Insight in the pipeline, the future of sales and customer needs

Samskip has offices in 24 countries. Together they offer transport and logistics related services by land, sea, rail, and air, around the world, focusing on cost efficient, reliable and environmentally friendly solutions. To get more insight in the ‘black box of sales’ and to improve customer satisfaction, Samskip asked Arcus IT Dynamics Experts to help them roll out Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales.

Through the years the Samskip group has grown through acquisitions into a 900 million-euro company with about 1800 employees, predominantly in Europe. At its headquarters in Rotterdam, about 80 employees in the Multimodal business unit are now happy to work with Dynamics CRM. Other business units will follow. Eric B. Williams is head of commercial activities: ‘We want to get all the new entities we acquired over time under one organisational roof. Working on one platform will help that.’

In the past, Samskip tried to roll out CRM before. ‘Three times in total, but never with the right support,’ clarifies Jhovana Basto, Commercial Excellence Lead. ‘The main problem was that the system didn’t work for us, we worked for the system. People started using it, but since the system was not updated and questions were not answered, they got less and less engaged. That led to the failure of these CRM-systems.’ 

Fourth time the charm
This time around, the company decided on a different approach. The sales managers went through a leadership training programme that could help them and their team to embrace the change. Eric: ‘They had to be made aware of what it can do to help us. So first we did a major change management project and then we rolled out the technology. This CRM project is successful because behavioural change, setting a new Sales Operating Model and the implementation of Dynamics came together at the right time.’

Samskip investigated three different implementation partners, each presenting different CRM-systems. Jhovana: ‘The management chose Arcus because they are specialists in Dynamics. As a Microsoft application, Dynamics can connect to Power BI, Outlook, Teams, and other platforms. And this time we wanted a cloud-based application, so everybody can access it, whenever and wherever they want. The management also liked that Arcus proposed a workshop with different users of CRM to gather feedback to build a system that was right for Samskip.’

‘Before we didn’t actually know what happened in the business between a customer contact and a booking. We also wanted more visibility on the future.’

Black box of sales
‘Our main goal for CRM, was getting insight in the black box of sales to get more visibility in the pipeline,’ explains Eric. ‘Before we didn’t actually know what happened in the business between a customer contact and a booking. We also wanted more visibility on the future. When I started here just over a year ago, our proverbial windshield was covered: we had no clue what was going to happen tomorrow or a month later. The CRM has helped us clearing up the windshield.’

Jhovana: ‘At first Arcus helped us break the ice and gather all the insights and information about our processes. They said: “We don’t need to adapt the process to the technology, you need to adapt the technology to the process.” They helped us with that. They also helped us a lot with the implementation and advised us how to create a system that not only works today, but also in the future. They thought it was particularly important to involve the people from Sales and to listen to their wishes. The Sales team now feels that they really helped build the system. In addition, the Sales leadership team aligned and agreed on the new way of working, the so called Sales Operating Model.’

Samskip started using Dynamics six months ago. Eric: ‘Arcus advised us on starting with a base (Minimal Viable Product or MVP) and developing that based on the feedback of the users, which I thought was a great idea.’ Jhovana: ‘We started with the contacts and reporting. Since then, we have been implementing improvements in monthly sprints. To name a few: we improved the pipeline, we can do customer segmentations, we added Copilot (AI). When I train new people, I realize how many improvements we have made the last six months.’

Insights in opportunities

Eric: ‘That process has not stopped. The system is getting better and better and adds more and more value to the organisation. Dynamics helps us uncover what really happens on the commercial side of the business: What activities do we have with our customers? What are the agendas for our meeting? Which opportunities do we create and are we winning them? So, we can make corrective actions to ensure we get the business we want in one month time.’

In the past salespeople had opportunities in Excel sheets or even just in their minds. Leads were never reported. ‘We never knew how may leads became opportunities, and how many became contacts et cetera. Now we can share leads with other business units. Our skills, services and assets are spread throughout the company. Dynamics helps us to communicate much more effectively as an organisation. You put a lead into the system, and you are sure it will be dealt with by the right person.’

Since the salespeople can report everything in CRM, the efficiency has improved greatly. Jhovana: ‘At first they said: “You cannot teach me anything on sales.” Now they have really changed their attitude. They love it, especially when they have a lot of meetings. They really see the benefit, because they are more organized, and they can see what they are achieving. And when a salesperson leaves, they leave all their information and contacts in the system. Before it was difficult to recover the information as most of it was lost and we had to start from scratch.’

‘When the customers like our services and the external apps we offer, that creates customer loyalty, which is crucial in this competitive marketplace.’

Data driven instead of gut feeling
Dynamics also provides Samskip with the data to support future initiatives. Jhovana: ‘When we uncovered the black box for sales, we started to see the organization as a whole: we saw on which areas they needed support.’ ‘We became much more data driven, instead of doing business on gut feeling,’ adds Eric. ‘We now have a truly clear understanding what has happened and what is going to happen, and we have the data to support it. When the customers like our services and the external apps we offer, that creates customer loyalty, which is crucial in this competitive marketplace.’

One of the biggest changes Samskip is working towards, is putting the customer first. That is why the Sales team is now focusing more on customer care. Jhovana: ‘We rolled out Customer Satisfaction Surveys via Dynamics. The feedback we get form our customers confirms we are making the right changes. They also gave the feedback that they look for a reliable partner. So now we try to focus even more on reliable services.’ Eric: ‘Reliability is king for our products and services we offer. We have to be spot on reliable to beat the competition. Our new services are going like clockwork and that drives up trust. And we measure that Customer Satisfaction using Dynamics to ensure we have a close pulse on our customer’s sentiment each month.’

Added customer value

In addition, the Dynamics Marketing module made a more customer friendly approach possible. Jhovana: ‘We can now inform our customers about a weather disruptions immediately, so they know what to expect and that we are proactively watching out for their shipment. Through the surveys they let us know they really appreciate that.’ Eric: ‘We add value because we can help them despite the disruptions:  we can offer different modes of transport to make sure critical shipments meets customer demands. They need a partner who can find solutions when conditions are difficult.’

After the implementation Arcus did the main roll-out of the training of the Sales leadership team. Jhovana: ‘They were critical in that process and still are today. Arcus trained us in the main functionalities, but sometimes there are questions, that I don’t know how to answer. They are very nice and help me immediately. Communication is easy. They demonstrated a proactive approach by making adjustments to the development team midway through the project, ensuring a better fit for our specific needs.’

‘Sometimes when we want a new functionality, Arcus provides exactly what we want. Other times they advise us to do it in another way or even advise against it, based on what they have seen in so many other cases. Sometimes they help me think seven moves ahead. We have rolled-out CRM for Sales and Marketing in Multimodal but want to roll it out for the rest of the organisation. They advise if the new functionalities are also helpful for the other business units, so we save time.’

Critical part of our success
Eric also thinks Arcus has done a tremendous job. ‘Looking back, they have been a great partner. They really listened to us and stood by us during the journey. They have also adapted when I came in when we  put the focus on the behavioural aspect and constructed our new Sales Operating Model which is supported by the technology. For the needed organisational transformation, we brought in an external company: experts in commercial change. Arcus was very open to teaming up with them to drive more value. Together they helped to make the implementation into a success, by making sure people are using it. I am impressed with them; they have been a critical part of our success.’

‘A key aspect of implementing a system rollout is embracing change and collaborating to reshape our workflow,’ adds Eric. ‘The CRM serves as a catalyst for this transformation, fostering a mindset shift and providing a platform for the Sales Leaders to coach their sales teams on specific opportunities or activities.’

Eric saw the sales numbers improve in the second half of 2023. ‘Dynamics provided far greater visibility and supported us to  drive up performance in the last quarter: we outperformed previous year and exceeded our targets during that period. Dynamics linked to BI helps us to clear the black box to something that’s crystal clear. To me that is what CRM is about.’




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