How CRM enabled an Aussie software company to grow

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How CRM enabled an Aussie software company to grow

Expr3ss! has a deeper understanding of its customers thanks to its partnership with Salesforce.

Expr3ss! offers a cloud application for recruitment that incorporates predictive hiring technology, allowing employers to hire on attitude rather than skills.

The company was founded in 1999 and has been operating in its current form since 2006. The idea is that organisations traditionally “hire on skills and fire on attitude,” so it makes more sense to measure candidates' attitudes at the start of the hiring process, thus saving money and reducing staff turnover.

But Expr3ss! isn't just about attitude measurement, said national sales manager Andrew Lester. It identifies candidates matching the required skills (“can do”), uses expert systems technology to identify those that are the best fit (“will do”) and then helps manage the final selection process (“fit to”).

Expr3ss! claims to have saved its Australian business clients more than $1.1 billion dollars in staff turnover and direct recruitment costs. Those clients range from SMEs to companies with tens of thousands of employees, operating in many different industries including clubs and hospitality, retail and supermarket chains, banks and finance, age and healthcare services, real estate and trades.

Well-known clients include Anytime Fitness, Beacon Lighting, Bob Jane, Krispy Kreme, Marley Spoon, Nando’s, Ray White Group, and Spendless Shoes.

Expr3ss! was always process-driven, but for the first ten years those processes were implemented using paper and spreadsheets. In 2009, Expr3ss! adopted Salesforce as its customer relationship management (CRM) system.

One of the big attractions was its flexibility, for example in the way it allows users to add another field or create a new report.

But perhaps more importantly, it keeps the entire Expr3ss! team on the same page with up-to-the-minute information on all of the customers. This, Lester said, is important for both the customer service and sales functions.

The team can see all the processes, information and communications, without having to duplicate the data or ask each other for details. The company still only has 11 employees (spread over NSW, SA and Victoria), but with Salesforce they can manage thousands of customers.

“The Salesforce platform has allowed us to work smarter,” Lester told Business IT. “You wouldn't be able [to do it] otherwise.

“We've been on a journey,” growing at around 33 percent a year, but could not have done that without systems and processes, and Salesforce has a depth of functionality and quality of support that other software providers lack. And “they do listen to what our requirements are.”

The information collected in Salesforce allows Expr3ss! to interact with its clients in a very personalised and targeted way.

For example, it recently sent Mothers Day cards to all of its clients that it knew were mothers, and when it invited a group of customers to attend an AFL match, the invitation sent to someone known to be a non-drinker made no mention of champagne, Lester explained.

Another of Salesforce's role example was the company's 'rocky road' promotion where selected prospects were sent a generous chunk of the chocolate and marshmallow treat. The promotion was managed through Salesforce, which also made it easy to generate reports on subsequent activity with the recipients – “a very powerful way to pull out the right targets,” he said.

Expr3ss! is “using Salesforce to let us be a software provider... putting the 'soft' into 'software' and letting us touch customers in a way others cannot,” said Lester.

Marketing and communications manager Liz van Zyl stressed that the company uses Salesforce for sales and marketing purposes. When a new customer is onboarded, a series of email templates allow each individual user to receive messages customised according to their role.

Salesforce “informs our marketing strategy,” she said, for instance by identifying particular industries where leads are less likely to convert to paying customers.

Expr3ss! uses several other SaaS products, including Salesforce's Pardot (marketing automation), Trello, Slack and Dropbox (project management, messaging and file share/collaboration, respectively).

Salesforce is the “master” when it comes to integration, said Lester. Pardot links Salesforce to services such as Eventbrite (event ticketing), and resources stored in Dropbox can be linked to Salesforce records thanks to integration coming to the two platforms (see below).

“Pardot integration was a game changer” for Expr3ss! in terms of cold calling, he said.

There are ways to integrate Salesforce and Slack (eg, via the Salesforce app for Slack or the Slack app for Salesforce), but that is an aspect Lester has yet to explore.

If a business is thinking of adopting a CRM product, whether that's Salesforce or something else, Lester says it is important to start by establishing appropriate processes and making sure you understand them - otherwise you don't know what you are trying to achieve.

And if those processes are in place, it's much more likely that you'll get the structure of your CRM right the first time - even though one of the advantages of Salesforce is that structures are easy to change.

“Customers like Expr3ss! have experienced tremendous growth on the Salesforce platform in Australia,” said Salesforce APAC area vice president for small and medium business Adrian Towsey.

“Research we commissioned Deloitte to conduct found 70 percent of small businesses don’t have a CRM system. Yet 44 percent of SMBs with a CRM report higher revenue than those with no system or a basic system. We've launched Salesforce Essentials to make it easier for small businesses to access the technology they need to grow.”

Dropbox and Salesforce to offer new integrations

Meanwhile, integrations between Dropbox and certain Salesforce services are expected later this year.

Earlier this year, Dropbox and Salesforce embarked on a strategic partnership to connect the two platforms, with the first deliverables expected in the second half of 2018.

The first two Dropbox integrations from the relationship will concern the Salesforce Commerce Cloud and the Salesforce Marketing Cloud, and Salesforce's Quip collaboration product.

Salesforce's Commerce and Marketing Clouds will integrate with Dropbox so that digital assets (such as catalogues, manuals and other creative materials) can be made available to external partners as well as internal teams.

Two-way integration means files will stay up to date on both platforms whether a user is working in Dropbox or Salesforce. To illustrate how this could be used, the companies suggest that a retailer using Salesforce Commerce Cloud might create a Dropbox folder to access product images or creative briefs from an external creative agency. The retailer would be notified if the agency makes changes or additions, and could then update its online storefront accordingly.

Existing Marketing or Commerce Cloud users can apply for beta access to the Dropbox integration.

The Dropbox/Quip integration will provide direct access to content such as photos, videos and slides stored in Dropbox from Quip. Conversely, Dropbox will gain support for Quip files.

The price of these integrations will be revealed when they are made generally available to the companies' customers.

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