By GREGORY ZELLER //
For Luis Gonzalez and his sales and marketing boosting InterConnecta, the future was on Long Island.
And, it turns out, also in Peru.
There were specific reasons for selecting Garden City as home base for his 2008 startup and subsequently opening a satellite office in Lima, the Peruvian capital. Long Island offered a quality of living not found in New York City, and Peru, where the CEO has extended family, gave his company a foothold in the largely untapped Latin American marketplace.
“There’s competition in the United States, obviously, and lots of competition in Europe and the Asian Pacific,” Gonzalez said. “But there’s less competition in Latin America, including Mexico and Brazil. As a bootstrapping startup, we wanted to grab that market share while it was still available.”
Such forward thinking – 20 percent of InterConnecta’s business now comes from Latin America – was essential for a company providing forward-thinking customer-relationship management and enterprise-resource planning solutions. And innovation is at InterConnecta’s heart, according to its founder, who worked as a solo CRP and ERP consultant before hanging out his shingle seven years ago.
“Most organizations nowadays understand the need to have a CRM system to manage their sales and marketing environment, their potential leads, their quotes, their sales presentations,” Gonzalez said. “And that’s what we do: Help you grow your sales pipeline by integrating CRM, marketing automation and inside-sales services into your operations.”
Gonzalez’s firm places specific emphasis on marketing automation, which does anything but put marketing operations on autopilot. Instead, marketing automation increases one’s ability to engage customers, a critical step in the modern sales cycle.
“If you open an email or click a specific link, the system automatically scores you as somebody who has an interest in that product or service,” Gonzalez said. “Once you’ve identified that somebody has an interest, we do the full gamut. We set up the CRM for you. We’ll even call them, qualify their needs and connect them with you.”
These services, he noted, exemplify how CRM protocols have evolved over the last decade. Today, CRM and marketing automation go hand-in-hand – a “joint function,” as Gonzalez put it – and inputting contact information and making cold calls no longer gets it done.
“Nowadays, you need to nurture those potential customers,” Gonzalez said.
So marketing automation protocols not only figure out relevant information to share with leads – based on their industry, title, etc. – but also track their level of engagement.
“Did they open the email?” Gonzalez said. “Download the white paper? Go to your website? This provides intelligence to your sales representatives, who can prioritize their activity and decide whether they should pick up the phone, send a handwritten letter or whatever else.”
One lesson he’s learned: in the CRM and marketing-automation realm, one size certainly doesn’t fit all. There are multiple sales and marketing solutions, usually determined by a customer’s size and intentions, so InterConnecta bundles its services in different “packs” designed to appeal to clients at various points on the developmental spectrum.
“Smaller organizations with maybe five or 10 users – an auto dealer, a small bank, an insurance agency – don’t want to deal with a long, complex process, just something simple to manage their sales,” Gonzalez noted. “Within a week, we can have the whole team trained and up and running.”
Medium-sized businesses require “a little more customization,” he added, including access by a larger number of users, but they still don’t need a super-complex system with a prolonged setup.
Larger businesses, however, are most likely to opt for InterConnecta’s enterprise-level solutions, which Gonzalez admitted are fairly complex – as complex as one might expect for larger organizations with national or international sales requirements.
“We scope out the daily process, study the inventory system and see how it all connects together,” he said. “It can take up to six months to get it flying.”
Recognizing the need for these different packs was part of InterConnecta’s own evolution. As recently as 2013, the firm was “primarily trying to go after the enterprise space,” Gonzalez noted, but specific needs within the SMB space were coming increasingly clear.
That led to a 2013 merger with Melville-based CRMSI, a customer-relationship management firm doing basically the same work on a smaller scale. It was a perfect fit, according to Gonzalez, and the unification went smoothly; InterConnecta even welcomed CRMSI chief executive Chris Williams as its new vice president of CRM operations.
The merger wasn’t the only time Gonzalez’s enterprise has expanded. In addition to opening the Peruvian office, InterConnecta has completed several hiring sprees, including the recent addition of several ERP-specific sales reps. The company has also created a thriving internship program, working primarily with Farmingdale State College; it’s currently discussing internship programs with Suffolk County Community College and Stony Brook University.
It’s also built an impressive client base, counting several well-known Long Island firms, including Garden City cloud host Webair and Wantagh software specialist Gorilla Toolz, the Town of Babylon and even IT titan IBM among its customers.
It’s a noteworthy list, particularly for a company that, between Garden City and Lima, counts only 18 full-time staffers.
“We’re very proud of [the client roster],” Gonzalez noted. “Being a sales- and marketing-focused organization, there was really no excuse for us not to push hard on our own sales and marketing, and we’re happy to say we’ve grown steadily.”
Despite its advanced understanding of modern marketing and its next-level tech, the CEO insists it’s his company’s mindset – starting with that long-ago decision to locate on Long Island – that’s most responsible for InterConnecta’s success.
“For the price of an apartment there, you can have a nice house here,” he said. “There are plenty of local resources here looking to help and less competition for those resources. There’s also easy access to interns studying engineering and programming at Farmingdale and other colleges.
“We have a fun environment,” Gonzalez added, “a loose environment. We make sure our people have balance between work and family. The work gets done, but it’s not your traditional 9 to 5. This environment is what allows us to compete. It’s about quality of life.”