International Food Products Corporation manufactures and distributes products such as sugars, oils, starch, milk flavors, dairy powder, flour, cocoa and food grade chemicals. The company is headquartered in Fenton, Missouri, and has manufacturing and distribution facilities across the US
Founded in 1974, IFPC serves as a trusted ingredient adviser that helps customers understand commodity markets. The privately-owned firm also performs research and development to improve ingredients and formulations, and provides expertise to companies that manufacture or process food and beverage products.
Having run its ERP operations for years with Columbus Food, built on Microsoft Dynamics NAV, International Food Products knew the value of a centralized, company-wide business management system.
"We considered a CRM system to integrate and make better use of all the knowledge and best practices on the sales team," says Jamie Moritz, vice president of sales and marketing. " Our sales employees have their own ways of working, using anything from computers to pen and paper. We wanted to make all customer- and sales-related information accessible in a single resource with a 360-degree view of customers."
Familiar, integrated software environment and fast deployment
International Food Products documented its objectives and reviewed leading CRM vendors. “We measured a number of competing solutions, including Salesforce.com,” notes Moritz. "We chose Microsoft Dynamics CRM because it can integrate with Microsoft Outlook - which almost everybody uses - and because it presents a familiar look and feel that is consistent with Outlook and Microsoft Dynamics NAV."
"While we know several Microsoft partners, Columbus is our ERP provider, and we found Columbus the best fit for us," Moritz says. " They understand our industry and know how the company works."
Columbus performed a software deployment that enabled the company to go live with its new CRM system after just three months. Initially, a single instance of Microsoft Dynamics CRM integrated through the Connector for Microsoft Dynamics with separate instances of Microsoft Dynamics NAV to access customer, order, and invoice data at International Food Products, its sister company International Ingredients, and Dairy House.
Since then, IFPC and Dairy House have merged and consolidated on one instance of Microsoft Dynamics NAV. Microsoft Dynamics CRM also integrates with ClickDimensions marketing software and with a specialized software that supports the Sandler Selling System. Columbus adjusted processes in Microsoft Dynamics CRM to fit the Sandler methodology.
"Later, we realized that we could have facilitated the Sandler approach fully with Microsoft Dynamics CRM without purchasing an additional software tool. At the time, we didn't know yet how flexible it is," Moritz says.
Delivery of great customer experiences, made simple
At International Food Products, Microsoft Dynamics CRM helps deliver the customer experience the company is known for more efficiently.
"It is part of our company culture to understand our customers extremely well and to provide them with highly individual, responsive service in addition to the products they need, at a cost that works for them," says Moritz. “With Microsoft Dynamics CRM, it has become much easier for us to create that value experience and maintain it consistently at every single step that engages with a customer, from early marketing contacts through to closing transactions and sustaining long-term business relationships. "
More effective collaboration between sales, R&D, and category managers
Much of International Food Products' business is project-based. Sales representatives gather customer requirements, for example, for certain formulations of food products, and pass them on to their colleagues on the research and development team, who develop the formulations and create product samples. Once customers approve, manufacturing produces the item.
ColumbusFood, using Microsoft Dynamics CRM, helps International Food Products manage these complex events more effectively.
"All opportunities are clearly visible in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, so we can use the solution to help us prioritize our internal resources," says Moritz. “We can take the most strategic action at the right time. Our category managers now understand what sales are working on and how they can make the strongest impact. Before, sales, R&D, and category managers worked on their own. Microsoft Dynamics CRM enables them to collaborate in support of the most valuable opportunities."
Single system of record to act on opportunities and manage business growth
The screens of the roughly 60 CRM users in the different business entities are tailored to their information requirements and processes in working with customers. Following the initial training, International Food Products incrementally brought business activities into Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
“At the beginning we focused on the basic sales and customer engagement processes and then we took our use of Microsoft Dynamics CRM to the next level by bringing such functions as complaint management, price requests, and overall project management into it," he says. "Matching Microsoft Dynamics CRM to our processes was easy, and users enjoyed a smooth transition."
In the comfortable Microsoft Dynamics CRM environment, users access customer data, invoices, sales orders, and records in Microsoft Dynamics NAV through the CRM / ERP integration. Taking advantage of the integration between Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Outlook, Moritz and some of his colleagues manage their appointments and tasks mostly in Outlook.
Moritz runs the sales team and tracks all sales related activities in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, no longer depending on spreadsheets and other documents to stay on top of the business. Dashboards in Microsoft Dynamics CRM inform Moritz' weekly activity reviews with sales associates and help him drive sales results and pipeline momentum.
"Microsoft Dynamics CRM is an important tool to manage the company's growth," says Moritz. “We rely on it to prioritize opportunities, be accountable to our team and stakeholders, and adjust our sales activities so we can achieve our goals. Because it's our system of record, if any contacts, leads, meetings, conversations, or opportunities are not present in the solution, they don't really exist."
Highly manageable solution evolves with the company
International Food Products perform the day-to-day management, or Microsoft Dynamics CRM, with its own resources.
"From an IT perspective, managing Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a snap. However, we hired one employee to manage Microsoft Dynamics CRM for the team, making sure data is clean and the workflows fit our processes."
This makes a big difference in the effectiveness of the solution. Columbus continues to engage with International Food Products as the company's use of Microsoft Dynamics CRM evolves. Most recently, consultants worked on enhancements to facilitate automatic follow-up of phone calls after CRM records are created, as well as sales pipeline forecasting and automation.
"If we grow our team of sales professionals, CRM literacy is definitely an advantage for candidates," says Moritz. “I look forward to helping International Food Products move forward with Microsoft Dynamics CRM and ColumbusFood. A large part of our success with CRM is dependent on Columbus' expertise and ability to fine-tune the solution to our changing requirements. Columbus is fantastic to work with. It provides great guidance and always deliver what they promise."