Building a CRM for a global company

Helping Materion design a CRM to meet the needs of their international team

Highland works with companies worldwide, like these offices shown here.

The Challenge

Materion 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 Only about half of its global sales team was using its out-of-date, homegrown solution.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 new business orders.

Jason Maher, Vice President of Sales, quickly realized he needed a new, modern CRM that would help him increase top-line 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.

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

When I use the term trusted partner, that's really the feeling between Highland and Materion. We felt like Highland really tried to become our organization.
Jason Maher
Materion Corporation

The Process

Materion and Highland collaborating during an on-site exercise.

Mapping a Complex Global Business

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 could:

  • Organize the complex supply chains to reduce prep work


  • Enable everyone to be aware of the status of each order and project


  • Provide real-time integration data from SAP


  • Help their teams manage compliance issues with government organizations

  • Track opportunities in the pipeline while excluding the fluctuating cost of raw materials

To understand the needs of the company's unique users in each global market, Materion and Highland worked together to identify “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.

Training and Support

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 Highland, 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.

Highland's core SugarCRM team.

Change Management

Materion rolled out a customized SugarCRM platform to its teams across the globe. User adoption was immediate and complete, and resulted in a significant decrease in administrative time and an increase in visibility and collaboration.

As Materion moves forward with Sugar and Highland, 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.

As Materion continues to grow, their CRM is a unifying factor across their business units and is a cornerstone of their "One Materion" vision.

What's unique about Highland is that you know they're engaged and listening. They've helped us through a CRM implementation process with a multitude of dynamics in a structured way. They’re able to put structure around the product from idea to implementation.
Valerie Watts
Materion Corporation

Partner with us

Highland Solutions is a customer experience firm focused on CX strategy, custom software development, and CRM implementation. We help innovative leaders thrive in the experience economy by helping them understand their customers and take smart risks.

John Chlopek

Principal, CRM Practice