JCDecaux wit 2

CRM transformation in
a complex business environment

Why and how JCDecaux made the move from Microsoft Dynamics to HubSpot CRM. A case study by JCDecaux & Webs.

In this case study, we take a closer look at how organizations make a CRM transformation from Microsoft Dynamics to HubSpot successful in a complex environment. We look at the role of various C-level positions in the journey and outline JCDecaux's successful CRM roadmap.
We also highlight the differences between Microsoft Dynamics and the HubSpot CRM Platform.


About JCDecaux

Above the tracks, beside the highway, on the escalator, in the streetcar stop: JCDecaux's outdoor advertisements have dominated the streetscape for years. At home and abroad, JCDecaux creates the WOW factor, for the biggest brands on earth. With advertisements ranging from bus shelters and billboards to stickered ferries and bus shelters. And so much more. Often cross-medial and always with a substantial spin-off. As market leader, JCDecaux has been active in no less than 85 countries since 1964.

In the Netherlands too, JCDecaux offers visibility in major cities, with a focus on the Randstad. To this end, the company has exclusive partnerships with various municipalities. Simply put, JCDecaux sets up cities with objects (e.g. bus stops or litter bins) and gets operating opportunities in return. With 4 offices, including the head office in Amsterdam, and around 170 employees, the company provides campaigns in every corner of the country every year.

The challenge

Management found that the fragmented data in Excel and the complex Dynamics system did not meet the needs of the young sales team, which had high demands for ease of use and flexibility. This resulted in a lack of effective data-driven decision-making and direction on key business metrics.

The solution

JCDecaux chose to move to HubSpot CRM, focused on usability and integration, to streamline their sales process and customer data management. This choice facilitated better adoption by the sales team, improved data-driven work, and supported more effective business processes.

From simple Excel sheets to an intelligent CRM system

After years of keeping records in Excel, the management of JCDecaux also had to go for it in 2020: a modern CRM system. The data in the organization was fragmented across multiple silos, with little or no communication between them. This made it virtually impossible for marketing and sales management to manage important metrics such as Return On Investment and Customer Lifetime Value. This had to change. The goal of the new CRM? More sales thanks to data-driven decision-making.

The parent company was already working with Microsoft Dynamics, so the choice was made for the Dutch sales team. Neither time nor effort was spared to make the implementation a success. Unfortunately without...success. More than three years later, the implementation was complete, but the CRM untouched. The excel sheets did not give in and everything remained as it was.

Why did user adoption lag behind? Bart de Vries, Commercial Director at JCDecaux, explains, "Our salespeople are young people, from the Apple generation. They have high demands for ease of use. It has to be fast, simple and 'swipeable' and meet the needs of young people. It was not perceived that way. And also played the problem, as with any change, that you are changing something. People don't want that. At least not if you're not improving. We went from simple excel sheets to a, for the users, complex CRM system. And from a situation in which salespeople had a great deal of freedom to a situation in which everything was measurable, and in the eyes of the salespeople 'controllable'. That met with a lot of resistance."

After three years of trying, Bart decided to stop on his chosen path: "The need for a modern CRM system was obvious, but I no longer believed in Microsoft Dynamics as the solution for JCDecaux. Not an easy choice for the organization, because at its core Microsoft Dynamics has many possibilities, but it didn't work out for us." The process cost a lot of time and money: "Learning money, because many lessons were
learned. So during the next CRM project, things had to be completely different."

A CRM system that works for users, rather than against them

JCDecaux went back to the drawing board. There was a new selection process. And unlike last time, this time the entire sales team, consisting of some 30 salespeople, was involved in the package selection. Freshworks, Salesforce and HubSpot were selected for a demo, and the partners involved were asked to present the four most important use cases for JCDecaux in the demo. The sales team evaluated each demo against established criteria to determine which solution best suited JCDecaux.
HubSpot emerged as the winner.

"HubSpot's usability stood out head and shoulders above the rest. HubSpot works simply, and scored points just for its high drag-and-drop content. That means you can drag and drop blocks, which means you can immediately see what changes you are making. This works very intuitively. Microsoft Dynamics and Salesforce also looked good, but came across as less user-friendly to our salespeople and were far too extensive for our company. In that respect, we had learned our lesson." - Bart de Vries, Commercial Director JCDecaux

The role of C-level stakeholders

The decision to stop using Microsoft Dynamics and look for a new solution was a sensitive one within JCDecaux: "On paper, CRM systems don't differ that much from each other, they all have lots of possibilities. However, whether the end user can and wants to work with them is decisive for success. This is why the user was central in the decision-making process for a new CRM, rather than both management and IT.

As a rule we see that the IT department plays a major role in package selection, and thus looks at systems differently than users do. Questions such as "does the CRM system form a good match with the rest of the IT landscape" and "to what extent can it communicate with other systems or what links are (already) available for that purpose" are therefore no longer secondary to the use cases that apply from a user perspective. The implementation of HubSpot did involve IT in security issues (IT security and data connectivity), among others, but by then the choice for HubSpot had already been made. HubSpot emerged as the winner.

The transition from Dynamics to HubSpot

The initial CRM journey with Microsoft Dynamics took nearly three years. Now that the ball was in the court for a new CRM, JCDecaux didn't want to waste any more time and quickly got started with HubSpot.

Migrating the data is the first step in implementing a CRM. In many organizations, data quality is a concern. Initially also at JCDecaux, Bart agrees: "Our database was a disaster. It contained companies that no longer existed, customers who were no longer customers and outdated addresses. Moreover, the data was scattered across multiple excel sheets and multiple systems. But fortunately, we had already cleaned up the data during the previous project, so we could start working with clean data right away in HubSpot. And the advantage of HubSpot is that there are all sorts of mechanisms built in that help keep your data up to date in the future as well." HubSpot's implementation was completed in two months.

Dealing with sales resistance to a CRM system

HubSpot was up and running in no time, but that didn't mean users had immediately embraced the CRM system. JCDecaux went from a situation where almost nothing could be measured to one where almost everything became measurable. This initially led to a lot of skepticism among salespeople. How do you turn this resistance into opportunity?

Step by step, were the key words for user adoption. Bart: "By giving the salespeople a say from day one, you involve them in the solution and they become familiar with the possibilities. We also appointed a clear leader for the project, empowered by a group of 'Front runners.' These front runners had a crucial role in the project, if only because their enthusiasm was contagious to the rest. Over time, people recognized that HubSpot does not work against you, but rather works for you.

The guidance of an experienced HubSpot partner is essential to the success of the implementation, explains Jasper Kunst in the webinar "How to scale your business with a modern CRM. Jasper was Business Intelligence specialist at JCDecaux during the transition to HubSpot and says: "You just need people who can pull the cart and are good at showing the benefits to the business. I estimate that at least 40% of success depends on good coaching."

Bart also agrees, stating that he and Webs took a critical look at the training program: "we dosed the training program better. Endless possibilities is nice, but the risk is that people get overwhelmed. Given the history at JCDecaux, it was extra important not to discourage employees. So we introduced them to HubSpot at a leisurely pace. "How to find an address" was one of the first training sessions. Slowly we built that up to registering new customers, updating the sales pipeline and seeing the campaign planning. By now, not only does the entire sales team work with HubSpot, but the marketing team is also convinced and enthusiastic. Webs has been very helpful in this".

Grip on sales results thanks to data-driven insights

For JCDecaux, HubSpot has made sales and marketing operations easier. Employees have more control over the customer portfolio and sales pipeline. This leaves more time for what really matters: the customer. And that affects not only the quality of service, but also sales.

HubSpot also brings clear benefits for management. Bart: "I can see what our turnover is at any time of the day, and how our order portfolio is doing. In addition, I can make good forecasts, something that not only helps us ourselves but is also in greater demand from the parent company."

In times of corona, HubSpot proved to be a blessing, Bart says. "We suddenly went from working full-time in the office to working full-time from home. Without HubSpot, I wouldn't have had any control over our sales activities. Now the work location actually plays much less of a role, HubSpot bridges the distance thanks to a clear dashboard. This way, employees still retain their freedom, something they find very important. They cannot imagine working without HubSpot by now, and that is perhaps the greatest achievement!

Key takeaways for a successful implementation

  1. Put the needs of the end user, rather than just those of management, at the center of the choice of a new CRM solution.

  2. Select the CRM system not on the basis of the quantity of functionalities, but on the impact of these functionalities for the user's daily business.

  3. Share key use cases with the selected vendors and ask them to present the use cases during the CRM demo.

  4. Trash in is trash out, which is why data quality plays a crucial role in the value a CRM adds in an organization. Ensure clean data.

  5. Appoint a project owner, reinforced with "Front runners" who serve as ambassadors doing the necessary mission work in the organization.

  6. Bend resistance into opportunity by showing users how to make HubSpot work for you, rather than against it.

  7. Take the user step-by-step through the (infinite) possibilities with a measured training program, preventing them from becoming overwhelmed and discouraged.