CRM Version 6 – This time for Races

I’ve been lucky to use CRM in various ways over the past 35 years. The RunSignUp implementation is the 6th major implementation of CRM I’ve been involved with over the years.

From the beginning, RunSignUp has implemented many of the key concepts of CRM so that races can maximize customer satisfaction and retention and lower costs of customer support – all with the goal of engaging their various communities to maximize the impact of their race. Right now, we are consolidating our various features of Participant Management, Marketing Automation, and central consolidated database to bring a comprehensive set of CRM benefits to races.

It might be interesting to see my personal journey and compare how CRM has matured over the years.

1.     1987 - Digital Equipment Sales Tracking. I did a side project to help the District Sales Manager and her 50+ sales people do a better job of tracking their prospects and sales. This was back in the days of Act!, which was built on PC’s, but we had a shared database concept where all of the sales reps could report into a common application and the District Sales Manager could see up to the minute status on all of the sales opportunities. Back in those days CRM was defined by sales reps taking care of their typically large $ sales transactions until they closed, and then move on to the next deal effectively.
2.     1993 – Bluestone Tickler System. Again, we built our own pre-CRM CRM. The purpose was to help an inside sales team effectively handle hundreds and thousands of clients and prospects. It kept track of each contact and reminded the sales rep when to call next. We also used this database for marketing purposes with mailing (US Postal!) software catalogs.
3.     2003 – JBoss. We implemented an automated Sales & Marketing Funnel using Salesforce and Marketo. We were very early adopters of this approach thanks to David Skok introducing the concepts and Joe McGonnell leading the implementation.

This was one of the more fortuitous points of my career as it was the first of several chances I’ve had to work with David, JBoss was a roaring success, and I learned early about Salesforce and invested in them soon after they went public in 2004.

4.     CloudBees. CloudBees has a modernized version of what JBoss implemented, with a similar core of Salesforce. We invest quite a bit of money into the Salesforce and various add-on tools like Marketo in licenses and also invest quite heavily in customization and automation – probably close to $1M per year if training and so forth are included. This makes sense for CloudBees because we are a business focused on enterprise level sales with large transaction sizes and a huge base of free users of the Jenkins Open Source project. Optimizing the funnel, and making sure we spend time where there is a good return are very important to the fundamental business model.
5.     Metaverse. This company sells hundreds of thousands of pieces of artwork on the web each year with average transaction sizes of less than $100. As the examples above show, CRM systems like Salesforce have been designed (and priced) to be used more with enterprise or large sized transactions. Trying to keep track of individual customers on a personal basis with sales people is not cost justifiable. What is more important is the automation of marketing and using analytics to guide behavior. Metaverse has optimized their business to use a full suite of web marketing and advertising tools to drive loyalty programs and reach new buyers. Email is a double edged sword as you can target repeat buyers, but you do not want to cause email fatigue. But this is where they have the their “CRM” to customize the emails to different buyers (someone who bought a Van Gogh gets different ads than someone who bought a Spiderman movie poster). It accounts for less than 10% of their business. Google Adwords drives most of their business. Remarketing with Criteo is another decent source and has a good return on ad spend.

At RunSignUp, we have invested in the areas that are more similar to Metaverse – having an integrated system for managing race across the various lifecycle. Relative to CRM, we have automated the main interaction points of Participant Management, and we have given a wide variety of powerful marketing tools. Our new efforts on CRM are making these features more accessible and sim


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