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Successful Sales Force Automation

By Victor Pawluk, National Sales Manager, WIKA Instruments, Ltd. Selling within the manufacturing space can be an arduous process since it involves many parties coming together on one opportunity, but with the right automation process all team members can stay organized and up-to-date on any potential sale.

Managing the sales process for any company that sells products or services with long, complex sales cycles and requires extensive collaborative communications can be a challenge but one that we were able to overcome at WIKA Instruments Ltd.  

WIKA Instruments is the Canadian subsidiary of WIKA Alexander Wiegand GmbH & Co. KG, a manufacturer of electronic and mechanical pressure and temperature instrumentation. With an extensive line of pressure gauges, chemical seals, thermocouples, resistance temperature detectors (RTD), thermowells and associated accessories, we provide a solution for any measurement task. Our products are ideal for applications within the petrochemical, power generation, process, sanitary, medical, UHP and wastewater industries.

WIKA employs 300 people in facilities located in Edmonton, AB, Oakville, ON, and Deer Park, TX. 

With 30 outside sales executives and nearly 40 inside sales people backed by product managers and project leaders, the sales force automation efforts by the WIKA Instruments team consisted of a “pen and paper” approach augmented by Microsoft Word and Excel call activity sheets.

We basically scribbled notes on cocktail napkins and fed the information into Word docs or Excel spreadsheets. As our company grew, this method proved inadequate and often created incomplete sales opportunities, loss of prospective customers and reporting that was lackluster.

We realized a need to open our lines of communication, especially when connecting four or five sales reps that could be linked to a single sales opportunity that might cover engineering companies in Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto or Houston. WIKA was challenged to review quotations, bids, sales calls and types of products for its customer base, and knew that the company could not rely solely upon manual processes, fax or email.

Initially, we evaluated a CRM (customer relationship management) solution in 2004 with minimal features and functionality.  However, with our burgeoning growth and merger with another company, the scalability of the solution was limited. Plus, the solution lacked in quotation functionality, planning and call reporting.

WIKA determined that better organization and communication was business critical within its sales processes and it led the company to select an on-demand CRM software, Selltis Sales, for end-to-end sales process automation.

At first, our sales executives were reluctant to use the CRM software since it involved more input of data and meant more accountability for their sales opportunities.  Now, they have embraced it as part of their daily routine since they can instantly view a quote, gain a better handle on planning, run in-depth reports and set up call activities.

Reaping the Rewards
By deploying an intuitive CRM solution that brings us all on the same page, industrial and technical organizations can benefit by an end-to-end sales process automation solution that goes beyond traditional CRM.

One of the single most important features that WIKA has optimized is the capability to handle quotes. Reporting is much easier than ever before for us. Even canned reports are useful and easily customized for filtering. For example, we can simply filter out U.S. sales activities to see a snapshot of Canadian plans for any given week (opportunities, activities, plans, status) -- all at the push of a button.

We are able to continually customize the system. If we want a different view or need to add a “hot button” for a SIC code, we can customize it easily.

In terms of linking capabilities, senior managers can link leads and quotes. We have even created customized views so we can see users, companies, projects and sales calls -- and link them to automatically send out “to do” items. If one of our sales reps is out sick, another exec can easily follow up on an opportunity since the item automatically appears on their “to do” list as well.

Our foray into CRM and sales force automation has given us innumerable savings.  Previously, if quotes were lost, then so was the ensuing business. Now, we can review the entire history of a specific opportunity and determine lessons learned and areas of improvement. We can also conduct forward planning based on sales history to prepare us today for the opportunities of tomorrow.

Our entire organization has seen tremendous time and productivity efficiencies since we implemented the CRM software. We would never return to the manual process of keeping records. Four years ago, we would run to a cabinet to review paper reports.

Now, our business-critical data now resides in one central place -- basically providing one CRM/sales force automation repository that brings all sales activities together.

We can sum up our use of CRM in two words -- organization and communication. For us, taking the CRM plunge resulted in substantial ROI over the long term.

Victor Pawluk is national sales manager for WIKA Instruments, Ltd and resident technology pundit. For more information visit