The California Academy of Sciences

Highlights

- Facilitated top-level view of higher-volume services
- Streamlined workflow and efficiency
- Empowered team to convert greater numbers of inquiries to bookings
- Enabled easy integration with cross-departmental tools

"The greatest benefit of our new system has been the refinement of our business flow process. It enables us to see what’s in our pipeline, what is open and has not been acted upon, and capture versus loss rate. That alone has been remarkable for our team to really understand not only the volume of our business, but also unique opportunities across our business channels." — Richard Peterson, Director of Sales and Business Partnerships, California Academy of Sciences

Client Description

The Academy’s mission—to explore, explain and sustain life—extends to all corners of the institution; from a research expedition in the highlands of Papua New Guinea, to a teacher-training program in a California classroom, to an interactive game on the museum exhibit floor.

Challenges

Limited ability to analyze high-volume services
The California Academy of Sciences, as a nonprofit that is both a “museum without walls” and a cutting-edge science research and education institution, serves the public in multiple ways: from individual visits to group participation. Quantifying higher-volume usage of the museum and its resources, like event bookings, tours, and contracted services, presented a unique reporting and data warehousing opportunity for the Academy sales division. Richard Peterson, Director of Sales and Business Partnerships at the Academy, explained, “Our team had established sales agreements nationally and internationally, representing hundreds of accounts and thousands of visitors. However, we had challenges in succinctly reporting the account details and associated revenue created.”

Information spread across systems
Active accounts were assigned a unique ticket identifier through the Academy’s ticketing system, which tracked associated visitor tickets and corresponding revenue. Sales analyzed monthly and quarterly results via the system’s reporting options and spreadsheets. Finance maintained its own accounts payable and receivable systems. “There were multiple systems to get from point A to point B within the revenue reporting process,” Richard said.

Obstacles in tracking follow-up
The team didn’t have one place to track inquiries. They stored details in Outlook folders, traditional hard files and agreements. At times, sales team members might not respond in a timely manner because it was hard to find the latest status of an inquiry.

Solution

Exponent Partners developed a service sales management and automation solution for the California Academy of Sciences on the Salesforce® platform. Major features include lead capture and development, including a web-to-lead form for inquiries associated with facility rentals/special events, custom fields, contract templates, and a dashboard displaying revenue reporting, open opportunities and daily sales management.

Results

Increased efficiency and capacity
The Academy has four business channels in the Sales division — tourism sales, special events/facility rentals, product licensing, and retail merchandising — with each utilizing the solution. “We can see a much clearer view of the business. The system helps our team more efficiently manage their clients and plan daily workflow. It’s a great success story, and I think we’ll see continued sales efficiencies across channels,” Richard said.

Higher conversion of customer inquiries
“We’ve seen a stronger conversion of inquiries in our facility rentals area, which has also provided an incremental lift in year-over-year net revenues,” Richard noted. At a glance, the sales team can see what’s in their pipeline, and collaborate with colleagues.

Ability to integrate other departments
The Academy’s system allows for ongoing integration of new tools to the platform. And as they look ahead, Richard and his team plan to introduce the new CRM system into their annual strategic planning, budgeting and benchmarking analysis processes.