Science. Technology. Engineering. Art. Maths. As our world evolves to become more digital, STEAM is becoming increasingly important to innovation. To inspire the next generation of STEAM experts, SAM Labs is blazing a trail with products for the classroom that are fun and rewarding, while preparing children with the skills for the workplace of tomorrow. “Teachers have told us that it can often be a struggle to engage students and hold their interest using traditional tools for education. We’ve used that insight to create a new generation of edtech products that merge the digital and the physical, showing students how to build and programme devices for themselves to bring their any school subject to life,” said Morten Hagen, VP of Sales at SAM Labs.
As it’s competing with much larger established educational companies, SAM Labs needs to be focused and efficient. By harnessing customer data and turning it into actionable insights, the startup can direct its resources to the right places. “To be a winner in the market, you have to know your customers and be able to identify where to grow next,” explained Hagen. “By harnessing sales data, we’ve been able to gain a strategic overview so we can make sure we’re on track and focus where there’s the most potential.”
SAM Labs was founded in 2014 after a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign raised more than $200,000 towards production costs. Since then, it has launched a number of groundbreaking app-enabled creation kits, aimed at children aged 7 and up.
The company works with education partners around the world to equip classrooms with curriculum-based projects. “Our vision is to become a leading global edtech company,” said Hagen. “And we’re headed in the right direction: from 2014 to 2017 we saw 300% growth, and this year we’re set to treble in size again.”
As SAM Labs grows, it recognises that the way it engages with its partners and customers will have to evolve. “Up until now, we’ve had very close-knit relationships with our customers,” explained Hagen. “This proximity has enabled us to really understand what students enjoy about our kits, whether they’re the right level of difficulty, and how we need to develop them. It helps us to add value in a meaningful way.”
While this approach worked well for the startup at first, its spreadsheets were not going to fit the bill for much longer. “We have ambitions to become one of the biggest edtech companies in the world, so we needed a CRM solution that reflected this goal and wouldn’t hamper our growth,” said Hagen.
The need for an enterprise-standard solution led the team to Salesforce. “We evaluated five or six different solutions, but only Salesforce offered the functionality and scalability we needed to future-proof the business,” said Hagen.
Sales Cloud was implemented in late 2016, and now the sales team lives and breathes Salesforce. The CRM solution tracks every detail of SAM Labs’ relationships with its partners in the education sector, including the schools they work with, past orders, pupil numbers, and interactions, while the Lightning interface offers a modern and seamless user experience.
To capture interactions against the relevant account, the sales team uses SalesforceIQ to integrate its email inboxes. “SalesforceIQ helps us capture leads and drives better conversations with customers by displaying relevant communications in a single thread,” explained Hagen. “It also saves hours of manual data entry.”
Automated workflows maximise efficiency for sales managers as well, while ensuring leads don’t get lost. For example, if a sales manager has been talking to a partner but no order is received within a specific timeframe, they’ll receive an alert to remind them to get in touch. Integration with SAM Labs’ ERP system also streamlines processes. “The moment a deal is closed, the quote is processed, the invoice generated, and the product shipped – all from a single click,” said Hagen. “We also have more accurate data that helps with forecasting to ensure we’re manufacturing the right volume of kits for the following year.”