Automating Event Lead Management to Better Focus on Face-to-Face Marketing
At Bruker Nano Surfaces, a lot of our marketing is face to face. You can’t send out an email about EMP spectrometers and then ask, “Would you like to place an order?” Our products are complex. The science and technology behind them are constantly evolving, as are our customers’ needs.
Bruker Nano Surfaces provides industry-leading surfaces analysis tools. Our analytical and diagnostic solutions explore the world at the cellular, molecular, and microscopic levels. We serve the medical community, pharmaceutical companies, food and agriculture, and heavy industry, among others.
Our customers are mostly researchers. They work in medical, university, and industrial research facilities. Our atomic force microscopes help them study biological and mineral materials at the nanoscopic scale. We recently acquired a company that specializes in infrared nanoscale spectroscopy. This technology provides a substantial boost to the resolution we can achieve with optical and other imaging and measurement equipment.
The Power of In-Person
I oversee Bruker’s European and Latin American marketing communications. A good chunk of what I do is getting our people and our products in front of potential clients. I am responsible for our participation in various events, including trade shows, conferences, workshops, and even webinars. I also manage our email communications and Salesforce.
Each of these events has different challenges. Trade shows are generally industry showcases. We have booths at all the big ones here in Europe. We often invite researchers and thought leaders to talk at our workshops, where we also introduce our latest equipment. Finally, we present papers, talks, and participate in poster sessions at scientific conferences.
These activities have one thing in common: They are among our primary means of acquiring sales leads and creating new business relationships. You'd think that a manufacturer of cutting-edge scientific equipment would have automated event lead management years ago. But you would be wrong.
Moving from Handwritten to Digital Lead Management
Bruker's sales reps understand our products and our customers. They are up to date with the latest developments in imaging, analytical, and diagnostic equipment. But they are also fairly conservative. Up until a year ago, they used paper to record and manage leads they collected at our various events.
It’s easy to understand why. Selling a complex piece of scientific apparatus requires in-depth conversations and intricate sales pitches. Printing out a form at the office and then filling it out at—or after—the event requires little effort. It is not a diversion from the business at hand.
Unfortunately, handwritten leads are substandard. The sales reps often make mistakes. About 30% of the time the notes are unrecognizable. It is especially serious when it comes to transcribing email address. Then there’s the effort and tedium of transcribing and entering all the leads manually. These inefficiencies are obvious enough. They seem even more glaring after you start automating other aspects of your marketing efforts, as we did by adopting Salesforce as our CRM a couple of years ago. It made sense to go paperless. We needed a better way to get leads into Salesforce, and we found it in .
We tried Akkroo for the first time in May of 2017 at a trade show in Stuttgart, Germany. This is one of the biggest events on our yearly calendar. I was there in person to oversee the experiment. Now as I said, our sales staff understands technology, but there’s always a learning curve with any new system. So I was there to show them how to use Akkroo in a live situation. This wasn’t a simulation or a training exercise. It was the real deal.
Introducing Akkroo to our Sales Team
During that event, Akkroo seemed easy to me. Logging in takes a couple of steps. Then you select the event you’re attending and enter a lead. I especially like the feature that lets you scan a business card. For me, it makes perfect sense to say, “Hey, can I have your business card?” and then capture it with my smartphone’s camera. Asking this question is part of the normal process of talking to a lead. Taking an image of the card during such a conversation requires minimum effort, and doesn’t interrupt the flow of our discussion.
This was an adjustment for our salespeople. They had years’ worth of default processes that didn’t include this new way of capturing leads. They needed time to get used to Akkroo. At first, the pictures they took were blurry which made the automated transcription a challenge. Now that they’re used to handing a tablet or phone during a conversation, the images are a lot better and the accuracy of the automated transcription is very high. The qualifying information they’re entering is also much more accurate and useful.
This is proof that you need to take the time to introduce Akkroo to your sales team. Start early. Provide all the training and support your reps need. Ask for their feedback and be prepared to answer their questions. Understand that they are focused on selling, not filling out forms.
Over the course of their careers, they have developed effective processes and winning strategies that help them generate leads and close sales. Adding a new tool interrupts their workflow. Give your sales reps some time to adjust and to make Akkroo a habit. After all, old habits die hard, but success speaks for itself.
Now that we’ve expanded Akkroo to all of our events, it is far easier to process leads and get them into Salesforce. We’ve even added on Akkroo’s Custom Export feature which helps with our integration. Our event leads now quickly move into Salesforce, we then assign them to the appropriate sales reps. At a big show, like the one in Stuttgart, we meet potential clients from all over Europe and around the world. It doesn’t matter who generated the lead or whether we first met a customer in Germany. Their contact information is processed and forwarded to the salesperson assigned to that region.
Members of our team can then quickly follow up with phone calls and emails. They can also manage the entire business relationship within Salesforce. By automating this process, we see information flow better than ever before.
Flexible Forms and Salesforce Integration
One of the best features of Akkroo is its flexibility. We can set up custom fields and functions based on that particular event, that reflect the way we manage leads. For example, if a customer shows interest in a product from one of Bruker’s other business units, there’s a field for that. The lead is then forwarded to that division, rather than remaining with Nano Surfaces.
You can’t do that with simple form creation applications. Akkroo takes a 360-degree view of capturing and managing leads. It makes all of our lives easier and saves us a great deal of time. We didn’t know how much we needed it until we got it.
A major process improvement for us has been the Salesforce integration, which was one of the reasons we went with Akkroo. In fact, we purchased a custom export module that takes our Akkroo data and puts it into Salesforce. We are still perfecting the way we export data from Akkroo, but I will soon be meeting with our Customer Success Manager to discuss automating the process further.
Akkroo makes it easier for me to keep track of the lead generation process. After an event, I can see who has entered their leads. This allows me to send an email or make a call to nudge those reps who may have forgotten to do so. They have plenty of work after a trade show or a conference. Entering leads sometimes takes a back seat to catching up on the work that piled up at the office while they were away.
Improving Our Professional Image
One of the interesting side effects of Akkroo is that it makes our sales team look more professional. We sell equipment to people who transform the world through science and technology. Our products incorporate the latest surface anaysis breakthroughs.
When you think of it, it seems silly that our reps should have to rely on paper forms when the products they sell are so sophisticated. It makes sense that Bruker’s reps manage the leads they generate using a tool that is as cutting edge as the equipment they sell.
While looks are important, the real value is what the customer doesn't see. Akkroo is now an integral part of our move to automation. To serve our current—and potential—customers better, we need to strip away the unnecessary and inefficient to hone in on what matters. With every cumbersome process we remove, we move one step closer to our customers. That’s when the magic starts.