Code 3 improves dealer relations

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Case Study 3 Company: Code 3 , Los Angeles CRM provider: Best Software’s SalesLogix Lesson learned: Minimum order require-ments might be costing your company valuable sales.

Code 3 Collectibles, a Los Angeles manufacturer of die-cut figurines, had a CRM package installed prior to March 2002, but the software didn’t work effectively to solve the company’s marketing and sales problems.

Every time John Meyer, Code 3’s CIO, needed to add a field to the company’s CRM database, it required a call to his CRM vendor. In addition, he had few reporting or analysis tools.

"It was really important for us to have a product that was more standardized and let us look at our business processes, especially with our dealers. At the time, we just couldn’t do it," he said.

The lack of analysis capability created problems across the board. Advertising—both for consumers and dealers—existed in a vacuum. And the sales force did not know the b-to-b customer base as well as they should have, Meyer said, so they weren’t dealing with them effectively.

Code 3 also struggled with shipping and inventory control. None of its business databases were tied together, making it difficult to predict how well anything would sell or how many units of a particular model the company should produce.

Armed with this list of deficiencies, Meyer went looking for a CRM package, evaluating programs from PeopleSoft Inc., Onyx Software Corp. and Siebel Systems Inc., among others. In the end, he chose Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Best Software’s SalesLogix program for its ease-of-use and familiarity (Code 3 already used Act!, another Best Software product), he said.

Almost immediately, Code 3 saw results. Now, because every customer contact is logged into the system, sales reps can see a customer’s history on a single screen. In addition, SalesLogix’s data-mining capabilities are changing the way Code 3 handles business opportunities. One change resulted in a significant increase in same-dealer, year-over-year sales.

Before switching to SalesLogix, Code 3 had imposed a minimum order requirement. In theory, this policy saved Code 3 money on shipping and processing, but it was actually costing the company sales, Meyer said.

"After we installed the CRM program, we found that a lot of our smaller partners couldn’t justify a large purchase at one time," he said. "And these might be great customers, but they just couldn’t swing it."

Once sales representatives started talking to dealers and logging their responses, it became clear that by adjusting the minimum purchase, Code 3 would receive more sales on a yearly basis.

Code 3 also realized it wasn’t communicating often enough with its dealers. Today, sales representatives check in with dealers at least once a week. The combination of increased communication and decreased minimum purchase limits makes the company’s more than 50 vendors feel better served. They’re also reporting far fewer customer confrontations and problems, Meyer said.

"We’re definitely seeing our sales trending upward—all because we understand where [dealers] are coming from, and we can be more compassionate about their needs," Meyer said.

Although Code 3 hasn’t calculated specific cost savings or return on investment, Meyer said the new CRM program is meeting all of his expectations, and then some.

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