When Vindi, Brazil’s leading online platform for managing subscription and recurring billing, found themselves struggling with the flow of customer data, they created a “data lake,” which could be accessed by everyone, and became even more powerful once integrated with Pipedrive.
There’s a simple question that, when left unanswered, causes companies serious issues and leads to inter-departmental strife, confusion, inefficiency and, ultimately, loss of revenue:
Who owns the customer?
There are normally a few teams vying for ownership of the customer relationship:
- Prospecting and marketing: Who identified, cultivated and brought the customer into the fold
- Sales: As the team that usually does the legwork in actually turning the prospect into a paying customer
- Product or support team: Who ensure that the customer remains happy and committed, often interacting with the customer more during their entire journey with the company than any other department.
Depending on your company’s complexity, there could even be many more teams involved, from billing to retention to client managers and a myriad of others. So who owns the customer?
When this question of ownership isn’t answered decisively, companies often find themselves working from multiple data sets and drowning in information that resides in different areas of the business.
The answer to the question is, of course, everyone.
The problem is that this is much easier said than done. Getting everyone to sing from the same proverbial hymn-sheet can be a daunting task, especially when there are several sets of customer data
Creating shared data repositories
One solution to dealing with this information avalanche, and one that is gaining increased popularity among data junkies everywhere, is the creation of a company “data lake”. Once you understand the concept of the data lake, it becomes easy to put into practice the idea that the customer and their information belongs to everyone. So what is a data lake and how does it work?
Bear with us here, as we get slightly technical.
The concept of the data lake was originated by James Dixon, then chief technology officer at Pentaho. He says that most companies work from what are called “data marts”: subsets of both structured and unstructured data, usually generated by a single tool or team. Think of a spreadsheet of sales leads generated by your prospecting team. You may have a name, a position, a company, an assigned score, a phone number, an email address and more.
Dixon uses the following analogy to differentiate between a mart and a lake:
“If you think of a datamart as a store of bottled water—cleansed and packaged and structured for easy consumption—the data lake is a large body of water in a more natural state. The contents of the data lake stream in from a source to fill the lake and various users of the lake can come to examine, dive in, or take samples.”
Swimming in a data lake
Gathering your data separately from CRMs, ERPs, Billing, Customer Success and Customer Service can quickly become chaotic, depending on the maturity of the company. There is just so much of it, and when it originates from disparate sources that are not integrated you quickly end up with an unholy mess of epic proportions.
This is the issue that was facing Vindi CEO and founder Rodrigo Dantas. His company is Brazil’s leading online platform for managing subscription and recurring billing, so big data is part of his daily life.
Because Vindi makes and supplies payment and billing solutions to Saas companies, e-commerce companies, financial services, gyms, education businesses, real estate agencies and many other subscription-based companies, they deal with a lot of data and have become experts at creating software integrations.
How Vindi makes sense of big data
Rodrigo believes that to successfully make sense of the slew of information faced by data-driven businesses you must start by answering a central question, as he explains on the Vindi blog:
“The first question for companies that want to start using big data or make data management simple is this:
Where is your client’s most complete data (on which platform)?
Most companies suffer to find customer data, they are often fragmented into marketing, financial, commercial and retention platforms. And worse, they are not integrated. Each area has a different view of the customer.”
His solution to this issue is to create a data lake – something he recommends for all companies dealing with large amounts of customer data:
“It will be very smart for you to create a data lake internally, receiving data from all platforms you use to bring and manage customers, and from it use the data as you wish.”
How Pipedrive changed life at Vindi
But before we dive any deeper into the lake, let’s rewind and see how and why Rodrigo chose Pipedrive.
“Our sales team is big and has been increasingly growing. We have branches in other cities and several lines of product. We don’t consider a sale to be closed after the signing of the contract. We still have the activation workflow of these customers.”
The adoption of a sales CRM automate and streamline a bunch of previously repetitive, time-consuming administrative workflows:
“[Before Pipedrive] everything was manually controlled in spreadsheets. Part of that was made via RDStation. We now have a unique view of the sales process and closing of business.”
As anyone who has gone through a major organizational or process change knows – there is often some pushback from staff. Humans are creatures of habit and comfort zones are, exactly that; comfortable.
“We had to remove the resistance of the first consultants that were working with the pipeline, but a positive aspect was being certain that the business process was going through an administration tool full of opportunities.”
The benefits of making the switch, however, were immediately evident. The whole team could notice the impact. This made buy-in and adoption simple.
“We managed to immediately fight the loss of information and we gave the entire company visibility regarding the status of the deal.”
The challenges and rewards of integrating a sales CRM
Rodrigo knew that he faced a challenge integrating Pipedrive into an already complex data lake, but he also knew that the success of his company’s sales efforts rested on meeting this challenge head-on.
“At the time, we made a big integration with our systems. The big challenge for us was understanding which data we needed to integrate into the pre-sales step, and who owned it.”
To do this, Vindi upgraded to a new Pipedrive plan and started diving into the easy-to-use API:
“The most important thing was deciding the API integration of pre- and post-sales data. For instance, we managed to automate billing after the deal was won via Pipedrive, avoiding human work,” says Rodrigo.
Taking full advantage of your CRM
If you’re a small sales team just starting out, you should be able to setup your CRM quickly without the need for extensive training or costly consultants. Simplicity and ease-of-use is critical if you want to drive fast growth and expand your team without slowing down sales processes and workflows.
Users like Vindi start small and scale fast, and that what starts out as a small team looking to do the basics well can morph into a large team serving many customers.
Rodrigo and his team have found it easy to take advantage of the full range of Pipedrive’s flexible features to bolster their CRM and support this growth:
“In practice, few companies really use their CRM to the full extent, and I’m sure Pipedrive is no exception. Companies end up choosing it because of the simplicity of the pipeline and I’m sure they sometimes neglect the rest of the feature set, which is quite powerful.”
By using Pipedrive’s API, the Brazilian company has managed to build a unified system that incorporates Vindi itself, Zendesk, RD Station and Sensedata, and they’re also in the process of adding analytics and advertising tools.
The flexibility of Pipedrive allows you to plug so many different apps into your CRM, allowing Vindi took advantage by customizing and automating large parts of the sales and customer service process
“Our flow goes through three layers of sales: prospecting, qualification and closing. SDRs and consultants go through this journey. Before that, there is no human interaction needed.”
Know your tools, reap the rewards
We asked Rodrigo for the one piece of advice he’d give to people who want to extract the maximum benefits from their sales and customer data.
“Understand the features you actually use and get to know in depth how the platform works to get the best out of it.”
And how does he feel about Pipedrive?
“The easiest and smartest pipeline CRM in the world.”
Thank you very much, Rodrigo, we’re big fans of Vindi too!