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Implemting ACT in established Engineering Firm

New Member
Posts: 1
Country: USA

Implemting ACT in established Engineering Firm

[ Edited ]

I just started my position as Director of Business Development with an established engineering firm. The company has been using ACT for its contact database and calendar, but has not taken full advantage of the Oppotunity Tracking feature. My goal is to create an effective Oppotunity Tracking system for the company, and I was hoping someone with this experience could give some tips on how to get everyone on board, the most effective way to roll out this program and any other ideas or suggestions for implementing an effective oppotunity tracking system.


My other question is if anyone knows a more streamlined approach to adding/editing details in the opportunity tracking system. Now, we are just adding in the date of updates in the details section. Isn't there a way to automatically create a new update that will show the date?

 

Thanks for the help and advice!

Message Edited by ChristaP on 06-20-2008 06:41 AM
Platinum Elite Contributor
Posts: 14,384
Country: Australia

Re: Implemting ACT in established Engineering Firm

What version of ACT! (the full build from Help | About)?

 

You will find it worthwhile to speak to a Certified Consultant to discuss the best way for you to use the sales opportunities. The list of ACCs is at www.act.com/acc

Copper Contributor
Posts: 42
Country: United States

Re: Implementing ACT in established Engineering Firm

If you want everyone to get on board you should ask a few questions of everyone to see what they want to see in opportunities.  Do they want to know how many, at what stage in the sales process, what are the chances it will close etc. etc. You should also discuss how often they would get an update.  For example, you might change the status of someone on a Monday, but your normal meeting is later in the week.  Do people feel that some projects once they reach a specific level should get a heads up to key people, so they can plan or give in put? Does that mean that waiting till the scheduled meeting will create a conflict?  Do you have a sales process that your key people know?  The point of opportunity is create CERTAINTY for the viewer of the report. If they see that everyone is a 90% chance of closing, but only 10% actually close they will lose faith in the report. You opportunity report should have a language that your viewers will understand and common terms so there is no confusion.  You will be surprised at how many people have different opinions of what is on a report -because they have values for words that are not known to others.

 

One other thing, that will help you in the database, and the buy in, is to look at what people declare are break downs in communication between your clients and staff and then see how to resolve them using Act. 

 

Finally, look at lost customers and see if you can win any of them back.  You will know so much about them that they will be much easier to get business from than new prospects.  People forgive many things and lost customers will help you build a pwoerful database.

 

Brad Sandy @ 800sell.com

Copper Contributor
Posts: 69
Country: UK

Re: Implemting ACT in established Engineering Firm

Hi ChristaP,

 

I think I'm in a very similar position to you.  Established engineering company, Act10 Premium, 30 licences, 10+daily users of ACT.  We go back to v6 for contact management but are trying to do more with the opps side to drive our Business Planning.  I'll jot down a few pointers here, but might come back once I've thought about it more:

 

1) Think a bit about whether 'order date' or 'delivery date' information most drives your business.  Order closure data (handled OK by ACT) is relevant to the sales guys - esp for smaller single-delivery contracts - but production planning (and finance) might need better information on delivery schedules.  I've editted one of the user defined opportunity fields - changing it to date format and labelling it FIRST delivery date - but this does not give everything I really need.  I've veered away from multi-line opportunities as it seems as if it might complicate reporting, though it might aid multi-drop contract documentation.

 

2) Think about whether the Sales Funnel stages as defined by ACT are relevant to your business - you can always re-define these, but it helps to do it early before opps are filled with 'old' Sales funnel stages.  You may not need the granularity of the existing stages.

 

3) Most folk will probably say the reporting capability of ACT makes it hard work.  This may be what you are referring to in the second part of your question.  We use Stonefield query to pull out some user-defined reports which mean more to our business and, if you don't go in TOO deep, can be simply set up using the wizard provided.  There are other reporting packages out there but I have no experience of them.  As said elsewhere, if the reports don't give the relevant folk THEIR relevant information (and without the stuff they don't need) you'll get less buy-in.

 

4) If your business takes on NRE (bespoke / development) contracts you might find these harder to set up in ACT opportunities, as opposed to commodity (off-the-shelf) sales.

 

5) Spend a bit of time, especially with the user opportunity fields, trying to define what information your business needs in the ACT reports.  We have quote and order references, plus idents relevant to our business planning processes.

 

For now, that will do!

 

Andy

Bronze Contributor
Posts: 955
Country: Australia

Re: Implemting ACT in established Engineering Firm

Andy I believe you are very right in saying the granularity of the steps in ACT needs to be defined early and in my experience more is not always better but rather pick the key touch points that lead to the sale and in your type of business it may be better to every have seperate processes for the sales and delivery stages.
Paul Buchtmann
pbuchtmann@ozemail.com.au Australia
Australia's First ACT Consultant (1989)

FREE Record History to change default to Call or To-Do for ACT! 2010-2012 versions. Custom versions also available.
Copper Contributor
Posts: 37
Country: Germany

Re: Implementing ACT in established Engineering Firm

Hi all,

 

I should probably create a new thread, but the previous posts are much in the same direction as my issue:

 

What about companies, where the Sales Opportunity model is not matching the internal processes and

even by modifying all options (sales stages, percentage, etc) does not allow to make Act sample the data?

If even a typical "number*price=total" is not giving the actual figures needed for reporting?

Generally we need a tool that follows the internal company way of working,

contrary to structure our working habits based on a given software approach.

 

Our Project Basic needs 

(Let's draw the picture as easy as possible):

The company is selling Agricultural products to 15 direct customers only (wholesalers).

      There are 5 productgroups, each has from 5-60 products and each 1-5 variants  (SKUs) 

      Pricing is done with this wholesalers (outlets) on individual base, defining fix price and rebates on totals.

      (This is the company "core" business which is handled already via ERP-software 100% sufficiently) 

 

Those outlets are selling the products to over 300000 endusers without regional boundaries. 

      Pricing is done by each outlet towards the endcustomer or subdealer (base+markup=price)

      The outlets are not bound to report back to us the pricing and enduser names.

The enduser can pick up their desired products at any outlet they wish.

 

As we are talking about Agricultural products we know that each Farmer or local Agri-Dealer is

a potential endcustomer that needs estimated amount of products each year (depending i.e. on farm size).

 

That is where Act (in use since Version 3 as Contact-Management only) comes into the picture.

 

The company "salesReps" are not basically generating leads but are more active in the consulting work,

visiting and contacting all those BIG farmers we have registered in Act Contacts over the last 10 years.

 

Next to the "normal" Act functionality of storing addresses, sorting them to Reps and Teams we would

like to store the information gathered during the visits combined with yearly calculateable forecast figures:

 

i.e    (forecast Product-x) Farmer with 10000 acres calculatory needs 100 packs of seed yearly

       (actual Product-x)    Farmer told Rep he took 60 packs of our product and 40 packs competition

       (Marketing-amount)  calc  = based on last/this year potential, how much can the Rep spend here 

 

As the company knows & visits most BIG farmers, the numbers gathered represent 90% of the market, so the

inputs -even if not representing pricing and real sales- are sufficient to allow market analysis and forecasting.

 

But this is less input data than needed for use with the predefined Act sales-opportunities processing.

Especially all the staging, pricing and dating is useless to us - on the other hand all "nice" Act features

like reporting, dashboards and tools are based on using the build in sales opportunities logics.

 

So far about the needs.

 

In the past we just have put 3-4 fields per product-sku in the contact table, but due to the number

of products growing and not every contact is customer for all products this would bounce the capacities.

It also makes reporting and lookups very difficult and slow & each years data-rollover is potential messy too.

 

We are now looking forward to find a solution with the "custom entity" approach to at least

add the 1-to-n relations between a customer and the products forecasted/sold.

 

If anybody could come up with a good suggestion to solve this (within Act)

we would  highly appreciate it.

     

  

 

Martin Glueckmann
ACT since 1995 for 40+ user teams in
Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Benelux
Bronze Contributor
Posts: 955
Country: Australia

Re: Implementing ACT in established Engineering Firm

Martin,

 

Given that you already have some product grouping why not create a number of processes with ACT (version 7 and above) and this would allow your reps to give you some guide to the sales funnell in the major product groups. Within this you could then define different stages depending on what you may know about the final purchase as you say is sold via distributors.

 

As you say you oftem find you may only get 60% of the total and some goes to the competition. Why not then put in the product in the product area and put what the rep expects is the total and when you finally know what happened put in the competitor name in the product on the second line and a figure as a minus to represent what their share of the deal was. In this way using opportunities you could report on the total available and then break this down into the expected losses to the competitors as some real values.

 

You could either leave the deal open and only cose at the end of the year allowing updates in product groups or create multiple opportunities per end user customer.

 

As far as reporting you could send this out to Excel or use a product like Topline Dash to provide graphical representation of your sales world.

 

While this may take a bit of implementation would provide you a great view of your total world and where your competitors are hurting you most. You could even expand on this to have data from your ERP system integrated into the Sales Opportunity tables via programming depending on the granuality of your sales recording.

 

Hope this gives you some ideas.

Paul Buchtmann
pbuchtmann@ozemail.com.au Australia
Australia's First ACT Consultant (1989)

FREE Record History to change default to Call or To-Do for ACT! 2010-2012 versions. Custom versions also available.