Why Pipedrive CRM for a Distribution Company? - Small Business CRM Coach

Why Pipedrive CRM for a Distribution Company?

John is the owner of a Colorado based distribution company. He recently hired Mike to help him with sales. Mike lives in Kansas. With a growing sales team, John wanted more visibility over how sales activities are progressing.

In small organizations, when the sales team hears that now they will have a CRM, their first instinct is to resist, because they worry they will be micromanaged.

This was not a problem in John’s organization. Mike used a CRM in his previous job. He understands that tracking sales activities in CRM would give John visibility over his workload. It would also enable John to be proactive, and take action to support Mike in his role when necessary.

As part of this consulting project, we reviewed three popular CRMs for small business. In the end we moved forward with Pipedrive.

Why Pipedrive?

Kanban Board

Pipedrive has a user friendly kanban style user interface. This makes it easier to identify the number of deals in each stage of the sales pipeline. Members of the sales team can drag a deal from one stage to the next, as they qualify potential customers, and move them along in their sales funnel.

John and Mike can see which deals have activities they need to follow-up on after a quick look at the deals screen, because of the color coded icons in each deal card.

A grey icon is to let them know the activities in that deal are due in a future date.
The green icon tells Mike that he has activities that are due today.
Deal cards with a red icon show John is lagging behind (we know he is a busy guy), and he has overdue tasks for those deals.
A yellow warning sign indicates there aren’t any activities for that deal.

Rotting Deal Feature

A couple of weeks ago John was excited about a new feature Pipedrive just released: The Rotting Feature. This feature turns the whole deal card red if there are no activities after a period of time. This will help John and Mike to identify which deals need attention. At this point they can evaluate their next steps without leaving their customers waiting too long.

Easy to customize

We customized to John’s Pipedrive app in a couple of areas.

We added stages to the sales pipeline that align with how John’s distribution business operates.

We added a few custom fields. It is important for John to track the product lines that are relevant for each deal. So, we added a “product lines” field to the deal record. In Pipedrive, you can click a button to organize the options in alphabetical order. I love this feature!

Email Integration

Pipedrive provides two different options to integrate email. One is through a two-way email sync. This feature is available for Gmail, Office 365, Yahoo! Mail and iCloud. You can find out more about this feature here.

The other option is to bcc an email address provided by Pipedrive. When you use this email address, it will link the email to your deal or contact record.

While email integration is important to many organizations, for John it was not. At the time we worked with John, he was not using any of the email integration options.

What was not so good about it?

Good question! We had a few challenges along the way.

The Zip Code Issue

John wants to use his list of contacts to send a holiday card at the end of the year.

Can he do this with Pipedrive? Yes, with one caveat: his team needs to pay special attention to make sure they are saving the zip code.


Pipedrive uses the Google API for address verification and address auto complete feature, but the auto complete features does not bring the zip code! It is easy for a user to think he saved the whole address, when in reality, the zip code is missing.

Calendar Integration

Calendar integration is a work in progress. In Pipedrive, each activity has an outlook or iCal calendar event. To access the calendar event, John needs to save the activity, open it, and then click on the button to download it and save in his outlook.

This takes a lot of clicks, and it is not user-friendly. Ideally, at the time John is saving the activity, Pipedrive would prompt him: would you like to save this event to your calendar? And at this point it would download the calendar event.

Pipedrive could also add calendar integration to the subscription that provides two-way email sync.

Part of the Deal Lost

Another challenge we faced is a more specific use case to John’s distribution business.

When John creates a deal, the deal is often related to more than one product line that he sells. Sometimes, when the deal closes, the customer buys a subset of what was in his quote.

It is important for John to capture the part of the deal he lost, and which product lines they are related to.

How did John address this? He makes a copy of the deal. One with the product lines that closed (won), and another one with the product lines that he lost. Tracking it this way will help John to identify which product lines are performing better.

What is his favorite feature?

John loves the live dashboard. It provides a great summary per day, week, or month, with the following information:

  • Number of deals added and amount of revenue.
  • Number of lost deals and lost revenue.
  • Number of deals closed and corresponding revenue.
  • Number of calls and meetings completed in the period.
  • Most new deals by sales team member.
  • Most deals closed by sales team member.

Another Benefit of Using CRM

A part of this business is reselling of certain product lines. For the products they resell, John’s company receives a commission. Before using Pipedrive, John was only tracking the commission amount for these deals. Now he is tracking the total amount of revenue related to their resell activities.

You might be asking: how does tracking total revenue for resale help his business? Now John can show new potential resell partners how much revenue he could generate for them.

Is Pipedrive for every small business?

As a small business owner, you read this, and you might be sold! This Pipedrive looks like a great option, right?

Well, maybe it is, maybe it isn’t!

John was busy working on the core competency of his distribution company. He didn’t have time to figure out how to incorporate the use of CRM with his team. He also knew that researching CRM was not the best use of this time.

In the process of selecting Pipedrive, we reviewed how John’s business operates. We spent some time making sure the features available in Pipedrive were a good fit for his business.

What about you? Do you have time to research and implement CRM for your business? Is that the best use of your time? We are a small business, and we help small business owners like you. Let us take care of this for you.