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At Tour de Force, we have discussions all the time with sales executives and owners of small and mid-market wholesale distributors and manufacturers, along with sales and executive leadership from major divisions of large enterprises. Two years ago, the response we received when asking whether clients wanted to run their CRM solution on-premise vs. in the Cloud was overwhelmingly on-premise (roughly 95%+ of the time); however, we’ve seen that trend shift significantly since then. Over the past 3-6 months, we’ve been hearing 70%+ of the respondents say they are open to either option which makes most sense for their business, with those who have preference for Cloud CRM vs. on-premise running at roughly a ratio of 75-80% to 20-25%.

What are the main benefits of cloud CRM for clients as opposed to running their CRM solution on premise?

1. Accelerated time to value
By replacing the process of specifying, acquiring, and deploying on-premise IT server and storage with provisioning a comparable Cloud instance, the time to go from project kickoff to go live has accelerated by numerous weeks, which is variable depending on how readily available the client’s IT infrastructure team, if one exists, is to focus on this subject matter. In fact, there have been a number of instances where clients have had to delay projects altogether due to the lack of IT resource availability to focus on the project for an extended period of time.

2. Reduced involvement for IT resources
Because the IT infrastructure and application deployment are owned and maintained by the Cloud solution provider, who provisions what is necessary to support the client and performs application upgrades, the client’s IT resources, if any exist, are unneeded for these tasks. As a result, there isn’t a delay to wait on client IT resource availability to initiate or upgrade Cloud-based solutions.

3. Accelerated access to improved application functionality
Because the solution team’s resources have IT ownership for performing solution upgrades in the Cloud-based model, upgrades are performed on a more frequent basis with more consistent results than when relying on the client’s IT team to perform these tasks. As a result, Cloud solutions can be deployed in smaller functional increments than those that require more enhancements to be rolled up as a release when deployed by the client’s IT team in an on-premise solution model.

4. Improved speed of access, data security and business continuity
Because Cloud CRM solution providers have resources specifically trained in the disciplines of establishing and securing hosted IT infrastructure and associated network access and business continuity with access to the best solutions available in the market, most small and mid-market clients achieve a significant improvement in application performance, data security and business continuity as compared with running the solution on their own IT infrastructure, which requires internal or third-party IT personnel to plan and implement these solutions.

5. Reduced capital expense
There is major competition for capital funding in wholesale distribution and manufacturing companies, especially in the areas of upgrading facilities and equipment. Cloud-based software deployment, where the common software licensing model is based on subscription charges over time, is generally funded as an expense; whereas one-time perpetual software license charges, which has traditionally been the most common approach used for on-premise software deployment, typically requires capital funding.

Tour de Force, whose combined CRM, SFA and BI solution was purpose built for wholesale distribution and manufacturing, offers our clients a choice of running our industry-leading solution on-premise or in a hosted model with Tour de Force Cloud. Please contact us for more information on the benefits if Cloud CRM or to discuss a potential project.

Tour de Force Cloud

By: Dave Litzenberg

With so many CRM and Sales Force Automation (SFA) software packages available today, it can be a daunting task to figure out which one is right for your distribution business.

Whether you and your company are brand new to CRM or you’re an experienced user who is unsatisfied with your current product, this guide will help you during your selection and review process. It covers six important areas to consider when looking at CRM providers and supplies questions to ask when interviewing or reviewing different CRM offerings, in order to ensure that you select the right CRM for distributors and the distribution business.

Today we will review the 6th and final area to consider when selecting a CRM solution.

Area 6: Implementation Services

How can we be sure that the company we partner with has the capability to successfully implement our CRM system and professionally train our staff?

Selecting a CRM system for a distribution company is serious business. Almost all phases of your company business will interface with the system, including sales, sales management, marketing, customer service and support, corporate management, IT, and often credit/ collections as well. The process requires thorough planning and committed corporate leadership. It also requires a CRM partner that is experienced with and committed to the distribution industry.

Customer retention rates are an excellent indicator of how satisfied companies are with their CRM suppliers. You might be surprised by the high rate of unsuccessful implementations there are industry-wide. How can you know if the companies you are evaluating are truly capable of successfully implementing a professional CRM for the distribution business?

CRM Interview – Ask these questions to determine if the CRM provider has a proven history of successful CRM implementations in the distribution industry:

  • What is your retention rate for distribution clients over a five year rolling average?
  • Can you provide us with a written implementation process which includes the various roles our staff will play and the roles your team members will play in preparation for and during implementation and training?
  • Will you provide us with several contact referrals that are using your product and our specific ERP system? We would like to contact them regarding their experience.
  • Will your company be performing the integration to our ERP system or will we need to work through a third party integrator?
    • If we will need to work though an integrator, can we speak with several clients in the distribution industry that have been using your system for several years?


Download the full Guide to Selecting a CRM for your Distribution Business.


By: Ashley Parinello

What can management do to ensure user adoption?

Most sales and marketing executives clearly understand the benefits that a CRM/SFA solution can provide an organization, yet they often have one very common concern – “can we get our sales team to use it?”  This is a valid concern because without sufficient user adoption there will be minimal return on your CRM/SFA investment.

From a strategic perspective, what can be done to ensure that the sales force will embrace the solution?

Many times the best course of action to overcome this concern is to initially introduce only the features that will have the most direct benefit to the sales person.  As the sales team begins to see how the CRM/SFA solution will positively benefit them and they begin to embrace it, management can gradually add in the more administrative requirements.  Most often, key enhancements to business intelligence and other core enabling features can create quick ROI without immediately utilizing the full palette of CRM/SFA features.

As an example, a sales organization may offer the sales team business intelligence and advanced reporting capabilities so that sales can better understand customer opportunities, and then ask the team to start entering sales forecasts later in the process.  The key is to show the sales team “What’s in it for me?” early in the process so that there are less roadblocks coming from individuals as the implementation progresses.

The current state of where a sales team is in regards to reporting requirements and disciplines should also dictate the methods in which a CRM/SFA solution is deployed.  If a sales force is accustomed to the requirements of logging sales calls on an Excel spreadsheet and the CRM solution eases this entry process with a quick and easy activity form, it’s both a time saver and a big win for the sale team.

The fear of poor user adoption is a very valid concern; in fact it is the greatest culprit in most CRM/SFA deployment failures.  Before beginning any deployment, make sure you have a thorough implementation plan with a strategy to foster user adoption from the onset.

By: Ashley Parinello

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