Badger Meter Details Salesforce Implementation Success Tips


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Badger Meter’s secrets for CRM success shouldn’t come as a shock: Sell the project internally, close the gap between functionality and business requirements, and own the project from inception, to user adoption and achieving targeted business results.

What’s the best way to sell more flow meters and control valves? That was one question facing the management team at Badger Meter. The Milwaukee-based industrial manufacturing company — badgers are Wisconsin’s state animal — manufactures products that incorporate liquid flow measurement and control technologies, such as residential and municipal water meters. Its products are used by a number of industries, including water, oil and chemical companies.

Badger Meter was primed for growth. But after three acquisitions, the company was saddled with overlapping ERP and CRM systems, as well as sales and business practices. To move forward, Badger Meter knew it would need to consolidate, streamline and refine its business practices and related technology.

As part of that endeavor, working with Cloud Sherpas, the business adopted Salesforce to serve as its new CRM system. To learn more about how Badger Meter used Salesforce to support its business realignment, I spoke with John Erskine III, the company’s director of industrial sales.

Adam: What was the business situation prior to your CRM project beginning?

John Erskine III: For the past three years or so, Badger Meter’s industrial segment has been in growth mode. The company made three acquisitions — one overseas, and two in the U.S. These acquisitions all came with their own cultures, of course, but each business also had its own ERP and CRM systems, and ways of doing business. We quickly realized we needed to find a comprehensive way to meld and integrate all of them.

So, before undertaking our CRM project, we went through a strategic realignment with all of the staff and decided to make the industrial sales and marketing business area fully integrated — as a test for integrating the whole company. That has meant defining roles and responsibilities around what sales managers are doing, cross-training people coming from three different places, and integrating our systems.

How did you select Salesforce to be your CRM system?

We looked at a few different platforms, and reached out to the business community — including current users of all platforms that we evaluated — to gather insights and pitfalls, because we knew that with larger platforms such as this, our expectation is that you find out the most after it’s up and running, no matter how many questions you’ve asked in advance.

Our role, then, is to close the gap. So we talked to a lot of people on the outside, asked pointed questions, and brought in groups to talk it through. We also worked with a consultant group that we’d worked with in the past, to give us guidance on business process remapping. So we went through a lot of exercises to give a vendor a solid blueprint of what we were asking for.

How did you identify “closing the gap” as being so important?

I’d love to say it was all proactive, but we’ve all had experiences where the promise of what we want to do isn’t realized. So certainly we’ve had some potholes along the way.

Meaning, the school of hard knocks?

Exactly. And it’s not that you blame the suppliers, because that’s an easy trap to fall into. Rather, it’s about making sure you’re asking questions so that you’re communicating clearly. With the ERP system, for example, on our side we had more of a checklist: Does it have this? Does it have this? And yes, once we had it, we realized that you can do that, if you do something else first. Or what you want is an extra module that you need to order and then bolt on later.

Your comment gets to the heart of CRM project success: customers must own the process, even if they’re not doing the implementation work.

Exactly, and you’re doing yourself a favor on the cost side too. Because the more you’ve done in advance, the fewer change orders you’re going to have. Again, it’s about closing the gap.

Sponsorship, of course, is a critical success factor for any project. How fired up was leadership of Badger Meter?

Overall, it was great. First of all, we made a concerted effort to really do the internal selling needed to move this forward. Because once you’ve made an investment, that’s just the beginning. The project still needs to progress quickly and smoothly. So we focused on showing people how the platform is saving our salespeople time in field, helping us organize campaigns more efficiently and generate ROI.

We were successful at getting buy-in, though there were some skeptics, which is to be expected. But when people started seeing results, and experienced one of the fastest implementations that the company has ever seen — and certainly the fastest I’ve ever seen in my career — that really opened people’s eyes. It was an interesting dynamic, because at one level we were the guinea pigs, doing this first and making sure it works. But at the same time, the other areas of the business are asking: When can we get this? Now for many managers, we can’t move fast enough to get it to the rest of the organization.

What are some of the benefits you’ve seen from the CRM project?

First, the Chatter tool has surprised everyone — for sharing information, cutting down on email, using it for competitive intelligence, discussing product development and technical issues. We’re using it to track major projects and opportunities, and that’s going well, but still does require some carrot/stick with the teams for adoption. Overall, however, we’re running all of our important sales opportunities thorough Chatter now.

The next piece will be plowing ahead on sales leads and general sales activities. People are already using Salesforce more for tracking sales activities, and asking: Can I use the tool this way? I’ve got a list now, for what will be phase 1.5 of our implementation project with Cloud Sherpas, for additional things we want to do.

What advice would you offer to a business just starting down the path to rethinking CRM processes/system?

First, people who haven’t looked at CRM in a while or have been running same platform for several years will be surprised at how much CRM can do, between the collaboration capabilities offered by Salesforce, and the additional capabilities and functionality now built in, that was previously only obtained from separate tools.

Previously, for example, to do their daily tasks our sales employees had to work with a hodgepodge of programs and systems. Today, however, Salesforce — and likely many other tools — offer the promise of running one main platform, and that’s it. We’ve started down this path. The one platform will handle a wide variety of requirements, without requiring back and forth between multiple applications, and having to keep them current.

As a result, the real issue these days isn’t the technology, but rather the internal selling. I have to go to the quality control team and say we don’t need this separate quality control database, necessarily, because we can run it through Salesforce. So working with Cloud Sherpas and, we really got indoctrinated to the concept of seeing every facet that you need to see about a customer in a single location.

Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of BadgerHero.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adam Honig
Adam is the Co-Founder and CEO of Spiro Technologies. He is a recognized thought-leader in sales process and effectiveness, and has previously co-founded three successful technology companies: Innoveer Solutions, C-Bridge, and Open Environment. He is best known for speaking at various conferences including Dreamforce, for pioneering the 'No Jerks' hiring model, and for flying his drone while traveling the world.


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