SaaS CRM wins new business with low investment

SaaS CRM helps a national broker/dealer woo financial advisers away from competitors by creating a single-sign on experience.

As a broker/dealer, National Retirement Partners Inc. (NRP) was not immune to the credit crunch and economic downturn -- but the company was still able to grow revenue with low investment by using a SaaS CRM vendor to provide a competitive edge.

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NRP turned to Salesforce.com Inc. to create a single sign-on customer relationship management (CRM) front end for nearly a dozen applications used by its network of 400 financial advisers.

Adam Sokolic, project lead and vice president of product management at the San Juan Capistrano, Calif.-based company, estimated that NRP's initial quarter-million-dollar investment would pay for itself within a year if it could lure just one financial adviser from a competitor. The project started in September 2008 and by February, the Software as a Service (SaaS) CRM application had wooed 15 financial advisers away from existing brokers and into the NRP fold.

The appeal for potential financial advisers is a single sign-on interface for the SaaS CRM application. It ties together a compliance due diligence fund management systems, commission-tracking application, mutual fund scoring system, prospect database, wealth management systems and five other fund companies' back-end systems.

Previously, advisers in the NRP network had to access four or five websites and three or more systems to track and manage their clients' funds. Producing 15 to 30 funds reports for 100 to 300 clients on a quarterly basis from disparate systems was a laborious process.

Financial advisors now put in their fund lineups once, click a button and the information is sent to NRP's fund monitoring system to create a report from Salesforce.com that can be printed out or emailed to a client.

Lessons learned on the SaaS CRM project

There were also a few lessons learned along the way, including the importance of negotiating contracts with SaaS vendors that account for possible layoffs. When a staff reduction happened at NRP, the company had to continue to pay for licenses that were no longer used.

Sokolic said he would also change a few development processes for the SaaS CRM application.

"We went with the advice of using a standard object [developed by Salesforce.com] for a few things, and looking back we would have done custom development for them instead because now the use of some features is limited," he said.

All in all, though, he said he would go down the same path again and plans to continue investing in SaaS applications. "You can do more with less because [the SaaS model] lets you add features so quickly, and it's easy to develop for it even if you have a limited budget."

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Christina Torode, Senior News Writer.

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