CRM is like an iceberg

The visible part of a CRM solution is the software, while the great unknown below the surface is to find out the direction in which the system is to be developed and adjusted.

Morten Nikolajsen Blog

“For all the years I have been with Brødrene Dahl, we have struggled with CRM, and are only beginning to get the hang of it now,” says Morten Nikolajsen, Commercial Director at Brødrene Dahl since 2007.

In 2007, Brødrene Dahl took the first steps towards implementing a CRM solution. It did not go well. The second attempt, after an upgrade of the solution by their supplier, did not really make it either.

“It’s not something I’m proud of. I let myself be enticed by the IT department saying that ‘it runs great, and the solution works well with our IT’.” The problem was just that, although we had got a car onto the road, it could only do 30 km/h – and that was no good to us,” Morten Nikolajsen says.

The smallest part of CRM is the software

Morten Nikolajsen views the CRM solution as an iceberg, where 90 percent of the ice, as we all know, is beneath the sea.

“The visible top tenth of CRM is the software, while ‘which way do we want to go’ is the great unknown lump of ice below the surface. Our business was not on top of what lay beneath the surface of our CRM,” reflects Morten Nikolajsen.

Third time around, Brødrene Dahl has now succeeded with its CRM. According to Morten Nikolajsen, as well as having a clear strategy, it is important for management to be actively involved and for the project to be firmly anchored in the organisation.

Good output requires good input

Another major factor in the implementation of CRM solutions is that the solution creates value for sales staff. Therefore, sales staff must be actively involved in the project. There must be something in the CRM solution for sales staff – but they also need to understand that to get anything out, something has to be put in.

“Yes, resources are needed to get data into the CRM. There is no shortcut in relation to that task,” Morten Nikolajsen says.

CRM generates valuable knowledge

MicroPartner set up Brødrene Dahl’s CRM solution so it can be bent, stretched and twisted in all directions. Imagination is pretty much the only limit to what the features may be.

For example, sales staff can get an assessment of customers’ potential with a single keystroke. Based on various input data and the number of employees in the customer’s business, the system provides an assessment of how much the customer is likely to buy per year.

“In addition to the assessment of potential and competitor information, the system also suggests products which the customer might have already and which may be relevant to cross-selling,” says Morten Nikolajsen.

Far from finished, but well on the way

“The implementation of our CRM solution has been a long journey which started in 2010, and we are far from done,” says Morten Nikolajsen.

He estimates that, so far, Brødrene Dahl has come 20 to 25 percent of the way, but that the company has nevertheless taken great strides.

“Brødrene Dahl has got a solution based on our needs rather than the platform’s technical capabilities,” says Morten Nikolajsen.

Recommendations for getting CRM across the line

If Morten Nikolajsen is to point to a few important reasons why Brødrene Dahl has now succeeded with CRM, at the third attempt, a clear division of roles including milestones and success criteria is one of them. Another is that the solution has to be perceived as having real value by both sales staff and managers in their day-to-day work.

“Everyone must use CRM, and everyone must want to use the system,” says Morten Nikolajsen.

Brødrene Dahl

Brødrene Dahl is Denmark’s largest plumbing wholesaler. The company specialises in products and consulting in plumbing, water and drainage, tools, pipes and valves and climate solutions. Brødrene Dahl is a supplier of expertise with 52 stores spread across the country.

Together with the builders’ merchants Optimera, the pipework business Heradan and the ventilation manufacturer Øland, Brødrene Dahl is part of the Saint-Gobain Group – one of the largest corporations in the production and distribution of building materials, glass and other specialty products. The company has two climate centres in Horsens and Næstved and a central warehouse in Randers, and employs 1,100 employees.