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Avenue is a Real-Time CRM Solution for Wincraft's Sales Force

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BACKGROUND: Wincraft is a recognized leader in the retail and promotional products industry and manufactures a diverse product line of licensed, custom and promotional items, ranging from school spirit buttons and banners to Super Bowl-themed pennants, flags, decals and signs, and sells them through five distinct business units within the company.

PLATFORMS: The system runs on Windows 95, NT 4.0 server with Compaq ProLiant 5500 and dual Xeon processors.

PROBLEM SOLVED: For 41 years, Wincraft was unable to generate immediate access to customer data, monthly and yearly sales projections and individual sales transactions. Wincraft had no specific knowledge of the length of time needed to close wholesale, key account and distributor sales. The company used dumb terminals for order entry and an AS/400 Query to manage sales information across five business units for field and headquarters-based sales reps, who each worked with 500 to 1,000 customers and prospects. In short, almost all elements of the sales process were manual and slow. Wincraft implemented Avenue 4.1.2, a customer relationship management system that documents real-time customer information, tracks sales data, provides forecasts and automates the daily distribution of assignments for the field and inside sales force.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The product is working exactly how we were initially told it would work. As part of the implementation of Avenue 5.0, we will start utilizing additional features such as the marketing encyclopedia as well as the current charting function and form letters. We will integrate Outlook and Palm Pilot.

STRENGTHS: The main strengths of Avenue are its capabilities to quickly query customer information and customize it to each person's unique requests; quickly query customer information for fax and e- mail campaigns relating to sports events such as NCAA Final Four, Super Bowl, Stanley Cup and NBA Championship; track the length of particular account sales cycles from prospect phase to close of first order; identify which months have the strongest sales for our customers and create direct marketing programs based on this information; easily identify when customers last ordered from us and what they ordered; import site information into a Word template, saving us time typically involved in manual typing work; view notes by others in the organization who have talked to the customers which, in turn, allows us to be better prepared for our conversation with them; view the credit history of a customer in order to be better prepared for sales calls; and track performance of the sales reps by analyzing their daily calls and documented notes.

WEAKNESSES: The weaknesses of this product include the time-intensive process for attaching remote users, speed of the product, delays on software upgrades and response time of customer service.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We chose Saratoga because we felt it was the best customer relationship management (CRM) system on the market. The major advantages that Avenue has over other products in the marketplace are its short implementation time, user friendliness and highly customizable system.

DELIVERABLES: The outputs that Avenue produces for Wincraft enable us to provide the following reports to management and sales: weekly comparative sales reports by each sales person; reports that shows the quantity that a customer has purchased and details by customer class (sporting goods store/independent), league code (NFL, NASCAR NBA, MLB), team code (Vikings, Packers) and product code (3x5 flag, pennant, static cling), which helps us analyze how we can customize our direct mail programs; reports that indicate the most productive time in each territory based on the number of notes and calls that are made throughout the day; and reports that allow us to develop sales forecasts for a certain period of time.

VENDOR SUPPORT: During pre-implementation, we received excellent service. Since then, we have run into lengthy time gaps to obtain resolutions to problems. We have also had issues with the speed of the product and have yet to resolve this problem.

DOCUMENTATION: We found all of the documentation easy to read and understand, even for the most novice users.

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