Jonathan Farrington interviews Etien D’Hollander
Jonathan: Tell me about Front Row solutions. Why did you create it? What was your goal?
Etien: For thirty years I worked for a number of companies and had a lot of opportunities to work with different CRM systems: as a sales rep, as a sales manager and as an executive. I found them wanting in every aspect as to what they were supposed to deliver. As a sales rep, they were difficult to learn and use. As a sales manager, they gave me little insight into sales activity. And as a sales executive, they had very little impact on improving the revenue or the performance of the company I worked for. When I researched the CRM industry, I was not surprised to learn that CRM failure rates were 60- 80% and compliance levels for sales reps to submit sales reports was 30% or less.
My goal in creating Font Row was to provide impactful information to the management team and to engage with the sales reps to provide a fast, easy and productive tool. If we could accomplish those 2 goals, the 3rd would follow since the company would now have the information at hand to improve performance and revenue.
Jonathan: What’s the difference between your CRM system and other CRM systems?
Etien: First and foremost, our goal is to provide significant, actionable insight into all customers and sales rep activity which will dramatically improve the revenue and profitability of the companies that we work with. We see this as the as the key component that a CRM system should deliver.
We believe that sales reps are the front line of all companies and are closest to the customer. Information from them is critical for success. When we analyzed the CRM’s currently available, we discovered that they were predominantly developed by I.T. personnel and not necessarily sales rep friendly resulting in low compliance and poor information flow. Front Row was developed by individuals with many years of experience in sales and sales management, resulting in a tool that is much more practical for the sales rep to use. By changing the focus of the CRM to one that satisfies the needs of the sales rep, we have been able to achieve our goal. Front Row is the only company that allows a sales rep to submit a sales report immediately after a sales call in less than sixty seconds from any mobile device, delivering real time insight into all sales rep and customer activity. We have companies enjoy sales rep compliance rates approaching 100% along with a 20-50 percent increase in sales rep productivity. This change in outlook towards a sales rep focused CRM system has resulted in an improved information flow and enables our clients to achieve their goals of improved revenue and profitability.
Jonathan: So the premise behind your system is enabling sales reps to do sales reports in sixty seconds from the field: how do you accomplish that?
Etien: Front Row is a 100 percent mobile, app-based system. We work with our clients to create a custom sales process activity card. The activity card is a series of questions that the management team would like the sales rep to answer after every sale’s call. Those questions along with all the sales reps clients, are loaded into the app. The app will automatically ask the sales rep to answer that set of questions by a click through process. Five seconds after answering the questions on the activity card, the information has populated the databases and dashboards for management to review.
Jonathan: How does your system impact the sales manager, someone I believe is the most neglected part of the sales team?
Etien: I agree, Jonathan, I think sales managers have a difficult job. In my opinion, a sales manager can be either a cheerleader or a coach depending on the information available to them. Most sales managers are cheerleaders. They are forced into this role simply because to be a coach, you have to have information: you have to have insight, you have to have analytics and you have to be able to identify strengths and weaknesses. Without that information, the only thing you can be is a cheerleader. When companies use Front Row, we empower the sales managers to become coaches. We provide all the key real time insight and metrics that they need to become a coach.
Jonathan: What are the challenges and opportunities facing Front Row in the future?
Etien: Front Row is a sales oriented CRM system. Our primary contacts are the sales managers and the presidents of companies. Typically, companies regard a CRM system as a technology tool so logically involve the I.T. manager in the decision making process. Unfortunately, I.T. is drawn to complicated tools that are difficult for sales reps to use resulting in poor compliance, less information and older data. This is both our challenge and our opportunity – to prove that less is more (simple is better).
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