CRM Not Optional: Draker’s Salesforce Compensation Plan

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Solar monitoring and analytics provider Draker needed to heat up its sales program.

Want to get the most from your new salesforce.com cloud software? Then make your new CRM application the system of record, backed by careful carrot-and-stick incentives that encourage employees to fully adopt the new system.

Those are just two of the lessons learned by Draker Laboratories, an 11-year-old solar panel monitoring and metering control company and now, salesforce.com user. Previously, Draker had an ad hoc approach to sales, largely involving Microsoft Office documents and spreadsheets. But as the company grew, it needed a sales program–including automated sales processes–able to support that growth.

To learn more about Draker’s approach to sales, as well as its salesforce.com cloud CRM implementation, I spoke with Scott Sullivan, the company’s vice president of sales, who’s been spearheading the project.

For starters, can you describe the services that Draker provides?

Sullivan: Specifically, we put hardware in the field that gathers data from flat solar panel arrays, and perform analytics–as a service to our clients–on that data to see if you’re getting the performance you’re expecting from your array.

Arrays are built for a 20-year lifecycle, and they usually have a seven-to-10-year ROI. So they need to have them up and running as efficiently as possible, so that the five to seven years, they’ve satisfied the investors. Then the rest is–as they say–profit.

What made you think that investing in CRM or sales automation would be the right thing for Draker to do?

Great question, because that’s exactly what I was hired to do. I’m a 25-year veteran of professional sales, and I believe in a couple of things from [that] standpoint. One, you’re not allowed to say “great meeting” in my organization [because] it’s like saying, “the sky is blue.” It doesn’t say anything–it has no quantitative or qualitative connotation to it. Accordingly, I created my own sales [stage] system, called RDAS–for relating, discovery, advocating, and support–to quantify and qualify each step of the sales process, and also the relationships … [because] people buy from people they know, like, and trust.

So, when we’re sitting around the room in the sales organization and someone says “I was in a meeting today with the CEO of XYZ Company and we moved it from R1 to A1,” or “I moved it from relating to discovery,” or “I moved the process from discovery to advocating,” … [it’s] a common denominator that everyone in the room understands.

How did you approach your salesforce.com implementation?

The reason for my hire, in June 2011, was to put a sales process in place, automate it, then carry that through all the way to delivery, so that we have everything from lead generation to delivery and satisfied customers. The whole thing needed to be mapped out properly.

The first thing I did was to immediately implement Salesforce, buying 10 “enterprise” seats. I’m a past user–early adopter, even–of Salesforce, but … not having worked in the New England area, for customizing it, I went to my rep at Salesforce and asked who he recommended, and he gave me a list of five choices, though said he wasn’t allowed to recommend anybody. I called all five on the same day. Out of the five, only three replied, and to the credit of your staff, you were the first, the most professional, and the most organized reply that I got, right off the bat.

Excellent, thank you. So, you’ve now worked with Innoveer on three project phases?

Yes … the first phase was to wrap all of that [including the RDAS approach] together with a nice, little bow, and implement it in Salesforce. It took us three to four months, letting that simmer, percolate and permeate throughout the organization.

How did the project go?

From the very first day of the engagement with Innoveer has been a tremendous, pleasant experience. Your account executive’s first reply to me was, “Tell me what you’re trying to accomplish.” It was a lot of listening, asking probing questions, and he spent a great deal of time finding out exactly what was the long-term goal, the short-term goal? He continued to drill down: What would be the definition of success? What would you say was most important business outcome? Those are the things you really appreciate, coming from a professional sales organization. I’m not telling you that I’m an easy customer, but I had a very clear picture of what I wanted.

What was the goal of your second project phase?

The second engagement was … implementing a quoting tool to build rules and systems around quoting. We have a pretty complex solution … there are certain things that don’t work together–you can’t take tab A and put it into slot B, it has to go tab A into slot A. So we put those rules around quoting so that a person who didn’t have a super, super deep understanding of our process could then still create a quote, and it would still then be–generally speaking–applicable to where we want to be, because the rules held them in the same constraints.

Then your final project phase involved sales incentives?

Yes, the third engagement was the most complicated and difficult–trying to figure out how we commission the salesperson who follows that sales process. Previously, the commissioning fees were extremely convoluted and complicated. But when you start adjusting compensation, you can make or break an organization. … We’re still working the kinks out of the process, but your team did a fantastic job, involving a lot of listening, a lot of understanding, and trying to capture the vision that was in my brain.

What’s been the level of Salesforce adoption by employees?

It’s 1,000%. … Because I was brought in as a change agent, I started from the very, very beginning … putting all of these incentives in place that were the carrot and the stick: One, you get a higher incentive for earlier and deeper adoption. Two, you get less pay if you don’t use the tool.

It would be so helpful if more of our customers took that approach to adoption–really tying it to incentives, backed by sponsorship and leadership–as you did.

It has to be done that way. We have seven people on the executive team, and I had a document signed and hung on the wall with all seven executives’ names, saying that they would 100% use the tool. Now, if you want to communicate with one of our executives, you simply build a task inside Salesforce, and send it to them.

What are your future CRM program plans?

Complete integration with the ERP and accounting systems. We’ve already started … sorting [through options]. Then I also see the next level of integration … through the AppExchange. We’ve already added Data.com, but we’ll probably add something like Insideslales.com, and we might add something like Brainshark. … There’s a lot of things that we’re going to be doing in the next six to eight months that will streamline the salesforce.com workflow, but I think the integration with ERP and accounting has to be the first piece.

Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Flickr user Lauren Manning.

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