Effective Outreach Increases Revenues
The sales team saw results almost instantaneously. “It was hugely helpful to use the capabilities of Acumatica to get in touch with a lot more schools and churches, automating sales processes from what was once a very manual process,” Salmon says.
“Now, every school in the country gets at least three sales calls, plus regular emails throughout the year,” he says. “We’ve really turned up the volume of our contact. We’re projecting an 8-fold growth in the school segment of our business from when we first adopted Acumatica. Much of that growth has come from having a better CRM in place to manage our customer opportunities and touchpoints.”
Acumatica automated many tasks, activities, and email campaigns. Sales teams work primarily in Outlook which is integrated into the CRM. Now all customer interactions are copied to Acumatica in a single click, giving ComCenter a full 360-degree view of its customer behavior, including order and communication contact historical data.
“Since almost everything is recorded in Acumatica, we can easily drill down into the information we need,” Salmon says. “For example, our salespeople can see which of their big customers bought in July last year or in the last two years and act on that information. Before Acumatica, it was challenging for them to know which account they should contact, and further which contact at that account they should work with out of a list of 100 contacts. Now, using Acumatica, they no longer ask, ‘Are you the person we should talk to?’”
Tracking ‘No’ Converts to an Increase in Sales
ComCenter easily set up a task process in Acumatica to track prospect outreach and the outcome of every interaction. This led to an interesting insight into prospects who say ‘No’ outright and later place an order during the year. “We generate as much revenue from schools who say “No” as we did in total sales to schools at the time we started using Acumatica,” Salmon says. “The sales and marketing workflows in Acumatica have made our sales outreach more effective, and we believe it’s a major force driving this increase in our revenue.”
ComCenter executives used data insights generated by Acumatica to identify potentially stalled sales and other missed opportunities to understand when a salesperson could benefit from targeted coaching. “That’s helpful for the sales manager and overall sales,” Salmon says. “The president, who personally tracks high dollar accounts, now teaches sales team members how to pursue those accounts more effectively.”
Increased Workflow Visibility
Previously, ComCenter managers struggled to recognize when an account rep may need additional help because they lacked access to sales opportunity progress information. “Sales managers now have dashboards to see what’s happening across the board in real-time which is key, since sales opportunities are often fluid,” Salmon says. “They can easily pull-out key data via generic inquiries that help determine who is top of mind to contact today, empowering sales performance.”
ComCenter’s operational manager leveraged newly available historical and real-time data to create an Acumatica dashboard that presented several years of weekly results. She also created a report for warehouse staff that showed the shipments and containers processed. “The warehouse staff were stunned,“ Salmon says. “They had been hearing from others how sales were growing, and the business was getting better, but they never had a way to visualize it in a way that was meaningful to their role. They learned that they processed 25 percent more containers than just one year earlier.”
Eliminated Manual Entries, Saving Time
ComCenter previously dedicated 40 hours a week to accounts payable. Now AP takes 10 hours or less to complete thanks to the automated document recognition and approval processes. “There is no paper involved until we are to the point where we issue a check,” Salmon says. “Everything is digital and lives in Acumatica.”
ComCenter also shaved 75 percent off the time needed to review online orders for accuracy. Previously, employees spent four hours a day reviewing orders based on established review criteria. “We had a meeting with the operations team and refined the criteria and the approval map, which decreased the time to one hour,” Salmon says.
Modern Platform Attractive to New Hires
Several ComCenter staff have retired in the past five years. Having a modern, easy-to-use platform that can be accessed from the cloud has helped the company attract employees in what remains a challenging hiring market.
“Previously, as we looked at retirements, we wondered how we would bring someone onto the mainframe, which is intimidating,” Salmon says. “We have hired more than a dozen new full-time or part-time employees since we started with Acumatica, and after some initial training on Acumatica, we were able to tell them to dive into it and explore the application because it’s so user-friendly.”
Improved Material Resource Planning
Acumatica also helped ComCenter navigate supply chain challenges. Executives struggled to ensure they had enough textbooks to meet the schools’ needs during their busy season. They wondered if a surge in early-season orders qualified as net new orders or orders placed by proactive schools, hoping to avoid supply chain shortages.
“With Acumatica, we could see how many of those orders came from new customers rather than customers who were just ordering earlier than previous years,” Salmon says. “We quickly had a visual in the hands of decision-makers and provided analysis to make that strategic business decision, which would have been impossible before.”
The data further revealed that they received the same number of early orders they previously had, and their inventory levels were right on track. “We were getting more business from repeat customers than before, so our sales were being driven by repeat customers buying more, which was encouraging,” he says.
“The ability to have data to drive decisions like that has been a huge benefit.”
Remote Access to Real-Time Data
Remote sales staff now have access to timely data since the cloud-based solution and mobile capabilities provide anytime anywhere access. “When we had salespeople who worked remotely, it was always a big deal to keep them up-to-date,” Salmon says. “We went so far as to have a person in IT schedule a yearly trip to go on-site, in person to see our salesperson in Virginia so we could update his computer and connection. One other salesperson didn’t have a connection to the old system and was forced to work offline, so we didn’t know what he was working on until he sent us the information.”
In addition to connecting to its WMS through Acumatica’s API, ComCenter has connected the ERP solution with other third-party applications including its online store, Velixo, Avalara, Microsoft Power BI, and Mail Chimp. The most important connection is to the company’s website, which provides the majority of ComCenter’s sales.
“The flow of information with Acumatica is really nice,” Salmon says. “Like other small businesses, we get more and more orders online rather than over the phone, and the website is connected to pull data out of Acumatica to keep inventory up to date.”
Orders flow from the website to Acumatica. ComCenter then uses Acumatica to track abandoned shopping carts for sales lead follow-up activity. “That’s a huge shift to have that option to tap into to further boost sales. Our sales teams can view web orders and abandoned carts with Acumatica data in context, which leads to better decision-making about which opportunities to prioritize.” Salmon says.
Increased Morale; Poised for Growth
ComCenter executives expect revenues to continue climbing despite market conditions. “We’re projecting a consistent increase in sales over five years,” Salmon says. “Acumatica has been a huge success.”
“We’ve reached a point where we have the tools and technology in place to go as far as we want to go. Acumatica has been instrumental in helping us create sales, marketing, and customer relationship management processes. We have seen success and morale improvements across our employee base thanks to that.”
ComCenter has a brighter outlook now that everyone has access to a modern platform and data that makes their jobs easier.
“Without this information, one may have the perception that we were in a dying industry with an outlook that was not very good. That is no longer the case,” Salmon says.
“Acumatica gave us what we needed to have a much more hopeful outlook, which has been a blessing to everyone working here. Everyone is working as hard as ever, but it’s when things are growing that you have optimism that carries you into the future. Our president often talks about our mission, which is to help others teach children about God, and that comes through in everything we do. Our ability to serve others has increased ten-fold, and that’s been made possible by going live with Acumatica.”