Materion Chooses Sugar for Global CRM Rollout, Achieves Strong Adoption With Innovative Training Program

Materion is a leading global provider of advanced materials solutions for customers in consumer electronics, defense and science, industrial and aerospace, automotive electronics, telecommunications infrastructure, appliances, medical and energy.

  • Headquarters: Cleveland, Ohio
  • Website:
  • Partner: Highland Solutions

According to CSO Insights, 74% of sales organizations have poor CRM adoption. According to Forrester, 65% of a sales rep’s time is spent not actively selling. Jason Maher, vice president of sales at Materion looked at those stats and nodded his head. But instead of accepting his company’s legacy system as a necessary evil, he set out to overhaul how his company used CRM to better manage the performance of his sales organization, improve the new business pipeline, and increase topline revenue.

Materion, a leading provider of advanced materials with a diverse base of global customers, had a CRM problem. Only about half of its global sales team was using its out-of-date, homegrown solution. And, who could blame them? The old system sometimes took 20 minutes to connect, it took employees 60 minutes to generate a call report, and didn’t even track leads or NBO (new business orders).

Maher quickly realized he needed a new, modern CRM that would help him increase topline revenue and improve business efficiencies. He knew he would have to change the sales culture at Materion. He was looking for a uniform tool that brought his sales team, spread across three continents, together by breaking down geographic barriers, creating friendly competition and improving how his employees worked as a team.

Materion has a complex customer supply chain. The company works with demand generators, material specifiers, fabricators and distributors to supply its products to companies like Boeing. The company needed a CRM that can organize the complex supply chains to reduce prep work and enable everyone to be aware of the status of each order and project. Materion also wanted a platform that would provide real-time integration data from SAP and Lotus Notes.

On top of all that, Materion wanted to complete the global CRM rollout in six months.

Materion chose the Sugar platform over other leading CRM solutions because it provided easy-to-configure dashboards to track NBOs, gather real-time data and link supply chains. The company’s IT staff was comfortable with Sugar On-Demand cloud deployment for easy, secure access for employees in any country.

“Sugar had the capabilities and features to check all the boxes that we required as a company,” said Maher. “It is a great system to manage leads and conversions so we can map our topline goal of growing revenue. It has a best-in-class mobile app with real-time access to customer data so there are never any surprises for my team before they interact with customers.

During the evaluation process, I had executive support and looped in our IT staff early on as well. Choosing SugarCRM was actually the easy part of the process. My next step was rolling this out globally and getting our team fired up about using Sugar to its fullest capabilities.”

“CRM is only a good tool if you get your employees to use it."

Jason Maher

“Sugar had the capabilities and features to check all the boxes that we required as a company,”

Jason Maher

Keys to Strong Adoption

Maher knew his employees might be reluctant to have a new system forced on them, particularly because their legacy CRM left a lot to be desired. So, the first thing he did was create a global design team during the implementation process. He chose an IT leader to be involved to ensure that all the integrations with the company's other systems could be done smoothly. This helped ensure that the data in the CRM would be current and accurate when the project went live. He also involved multiple sales people with varying degrees of tech skills to provide feedback.

The next step, still during the design phase, was to bring in the entire global sales team for a 3-day introduction to the Sugar platform. SugarCRM partner, Highland Solutions, led the sessions, which focused on how Materion wanted the system to look and feel, and how employees wanted to configure Sugar to help them better get things done.

Materion identified “super users” in every region. These are sales management employees charged with becoming the de facto Sugar experts for local staff. They answered questions, conducted training with new employees and regularly reported successes, challenges and issues during weekly meetings.

Materion launched internal marketing campaigns during the implementation phase to tease the project and let employees know that something great was on the horizon. By the time Sugar was ready to go live, employees were really eager to try the system because there was so much excitement.

Once it was time for formal Sugar training. Materion conducted all Sugar training face-to-face in six countries over four weeks. Employees spent two full days hands-on with Sugar, working on real tasks using real customer data. So, while they were learning the new system, they were also getting their day-to-day work done. Before they could consider training complete, each user had to demonstrate proficiency on the five most frequent tasks performed in Sugar.

“With training, it is worth the expense to do it right. You are spending a lot of money on a CRM, so it’s an absolute must that you get the project off on the right foot,” said Maher.

As Materion moves forward with Sugar, Maher has come up with innovative ways to ensure everyone is regularly using the CRM. During team meetings, the sales manager for the region that has created the fewest call reports has to pull a $100 bill of his or her pocket and give it to the sales manager representing the region that created the most.

“It gets a lot of laughs and applause, but it’s working. Because of the competition, everyone is entering data and reports into Sugar,” said Maher.

Maher uses Sugar during regular meetings and one-on-one performance reviews. He opens the system and looks at NBOs, which are tied to incentive compensation. An NBO only counts if it is in Sugar.

Looking forward

Because of the increased adoption, organized NBO metrics and a more efficient sales team that closes more deals, Materion is expanding its use of Sugar into more divisions within the company. Other teams are excited by the buzz Sugar has created within the company and want to be involved.

The numbers with SugarCRM

  • Call reports take only 20 minutes – a 67% increase in efficiency
  • 100 percent adoption – the entire sales team uses Sugar every day.
  • 100 percent of leads and NBOs are tracked in Sugar.