Turning to Technology to Lead Your Industry? Start with CRM Automation


Standing still is safe. But without moving forward, you’re left to simply watch others pass you. When you work for a company that’s been around for decades, this can often feel like your reality. That’s not the case with Bishop-Wisecarver.

Bishop-Wisecarver has been around for almost 70 years. We engineer and manufacture linear and rotary motion solutions that cater to a broad base of industries from Aerospace to Medical to Welding to Packaging. To put it simply, our solutions move devices in either a linear or circular manner, allowing for proper direction, alignment, and speed to effectively meet specific applications motion requirements, whether it is for a machine, or manufacturing work cell, in the most extreme environments.

A New Approach in an Old School Environment

As you can see, we cater to businesses big and small. Many of them, particularly the small- to mid-size manufacturers, are old-school in their approach. This is especially true of the way they track leads and manage quotes.

We have a small set of Regional Sales Managers that manage a larger group of sales reps that don’t work directly as Bishop-Wisecarver employees. They are reps that sell many other product lines—not just ours.

In the past, these reps would call into our customer service department. They would ask for pricing, place orders, and supply or request updates on certain accounts. All this was done over the phone and written up on paper forms, or entered into Excel spreadsheets that were shared by email.

It was inefficient and time-consuming. Our Customer Service Reps (CSRs) were tied up taking orders or providing updates over the phone instead of helping customers. On top of this, no one was capturing sales data from these reps and converting it into useful information.

Technology Leadership Is a Long-Term Strategy

You might think that our company is old-fashioned and set in its ways, but that's not how Bishop-Wisecarver does business. In our seven decades of operations, we've learned to be a technology leader, in our products and our processes.

One of the ways we achieve this is by automating our customer relationship management. Bishop-Wisecarver has used SugarCRM since 2012. We also connected our Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to our Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, as well as our Marketing Automation system and our e-commerce platform. But we weren't getting the results we wanted. That's where I came in.

I started at Bishop-Wisecarver about 18 months ago. Before my arrival, the Marketing Director was handling the management of the CRM, and prior to that, it was with the IT Director. I believe this approach was inefficient.

To make the most of your CRM, don’t give it part-time treatment.

If you use a CRM as a standalone product, you can have someone manage it on a part-time basis. However, if you're integrating it with other systems within your organization, as we are, you need a full-time administrator. Otherwise, you could end up with a patchwork solution. Fixing one thing often breaks another and then you're stuck playing catch-up. At some point, you have to stop dealing with the here-and-now, and start building a long-term, holistic approach.

Maximizing Automation and Integration

I was hired as Bishop-Wisecarver's first ever CRM manager. My position required me to take a deep dive into the way the company used Sugar.

When I came on board, I looked at two things. The first was how our business processes were supposed to work. The second was how Sugar was configured, and whether we were using the technology in a way that supported our business processes.

As a result of my initial findings, we were able to streamline the connectivity between Sugar and Marketo, our marketing automation system. Believe it or not, we previously needed a person dedicated to review each lead coming through the system. That employee would verify the information that was already in the marketing automation system and then manually enter it into Sugar.

I realized we had to maximize this integration. In the past, only the name and email fields were pushed from Marketo to Sugar. Everything else was entered by hand, and the leads were manually sent to our reps. To remedy this, we identified the fields required to push a lead to Sugar.

If a lead doesn’t meet these minimum criteria, it remains in Marketo until the missing information is added. Once the required information is entered, a lead is automatically generated and then routed to a rep in the appropriate territory.

If your CRM doesn’t support your business processes, you’re using it wrong.

This is far more efficient than having a person research and then forward every lead. We also created a lead follow-up workflow, thus automating that process, too. If a lead's status hasn't changed in seven days, the system generates a follow-up reminder email. A second reminder goes out seven days after that, and the lead is escalated to the regional manager. If no action has been taken after 30 days, then the lead is considered stale and put back into the bucket to be nurtured anew.

Eliminating Duplicate Data

We didn't stop there. We also eliminated duplicates by creating a lead history. In the past, every time there was activity on a lead, a new record was created. Now, only one such record exists, and any further activity is logged into it. If a lead goes cold, for example, and that person contacts us a couple of months later, we can then add a re-engage flag to alert our reps.

Cleaning up and reducing data is crucial when your CRM is cloud-based, which is a Sugar option. You can't go out and buy a terabyte SSD hard drive, and then install it yourself. You have to purchase additional storage as part of your service package. Let’s face it: there are better ways to spend your money.

On top of streamlining our leads, we've took advantage of the integration by capturing Activity logs from Marketo and syncing these data into Sugar. Our reps can now see whether their lead visited our website, downloaded a white paper or a CAD file, or even if they attended a trade show—all in near-real time.

Learning to Rely on a Visionary Product

In the past, I have worked with other CRMs, but I've come to appreciate Sugar. It offers code-level customization but also allows you to tailor workflows to your business processes out of the box.

Sugar is always investing in innovation. They constantly add new features and functionalities. In fact, they release cloud updates quarterly. Sometimes, they'll even offer something we were looking at custom coding, like the click through detail feature of the dashboard released shortly after SugarCON last year.

I'm not surprised Sugar was named a Visionary in Gartner's 2018 Sales Force Automation Magic Quadrant for the sixth straight year. The product is solid, it has a dedicated following, and has even topped some user polls such as 2018 Business Choice Awards for Best CRM Solution.

Leading While Others Follow

Sugar is helping Bishop-Wisecarver become a technology leader in our industry. We recently held what we call Bishop-Wisecarver University. This is an event where we introduce our distributors and our manufacturing partners—i.e. our reps—to Bishop-Wisecarver’s history and sales focus, our products, and tools at their fingertips. We also introduce them to Sugar.

To open our CRM training, I asked reps how they provided updates to the other companies they worked with. The answer was email conversations, sending Excel files back and forth, and then calling suppliers' customer service. I expected to hear that one or two of the companies they represent that provides them access to their CRM platform, but I learned we were one of the few in this practice.

The truth is, this approach can become very expensive. We have to buy a license for every rep that works for our manufacturing firm partners. However, the ease with which these reps can follow their leads, update information, and update quotes and view orders, saves a tremendous amount of time and effort. It also frees our customer service team to take better care of our customers, instead of having to constantly answer reps' questions.

From Automation and Integration to BI

Our success with the current integration project over the last 12 months has led us to explore further integrations. We want to take our CRM to a whole new level by integrating with a Business Intelligence (BI) tool to provide us with more analytics to see the business on a whole new level. We are adding data capture points and timestamps to improve efficiencies and identify pain points in our processes.

You can’t put a price on progress, but can you afford stagnation?

All this will require further investments in time, training, hardware, and software. Sure, it's more expensive than the old-school approach of email chains, phone calls, Excel files, and paper forms, but you can't put a price on progress. More importantly, can you afford stagnation?