Sloan Valve is a key industry player in the design and production of touchless motion-sensor restroom fixtures and other commercial plumbing products. Touchless fixtures were introduced to a mass market roughly 30 years ago and quickly became the standard for commercial facilities. Walk into any airport, hotel, or restaurant bathroom and it’s likely you put your hands under the faucet expecting a rush of water without even bothering to check for a handle. Superior technology, like a steady flow of water, is difficult to impede once its journey begins.
Beyond consistently introducing new technology in its product lines, Sloan Valve prides itself on being proactive in its own technology journey. For the cloud-first organization, this meant examining how to most effectively modernize and improve some paper-based, manual sales processes. Sales lead generation was one such process in need of a change as significant as the transition from a pull chain to an automatic flush. Until recently, the company did not have a dedicated system for gathering and tracking sales leads. Rather, sales personnel in the field depended in large part on creating and maintaining their own records either through individual spreadsheets, handwritten notes, or a collection of business cards from leads generated at trade shows, plumbing and construction project databases, or field visits.
While institutional knowledge was an effective tool for turning leads into quotes and converting quotes into orders, one drawback was a lack of organizational visibility into lead conversions. Also, sales reps did not have ready access to a customer’s account information. This made site visits to customer accounts less seamless than they could be; often, sales reps would have to contact or return to the field office to get answers to customers’ questions.
To improve the effectiveness of its national sales force, which includes 58 representative field offices consisting of hundreds of sales reps, Sloan Valve decided it was time to implement a dedicated system for lead and opportunity management that would also provide sales with tools to enhance customer engagement.
“As part of the project to improve sales rep effectiveness, we tried to create a flow chart for lead and opportunity management,” says Sloan Valve CIO Tom Coleman. “When we discovered just how informal and undocumented the process really was, we reengineered the process and created a how-to model for how it ought to work in a proactive way.”
An All-in-One Front End
This how-to model included mobility as a key requirement to give sales reps access to up-to-date customer information while in the field. Of course, access to timely reports on a mobile device would also necessitate a centralized front-end system to track and manage the lead pipeline across the sales organization.
Sloan Valve limited its search to cloud solutions and eventually decided to deploy the SAP Hybris Cloud for Sales and SAP Hybris Cloud for Service solutions of SAP Hybris Cloud for Customer. A long-time SAP customer, the business had been running SAP ERP and SAP Customer Relationship Management (SAP CRM) on-premise since 1998 and recently moved its entire human capital management (HCM) environment into the cloud with SAP SuccessFactors solutions. Determining factors in the decision to stay with an SAP product to boost sales effectiveness included its seamless mobile support for any device, native integration to SAP ERP and SAP CRM, and the fact that SAP Hybris Cloud for Customer runs natively on SAP HANA for tracking real-time sales and service performance with dashboards prebuilt into the application. Advanced analytics features include ad-hoc query analysis, predictive modeling, simulations, and advanced data visualization.
“With SAP Hybris Cloud for Sales, a salesperson out in the field on a tablet can access the system, check the pipeline, access reports about ordering patterns from the customer, and get any other information they could possibly need,” Coleman says. “They have the answers they need to any possible question before they even walk in the customer’s door.”
SAP Hybris Cloud for Service replaces call center functionality that had previously been supported by its on-premise SAP CRM system. (The company is still using SAP CRM to run internet sales, which accounts for 70% of its orders). The big advantage with SAP Hybris Cloud for Service, according to Coleman, is that it easily integrates with SAP Hybris Cloud for Sales to better support field service.
“The two applications don’t function as separate systems,” says Coleman. “They have the same user interface (UI), and it’s just a different tab on the menu. You can imagine how powerful a synergy that is for salespeople out in the field looking at their leads — they hit the tab called service, and they can immediately see what’s happening with the account from the service side.”
You can imagine how powerful a synergy that is for salespeople out in the field looking at their leads — they hit the tab called service, and they can immediately see what’s happening with the account from the service side.
—Tom Coleman, CIO, Sloan Valve
Reaching an Adoption Tipping Point
The challenge with presenting users with a new set of tools to improve the customer experience was getting them to use the applications. It was a combination of resistance to change and misunderstanding among users — many initially thought that the intended purpose of automating lead and opportunity management was to give managers a way to monitor performance, according to Coleman. “Manufacturing companies are pretty highly automated these days and Sloan Valve is no exception, but sales historically had been less inclined to adopt and learn a new system,” he says.
Since going live with SAP Hybris Cloud for Sales in early 2015 (SAP Hybris Cloud for Service went live in 2016), Coleman says that user acceptance has improved, with more users coming to the realization that the solution replaces most of the manual tasks they previously had to rely on. In addition to being appreciative of the savings in both time and effort, users also see a noticeable uptick in sales lead conversions from the use of SAP Hybris Cloud for Customer, which of course also bodes well for increased adoption.
Pre-built reports include rolling 12-month sales lead conversion rates, sales lead qualification rates, and updated lead status, to list a few. A “Customer Insight” screen also provides a launching pad with a reports summary that can be broken down by region, customer, and other metrics.
“Before the SAP Hybris solutions, it was not clear what our conversion rate was,” Coleman says. “We would invest in sending salespeople to a plumbing supply meeting to generate a lot of leads, but the VP of sales didn’t have a way to track how many of those turned into orders.”
Not in the Server Business
By choosing to deploy SAP Hybris Cloud for Customer, Sloan Valve avoided having to use third-party middleware to interface SAP Hybris Cloud for Sales and SAP Hybris Cloud for Service with its back-end system and downstream processes, such as order to cash. Instead, they could use the SAP Cloud Platform Integration service, a cloud-based integration service that offers connection to SAP and non-SAP cloud products out of the box.
“We could have chosen another product that would track and manage leads, but without the middleware, those leads don’t go anywhere,” Coleman says. “We knew up front that we were going to have about a dozen different interfaces, and SAP Cloud Platform Integration is a powerful tool to simplify those connections.”
Avoiding a separate integration project speaks to another Sloan Valve objective, which was to avoid overtasking its slimmed-down IT department. This is the same reason why Sloan Valve now looks to the cloud first as a deployment option for its infrastructure needs.
“What we’re doing with SAP Hybris Cloud for Customer and SAP SuccessFactors solutions — where we’ve mostly turned off the on-premise HCM system — cements and helps validate that SAP’s cloud-first strategy is a real winner,” Coleman says. “That strategy gets IT out of the basic business of buying servers and configuring operating systems. Instead, we are focused on how to bring benefits to the business.”