The Von Roll Group is active in the dynamic energy sector. In order to keep up with the rapidly changing market, the company introduced a CRM system that is now elevating its sales to a whole new level. Von Roll’s core business is the manufacture of products and systems for safe energy transmission. From its headquarters in the Swiss canton of Solothurn, the globally active company serves over 2,000 customers around the world. To create a better overview of the entire sales pipeline and strengthen customer support, Von Roll decided to go for a powerful and digital energy boost in sales. With a cloud CRM system, the company is now continuously optimising its sales processes. This is an important step, especially with a view to progressive electrification and automation. Today, all sales processes are integrated into the ERP and CRM systems, and the sales team can now focus more on their customers and on developing new business.
In 1803, the company Eisenwerke der Handelsgesellschaft was founded in Solothurn, Switzerland. By producing and processing pig iron, the company was already keeping pace with the times in the First Industrial Revolution. The company goes by the name Von Roll today, and it operates wherever energy is generated, used and transmitted. By industrialising the use of mica as an insulation material, Von Roll set an important milestone on the path to modern electrification. The global technology leader focuses on products and systems for the generation and transmission of electrical energy as well as for industrial applications. One of its most important business areas is electrical insulation, which is crucial for equipment such as generators and transformers.
Charting a new course
According to Thomas Vetterle, Head of Global Internal Sales at Von Roll, the industrial firm has reinvented itself time and time again over its 200-year history. “We want to offer our customers bespoke solutions. The key words here are automation, e-mobility and renewable energy. We operate in a very price-sensitive sector where you have to know your customers and products very well. “A powerful CRM system is crucial since it supports our sales representatives in developing the value proposition and making decisions.” In 2018, the company overhauled all of its sales processes with a new CRM system in order to target new market potential.
“We lacked a system that could not only collect customer data, but also quickly reveal meaningful interactions across the entire customer life cycle, starting with the first customer contact,” Vetterle recalls. Until then, there had only been a few isolated CRM components in operation. Opportunity management, for example, was handled in a programmed Excel spreadsheet. “Each line stood for one opportunity. Of course, it was difficult to maintain and analyse customer relationships this way,” says Vetterle. As an overarching goal, the new CRM was expected to bring transparency and structure to the sales department and promote internal collaboration.
A powerful CRM system is crucial since it supports our sales representatives in developing the value proposition.
Thomas Vetterle, Head of Global Internal Sales Von Roll
Making processes more efficient is an important pillar of Von Roll’s digitalisation strategy. For this reason, Urs Trösch, Head of Business Application Services, led Von Roll to successfully replace its old ERP system with the SAP solution ECC – the basis for additional innovative steps. There was no question that the next optimisation should take place in sales. “Every company lives from its top line, and sales play a central role there. That’s why we were looking for an instrument for our sales department that would incorporate all opportunities and leads and give us an overview at all times,” says Trösch.
With a view to the future
According to Vetterle, another component played into the decision-making process surrounding the transformation at Von Roll. “Our products can be used in a variety of ways. We therefore need software that helps us quickly enter new markets in an agile manner and replicate success stories. We were no longer able to do that with our old CRM components.” While the company grew, its processes and employees lagged behind. “It was difficult to get a grasp on the future. The new system not only shows the entire customer history but also generates future-oriented reports based on the sales pipeline. This is a better foundation for our future decision-making,” says Vetterle.
Other concrete goals and improvements included speeding up the preparation of offers, systematically displaying price lists and both simplifying and standardising approval processes. “In the past, offers were approved in a constant flow. We had no control over the process,” says Vetterle. We wanted the new CRM system to bring control and transparency to the workflow and limit decision-making power, which, in turn, would optimise margins.
We wanted to gradually define and implement the processes and functions so that everyone in the company could handle the transition.
Urs Trösch, Director IT Von Rol
After a thorough evaluation, Von Roll chose the CRM system SAP Sales Cloud, which could easily be connected to the existing SAP ERP system. In addition to the compatibility and large functional scope, the future-oriented system architecture was a decisive factor, says Trösch. “We gradually defined and implemented the processes and functions so that everyone could handle the transition.”
Most of the processes were deliberately overhauled completely in order to break away from old structures and fully exploit the innovative power of the new system. Von Roll received support on this greenfield revamp from implementation partner Sybit. As a full-service digital agency, Sybit specialises in CRM solutions. According to Trösch, the partner’s wealth of experience helped to structure the project in a meaningful way: “We carried out the implementation in three steps, broken down by functionality.”
The interface between the customer and contact data and the ERP system was created first. The basic processes of sales and lead and opportunity management were also introduced. After a five-month implementation phase, the CRM system went live in February 2018. “We started with the minimum, and that turned out to be just right,” says Trösch. The second implementation step integrated sales documents such as order data and offers subject to approval processes. Finally, contract management was successfully introduced to provide a central overview of customer agreements.
Since the go-live of SAP Sales Cloud, Von Roll has been using standardised sales processes globally. Vetterle is particularly pleased with the system’s integrated approach. “The CRM tool interacts bi-directionally with our ERP system. This means that the customer master data, contact data and product master data are always up-to-date and can even be directly amended by the customer.” The entire customer history is neatly documented and visible for all internal stakeholders. Not only the sales force and back office teams benefit from this. Customers also receive better support, as every sales representative can provide information on every request. This makes it far easier to identify cross-selling opportunities.
Enhanced customer support
Von Roll has around 40 sales representatives serving over 2,000 customers. The system creates clearly defined responsibilities and structures,
and customer interactions are documented in a central location. Vetterle reports that, in combination with the dual control principle, this has led to a higher quality of customer service and customer reports. “Our customers are clearly noticing the improved processes, including faster response times.”
Von Roll’s example shows how important it is to have a CRM system that can grow along with the company. “With the next release phase, we’ll introduce additional functions such as guided selling. Artificial intelligence will help us make our sales processes even more efficient in the future,” Vetterle says. A ticketing system for handling specific customer requirements is also planned. Von Roll is now able to provide its customers with targeted support at every stage of the life cycle.
We need software that helps us quickly enter new markets in an agile manner and replicate success stories.
Thomas Vetterle, Head of Global Internal Sales Von Roll