate approach to finding and phasing in a suitable CRM system.
"I scoped the project, wrote a project plan, kept everyone involved and made sure everything was done right. And it is working very well."
Key features sought from the system were synchronisation with Microsoft Outlook, and the ability to show the hospital or clinic where an individual doctor who uses Karl Storz products is working on any given day. That's a significant feature since institutions often make buying decisions based on clinicians' recommendations.
"When we're running a product demonstration or trial it's doctors we want to attend because they will report to the hospital board which products they want."
Head office in Germany had ruled out adoption of any cloud-based system, which reduced the field of possible suppliers. In the end, Maximizer CRM, from Canada-based Maximizer Software, won out.
The system was implemented in early 2011, with the help of Applied Marketing Technologies (AMT), an Australian Maximizer reseller since 1996. AMT's technical director, Phil Haddock, says Karl Storz wanted a tool for tying its scattered sales team – located in offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Queensland – together.
"One of the big benefits being sought was cross-selling across different product groups," Haddock said.
"The company has different product groups dealing with the same client."
Karl Storz, a family firm set up in Tuttlingen in southwest Germany in 1945, makes everything from instruments for the most delicate human and animal surgery to endoscopes and videoscopes for examining the inner workings of complex machinery.
Expanding the range of products sold to an existing customer is easier than finding a new buyer, Haddock says, and a CRM system can uncover those opportunities.
However, Richards says the company is yet to fully tap that potential as it takes an unhurried approach to getting sales reps to adopt Maximizer CRM.
"We've brought it in slowly and haven't pressured them too much. We're training them that way."
To some extent, it's a case of having to teach old dogs new tricks. Richards says the reps who are most familiar with computers are proving quicker to adapt to the system, and the youngest of those are quicker again.
There's some reluctance to use the system because it exposes reps' work habits to management, but Richards says that's precisely the point.
"Our top nine Maximizer users are our top nine sales people. But three of them were well down the rankings before we implemented the system, so they've picked up their game."
The star user, who is the most diligent at inputting information into the system, is young and has solid computer skills.
"He's sensational — in the first half of the year his sales were 195 per cent of budget. He's not missing out on anything — contacts, leads or sales."
Increased sales are one incentive for persuading reps to make the CRM central to how they work. Another is its potential for cutting down on their administrative workload.
"In the New South Wales office, monthly reports used to take three days, but now, through Maximizer, they're done in two minutes."
When Richards demonstrated the system's report generation capabilities to a group of the company's less eager users, they were amazed at the results.
"Then I told them they had to enter the data first for it to be able to do it."
As customer service details are entered into the system, that is arming the reps with information helpful to the sales process. If they're alerted to a problem a customer has had, that can be a pretext for making contact.
Equally, it means they won't be taken by surprise if the customer gives them an earful when they make a sales call.
From the company management's point of view, says Richards, the CRM's opportunities module is a winner.
"They love seeing what's in the pipeline. It tells them where the opportunities are, how they're progressing and, if we lose the business, the competitor that got it.
"Now we've got this database, we know a lot more about what's going on in the business. It will be a lot better yet when we've got the sales staff entering more information."