Paragon Vintners – a vintage CRM

About This Project

Paragon Vintners lays down a vintage CRM solution from Intec Systems and IBM

THE CHALLENGE

Paragon Vintners sells high-end wines and spirits via large national distributors to specialist retailers and restaurants. Lacking a direct sales relationship with these third-party businesses, the company depends on a small, mobile sales team maintaining contact with a large number of end customers – a business model that was becoming increasingly difficult to support without a centralised CRM system.

THE SOLUTION

Worked with Intec Systems to implement a highly customised version of its IBM Lotus Domino-based Touchpoint client management system. The new system logs and analyses all contact between sales teams and prospects or existing customers.

BENEFITS

Better-directed sales effort, as sales and marketing managers can easily analyse performance of staff and strategies; centralised record of site visits and sales history brings improved relationships with third-party clients; low-maintenance system can be handled by small in-house IT team.

Paragon Vintners is a wholesale distributor trading in the imported wines and spirits sector. It specialises in high-end products for the on- and off-license market, and a number of the country’s top restaurants, including Gordon Ramsay and the 15 chain, are among its customers. Paragon Vintners employs 49 people, and is two-thirds owned by a Trinidad-based company, whose products it has the exclusive right to distribute in the UK.

UK licensing laws dictate that the smallest quantity of wine or spirits a designated wholesaler may sell is a case of twelve bottles. Because Paragon operates at the top end of the market, providing high-quality products for special occasions, smaller bars, restaurants and clubs are often unwilling to buy such large quantities at once, and the company thus sells through large national trade retailers such as Makro.

The problem with this situation is that we are not in direct sales contact with our targeted customers,

explains Cedric Heal, IT Manager at Paragon Vintners.

This puts the onus on our 19 sales staff to keep in regular contact with the clubs, bars and restaurants in their portfolio; it also makes it difficult for our marketing team to know exactly who is buying what, so it can be difficult to gauge the success of a given initiative.

The situation was exacerbated by Paragon’s lack of a centralised IT system capable of managing customer interactions.

Because we don’t receive invoices from our end customers, we can’t use our financial systems to keep track of supply and demand or market trends,

explains Cedric Heal.

This made the lack of a proper client tracking system even more critical to our business. With customer information kept in sales teams’ personal files – or in their heads – we lacked the flexibility and the analytical capacity to make the most of our client relationships.

Solution

Paragon Vintners is a long term user of IBM Lotus Notes and Domino, primarily as a platform for email and collaboration. In 2001, the company decided to find a partner to help its two-person in-house IT team to support, upgrade and develop its Lotus environment, and chose Intec Systems, an IBM Business Partner specialising in Lotus Domino solutions.

Initially, we were just working with Intec Systems to provide basic Domino infrastructure support,

says Cedric Heal.

We were immediately impressed with the way they handled the business relationship – we always felt that they were treating us fairly, and delivering a good service for a reasonable price. We soon felt confident that they understood the needs of our business.

When Paragon made the decision to implement a new centralised client management system, Intec Systems was an obvious choice to develop a solution – especially as Intec had already performed a number of successful implementations of a system which would broadly meet Paragon’s needs.

Intec Touchpoint is a fully-customisable client tracking and management solution built on IBM Lotus Domino technologies,

explains Tim Malone, Marketing Director at Intec Systems.

It is fully integrated with Lotus Notes email, and is able to log a comprehensive range of client transactions – everything from phone calls to mail campaigns to site visits – in a central database.

We have been working closely with both the IT staff and the users to tailor Touchpoint to Paragon’s workflow and provide functionality for events management and marketing analytics – providing a single repository and a single point of control for business data.

Benefits

The Lotus Domino-based Touchpoint solution enables Paragon Vintners to keep greater control over customer information, and use it to build better relationships, especially with smaller third-party clients like restaurants and bars.

We are now able to build up a historical record of all our customer interactions,” says Cedric Heal. “It helps our sales staff not only keep track of their client portfolios, but plan ahead as well. Based on our existing knowledge of a customer, we can set objectives for the next site visit. It’s also much easier to hand over customers from one sales rep to another, because the information is stored centrally and in a standardised manner.

Equally important are the analytical options offered by the new solution. Because it does not sell directly to many of its end-customers, Paragon cannot use sales invoices to keep track of the ultimate distribution of its products – but with the new system, sales staff can log stock levels at customer locations, giving a vital tool to marketing teams.

And once the marketing decisions are made, Touchpoint can run campaigns and events at the drop of a hat,” says Cedric Heal. “Previously, organising a product launch was quite complicated – we had to deal with large numbers of invitations, track positive and negative replies, register attendance and so on, all through spreadsheets or other documents. Now we have a single system that coordinates events automatically, using pre-defined scripts.

Finally, as a small business running a tight ship, Paragonneeds an infrastructure that minimises maintenance and administrative work for its IT staff. The reliability of the Lotus Domino server provides a stable platform for the Touchpoint applications, and takes pressure off the two-person IT team. The flexibility of the Lotus Domino environment also makes it easy to keep the system in continual development, and new features can be rolled out quickly.

We are on the point of rolling out a major development to the system – a task-orientated version of the Touchpoint system for mobile devices,” says Cedric Heal. “As 3G mobile technology takes off, we plan to be in the front line, letting sales staff access central systems and file reports even when they are on the road.

He concludes:

“Paragon Vintners is dedicated to the distribution of quality wines and spirits for special occasions, so we have to make the most of our relationships with key players in the market – top clubs and restaurants and specialist retailers.

With Intec Systems’ Touchpoint running in a stable IBM Lotus Domino environment and fully integrated with our corporate email and collaboration tools, we can leverage a host of new ways to interact with and meet the needs of these vital end-customers.”

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Case Studies