Enhancing Sales Efficiency with CRM: Success Stories from a $23B US Company and a Korean Series B Startup

How I implemented two CRM instances at a $23B company and at a Series B stage startup

Won You
· 5 min read
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I was so serious about using a CRM well, even before joining Relate.

Interestingly, the two teams I worked at prior to joining Relate used different CRMs. I spent a lot of time learning the tools and helping other team members better use CRM to manage customers more effectively.

In this post, I will discuss my experience using CRM to develop the sales process and change how the sales team worked in my previous companies.

  • What is CRM – exactly?
  • Implementing Salesforce at Axon
  • Using Pipedrive at Comento, a Series B startup in the education sector in Korea.

What is CRM(Customer Relationship Management)?

As development teams rely on tools like GitHub, sales teams need a CRM to manage their customers. Managing customers without a CRM is not an option.

CRM is a software tool that manages all customer communications and interactions and relevant customer data. CRMs help organize the sales process, maximizing sales performance and efficiency. While existing CRMs like Salesforce and HubSpot are designed for large enterprises, we are building Relate, a simple CRM specifically tailored for startups.

Implementing Salesforce at Axon

Pic when I was at Axon - a $23b high-tech public safety software company.

Axon Enterprise, a NASDAQ-listed company valued at $23 billion, specializes in developing high-tech software and hardware primarily for the public safety industry, including law enforcement. When I started my career at Axon, I joined the Emerging Markets team, created by the Chief Revenue Officer (CRO), to explore new markets beyond the traditional public safety industry.

Initially, the two-person team, my manager and I used a spreadsheet as our CRM instead of Salesforce, although the entire sales team was using it.

  1. Neither my manager nor I had any prior sales or CRM experience
  2. Salesforce appeared too complicated and time-consuming to learn.

However, as the number of prospects I managed increased, the spreadsheet's limitations became apparent.

3 Problems I had with spreadsheets

1. Lack of visibility on sales progress:

As you talk to prospects and track deals, you generate lots of customer data, including meeting notes, emails, deal value, expected close date, contact information, and more. As the number of prospects and conversations increased, managing them in the spreadsheet was difficult. More importantly, It’s challenging to know what’s going on just by looking at the spreadsheet.

2. Scattered customer data:

Email is the primary communication channel in B2B sales. However, with spreadsheets you can’t see emails. Also, writing detailed meeting notes in the spreadsheet isn't easy. It became problematic because there are at least three tools – email app, spreadsheet, and notes app to manage customer data.

3. Difficult to share customer data:

Tracking and sharing key deal information was hard because customer data was scattered in different tools. We had to manually go through spreadsheets, meeting notes, and emails to compile customer data in a sharable form.

This became overly time-consuming, hindering our ability to focus on meeting prospects and closing deals.

Eventually, I convinced my manager to adopt Salesforce, the CRM the existing sales team used.

How CRM transformed the workflow and performance

Implementing Salesforce brought about significant improvements in our work and sales performance:

  1. Managing customer data in one place and leveraging all information for managing customers.

Having all customer data in one place, including emails and meeting notes, greatly enhanced the quality of our sales efforts. Instead of wasting time searching and organizing information, we could utilize recorded data to tailor our sales approach based on each customer's situation and needs.

  1. Effortless sharing of customer information.

I no longer needed to organize scattered customer data to share with my manager and the CRO. The Salesforce reports visualized new opportunities I generated and the progress.

  1. Acquired the first paying customer and developed the sales pipeline.

After using Sales CRM, I acquired the first paying customer and multiple paid pilots. I generated more opportunities and developed the entire sales pipeline myself. The success prompted the CRO to hire a General Manager, expanding our team from a two-person internal venture to a significant business unit.

My experience with Pipedrive at Comento


Following my time at Axon, I joined Commento, a Series-B ed-tech startup in Korea. Commento already used Pipedrive as their sales CRM. However, not all customer data was managed with Pipedrive. For outbound prospecting, the sales team used Klenty and spreadsheets.

Problem we had as we used both Pipedrive and spreadsheet: Communication history is not synced.

When prospecting, it is crucial to access the history of customer interactions, such as when your team reached out with what message and the results. You need this information to avoid unnecessary outreach or duplicate outreach.

One of my initial projects at Commento was to migrate all prospecting history and data in spreadsheets to Pipedrive.

How CRM transformed the workflow and performance

I could see the entire history of prospects in the CRM, which helped our team avoid the unnecessary outreach mentioned above.

I was also able to leverage the customer information we had organized in our CRM to understand when, to which prospects, and with what messaging we were most likely to generate sales opportunities when we reached out.

As a result, I was able to generate at least 20 Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) per month, which was our prospecting goal.

Using CRM is fundamental of an effective sales team

CRM serves as the foundation of an effective sales team and acts as an operating system for the sales team. Managing customers and developing an organized sales process without a CRM is incredibly challenging.

Unfortunately, many B2B sales teams don’t use CRM or fail to use it for three reasons.

  1. The existing CRM is too complex to use well.
  2. Integrating other GTM tools with the CRM is too complex.
  3. Existing CRM is too expensive.

How is Relate solving this problem?

1. The simplest CRM that anyone can use

Relate offers a minimal learning curve, enabling users to manage customers starting their first day. Whether new to B2B sales or using CRM, Relate CRM incorporates sales best practices, ensuring users remain organized and on top of their customers.

The flexibility to adjust settings easily allows teams to adapt their sales processes as needed.

2. Aggregating customer data in one place

You can easily manage scattered customer data in Relate, including emails, meeting notes, and product data from other tools.

Relate supports Zapier integration with other tools and plans to provide more direct integration, enabling seamless access to the information needed for effective sales activities.

For example, you can automatically add product data or Product Qualified Leads (PQLs) in Relate through Mixpanel or Amplitude integration.

3. Full-stack revenue platform

You don’t need to use more than ten tools (Calendar, Forms, CRM, Sequence, Reporting, File Management & Sharing, etc.) and go through a complicated integration process to manage your entire sales process.

Relate provides everything your revenue team needs in a single, deeply integrated platform – you just need Relate to run your revenue operations.

If you are considering adopting a CRM or feel that you are not making the most of your current CRM, let us know by signing up here.