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Mercan Properties boosts investor confidence with automation


3.8 min read

In Portugal, history is not just a chapter in a book; it's the very fabric of the landscape.
Mercan Properties is a Portuguese investment business dedicated to offering unique investment opportunities in the hospitality sector to foreign investors via co-ownership. Its success is built on a tried-and-true method for bringing the past and present together.
Founded in 2015, Mercan Properties rehabilitates historic buildings and turns them into attractive hotels for the public, stands out for the economic impact that its activity enhances, which guarantees employment, increases the potential of the areas where they are located and offers a tourist experience at the best level in the country.
Like many companies, Mercan Properties found itself struggling to scale reliably. The business was good and potential investors were beating the door down – but the team simply didn’t have enough people available to answer the volume of queries they were getting.
The result? Lucrative opportunities were being missed – and, while the company still continued to enjoy a steady stream of success, it soon became clear that things needed to change.
With the help of its partner, Improve By Tech, Mercan Properties embarked on a journey to digitize its processes from beginning to end. Together, the two teams created a new workflow built on Salesforce.
Read on to find out how Mercan Properties digitized its entire sales and marketing process, using automation to overcome its human resource challenges.

“I’d used Salesforce previously in another previous job. From that experience, I knew it would be the perfect match to solve our workflow challenges. Basically, it checked all the boxes, is a very established product and, crucially, it has a very open architecture that allows integration with third party services.”

Marco Correia,
CIO at Mercan Properties

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Make it easy to grow the business by reducing manual busywork.

One of the biggest barriers to growth is not having enough hands on deck to get things done. This was something Mercan Properties faced earlier in its journey.
“It was all very manual. Everybody was doing their work based on files sent through email and Excel spreadsheets. It was an email-centric process. And there were only so many of us to handle the work,” said Correia.
Constrained to email-based outreach and manual processes, the team found it hard to grow past a certain threshold. They knew they needed a better way to handle the customer onboarding and lead the development process. So they chose Salesforce to help them manage all their sales conversations and actions from a single place.
With Salesforce, they’ve been able to automate the majority of their sales processes, leaving the team open to developing client relations in other areas.

Get the right resources to customers at the time they’re most likely to be interested.

Florbela Dinis is the Marketing and Communications Manager at Mercan Properties. Her team manages all investor outreach and communications for the company. But one area they had been struggling with was in targeting comms to clients at the right time.
As part of its investor services, Mercan Properties offers Portuguese lessons to investors who are interested in becoming Portuguese citizens. However, Dinis and the team found that there was generally a small window of time in which clients would be interested.
If they tried too early in the relationship, clients wouldn’t yet be thinking about citizenship. But too late, and they ran the risk of missing the opportunity to pitch the language service entirely.
This was exacerbated by the reliance on manual email communications. Often, perfect candidates for the lessons would fall through the cracks as emails got lost, mistimed, or forgotten.
By using Salesforce, the team was able to set up an automated process that would suggest lessons to investors at just the right time. By doing so, they were able to improve lesson invitation and uptake numbers.
“We have an email scoring system. So for example with our Portuguese classes, we have these nurturing campaigns. After the first email is sent, we can see the scoring, track interest levels and clicks,” says Dinis. “Based on that, the recipient gets a lead score; those who open our emails get a higher score and are then targeted again for the next round of emails.”
Similarly, the team applied an automated emailing service that would update investors on any new updates about their investment properties. With this targeted approach, the team saw a sharp rise in email engagement.

Streamline operations across the business by automating processes and next steps.

Those little shifts to automation had big results across the entire business. Aside from lessons, the team also needed to be able to provide a top-tier client experience for their investors – this included arranging visits (including accommodation and transport), meeting investors in person, facilitating bureaucratic requirements and, most importantly, helping investors fall in love with the country.
To do this, the team needed a way to coordinate agents effectively. This was a difficult task to do manually as it was prone to human error and missed messages. But with Salesforce, they were able to iron out the process by establishing procedural steps to follow and automating reminders and alerts.
Salesforce’s broad APIs also made it easy for the team at Mercan to integrate it with their in-house applications.
“With Salesforce, we’re able to prevent and plan. We’re not forced to rely on improvisation and last-minute plans anymore,” says Correia. “Now, at our fingertips, we can see what's happening in the next week, next two weeks, next three weeks. And it’s very dynamic. So, even when unexpected things happen, we’re able to make quick fixes and stay on track.”

Branch out to new territories by meeting customers where they are.

With its Portuguese real estate portfolio, it’s no surprise that Mercan Properties caters to primarilyn on-EU investors, along with a number of prominent investors from the US and the UK.
But, thanks to their shared language, the team saw an opportunity to expand into the Brazilian market. However, to do so they needed to carry out business the Brazilian way: via WhatsApp.
“When we were sending emails, Brazilian clients would answer via WhatsApp. They arrange deals over WhatsApp,” says Dinis. “It’s a completely different way of working – but we needed to adapt to it.”
Salesforce made it easy for the team to pivot their digital marketing and sales strategy to meet the needs of this new market, by connecting all the different digital channels – from email to social media to WhatsApp – through a single platform.

Rigorously test everything before it goes out with a sandbox environment.

Keeping customers happy and assured is always important. But it’s especially crucial that no mistakes are made when your clients are high-flying investors.
All communications sent out by the team are tested thoroughly to ensure no errors are made. Initially, the team started out with a partial sandbox, but they quickly realized they needed more control over the testing environment.
So they transitioned to a full sandbox that allowed them to test the integration with other applications and do the complete breadth of performance testing, load testing, and staging.
The marketing team also does a lot of marketing trial and error testing for their campaigns too.
“We use dynamic content in our marketing, and all of it is based on client interactions,” explains Dinis. “Every week, the team gets together to analyze results and interrogate everything: How many times were emails opened? How many clicks did the links get? Why didn’t clients take action if they were showing a lot of interest by opening the email often?”
That in-depth information, along with the team’s collective brainstorming, all help them refine campaigns and adapt content to address investor interests.


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- engagement boost.


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