Streamlined selling Featured

11:46am EDT July 31, 2002
For F.B. Leopold Co., time wasn't always on its side.

The Zelienople-based company develops and installs municipal water and wastewater treatment systems on six continents. With 160 employees, it has completed installations in 6,000 cities worldwide.

The projects F.B. Leopold pursues typically entail long selling cycles -- they can go on for several years in cases that involve multiple presentations and communications with contractors, engineers and municipalities. There's a lot on the line with such projects, which can be valued as high as $15 million, so quick turnaround on sales quotes and the ability to locate crucial account data is critical.

F.B. Leopold faced a challenge in managing the massive amounts of information generated from an initial inquiry through to a contract award. It had no integrated system for storing and disseminating information related to the sales cycle. Some key data was in a database that its four regional managers could access and pass along to 33 field representatives, but much of it resided in paper documents at the headquarters.

"We were having trouble with our field people accessing the information," says Mike Wild, sales administration manager for F.B. Leopold.

To further complicate matters, not everyone had that the same information at any given time.

F.B. Leopold found a solution in a customer relationship management system installed by Computer Resources, a Pittsburgh information technology consultant. Computer Resources recommended Microsoft Great Plains Siebel software to help F.B. Leopold track customer contacts online. The package works well for businesses like F.B. Leopold, where sales cycles are not immediate, says Tom Falloon, president of Computer Resources.

The system allows regional managers to quickly access account details and history. The information is synchronized, enabling all personnel to work with the same set of data.

The package brings a competitive advantage, according to Wild. With faster access to more information at a single source, his team can stay closer to the customer throughout the sales cycle. He says the system creates a more accurate picture of where a prospect is in the decision-making process, allowing F.B. Leopold to know project details, what information has been provided to a client and when to schedule presentations or contact prospective customers. That wasn't always the case.

Says Wild: "We were pretty much reacting to the industry rather than being proactive." How to reach: Computer Resources, www.computer-res.com; F.B. Leopold Co.,www.FBLeopold.com