We’re in January 2010, my partners Enzo, Brigitte and I just launched my first business (they have been in business before). I feel totally blessed that two respected (and cool) investors choose to team up with me and start a new venture.

I have worked with Enzo in 2006; first he was my boss and then became a friend and a mentor to me. I remember telling him, least a thousand times, that I wanted to start a business with him, that I’d be ready when the timing is “right.”

Eventually he called me and said,”Eric, are you still ‘in,” we are starting a business.”

“Eric, are you still ‘in,’ we are starting a business.”

I jumped on the occasion and said YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS. So, we found a temporary office, bought a few laptops, rolled up our sleeves and began hunting for clients.

Before starting a company, I was working for a very BIG corporation, as a sales person I had access to a CRM, marketing material, support to respond to RFP’s, an office admin assistant that would do a ton of work for us (even though I didn’t realize), and a lot of other things that made my life comfortable.

I was in “business development” mode and what hurt me the most is that we had NO CUSTOMER DATABASE!

So, I would cold call potential customers/prospects and log their company name, name, email address, phone number, etc. On an EXCEL SPREADSHEET. At first it was working OK, but I quickly realized that it was getting big, messy and out of control. Things got worse when we hired our first sales person as we would now have two lists, lose some information or do duplicate work, sometimes both of us were calling in the same prospect without knowing… however the client might have noticed.

In early 2o12 we decided to fix this, we would invest in a CRM. This would be a HUGE INNOVATION for us. But what steps we should follow to reach our goal. We went back to the basics and followed these 5 simple steps:

Find out what we wanted out of our new system:

  1. centralized data: a centralized view of our customer
  2. Increased efficiency: no more duplicate work, access to our customer database online and mobile device
  3. Better customer experience: more data, better follow up, etc.
  4. Better internal collaboration: share documents, share information on customers…

increased focus; spend less time managing Excel spreadsheets and doing administrative work.

Over the last few following weeks we wrote down our needs, hopes and dreams, read foresters and Gartner’s recommendations on the best CRM available out there and after we looked a demonstration for a handful of manufacturers.

benefits of CRM

We have seen a few demonstrations and were really impressed by one of them. This CRM was:

  1. Fully mobile
  2. Ultra-secure
  3. Built on a platform (highly customizable)
  4. Had an ecosystem of developers (Applications)
  5. An ecosystem of System Integrators

We have been using Salesforce since 2012 and we love it. As business geeks, we fell in love with the platform (customization, integration, flexibility…) of the CRM and we’ve become a partner in 2013 and have been working with many clients since then.

To me, innovation is not only the opportunity to get rid of my excel spreadsheet and implement a CRM, it is also to push the possibility and make it available to our customers and other people who are stuck with an excel spreadsheet.

Using a platform, we can do pretty much anything, we need

We’ve done some pretty amazing projects since we first discovered that Salesforce is not just a CRM, but also a great tool for Marketing automation, service centres and call centres, business applications development, portals/communities, analytics, and much more….

This innovation story may seem quite basic or just what you need depending on where you sit, but back then it was a huge and very positive change for our business and our client.