Pipeliner CRM Case Study Whole Harvest Foods
About the Company
Whole Harvest foods produces the nation’s first naturally-processed line of no-trans-fat commercial cooking oil produced without blends or harsh chemicals. In addition to being all natural, the Whole Harvest line of oils is non-hydrogenated. Hydrogenation is the process that creates harmful trans-fats that have been shown to play a key role in the development of heart disease, diabetes, and strokes.
The company’s refinery is located in Warsaw, North Carolina, with a packing facility located in North Las Vegas, Nevada.
Use of Pipeliner CRM
Whole Harvest’s national sales manager, sales team, and accounting department use Pipeliner CRM to coordinate and facilitate sales.
A good part of the reason they chose Pipeliner CRM was its ease of use to manage the company’s sales process.
“Having Pipeliner the way it draws attention to each one of our sales process stages as being equally important,” says Chris Collier, Whole Harvest’s National Sales Manager. That’s key for us.
- Selling oil is very labor-intensive. It requires multiple stages. When sales reps fail, what I see many times is that they go into an opening meeting or an initial call with the intention of selling. That is, by no means, what the goal needs to be. In your initial contact with somebody, your primary objective is just to get an appointment. Then once you get that appointment, your next goal is to get them to test our oil in one of their units. And then it gets to the proposal phase. I felt like I had some reps kind of leap-frogging some of these stages, and the success ratio is very low when you go that route.
The company’s sales process has 4 main parts:
Initial Contact aiming at an appointment. This stage has a 14-day limit on it because, usually, if 2 weeks have passed without scheduling an appointment, it is probably not a viable sales cycle.
Appointment and Test. At the appointment, the goal is to sell the prospect on the idea of testing the product. A test takes normally between 1 – 2 weeks, so this phase also has a 14-day timeframe within Pipeliner CRM.
Proposal. “Once we run a test, we gather all the data and metrics, and put it all together into a presentation,” Chris explains. “Typically that comes with a formal proposal with some sort of contract offer. Once we submit the proposal, there is a 7-day time frame, because we’ve found that after presenting that material, once a certain time lapse, the probability of continuing that conversation has probably slipped off.”
Roll out. Won sales go into this phase during which the product is implemented with the customer.
The Search for a CRM Solution
The need for a competent CRM solution came about through rapid company growth.“There was a lot of growth when we began, but had started to plateau last year.” Chris had put in place a solution for keeping track of sales—an Excel spreadsheet on which reps filled in their targets, which were discussed and updated monthly. But it obviously was not adequate to the job.
The need for a competent CRM solution came about through rapid company growth. “There was a lot of growth when we began, but had started to plateau last year,” Chris says. “When I came on board I felt that we had to come up with a better system of keeping all the information centralized and easier to access. I had never been in this position before—I am in Raleigh, North Carolina and trying to stay abreast of what’s going on all over the country. It’s a unique situation and challenge.”
“So I made the decision that I was going start looking around at some CRM programs and see what was out there,” Chris continues. “I looked at about probably 12 of them. Saleforce.com obviously is a juggernaut out there in the industry, so we took a look at that. I looked at Zoho, one called Sales Plus, and a handful of others.”
Chris had seen an ad for Pipeliner CRM and it caught his attention. “The ad actually had a picture of the pipeline, and the visual immediately jumped and grabbed me,” he relates. “I liked the way it looked, so I decided to check it out. I started digging into it and looking at it.”
As with the ad, it was Pipeliner CRM’s visual interface that interested Chris in trying the product. “I loved the visual structure of it,” Chris continues. “I’ve been in sales my entire life; I’ve never really done anything else. For me, it visually portrayed what was going in my mind—and on my cocktail napkins, and backs of receipts, and backs of business cards. It took all of that and put it into a clear picture right there on my laptop, of what I actually was trying to visualize in my head.”
As Chris got to know Pipeliner, he also took into account how he thought his sales reps would react to it. “From the director’s role I thought it was great,” he says. “But I think it was Albert Einstein who said that if you can’t explain something simply, you don’t understand it well enough. It all made perfect sense for me, but how simple is it? So I kind of stepped back to think about how a couple of my guys who aren’t as tech-savvy would visualize it and whether it would work for them. I realized it would.
Deciding on Pipeliner CRM
A CRM solution appropriate to Whole Harvest’s size of business was important to Chris’s decision. “You can tell that Pipeliner CRM is adaptable to handle any size organization,” he says. “But for me, it perfectly aligned with the size of our sales organization. Salesforce.com has obviously been successful and it’s a wonderful program, but it was almost too complicated and too intense for what my goal and purpose was.
“My goal from the outset was not to create a reporting infrastructure where I could follow every detail, force people to show me what they were doing and when they were doing it. I had no intention of micromanaging. My goal was to give a sales team a tool to organize their thoughts and be suitable for me to report to our shareholders what was going on with our group. If I got a telephone call or text message, I could boot the computer up and within 2 minutes give them an update on everything going on in every market.”
For Chris, Pipeliner quickly fit the bill as exactly what he was looking for.
Amazingly Easy Purchase Approval
Getting approval to purchase and implement Pipeliner was a story in itself. “Once I boiled it down, there weren’t a whole lot of options for CRM solutions that were on the table other than Pipeliner CRM,” Chris said. “But I still had to get the approval for the funding it. So I went to Bob Dawson, our President, and acting COO. I opened it up and walked him through about 3 steps. The first thing out of his mouth was, “I absolutely love it. Now tell me how much it’s going to cost us.
“When I went back and requested a quote, they gave the numbers back to our people, there was no hesitation whatsoever. I feel like it’s a very reasonable option. It really does a great job of catching the middle of the road with the number of features that you get for the price. I feel like it’s a great value.”
Chris decided to take some time configuring Pipeliner CRM before rollout and gave himself a 30-day window to do so. He had several online meetings with Pipeliner CRM technical consultants and had plenty of time to get the solution just right for his sales force. “I had the time to customize the fields and go back and forth,” he says. “I’m kind of geeky when it comes to these things. I enjoy tinkering with them a lot, so I did a lot of stuff after hours when I was sitting on the couch. “
“That extra time meant that I presented an almost complete product and showed it around. Not only was (and is) it being used for sales, but also to track customer deals and things internally for our accounting department and has eliminated a group of spreadsheets. I wanted to bounce a lot of this stuff off of them as well.“
“It worked out very well because we had all of that completed by launch. When we had our launch meeting, it happened to coincide perfectly with one of our sales meetings. Liz Woods, Pipeliner CRM’s Director of Professional Services, gave a 2-hour presentation to get everybody up with the basics. Everything was in place, all of our fields were created, all of the forms were created. We had a very nice-looking finished product for launch.”
Of course, Chris also needed to ensure his sales reps would take to the product. “In my opinion, you have to have your salespeople buy in on it,” he says. “You can force anybody to do anything, but I don’t think you’ll get the full potential out of a program like that unless you get everybody on board and everybody believing in it. So the fact that it is customizable means that we could strip out the pieces we didn’t need and make it very specific to what our goal is as a company and what we are trying to accomplish and sell, It made it into a very nice finished product.”
Feedback from Salespeople
Chris has been knocked out by how his reps have taken to Pipeliner CRM. “I have been very impressed,” he says. “Some of the team members whom I didn’t expect to maneuver it well or use it well have really taken to it. I’ve been impressed with the amount of activity we’ve got on it already. I expected there to be a little lag as far as how active people were, but everybody seems to be on board.”
“It’s a good sign when you get a telephone call and they’re making suggestions. With a tool like Pipeliner CRM, they can call me and say, ‘It would have been awesome if I could have had this particular piece of information on this when I went in there.’ And before we hang up the phone I can say, ‘Well, go in there and synch and check now because I uploaded that and put it on there while we were talking.’
“That customizable piece to it and getting feedback from the reps that they’re actually interested enough to make suggestions to it tells me the story.”
Sales Management a Snap
Chris is very happy with Pipeliner CRM as a management tool. “It’s nice to be able to create profiles and look at each rep individually,” he relates. “But any given day I keep it on the ‘all’ tab as far as the profiles go, because I can open it up and instantly I’ve got a snapshot color-coded by the rep of everything that’s going on in the company, and they’re all there together. It’s an immediate pop in your face.
You can see where opportunities have lagged too long in the same stage. You can see if all of a sudden my rep that’s color-coded blue has 3 or 4 new opportunities in there, and they jump out at you. So it’s nice to keep track of those things.”
Chris has also customized Pipeliner for his particular position. “As a manager, I use it for my projects,” he adds. “The scale and scope of what I’m working on is a little bit different than what our regionals are asked to focus on, but it works the same with my projects and the things I’m trying to accomplish. I have the ability to put my own stuff in my view and keep track of my stuff in the same spot.”
Chris has also been impressed by Pipeliner CRM’s reporting features. “Every single day for at least an hour I’ve been digging into Pipeliner CRM reporting,” he says. “I’m just scratching the surface as far as what’s available. I’m astounded at the amount of information you can drill down to. There are different types of graphs and everything: you can do it visually, you can do it in a table or Excel format, and I’m absolutely loving it. Even to the simplest form of the auto email report that sends out once a week and gives me a recap and an update of the top 5 wins, top 5 losses and top 10 opportunities within the group. That’s a great little reminder to get and send out to the team.”
Why He Recommends Pipeliner CRM to Others
“I absolutely refer Pipeliner CRM and recommend it to others,” Chris concludes.
“I am a sales guy at heart. There’s nothing that salespeople hate if they’re good salespeople, worse than paperwork and reporting. It is the bane of my existence.
- Pipeliner is the least intrusive CRM that I have played around with, and it still has everything there that I need. It is very sales-forward. It’s got all the stuff on the backside that’s needed for other people—we’re using it in an accounting application as well.
“It takes the essentials for a business relationship from the beginning to the end. When you’re starting a relationship which hopefully is going to bud into a customer, and then a long-term relationship and long-term customer, you’re setting the groundwork.”
“This is what I told the reps when we did the training: When you make that initial contact with that person, when you put their information into Pipeliner CRM, you are setting the foundation for what’s hopefully going to be a long-term relationship. It’s always going to be in the same place. It’s always going to be easy to find, update and attach. You’ll be able to keep everything about that account, from the guy’s favorite color and favorite-flavored cake on his birthday, from the very first communication you ever had with him 6 years ago up until today. You can just click on accounts, contacts and on 1 v-card right there in the center of it, and there’s everything all attached.”
“I think from a salesperson’s perspective it is the most in synch with the way we want to go to market, the way we want to go to the street, and how streamlined we want to stay. We don’t want to be held down by reporting and paperwork.”