Constructing CRM Success: Aggregate Industries Builds On Oracle CRM On Demand


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Aggregate Industries builds its own CRM success. Photograph by Terinea IT Support.

How can organizations that have grown quickly — often through mergers and acquisitions — streamline their business to sell more efficiently? The question is an acute one for many organizations, as they seek better operating efficiencies in today’s still difficult economic environment. Most of all, they need to increase the effectiveness and impact of their sales teams.

To learn best practices for creating a standard, cross-organizational approach to CRM, I spoke with Caroline Dale, head of commercial services and process at $2 billion Aggregate Industries, based in the United Kingdom, which quarries, manufactures and supplies a wide range of heavy building materials to the construction industry.

Two years ago, Dale was tasked with reducing the number of systems used by Aggregate. Today, the company has reduced 10 order entry systems to just two, and likewise consolidated multiple quoting systems to just two. Previously, only 20% of the organization used CRM — from Microsoft, JD Edwards or Goldmine. Now, Aggregate Industries is implementing a single CRM system across the organization.

Why did Aggregate look at CRM — because of the recession?

Dale: CRM would have come along naturally at some point in time, because we’re so big. But for Aggregate Industries, we agreed — over 33 operating companies — on a common, consistent CRM sales process over the space of a few months.

The fact that we’d already had a big culture change [driven by the recession] — reducing quoting systems, order entry systems, and so on — helped, a lot. That prepared us for the CRM workshops and certainly made the transition a lot smoother.

How did you select Oracle CRM On Demand?

Using the Gartner CRM model, which looks at long-term-system functionality, cost and functionality. In Gartner’s leading CRM quadrant, there was only, Oracle on Demand, and maybe Microsoft CRM. We compared each system’s functionality, they were much of a muchness. I liked the CRM reporting module in Oracle CRM On Demand better.

What should people look for in an implementation partner?

My gut instinct told me to not go with anyone who doesn’t have a UK base, because they’ll always be flying in. They don’t have to be local. But if you go through the process of workshops, you’re looking for your implementation partner to be part of your business, for months. It adds a lot of cost if they’re flying back and forth all the time.

Has your sales background helped the CRM implementation?

Yes. I get away with a lot when I go around the regional sales offices, because they know that I’ve done the job before. I speak in the sales person’s language, I don’t speak in IT.

Also, we ensured that this wasn’t an IT project. The people responsible for change management don’t report to IT. The only time IT was involved in this project was when they were sitting in the back of the room wringing out specifications.

As a change manager, what incentives are you using to encourage CRM adoption?

One of the biggest things we built into the system was cross-promotion. If someone from one division is visiting a customer, and finds out that the customer requires other products, before, it was quite difficult to get a hold of the person’s phone number. Also there was a lack of ownership, and if they didn’t get back to my customer — that makes us look bad.

The fact that we can now track it through the CRM system, it means people are helping their colleagues win work. It creates more of a collaborative environment, and we’re reinforcing this. Last week, for example, one of our sales managers turned up at an office with a bottle of champagne and £100 for one of our salespeople who’d just won a 200-ton Aggregate order for someone else.

That’s the carrot; are you using any sticks?

It’s going to take 5-6 months, given the culture and implementation issues, before they take it down the consequences line. But one division has now said that if you don’t share our customers and calendars, you can find another job. Also, we did training, workshops, more training for people too uncomfortable with it or too shy to ask for help. We did all the soft stuff, and it’s time to start getting tough now.

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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