Peter Connell is founder of CallPro CRM. A customer relationship management system that provides an all-encompassing CRM system that includes a database, call management system, power dialling and email marketing solution in one.
Its unique selling point is that the setup allows for multiple databases to be accessed within one system, with a bespoke view for each one.
This innovative product has been making waves internationally as it has capabilities ahead of the marketplace. For example, the system is linked with social media networks such as LinkedIn and Twitter. These are built into the software allowing you to search profiles and tweet them too- all from one platform.
The firm has recently experienced rapid expansion with the growth of the Chippenham office to 18 employees and the opening of offices in the US and India.
TBE met with Peter to find out how CallPro CRM started; how it has progressed to the company it is today and what the plans are for the future.
What did you do before setting up CallPro CRM?
I previously worked for ten years at Nokia in Swindon. I was a self employed IT manager working in the DVD and satellite receivers division. Our office supplied and sold into retail outlets.
Nokia’s way of doing business changed and they setup a telemarketing department. I could see the business’s frustrations with how they were they were working and in 1996 designed and built a bespoke system- then namedTMS. This product has gone on to become what is today called CallPro CRM.
How did CallPro CRM progress as a business from this point?
Nokia were looking to close the consumer electronics division of the company, so I decided to bite the bullet and go full time developing the product.
I knew the software could be marketed to other clients and my first customer was Computer 2000 based in Basingstoke. I’m proud to say that they are still working with us today as our longest standing customer, but things have changed quite dramatically over the years. CallPro CRM is now a cloud-based solution. In those days it was installed from floppy discs.
At first I worked from my home in Staverton and by January 2003 the business had grown to the stage that I needed office space and I moved into Hartham Park in Corsham.
I always had an ambition to sell into the US, constraining to just the UK market I saw as short sighted and needed to think bigger than that. We have now sold into over 35 countries including the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Originally the product was charged on a one-off annual fee basis. That’s how software pricing structures normally worked. In 2008 we started offering a subscription on a monthly basis that made the product more affordable to clients as there were no upfront costs. However, this change in invoicing did impact cash flow for a while, which was a risk I had to take. Luckily that challenge paid off and the product rocketed.
How has the company evolved?
We now have an office in Clearwater, near Tampa in Florida. We work with a bespoke agency that assists UK companies to get into the US. We’ve now rented office space there for the last year and sent one of our English technical staff. It was a bit of a challenge at first as we had to sort out visa options, but we got there in the end. We also employ two local sales people in America and one admin person. It made business sense to have locals selling the product as it makes the process easier and helps with any cultural differences. For example, telemarketing is a dirty word in the US as they call it ‘inside sales’.
We have also signed up to the UKTI (UK Trade & Investment) Gateway to Global Growth Scheme. This has helped, as there was funding available to pay 50% of our set up costs. Because of this we expanded into India too, setting up a company in India working with an Indian salesperson who applied for the America job. He is based in Pune, one of the largest cities in India.
The Indian time zone is good to sell into the Australia and Singaporean markets (which is very difficult from the UK). However, this office has come with its challenges too due to the complexities of finance- for instance our Indian company cannot receive payments in US dollars (we ask Australian customers to pay in US Dollars), everything has to be in Rupees! We’ve been on a steep learning curve.
What are your plans for growth in 2015 and beyond?
This year we are aiming to double in size, we are very ambitious and we’re not running out of opportunities.
A new version of the software came out last month, with added benefits such as website tracking, a tool that enables you to see who has visited your website. We are also investing time and money into continued development of the software including enhancing the drip email marketing facility. It’s a very exciting time for CallPro CRM and we can’t wait to make 2015 another successful year.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
The problem in my position is that there is always something that needs doing in the business and I probably spend at least half a day each weekend on ‘work’ related things. I do have to try rather hard to switch off but find I can do that when going out taking landscape photographs – although typically this means early mornings at the weekend since that’s the time to catch mists, frosts and possibly the sunrise.
As someone technically savvy, what gadget could you not live without?
I’m not into ‘apps’ but I do keep on top of emails constantly and I find the Blackberry to be the best tool
for mobile email.
Pictured above: Peter Connell, CEO, CallPro CRM