Funding Options burst onto the financial market following the global financial crisis to do what traditional banking could not: to provide a platform connecting small businesses with the right financial partner to secure funding. It aims to make navigating the complex terrain of the finance world simple, benefit small business owners, and help the economy flourish.
With the platform meeting the demand for consumer-like experiences in business, it's a popular choice for tens of thousands of small businesses every year. And with a government initiative passed in late 2016 legally requiring banks to provide alternative funding routes for every applicant they reject, it's set to experience explosive growth.
Conrad Ford, Founder and CEO explained, "The government appreciates the value of small businesses to the economy, but our traditional banking models are geared towards companies with a long history of service. We've become the bridge to help successful start ups get the funding to scale, to help struggling small businesses with the cash injection they need to save jobs, and to give people hope that if the bank says no, that doesn't have to be the end of their business."
With an increasing number of customers, and exponential growth on the horizon, Funding Options needed an efficient IT solution to help it scale while keeping overheads low.
Funding Option's website gets more than a quarter of a million hits every year, but not every person that browses its website needs its services right away. "At any given time, around one in 20 businesses are thinking about funding,” said Ford “But faced with a complex market, there's only a 5% chance that they're actively interested in any one provider. We need the flexibility to be able to provide finance quickly for customers ready to act, and to nurture those who are not ready to make a decision yet."
To ascertain the perfect moment to engage with a prospect, Funding Option needs to have a clear view of the company: its growth plans, data from Companies House, and when it files its accounts. Funding Options recognised its approach must also be as personal as possible. "Our first attempts at marketing involved printing out glossy newsletter destined for our customers' recycling bins," said Ford. "We realised we needed to grow our understanding of the latest trends in B2B marketing and focus on multi-channel lead nurturing.”
In 2016, the company invested in an integrated Sales Cloud and Pardot solution to deliver intelligent CRM and automated lead nurturing. "To best serve our customers, we need to be efficient and agile,” said Ford. “We decided to replace our CRM system in May 2016, and just three months later we were up and running on Salesforce. We were fortunate to have a local relationship with MakePositive, a Platinum Salesforce consulting partner, who were able to quickly point us towards getting the best out of Pardot’s sophisticated nurturing."
Amelia Munsey, Campaign Manager at Funding Options, added, "A lot of my colleagues were already fans of Salesforce, and they embraced the solution quickly and easily. The feedback we've had from the team so far has been fantastic, and we've been able to handle five times more customers in the last year without increasing headcount."
Salesforce plays a major role in helping Funding Options to scale up its services, particularly when it comes to new leads, while keeping overheads low by automating as much as possible. For example, Pardot creates and sends out personalised emails based on trigger events, such as re-engaging previous opportunities when they open or click on an email.
"Salesforce is a game changer for us – now we are reaching out to customers before they even realise they need us, so our name is on the tip of their tongue when they're ready to act," explained Munsey.
With segmented leads and careful queue management, the sales team can focus on the highest priority leads and respond quickly. This has led to an enormous rise in productivity - with Salesforce taking care of colder leads, staff are freed up to offer personalised services to the customers who need it most. "With Salesforce, we can provide personalised customer service to tens of thousands of customers with just 20 members of staff,” said Munsey. “And thanks to our ability to prioritise appropriately, we were able to help one customer secure the funding they needed in just seven hours.”
Logging every email and call is important for any financial company to meet the strict regulations of the industry. But with Salesforce’s dashboards and reports, it also gives management the visibility to make smarter decisions about when to hire more staff to maintain growth, as well as enabling a hands-on approach to managing workloads and keeping staff happy.
"With Salesforce we can see our business clearly," concluded Ford. "We know how to scale profitably so we can continue to help more and more businesses find their ideal funding partner."