Hownd cut CRM costs by 80% in 2 weeks––while saving SMBs during Covid

See how this innovative SaaS team saved costs, plus increased team satisfaction and CRM use dramatically. All during a difficult year.

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CRMs have come a long way in 30 years. While most of us have used only a handful––and maybe experimented with a few more––Eric Keosky-Smith might call himself a bit of a CRM veteran.

With 30+ years of entrepreneurship, marketing, and leadership experience, Eric now wears many hats as the Chief Growth Officer at Hownd. This includes leading business strategy, marketing, and customer engagement.

“Close is perfect for someone like me,” Eric says. “I’m not a Sales Ops sage, but I’ve been around the CRM industry since it started, and have probably used 10 of them. Close has no equal.”

See how this previous Salesforce user came to Close with a new 80% reduction in software costs, plus a boost in employee morale and CRM engagement.

Hownd’s economic recovery support mission

Hownd is a software platform that’s focused on foot traffic generation for brick and mortar businesses: mainly in entertainment, restaurants, and health and beauty. (Hownd calls that Fun, Yum, and Zen.) Eric calls Hownd ‘zero-risk and effortless,’ because their business model only charges customers for the paying foot traffic they actually get, and his team runs the software on behalf of those customers.

Founded in 2016, Hownd has grown its Tempe, Arizona office space to a sprawling building––leased just before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. While it was a poor time to sign the dotted line on a large, in-person work space, it means Eric and his team know the pain their brick-and-mortar customers felt during the uncertain year of 2020.

This fuels their mission to act as a critical piece in the economic recovery plans of municipalities and SMBs across the U.S.

Whether it’s a single family-run restaurant, a small franchise of nail salons, or a national chain with ownership groups––Hownd has been determined to help these businesses bring back their in-person customers in a realistic and affordable way.

And those SMBs are eager to get help.

“Last week, I sold Hownd to someone with 15 locations in just 15 minutes,” Eric says. “Pair that with a 45-minute onboarding, and we’re running cool outreach and warm introductions, all tracked in Close.”

A pandemic pushed Hownd to seek greener CRM pastures

The Hownd sale hasn’t always been this seamless. In mid-2020, Eric and his team were running on Salesforce with a 6-figure annual cost, plus a full-time administrator.

It used to take weeks for us to get requests completed in Salesforce, if they could even be done. We couldn’t be as efficient as we wanted, and it was extremely inflexible about billing during the first few very uncertain months of the pandemic.

Eric Keosky-Smith, Chief Growth Officer

When the former VP of Sales at Hownd reminded Eric of Close as another option, Eric jumped into research.

There’s a ton of background and deep insider knowledge on CRMs in our company. I’ve used 10 other CRMs over the last two decades, and, even recently, I’ve worked for InfusionSoft. We quickly evaluated a few others this time around, but it came down to price, flexibility, and fast onboarding.

“I learned we could migrate our entire team and all of our important data, plus receive a customized onboarding, in just two weeks,” Eric says. “We got into Close so fast.”

6 months later, Eric knows this transition was the right move:

I don’t have a single team member who’s said they don’t love Close, and that’s rare for me. I’ve never experienced this before. Our Director of Sales was the first to say, ‘I love this thing.’

We’re back to helping 2,000 SMBs recover. If you’re a 10- to 100-person shop, I can’t imagine why you’d go to Salesforce if you need your CRM to provide value and actually create revenue with ROI.

A more productive team in the right-fit CRM

Hownd’s team structure is straightforward: split into a large outbound call center, a Customer Success team who manages active accounts and works on customer engagement, and an Enterprise development team for multi-unit accounts.

All of these teams rely on Close for key data and a seamless workflow:

  • Call center tracks outbound data in Close and runs on Smart Views and built-in calling
  • Enterprise team relies heavily on “living in the inbox” on Close
  • Engagement team takes the handoff data from both to ensure smooth, fast onboarding

Eric and the other sales leaders also use their Close data to analyze which attributes of their sales approach work best to close deals––which helps them win more revenue.

Prior to using Close, the outbound team was using AirCall as a VoIP system. But with Close’s built-in calling, call tracking, and call coaching, Eric cut 90% off Hownd’s AirCall bill as soon as they made the CRM switch.

But the most important Close features to the Hownd team are the inbox (which their teams live inside day-to-day), and Smart Views.

“Once you understand the easy search and save functions of Smart Views,” Eric says, “these are one-click bonus plays. Our legacy data is so easy to find.”

As an avid reader who takes in a massive amount of data each day, Eric also says that creating and syncing leads in Close is another key difference from their old Salesforce setup.

I can easily add 10-25 new, high-value leads a day in Close via and LinkedIn. It’s so easy, which encourages me to add them in even more. Plus, our reporting and customer engagement is so much easier to review.

Try this in Salesforce, and you’ll want to pull your hair out.

To cap off this powerful workflow, the Hownd team uses required custom fields, tasks, and proven sequences to extensively automate their path to profits.

Cutting CRM costs 80% without any sacrifices

It’s easy math for Eric to find Hownd’s ROI on switching to Close. Not only are they getting more intangible benefits from Close, like employee satisfaction with their CRM, more flexibility, and better tech support––the numbers speak even louder.

We’re saving 5x on our prior spend, plus our system is far less complex now. I ripped out $110,000 plus the cost of an administrator in unnecessary spend. I added simplicity, ease of use, and full team engagement. This full ROI is hard to speak to enough.
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Since we've started using Close, we've QUADRUPLED our average revenue per user.
Tim Griffin,
 Cloosiv Founder & CEO

If you’re a Close customer who benefits from our flexible plans and has a unique sales approach to share, we'd be glad to share your story in an upcoming customer spotlight. Connect with our team via email to learn more.

Need to cut software spend without losing an efficient, sales-first CRM? Try Close free for 14 days and see why companies like Hownd are such big advocates.