4-page Case Study
Posted: 4/21/2011
Rate This Evidence:

Nalco Company Global Company’s Strategic Initiative Revamps Sales, Uses CRM to Help Generate Revenue

Nalco Company, a global provider of sustainability services, saw an opportunity to refocus sales efforts to increase revenue and serve customers better. To achieve this, Nalco launched a Commercial Excellence initiative, which included a technology update. Nalco replaced older sales management and communications software with an integrated solution that includes Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Microsoft SharePoint Server, and Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite. Today, Nalco is on track to achieve its growth target for new business. Sales representatives spend more time selling effectively, pursuing the most strategically valuable opportunities, and uncovering new prospects. Managers direct business activities with a deeper understanding of market trends, and the IT group efficiently develops business solutions by using the xRM framework in Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

* With Microsoft Dynamics CRM, we’re approaching our new-business growth target by furnishing the field with the tools to pursue the right customers, focus better, and spend more time selling. *

Derek Johnson,
Business IT Leader for Sales and Marketing, Nalco Company


Nalco Company, headquartered in Naperville, Illinois, serves nearly 50,000 customer locations in more than 150 countries with a team of approximately 7,000 sales and service engineers. The company is the world’s largest provider of sustainability services centered on industrial water, energy, and air applications. Through a large portfolio of industry-specific applications, technology tools, programs, and professional services, Nalco helps its customers reduce and mitigate the environmental impact of their consumption of natural resources and improve their profitability.

Derek Johnson, Business IT Leader for Sales and Marketing at Nalco Company, works closely with the sales and marketing executives to manage the demand for IT applications and provide the right solutions to support the company’s sales and marketing strategies. Says Johnson, “It’s extremely important for us to enable the sales and service engineers to be more effective.”

Because the dual role of sales and service engineers requires them to close new business and render support to existing customers, it is possible for them to become fully involved in customer issues. While they help address customers’ concerns, they might not have the bandwidth to engage with valuable business opportunities or spend enough time creating new customer relationships. Therefore, account planning is paramount both for individual sales engineers and Nalco as a whole.

Sales engineers and their managers used a tool based on Microsoft Excel to track sales activities and opportunities. Once a month, the company collected sales data to produce reports, which took 10 days to complete. “Our reports were not timely; therefore, they were not accurate,” explains Johnson. “The information was outdated by the time we were able to distribute the reports, which meant they were not actionable. Because of this, executives and managers had very limited visibility into the sales pipeline and the opportunities that our teams focused on.”

Nalco launched a strategic initiative, called Commercial Excellence, to drive growth, advance sales planning and effectiveness, and facilitate better account collaboration. Given that sales and service engineers encounter many more opportunities than they can pursue, they needed a way to focus their activities by concentrating on the most promising potential customers to grow the business. The leadership of the Commercial Excellence initiative included stakeholders from business groups and IT. After thorough fact-finding and an evaluation of resources and markets, initiative leaders were confident that the Commercial Excellence initiative could globally deliver significant additional revenue by providing improved visibility of market potential, helping sales engineers target the right opportunities to pursue at the right time, and greatly improving account teams’ ability to collaborate on sales deals.

A key element of the Commercial Excellence initiative was finding and implementing the right software tools to support the sales and service engineers and their district managers. Nalco embarked upon a review of customer relationship management solutions. At the same time, the organization needed to transition away from Lotus Notes as an email and document management platform, because it was outdated and no longer worked the way the company desired. Lotus Notes offered IT very limited flexibility to adjust the technology to changing business needs, let alone develop custom solutions. Finally, Nalco Company also wanted to upgrade the Microsoft Office 2000 installations on company desktops and laptops to the latest version of the Microsoft productivity system.

In a series of workshops across the organization, Nalco identified key processes and workflows that the solution would need to support. The Nalco selection committee closely reviewed Microsoft Dynamics CRM and several competing solutions.

Nalco selected Microsoft technology for a number of reasons. As Johnson explains, “We felt that the combination of Microsoft products—Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Exchange Server, and Microsoft SharePoint Server—fit our vision of enabling an effective sales team much more closely than the competing offerings. We realized that Microsoft enabled us to give our sales and service engineers a unified window to the world that would encompass customer relationship management, communications, a more productive experience, and easy-to-use document management.”

* We now have an architecture on which we can efficiently build valuable future solutions. *

Derek Johnson,
Business IT Leader for Sales and Marketing, Nalco Company

Finding a Committed Partner

Microsoft introduced several possible implementation partners. Slalom Consulting, a national Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, won the business. “Slalom Consulting committed to learning and understanding our business,” says Johnson. “They proved to us that the Microsoft technology would help us make the Commercial Excellence initiative successful and that it offered a comprehensive, strategic set of valuable capabilities that we could implement quickly.”

Scaling from Proof of Concept to Full Implementation
Replacing the Excel-based sales management tool and Lotus Notes, the simultaneous implementation of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Outlook, Exchange Server, and SharePoint Server happened in several expanding stages. Initially, Slalom performed a small proof-of-concept project. Within a short six weeks, the proof of concept delivered the same functionality as the Excel tools, with the benefit of real-time visibility, and quickly grew into a 60-day pilot project for 75 users. The pilot, in turn, extended to support 150 users in a second wave, which added capabilities such as mobility, important to the field. Then, the joint Nalco and Slalom team built and deployed the solution to the more than 1,600 North American members of the sales and service organization, completing the project in approximately eight months.

To manage the implementation efficiently and ensure that the solution’s key features returned the best value, Nalco used the SCRUM methodology, which helps keep complex projects manageable and on track, with teams working in compact, four-week cycles to achieve clearly defined objectives. “In the pilot projects, we quickly realized functional parity with our older, Excel-based tool,” says Johnson. “The solution was effective, scalable, and reliable, so we could transition smoothly from the pilots to the wider North American rollout.”

Making the New Tools Easily Available
Microsoft Dynamics CRM, closely integrated with Outlook, is the main software tool for Nalco’s North American sales and service engineers and district managers. Account updates, communications, and the management of appointments and calendars take place within the same software environment. Representatives save and access documents and other resources, including competitive information, on SharePoint Server portals. Previously, representatives had to connect through a virtual private network (VPN) to access company information; but today, they can connect securely to the solution from any location and almost any device, as long as they have an Internet connection. Because Nalco implemented the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite, a collection of services from Microsoft Online Services, Nalco technology users can also access the Microsoft Office tools conveniently through their browsers.

After the company implements pilot projects in its Asian, European, and Latin American regions, approximately 7,000 field team members and district managers will use the solution by the close of 2011. Given the company’s growth, that number will only increase. In addition, Johnson and the IT group are making the solution available to company’s sales and marketing executives to help them gain insight into sales activities and market trends as they plan the company’s strategy. Ken Merritt, Director of Sales Optimization at Nalco Company, says, “Given the success of the sales rollout of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, we are now engaging our marketing teams. The technology will help executives and managers be more effective in helping our sales people at the right moments in the sales process.”

Today, Nalco achieves business objectives and serves customers with a reliable, scalable solution. As Johnson states, “With Microsoft Dynamics CRM, we’re approaching our new-business growth target by furnishing the field with the tools to pursue the right customers, focus better, and spend more time selling. We continue to add enhancements to the solution’s capabilities because we can do so easily and quickly. This helps drive more use of the tools, resulting in additional business value.”

Company leadership took note of the accomplishments Merritt, Johnson, and their teams achieved with the new technology tools: They both received the Winners’ Circle Award, the highest honor given by Nalco’s executive leadership team.

* With Microsoft Dynamics CRM, we’ve bridged the gap between sales and marketing. Marketing now actively collaborates with sales in pipeline targeting and opportunity management, helping to drive better results. *

Ken Merritt,
Director of Sales Optimization, Nalco Company

Realize Strategic Initiative Goals

With a widely adopted, scalable technology platform that supports the effectiveness of sales and service engineers, Nalco’s Commercial Excellence initiative is on track to generate the additional revenue that company executives set as a goal. Across the sales and service organization, the solution has helped representatives spend an average of close to 10 percent more of their time selling. Says Johnson, “With Microsoft Dynamics CRM, we’re approaching our goals by furnishing the field with the tools to pursue the right customers, plan better, and spend more time selling.” Merritt adds, “With Microsoft Dynamics CRM, we’ve bridged the gap between sales and marketing. Marketing now actively collaborates with sales in pipeline targeting and opportunity management, helping to drive better results.”

Increase the Effectiveness of the Sales Organization
Sales and service representatives embraced the solution, which is easily accessible without requiring VPN connection, with enthusiasm. “People love Microsoft Dynamics CRM together with Outlook, and they’re using the new tools more consistently to enter and manage opportunities,” explains Merritt. “This practice has also increased the collaboration around the key accounts Nalco is focused on.”

District sales managers at Nalco take advantage of Microsoft Dynamics CRM and the accurate, complete account and sales information to understand what goes on in the field and help representatives plan the most fruitful account strategies. District managers can now assess business events in real-time dashboards and have more meaningful coaching conversations with representatives. “These new capabilities provide the most effective coaching tools we’ve ever had,” says Merritt. “They help us accomplish significant effectiveness gains in our sales organization.”

Empower IT to Perform Strategic Business Enablement
For Nalco’s IT department, the xRM application development framework in Microsoft Dynamics CRM provides the tools to extend the solution with additional applications. The first one of these will be a replacement of the company’s corporate quality system, which records customer and product-related issues with a new quality management tool. Says Johnson, “We now have an architecture on which we can efficiently build valuable future solutions. Now that we have succeeded in empowering the sales and service team to spend more time, more effectively with customers, we can extend our capabilities very quickly to continue to capture the key activities that occur at our customer sites. Doing so helps us continue to strive for the 360-degree view of our customers and make better decisions to attain our goals.”

Additional Resources
Microsoft Dynamics
Microsoft Dynamics is a line of integrated, adaptable business management solutions that enables you and your people to make business decisions with greater confidence. Microsoft Dynamics works like familiar Microsoft software such as Microsoft Office, which means less of a learning curve for your people, so they can get up and running quickly and focus on what’s most important. And because it is from Microsoft, it easily works with the systems that your company already has implemented. By automating and streamlining financial, customer relationship, and supply chain processes, Microsoft Dynamics brings together people, processes, and technologies, increasing the productivity and effectiveness of your business, and helping you drive business success.

For more information about Microsoft Dynamics, go to:


For More Information
For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers in the United States and Canada who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to:

For more information about Nalco Company products and services, call (630) 305-1000 or visit the website at:


For more information Slalom Consulting products and services, call (206) 438-5700 or visit the website at:
Solution Overview

Organization Size: 12500 employees

Organization Profile

As the world’s leading water treatment and process improvement company, Nalco Company delivers environmental, social, and economic performance benefits to customers around the globe.

Business Situation

Nalco wanted to enable its sales organization to be more effective in serving customers, pursue the most valuable opportunities, and generate substantial additional revenue.


After evaluating several possible solutions, the company deployed Microsoft Dynamics CRM together with Microsoft SharePoint Server and the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite.

  • Realize strategic initiative goals
  • Increase the effectiveness of the sales organization
  • Empower IT to perform strategic business enablement


Third Party Software

Software and Services
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011
  • Microsoft Sharepoint Server
  • Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite
  • Microsoft Office 365

Vertical Industries
Process Manufacturing & Resources

United States

Business Need
  • Business Productivity
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM)


Slalom Consulting