Using The Force – SalesForce

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Star Wars jokes aside, using SalesForce has been a crucial improvement to our team’s sponsorship system, and it will do wonders to ensure efficient data transfer to future generations of team members.

Just like any college student group, our team acquires new members every year, which means leadership transitions and losing our best veterans to graduation.  This isn’t just a challenge for the engineering side of our team. When membership of the sponsorship group changes, past sponsors’ contact information can be misplaced and fundraising opportunities can be lost.

When I inherited the job of sponsorship chair over a year and a half ago, the system in place involved creating a Word document for every company we contact for sponsorship, whether successful or not. The documents contained important contact information and a new, timestamped paragraph for every correspondence between our team and the potential sponsor.  Even worse, these documents were stored on our FTP server, meaning the documents had to be downloaded, edited on a team member’s computer, saved with an “_v2” filename and then re-uploaded.  And on the FTP server, the content of the documents isn’t searchable.

The complexity of this system, combined with the short attention span of a college student, meant that it was hardly ever kept up-to-date.

However, we’ve been fortunate enough to have SalesForce donate a few licenses of their renowned, web-based, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software to our team. We have been using it for the last few months – and it is fantastic.

With SalesForce, we’ve been able to keep track of our sponsorship activities much more effectively.  SalesForce is set up so it keeps track of a sponsor all the way from the “Lead” phase, when our team has identified their potential and is interested in contacting them, through when the donation is given.  The best part is that emails to the sponsor can be sent from within SalesForce, using our team’s letterhead, and are automatically saved alongside the sponsor’s contact info.

So while working with our team’s sponsors is a very personal activity, the graduation of team members is unavoidable. With SalesForce, I know that when members of our sponsorship team graduate, future generations of NUsolar students will be able to log in and read the entire history of our team’s relationship with a sponsor, and pick up right where we left off.

Without sponsors, our team wouldn’t be able to design, build and race a solar powered car, and our team members wouldn’t get the amazing hands-on, educational experience our team offers.  And with SalesForce, we know we will always have the most up-to-date information so we will be able to treat our sponsors correctly – with the respect and intelligence they deserve.

And SalesForce, thank you so much!!!

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