This Canadian provider of pipe leak detection solutions has a fantastic technology. When I got involved, it was clear that the sky was the limit – if only commercialization capabilities could be beefed up.
In the water business, technology is only one driver of market adoption. Even more so when clients are municipalities, and the company is looking for investors.
Over the course of seven months, I together with a colleague completed a comprehensive upgrade of the sales and marketing function, involving market strategy, branding, lead generation, and investment preparations; and I managed the design and implementation of a customized Microsoft CRM Dynamics solution. Details follow:
- Offline lead generation: the municipalities market is well defined, so I secured the list of all municipalities above a certain size in North America, and ranked it according to relevant criteria for our lead generation activity. We shared with the sales team to identify key targets in each one and generally go after them in a structured fashion.
- Online lead generation: we conducted email campaigns in preparation for tradeshows. We also created new marketing material and made detailed recommendations to restructure the website.
- Sales and marketing team building: I recommended some team designs for discussion with senior management and wrote job descriptions for various new roles including inside sales manager, technical sales manager (leading to a hire) and VP Sales & Marketing.
- CRM system: the company had a Microsoft Dynamics CRM system functioning poorly on local servers. After carefully selecting technical subcontractors, I took that system to the “cloud” (MS servers) and completely redesigned it (writing most of the custom code directly). Knowing that user adoption is where most CRM projects fail, I then gave multiple training sessions to the staff directly and over the Internet.
- Investment and funding application preparation: a lot of our activities above was geared towards making the company attractive to potential investors and public grant reviewers. In that context, I also supported the due diligence activity required by venture capitalists, reviewed funding applications and presented our initiatives to the board of directors.
The new CRM system was four to five times faster than the legacy system, and much more user-friendly. Built in close consultation with the commercial team, it contained the exact fields they needed (and just those – to avoid bloating).
It also mapped addresses automatically on Google Map (useful when visiting a geographical area containing several prospects), offered lead scoring, and was loaded with all municipalities in North America, each with relevant information such as water distribution system type and population size.
As a result, it was rapidly embraced by the sales and marketing team, and used on a daily basis to maintain records and orchestrate commercial contacts activities across the organization.
The lead generation and commercial team actions supported the subsequent growth trajectory of the company, which went on to be acquired by a strategic player – but only after rejecting a few term sheets from VCs.