For Los Angeles-based Pictage, a company that works with professional photographers (mostly of the wedding variety) by processing their images and making them available online for the photographers’ customers to view and order, 2002 proved to be a crucial year. Founded just two years earlier, Pictage had already amassed a client base of almost 1,500 photographers. However, the company’s small sales force had hit a snag.
As a young, mid-sized business, Pictage had been relying on a Microsoft Access database, and sometimes Excel spreadsheets, to keep track of incoming potential clients. This outmoded system was becoming a drain on resources—the small sales staff was distracted with divvying up leads, manipulating spreadsheets and wrangling with reports when they needed to be contacting potential clients, answering their questions and qualifying applications. They also needed the option of doing all this from the field. As Scott Brogi, VP of development at Pictage, puts it, “We’d outstripped the capacity of our homegrown systems to support trying to serve photographers and to attract prospective new photographers to the system.” Pictage needed a fix, and it needed it shutter quick.
The CRM Proposal
According to Brogi, what Pictage wanted was a more efficient way to manage the online applications filed by prospective clients, as well as a way to streamline the resulting follow-up process so that its sales team could sign up potential clients as quickly as possible. Additionally, Pictage had begun utilizing remote sales reps to satisfy nationwide demand, and its old Access database couldn’t meet the company’s mobile demands, either.
“We really wanted to go to a Web-based solution,” says Brogi, “one that would easily allow us to get information from prospective clients … and move them through the pipeline.” Cost savings were also a factor, since a hosted solution would save Pictage the need to invest in the IT resources traditionally necessary for an installed CRM solution.
After considering a variety of CRM applications, both premises-based and hosted, Pictage narrowed its options down to three on-demand providers before choosing Boston-based Salesnet. According to Brogi, Pictage’s focus was on sales force automation, and it seemed that Salesnet, “was doing a better job of really focusing on that core need and delivering features like data capture, highly customizable reporting and other features like calendaring and tasking that we can share as a team.”
Dan Starr, Salesnet’s chief marketing officer, expands on that, explaining that the system lets companies define how they want their salespeople to sell. It “guides their people to make them more effective, and then it provides reports and analysis to enable the manager to track the performance of the sales team.”
Pictage implemented Salesnet Standard Edition, the company’s mid-market product. For Pictage, the centerpiece of the new system is its external data capture feature. When prospective clients visit Pictage’s Web site and decide they’re interested in the company’s services, they are directed to an HTML page where they complete a brief online application. According to Brogi, “As soon as someone completes that online application, the information drops right into the Web-based package on Salesnet, which assigns that record a certain prospect status so we know we need to send an information kit, and it assigns [the record], based on some geographic parameters that we chose, to a sales rep for follow up.”
With this information in the system, Pictage personnel can
now access sales leads and reports from the road via a Web browser. The Salesnet Standard Edition comes with optional browser enhancements and a workflow blueprint for sales effectiveness. Additionally, it requires no IT support or maintenance on Pictage’s end, and it includes secure offline, wireless, IM and Outlook e-mail connectivity.
According to Brogi, implementing Salesnet was a relatively easy process that took a single weekend. Salesnet worked with Pictage to map out a data cleansing and migration plan to help mitigate the transition. Besides customizing the account record and creating the HTML application, Brogi recalls, “We migrated our Access database into the Salesnet format, which is a really easy export feature, right from the desktop. Very simple.” The new online application was immediately launched and the rest is history. Since the conversion was completed in early 2003, says Brogi, Pictage has handled over 6,000 applications through Salesnet. “I would say that the amount of prospects that we can reach in a day per representative … has probably increased by at least a third,” says Brogi. He also credits Salesnet with helping Pictage to grow a current base of over 3,000 clients, while maintaining a relatively small sales force.
Training Pictage’s sales force was equally painless. It took about half a day and, like the conversion, was conducted in-house. Brogi says that the sales reps have embraced the technology and that being freed from the shackles of spreadsheets allows them to spend their time focusing on more effective selling. “They’re each able to go in and create different reports so they can tier their prospects and then follow up with them … and really generate exactly what they want from a reporting perspective. Anyway you look at it—from a productivity perspective and certainly from a financial perspective—it’s been a huge win for us.”
As for the bottom line, Salesnet is a pay-as-you-go model. As Starr explains, “If you only have five users, you only pay for five users. … Our products are geared to offer a very fast ROI.” Pictage pays a per-seat license fee on a monthly basis, which meant almost no up-front investment. True to Starr’s word, during the first month of implementation Pictage saw an ROI, earning incremental revenues that were double the amount of what Pictage pays annually to utilize Salesnet. And that wasn’t all—according to Brogi, Pictage saw a 50 percent increase in new clients for the first month of implementation.
Happily Ever After
Pictage and Salesnet seem to be a perfect match. Thanks to Salesnet, Pictage has met its goals for CRM and done so at a reasonable cost through a relatively easy implementation. And better still, it’s seeing very concrete results: ROI within a month and a marked increase in sales productivity. This looks like one relationship that is going to last.•
Daniel Morris is a writer based in Brooklyn.