Founded in 1998, iomart Group plc is one of the UK’s leading cloud computing companies. From a single server through to private cloud networks, iomart specialises in the delivery and management of mission-critical hosting services, enabling customers to reduce the cost, complexity and risk associated with maintaining their own web and online applications.
iomart Group operates in its chosen markets, both corporate and consumer, through a number of subsidiaries: iomart Hosting, RapidSwitch, Melbourne Hosting, Easyspace and Westcoastcloud. The Group has been listed on the London Stock Exchange's Alternative Investment Market (AIM) since April 2000. It currently has offices in London, Manchester, Maidenhead and Glasgow.
iomart has been using the Workbooks CRM system since 2010 and has over 50 users using the system on a daily basis.
CRM system failed to paint a clear picture
iomart Group has expanded rapidly through acquisition and organic growth over the past three years, with the organisation purchasing several companies within this period. A flexible CRM solution is essential to support this growth strategy, especially for iomart’s sales and marketing team. However, the company was finding it increasingly challenging to quickly update its sales CRM system with details of new customers following each acquisition, as its current tool couldn’t cope with easily and quickly integrating new systems. Consequently, the sales and marketing team was unable to get to know its new customers quickly and more importantly the new potential business pipeline.
Phil Worms, director of marketing for iomart Group, soon realised that the sales CRM tool it was using was inflexible and not supporting the company’s growth rate; “Every time we acquired a new customer it meant we inherited new and different CRM and operating systems, which traditionally would lead to pretty lengthy integration periods. It is essential that we get to know our new customers quickly particularly at the sensitive time of an acquisition. We soon realised that we needed a CRM tool that was more flexible, specifically tailored to our needs, supported our growth strategy and would be readily accepted and used by both our sales team and senior management.”
“Using our previous sales system was like buying a car, when you’re shown one in the showroom with all the gadgets you expect that’s the one you’re going to get, but you only end up with the basic model and if you want the added extras you have to pay a lot more. If we wanted an extra level of granularity we had to pay more which didn’t make financial sense to us,” added Worms.
Finding the right fit
After consultation and approval from the senior executive team, Worms, together with a dedicated team of marketing and sales analysts approached CRM provider, Workbooks.com through a personal recommendation from the Group’s CTO. iomart’s marketing data analyst team then set about investigating the product fully, testing it on their systems according to their parameters and needs, gaining end user feedback, and then decided to implement following a successful trial period.
With careful planning from both sides to ensure the smooth running of the initial migration and Workbooks on hand at all times to assist with the delivery, the transition ran very smoothly in just eight weeks.
Flexibility, finance and features
iomart Group quickly realised the benefits of the Workbooks CRM system, gaining access to vital customer information in real-time. Through the web-based system, the sales team can now view the number and status of new business opportunities by accessing the system at any time, without spending hours trying to collate different sets of reports from disparate systems. The system can be updated remotely, meaning that employees on the road or working from home can update it without needing to be in the office.
“Our sales team found it very easy to use and didn’t see it as a hindrance to their day to day roles, and this was a vital component in our decision to proceed with Workbooks. If we were to maximise the benefits that we believed Workbooks would deliver, then it was essential that we gained the buy-in from the end users. Any system is only as good as the quality of the data entered. The previous system was very daunting for a new user to get their head round and it is much easier to navigate the Workbooks system as it is very logically laid out,” says Worms.
How real is our pipeline?
iomart’s executive team have been most impressed with how easily the Workbooks tool gives them an accurate view of their new business pipeline. The team can see at a glance what stage they are with any customer or prospect, and they also have real-time access to market trends. What campaigns are working? How long are sales cycles? Is there a particular market sector showing signs of early technology adoption?
“One of the questions that all companies ask themselves is - how real is my pipeline? It is a vital element of all businesses, yet sometimes difficult to understand how large, or how small the potential business really is. The real benefit of Workbooks is being able to pull-up an up-to-date database of all prospects in an executive meeting and drill down into as much detail as we need. Workbooks provides us with a fantastic level of invaluable marketing intelligence that we’ve never had before.”
Worms continues that often, when businesses are asked about their pipeline, the estimations can vary significantly; “Over estimation of any pipeline can lead to a false sense of comfort. You need a realistic view of potential revenue streams to enable sensible business planning. With the new Workbooks system, every piece of information about a potential customer is recorded in the same database. For example, the last point of contact is often very telling. If we haven’t communicated with a prospect for a period of time then we need to act. We either need to proactively re-engage or re-evaluate what the realistic chance of that piece of business closing is. We just couldn’t pull this kind of information from the previous sales tool so quickly, so this is the real overarching benefit of the Workbooks system. As long as our sales team continues to constantly update the data, the Workbooks system can give us a genuinely accurate picture of our pipeline.”
Put rubbish in, get rubbish out
Both Workbooks and iomart agree that a CRM system is only as effective as the information input into it, and it is imperative that all employees are kept up-to-date with procedures and receive adequate training. iomart also ensures that it receives regular feedback from end users, so it can quickly highlight any relevant problems and solve them immediately.
“Managers need to spell out to employees that this is their battle tool and it is a living, breathing asset for any sales and marketing team,” admits Worms. “This is relatively easy to do when you can prove that your sales system gives you a genuine competitive edge.”
In it for the long haul
The tangible benefits of Workbooks CRM speak for themselves, as iomart Group estimates that it has made a 30 per cent financial saving since switching to the Workbooks’ system. Moreover, switching CRM systems has been invaluable in terms of training and usability, with training time on the new system reduced by between seven and eight days.
“It is also a question of confidence, and I now feel assured that the whole team, without exception, are confident users of a CRM system. I feel like I can fully support our sales team by providing them with the market data, and subsequent campaigns to enable them to successfully close business,” enthuses Worms.
“We have invested a lot of time and resources in this switchover and are definitely in it for the long haul with Workbooks. The system has helped our sales team go from strength to strength. It is easy to use, gives us extra features that we don’t have to pay a supplement for and is playing an integral role in helping us grow the business,” concludes Worms.