38: Put in Your CRM Reps with Jon Arancio

Jon Arancio is the co-founder and Vice-President of Wintec Group, a CRM software reseller and application support specialty firm. We discuss the value of capturing and tracking customer data, how CRMs drive business growth, and the little-known beneficial features of CRM tools. 

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Put in Your CRM Reps with Jon Arancio

Our guest is Jon Arancio, of the Wintec Group, a value-added reseller of the Maximizer CRM solution. And Jon has been, John is an owner of this company for a long time, so he’s an expert in CRMs, and I’m going to pick his brains. He studied, he got a Bachelor of Science in Engineering and Chemistry and Biochemistry from Stony Brook University. So welcome to the show, Jon.

Thank you so much. Appreciate your time.

Great to have you here. So tell us a little bit about how did you end up being a CRM entrepreneur, if I can say that.

I think you can. And I took a roundabout path, which I don’t think is terribly uncommon. You mentioned I left Stony Brook with a science degree and worked for the equipment vendor in the chemistry industry initially, but found my way into sales not long after that. And I worked at an import-export trading company, trading chemicals. And in those days, no email, just about getting faxes, and we did a lot on pen and paper.

So in the first half of my tenure there, I was frustrated by managing 40 calls a day on pen and paper. So around about halfway mark, they invested in some computers and I delved into what was then Microsoft Works and then Microsoft Access to create some form of a CRM so I could track who I talked to and what I should do next and contact information, which was valuable but scattered a bunch across books and other resources. And having done that, when I left that firm to start this one, my aim wasn’t to sell chemicals, but it was to do selling better and find a way to help people with that. I thought there would be a good business at it, and I think that there is still today. But that’s really how I wound up here, was actually doing sales and sitting in the shoes of the people we help every day doing their job and not having a great go of it with the tools that were available.

You know, that happens very often with entrepreneurs that they are looking for a solution, it’s not available, they create it and then they turn it into a business. They first just use it for their own benefit to make their life better and then they realize that other people would want to take advantage of something like that and then they turn it into a business. So that’s kind of classic story.


So, I personally have dabbled with different CRMs over the years, Salesforce and many others, but I never managed to crack the code on it. And right now I’m using, and I always return to my Excel sheet and I find it to be the simplest and easiest for me to maintain. So help me out here. Why should someone use a CRM?

Each company will embrace a CRM for their own reasons, but the basic premise behind it is that you can do what you do better, faster, and less costly. Okay, so those are the things that are gonna drive any business to pick it up, is that, you know, my job is to make calls, can I make more calls, can I get them logged better, can I make more effective calls? You know, the recall was a big deal for me, looking at what I spoke to somebody the last time. And can I handle the time horizons better?

Each company will embrace a CRM for their own reasons, but the basic premise behind it is that you can do what you do better, faster, and less costly. Click To Tweet

If I talked to you 45 days ago, my chances of remembering or finding that note are low. But looking up in the database saying, oh, this person was interested in quantities of this product, he was complaining about this price, I have a better starting point, I’m going to make more of that phone call. So it’s essentially the piece of your business that you’re already doing without CRM. Can we take that and either automate parts of it or make it easier and better for you?

So, are there some principles how one should use the CRM? Because maybe my problem was that I didn’t use it properly. Maybe I didn’t type up all my notes. Maybe I didn’t have time every day to check it and to follow up, and it kept piling up. So are there maybe a handful of principles that you would say someone should pay attention to and to make the CRM really work for them?

So, CRM is a huge category, right? It encompasses enterprise solutions, single-user stuff, and everything in between. And I don’t think the answer’s the same for all of them. But where we sit in the middle, think of it as a piece of exercise equipment. It’s more useful if you use it more and it’s not useful at all if you never use it. I think some CRMs and ours included can be a little intimidating if you’re not using them all the time. So if you don’t fully embrace it, like you said, put the notes in, then the next time you come back to it, the note isn’t there. So the thing is not really that valuable. If you cut away one of my clients that’s using this for 20 years, those notes are essential. They’re not valuable. They’re the business now, and they can’t operate without that information. So you create the value by using it more heavily. And if you don’t use it a lot, I think it’s a liability. It’s like an anchor.

Yeah. No, I agree. That’s how I felt about it. So what can I use it for?

The majority of our clients are sales focused. Sales and marketing would be the two big areas. The third area that’s, I think, a large category for CRM is support services. People call them for customer service. And we have clients across all those buckets. But the big one that you’re going to hear about, and particularly on a show like this, talking to entrepreneurs, would be the, you know, generating business, right? Finding new customers, managing leads that come in, making sure we don’t make mistakes. A good deal of my clients use it for operational purposes, follow-ups, making sure they retain clients.

They don’t want to lose them, so they talk to them a lot and make sure they know them well. But the right way is your way. So if you came to me and said, I have a business, I’m growing, and there’s some areas I’m struggling in, I think you might be able to help. I’m only interested in what you’re trying to do and what you do well. So my questions to you would be, what are the things you do that are working well? What are the things you’re doing that really aren’t working well, but you’d like to? And can we put those together and do any part of that better with some technology? And our technology handling the relationship part is a big key for the types of clients that we go after.

You know, John, it always puzzles me why people don’t, it don’t seems to be using CRM. So I call Verizon, which is a, you know, fortune company and I call them up and they ask me those questions that I wanted to answer 10 times. It’s not the, it’s not the, you know, checking my, my pin code and stuff like that. Actual stuff that is happening, or I had an issue with GoDaddy and it took me nine calls to get it fixed. My account got hacked. And they kept asking the stuff as if they didn’t have it in their CRM. It boggles my mind why these people are asking that stuff when it should be in a CRM, right? Or maybe I’m missing something. Maybe they’re using it.

No, I don’t think you’re missing anything, actually. I just think that these large enterprises, they have different business problems. So I would say that the people who play in that space and market to those guys have a different business problem than we do. But it drives me crazy just as well. I don’t understand it any better than you do because I believe that I have given you my name and my phone number and my date of birth and the 10 different problems that I’m talking to you about.

So I don’t see an explanation for that. But if you have 25,000 users of the system, you probably have different problems that I don’t address. My client base is in the range of one to three or four hundred users, usually 20 users. So I don’t have the same business problems that they’ll have in their completely different departments and maybe some security issues, but that’s making an excuse. It’s terrible. I don’t have any mercy for it. It’s awful.

I feel a little better that an expert confirms my suspicion. So tell me, how are these tools different? So if I have a HubSpot or Salesforce or a Maximizer, how are these tools different? How do I know which one should work for me?

So they’re all playing in the same spaces, but they’re not all the same stuff. And of course, like any business, we want all business. I’d love somebody to walk in and buy 10,000 users of Maximizer for me, but that’s not likely. We’re really not targeting the enterprise. And I would say that the sales forces of the world aren’t doing a bang up job targeting my 20 user guys. Our focus is on the small to mid-size privately held companies. The owner’s part of the business, he’s using it. And that plays into our strengths.

We actually have a nice interface. It’s nimble, it’s fast, it’s easy to use. And you really only care about that if you’re a user. And typically in these family owned companies, the owner’s one of the guys using it. One of the people in there, he or she is using the system. So any kind of bottlenecks or like you were describing, they’re kind of hard to use, that gets on the owner and they don’t like it. The other bit in terms of our value proposition is we deliver the solution at a lower cost. The product itself is a little bit cheaper.

We’re in the middle of the pack in terms of our subscription cost. But some of these solutions to get them ready for use are very expensive. And I don’t think a lot of people perceive what those costs are when they jump in. And our solution is a relatively quick, few hours, few days deployment, and you’re in there working, and you can do things like set up your own fields and views. These are tasks that are pretty hard to do in some of those systems. There’s complications that you don’t realize you’re stepping into when you are building on those systems.

So I think that the, who you’re going after, you’re gonna bring different value to it. And that’s really what distinguishes the solution. The other part is our role. We are really orienting ourselves towards companies that want to pick up the phone and talk to somebody that knows them. So my customers will call me and they don’t have to read off a long customer number. In fact, I know the name of their server. I might have some of their credentials if they lose them. Like I have data for them to help them move on.

I know what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. So it’s just a different experience. So the typical relationship that I’ll have with somebody operating those businesses is they’ll say, hey, we’ve got a new guy starting. I need this. Can you do that? And then they’re off the phone doing their business. They’re not really in the weeds in the technology, but they’re not hiring people full time to make it work just to turn it on. And I think that’s the biggest distinction is just being right-sized for the audience.

That’s interesting. You know, many years ago when I was still an investment banker, there was a solution that came out, I can’t remember the name of it, but it was based on the Salesforce platform. And at the time, a seat on Salesforce was 25 bucks. That was the entry price. And they priced their solution for 250 bucks a month. And it was targeted to investment bankers specifically. And it was a very successful firm, they grew fast. And I was shocked that just by customizing it, their price point was off the charts. Do you see that a lot?

Yeah, the top end is more expensive exponentially because what us, and I think that’s true of corporations in general. For a corporation to throw a party costs more than a small business. It’s just they operate with higher costs, but the complexity of some of those solutions and I’ve had, I’ve lost some business to at the top end to some pretty big products and they were much, much more expensive. And when the client got into it, they were infinitely more expensive than they thought.

So they, they underestimated a massive cost and ended up hiring a team of people themselves. So they, they just bought it. They just said, we’re just going to bring this skill in-house. The consultants got too expensive. And I think that’s a fairly common experience of what you’re describing. It’s very tailored add-ons to an enterprise platform. Because they give you the best of both worlds and that you can be big and have a tailored solution, but that doesn’t come at a low price.

And that’s really outside the budget of most of the folks that we’re talking to, they just can’t do that. We have to get in and out in enough time that they’re satisfied, they get what they need and if they have something special that will save them a lot of man hours, then the cost can be a little bit higher. You can build for a project that does something that eliminates half of a job because half of a job costs a lot of money. But if you’re just helping them with sales, you need to do that part right and not break the bank.

Okay. So how is this market evolving? I mean, I’m not really into it I’m not using right now a solution, but I know that everything is evolving You have AI of machine learning all that stuff. So what are the trends? What do you see? Where is the there are CRM’s going a long term? Do you have well?

We you know, it’s been a long time in the business. We were a Windows product initially We’re a web product now. The biggest thing that’s happening now is the business intelligence. So like you’re speaking to AI, that’s a little bit on top of that, but the BI is collecting lots and lots of data, putting it in the background, and then the machine learning is taking that data and telling you things you didn’t even know. So they’re watching the use of the product, what are you filtering, what are you looking at in your data, and they’re saying, well, did you notice this?

And machines are very good at that. So for the clients that we have that are bigger deployments that have more to invest, they can tailor their BI experience to use those types of things. But we also offer the business intelligence on a hosted platform that’s kind of canned and it’s just a bit more expensive, but it’s much less than they’d have to throw at if they were building their own.

But what could that be able to do? So on top of me having my contacts, and I know when I last contacted them, what I said to them, it pops up. What else is there for this BI?

Well, if you capture enough win history, so, and you need volume, right? You need some data. So sometimes I think this is a little better for clients that are larger, that have more transactions. But if you have a lot of wind data, there might be something in the winds that you haven’t noticed. All the people buying from you are left-handed. Why is that? And there’s quirky things that can come out of data that people won’t be looking for, but machines don’t care. Then they’ll tease it up and present it.

So I think that’s the next step. And we’re just getting on it now. We have a fairly sophisticated BI platform that we expose to our clients. The data is getting collected and then it’s now up to us to dig in there and see what we can find that we don’t know. But of the things that you mentioned, a lot of the benefit of CRM is not new stuff at all. It’s the tracking your calls and setting your next one appropriately. I mean, even 25, 30 years ago, I had that need. It hasn’t changed.

Businesses still need, you know, a fair number of clients that we come to who run pretty good businesses, you know, not tiny businesses, are running fairly primitive because they were started very small and they just didn’t change their personality as they grew. All they grew were the revenues and they didn’t change any of their process until a point of enough pain that they pick up the phone and that’s where we start talking to them.

So we usually come into this where there is a problem identified and it’s not really BI, that’s the cutting edge, more of the sophisticated clients, but most people come to us with something simple like I don’t know what the salespeople are doing or I can’t imagine why we keep losing customers after two years and we can look into that.

So, you actually tailor the solution to the specific problem of the client?

Almost always, because the vast majority of folks don’t use everything that CRM does. I don’t care which one you buy or which one you use or if you write your own, you’re going to use the handful of features that really drive your business and you can afford to ignore other parts until it becomes relevant. We try to keep ourselves in front of them enough that we don’t miss out on some opportunities to expand how they’re using it but the basics carry you for a long, long time.

That’s interesting. So, what are some of the lesser used, less visible problems that you can find a solution with CRM?

So this is, there’s all, you know, each client has their own pain point so they’re going to use their own thing and many of them fall into the usual suspects, tracking a pipeline, managing leads. Leads is a big thing now because there’s a lot of electronic systems to grab data, and then people don’t want to type it in again. So we’ve got some automations there. But I’ve had clients who just used a sales pipeline, but very effectively. Like they had a lot of detail in their sales pipeline, and they tracked everything, and they were able to take that data to their banks and justify lending based on future sales.

So I thought that was an interesting thing that we had to get the reporting because I was part of the reporting end of that. I thought that’s an interesting use. Usually you’re looking at it to say, all right, do we need to build more boats? Do we need to buy more stuff or hire more people? But they were raising funds because they needed money to grow their business and they were able to lay it out for the bankers that there’s money there. And I don’t know you were in investment banking, but that’s something that a mid-sized business took to their bank successfully.

That’s interesting. So one of the frustrations people have, and I certainly had that, is that you’re on a call and you just don’t have time to type it up. And Verizon will make you wait until they type everything up, which is super annoying on the other hand. But I won’t do that. I’m going to be in real time paying attention with my client, with my prospects. Is there an easier way to capture the information than just typing it up? Are there some interfaces that will record the call and will put the transcript into the CRM or keywords or is there anything like that that would kind of streamline that experience?

Any, our CRM and I think any CRM that runs on your phone can take transcription right from the phone because that’s an alternate to the keyboard. But if you put a voice to text program on your computer, you will have an alternate to your keyboard to put your data and notes in particular. I think that’s where that helps the most. So Dragon are one of those guys that can get the text in. We get that complaint a lot that the sales guys don’t want to put the stuff in, but the value is very high. It’s high to the rep, but it’s high to the organization too, to know what’s going on there. So there’s a broader value.

We can capture data from web, we can make the customer put the data in if they’re going to a website or something. But in the case of a phone call, I would use transcription or a fair number of people use their cell phones for CRM and that interface is just naturally going to voice to text, you know, it’s just sitting there. So you can do that. But ultimately, I think you will have to do a little bit of navigation, I would address that question saying that the CRM that you use needs to be efficient or convenient or usable, like it has to be an easy solution. And we work at that a lot. Our interface is fairly quick.

I did a demo yesterday and I got an email back from the gentleman that said, man, I look really fast. Like, I like how that, you know, the speed of it. And I think that’s part of it. If it’s a laborious experience to put data in, your likelihood, and that’s even for your team, if it’s a large organization, of user adoption going up is not very good. So, you’re a good test case because you’d be one of my tougher end users to get to use it. But truthfully, you’re not an unusual example.

I’m probably a high maintenance, would be a high maintenance client. Just a bit. So, are there some lesser ways to use CRM to develop business other than just keeping the phone number and the information and just popping it up, making a call? Are there other things that people generally are not aware of, but it’s there and it’s a feature that they could use and they could leverage it to be more efficient?

You can set up triggers or notifications that, so you can set yourself tasks to call me back later or you could set conditions in the database to trigger when it’s been a certain amount of time since I’ve been called. So we sell a lot to wholesale businesses, distributors, manufacturers, real B2B businesses and they’re mostly trying to sell something. But we have a substantial market with financial advisors who, at least by the time they get our product in, are usually fairly established, they have a book of business, and they’re not selling anymore, but they’re operationally intense at account management.

They check on you all the time, they want to know what their clients are doing. So they have a variety of methods. They use the follow-up test, but they also will have indicators and dashboards to say, hey, this fairly large client has not been reviewed or called or whatever the trigger point is. And this is something you can easily customize. So you can set up these filters to capture a condition rather than leaving it to you to do it. And I think both of those combined gives the best experience because humans are fallible. You might forget to call someone back.

On the other hand, I don’t want to depend entirely on a system that’s regimented, because sometimes there’s off-cycle reasons to reach out to people, but you might save yourself a lot of grief by doing it. So I think both work, but having the ability to let the system kick you in the pants once in a while isn’t a bad thing, and I don’t know how many people are aware of it. I know I’m constantly reminding clients of that capacity and trying to have them use both. I don’t want to take one element away. I think that you put them together to have a tighter net so you don’t miss anybody.

So you have a sequence, but if something happens in the market that you know, you know, it impacts one of your clients, then that’s a really timely way to reach out to them and talk about it or congratulate them or whatever. What other solutions do you see people kind of combine with the CRM, make the CRM more effective, more intelligent? Do you see them use databases and information services?

We couple our BI tool insights with the system, so some clients can leverage that. In the back end, not in the interface itself, but affecting the interface, we can set up triggers and actions with Zapier, which is a big platform that allows us to tie together all sorts of odd stuff. You can walk in here and say, hey, I just signed up for this new thing that helps me do webinars, and I can, in 20 or 30 minutes, get those leads into the CRM and send you an email or set up a task for you.

So that capability gives us a lot to do with external systems, but also looking at our own systems. We’ve had clients that say, when I change this field here, I want some other stuff to happen over there for whatever their reason is, some visual presentations that they want to see. And by setting these things up, they just have to move one date and everything happens the way they want it to. Whereas in the past, they had to do that step plus these other two to move everything along.

So it’s things like that that I think are elements of the future. You know, there’s always things you can hang on. There’s tons of softwares. We integrate with things that do mailings and things that help with invites and stuff like that. But I have a fairly high regard for Zapier because it’s got such a broad potential and potential, and I don’t think there’s a lot of competitive solutions that do it as inexpensively. I think there’s always been tools to do that. We’ve had them, but they’re sort of priced just above where the small to medium guys want to start.

So do you provide the service of the integration and the managing the data, or you basically provide the solution and your clients will have to figure out how to combine, how to link it with Zapier, let’s say.

Whichever they want. Maximizer integrates whether I want to do it or not. Most of the clients that I have don’t have the bench to do it themselves. Some do. And we have fairly technical clients with their own programmers and that, you know, they might not even need Zapier. They could just write code. I think they might save some time using these tools. But a majority of my clients are not that deep on the technical end and are welcome to do it,but would often use us for this sort of stuff.

 So, you basically provide the service, you figured it out.


A mere cheap account, they have a webinar, you just help them pull all the information together.

Yeah, they come with the business case. They’ll say, I’d like you to do this, and we’ll say, we can do that. It can also do this. What do you think? Usually in the case of that particular solution, it usually, it expands a little bit when they realize that there’s more to it than they see. So there’s more they can do, but it’s not terribly expensive anyway. So it really hasn’t scared folks off and it works whether they want to host Maximizer in-house, put it on the cloud. It’s just a very flexible approach.

And would that handle email campaigns as well?

Yep. We do it a few different ways. We have our own internal system. We’ll integrate with MailChimp. You know, we’ll, it depends on what the client is trying to do. Some of our clients are sending an awful lot of email, so they’re more concerned about subscription costs. Some of our clients want to send a few emails, but nobody knows how to do HTML, and MailChimp. I think it’s helpful, particularly for folks that just don’t have that extra resource to do everything, to set up the images.

So there’s a lot to digest here. I think it’s really eye-opening for me as a kind of old-fashioned guy who is not into the technology or haven’t been able to crack the code on it. Definitely, I’m thinking already, you know, if I collect emails to my website maybe I could connect it to the CRM and do stuff with it to automate some kind of communication and allow me to prioritize things, rather than try to sift through the data and find the rough rough diamonds there. like to learn more and check this out, where can they go?

I hope they could visit us atwintechgroup.com. That’s W-I-N-T-E-C-G-R-O-U-P.com and there’s opportunity to poke around, check it out, do a trial or reach out to us.

That’s awesome. Okay, so thank you. So definitely checkout John Arancio on wintechgroup.com with a W and he’s also on LinkedIn. So you can reach out to him on LinkedIn. If you enjoyed this podcast, please like us on YouTube or subscribe, like us. And if you subscribe on iTunes and give us a review, that would be fantastic. It would allow other people to check this out and stay tuned because next week we’re going to have another exciting entrepreneur sharing their secrets with us. So thank you for listening and thanks John for coming on the show.

I appreciate it. Thank you.


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