Panasonic Reveals Keys To CRM Project Success

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London Scene Taken With Panasonic's GX1 Camera

Panasonic adopted salesforce.com to more accurately forecast sales and to provide a single point of contact for all of its B2B customers.

Panasonic, one of the world’s largest electronic product manufacturers, last month announced the successful launch of its Salesforce.com implementation–on time, and on budget.

The CRM project, which Innoveer helped the company implement in nine months, is part of $105 billion Panasonic’s merger of three different business-to-business (B2B) divisions–handling 12 different business to business product lines, such as projectors and professional cameras, into a single division with a combined revenue of approximately €1 billion ($1.3 billion).

The goal of the business change: to give customers a single point of contact for any Panasonic B2B product, as well as for related services or partner products.

To learn more about Panasonic’s approach to CRM, as well the best practices it pursued for achieving its project goals, I spoke with Stephen Yeo, who’s in charge of marketing Panasonic’s B2B products across Europe. (Note: This blog post is a condensed version of my video interview with Stephen.)

Why did you look to CRM to help support the Panasonic business transformation?

Yeo: The reason that CRM was so critical to this project is because the previous three Panasonic System Communications Europe (PSCE) divisions had their own customer databases. If we were going to move forward as a company, we wanted to merge those customer databases so we had a single view of the customer, so we could give them also outstanding service–no matter where that was in Europe, and also no matter what product they were buying from Panasonic.

Commercially, we also want to understand, who are our most important customers? Maybe one customer would be the tenth largest customer in product A, B, and C, but combined maybe they were the largest customer that we had. We didn’t have that information before.

For adopting new CRM software, what were other major drivers?

Sales forecasting. Our goal is to have, really, almost zero inventory, where we can forecast our sales very accurately, so our factories around the world are delivering the right product, to the right customer, at the right time. We could not do that with our existing system. So we needed a CRM system to improve our sales accuracy, and our forecasting accuracy.

How did you select salesforce.com, as well as a consulting company to help with the implementation?

We decided to implement salesforce.com because it was a good system, and because Panasonic have really adopted that as a global standard. … We actually had an existing Salesforce system within one of the divisions. But within another division … they were using Excel to do all of their pipeline maintenance. So we were looking for a [consulting] partner that could have the necessary expertise to do it, that had enough agility.

What were Panasonic’s project constraints?

We had a very short timescale for this project, so we weren’t looking for a big behemoth. We were really looking for an agile, very expert business partner that also offered good value for money. … What was also important to us were consultants that could fit into the Panasonic culture. As a company, we are very down to earth. We have our basic business principles, and we felt comfortable with the culture of Innoveer. It was no-nonsense, it was what I’d call a medium-sized organization, and we felt very comfortable that they could work with us closely and fit into our culture.

What did the project achieve?

The headlines of the project are that we successfully launched it [last month] and [trained] 310 users. It’s actually gone very, very well. We migrated something like 35,000 accounts, approximately 38,000 contacts, over 30,000 opportunities, and let me put it like this: The pipeline that we migrated is hundreds of millions of euros. It’s substantial.

How did the pipeline migration go?

In the Salesforce system, the pipeline was within 20 euro cents of the existing data that was fed in, that was migrated by Innoveer, which–frankly–is like threading a needle from millions of miles away. That’s quite an achievement.

What was your experience of working with Innoveer?

Innoveer did a very good job, things were transparent [and] pretty simple, actually. We had a very simple system with our project manager … where we worked very closely on almost a daily basis. We always had a transparent plan, and every month we’d agree what the project plan would be for the following month. The money was released, we’d then tackle that piece of work, resolve any issues, and again, move onto the next month. So it was almost like a Pac-Man going around the screen, munching it up. It worked very well.

Based on your CRM project experience, what have been the keys to success?

First of all, your consulting partner is critical. Getting the right expertise, chemistry and fit is extremely important. In the project that we had, which [lasted] nine months, I did not have a single argument with Innoveer–and I was actually proud of myself for that. It all worked smoothly.

But, coming back to the question, you have to give a lot of time, energy and thought to your consulting partner, to implement a successful CRM system. If you don’t know what you want, don’t have a clear vision, don’t understand at least some of the basics of CRM, then you’re going to inhibit the ability of your consulting partner to do the best job for you. Fortunately we had a very good team from the company side, and all of the parties involved were giving as much as they could to the project, and working as a team. If we had an issue, we would never point a finger at another partner, we’d always sit around a table and sort the issue out as a team, and that worked very, very well.

So, teamwork, respecting each other, giving your utmost to the project, and openness and honesty, those were the keys behind the success of the project.

Learn More

What’s the next, best step for your organization’s sales program? To answer that question, take our SFA program quiz, which is built using our benchmarks of the CRM practices of hundreds of companies. We’ve used those best practices to build Innoveer’s CRM Excellence Framework, which identifies where your current sales program excels, or needs work.

Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Flickr user Peterjthomson.

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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