From small acorns…how a small business finance team are growing their operation with Salesforce by Performa IT

Acorn Business Finance Statistics

  • Established business and Salesforce org 2018
  • Specialists in SME business finance 
  • Average of 200 businesses per BDM Portfolio
  • 13 FTE
  • HQ in Cheltenham UK
  • 3rd largest introducer to one of the UK’s biggest funders

Value added by Performa IT

  • Engaged in October 2018
  • Salesforce org implementation
  • Design and delivery of fully integrated Customer and Introducer portals
  • On-going support and refinement

Acorn Business Finance’s Background with Salesforce

As a relatively small business finance brokerage, Acorn Business Finance is perhaps unusual in its adoption of an integrated, worldclass CRM solution right from its inception in 2018. Its founder Stuart Gibson recognised how Salesforce would give his fledgeling business a head start in efficiency and worldclass customer service.

Performa IT has been Acorn Business Finance’s Salesforce implementation partner since the beginning of their journey with the platform. At the time of writing in 2023, the Acorn team is growing rapidly, with Salesforce firmly established as its central operational and business development enabler. 

Acorn Business Finance’s purpose and vision

Acorn Business Finance serves all types of UK SMEs with tailored loan proposals to meet their financing needs, including spreading their VAT or Tax liabilities to reduce their overheads and create headroom in their overdrafts, or facilitate the purchase of an asset key to their company’s growth. 

The brokerage also markets itself as a referral partner for professional advisors such as accountants and solicitors, who may then act as introducers to Acorn Business Finance’s services on behalf of their own business clients.  

Explaining the company’s vision, Acorn Business Finance’s Operations Director Chris Campbell says: “We were very keen to have something that set Acorn apart in the financial sector. Having the Salesforce CRM at our fingertips gives us the slick technology necessary to deliver innovative and unique customer service, as well as proactive and trustworthy business networking capabilities.”

Leading the way with Portals

Performa IT has developed two fully integrated portals for Acorn Business Finance: one for customers; the other for introducers.

Chris says: “Performa IT quickly understood our org and structure.

“I don’t think there are many financial businesses making full use of both the back-end org and the portal aspects of Salesforce! Performa IT had the knowledge required to work collaboratively with us to achieve what we were looking for.

“Their approach to requirements analysis and system testing was very thorough, making sure we implemented a robust solution from the outset.”

Customer Portal Benefits

Acorn Business Finance’s customer portal gives SMEs a way of securely uploading their documents and accessing their records digitally.

“We knew that lots of business owners felt uncomfortable e-mailing over their management accounts, statements and proof of loans because of GDPR and security issues and mis-filing risks,” says Chris.

“Through the portal information can be directly loaded into the correct Salesforce record using drag and drop, and the customer can also check that all the information we have on them and the loan proposal are correct.

“With speed and security our top priority, the portal enables our customers to rest assured their details are secure and accurately filed, and their funding proposal is swiftly and efficiently processed,” says Chris.

Introducer Portal Benefits

Explaining how the introducer portal works Chris says: “This allows professional advisors we work with a quick and simple way of referring their clients to us so we can help with their funding needs.

“They can then send us detailed leads that we can contact directly. Once the loan has been agreed each introducer can monitor at what stage the proposal is at through the portal, as well as being able to keep track of any commission owed to them for the referral.

“This gives us regular opportunities to convert new business, as well as giving our introducers attractive additional revenue and an easy way to track any commission due to them. Portal demonstrations and videos our BDMs have shared with clients have been very well received and have generated a lot of interest.”

The ability to monitor introducer usage of the portal is also a huge benefit, helping Chris control licence costs and manage scalability.

He says: “We provide each introducer with a portal licence and we want to make sure it is being utilised. The operational oversight the platform gives us prompts us to have constructive conversations wherever an introducer may not have utilised their license to its fullest potential.

“We then have the opportunity to reallocate any licence if necessary.”

Commenting on the broader impact of the portals Chris says: “Salesforce provides a slick integration between Acorn, its introducers and their clients, and gives everyone confidence in the referral process.

“Customers and introducers really love the portal capability, and we are starting to see potential uplift in new business as a result.”

Support and Refinement

Acorn Business Finance’s portals have been live since early 2022 and as their trusted Salesforce implementation partner Performa IT provide on-going contractual support and refinement of the platform.

“Performa IT are our Salesforce lifeline!” says Chris. “Without them we would not be able to serve our clients. 

“They are very quick to respond to our requests and explain things very simply. Yeah – I think we’d be screwed without them to be honest!”

New Possibilities 

Considering what Performa IT is making possible for Acorn Business Finance Chris says: “We are growing rapidly at the moment with 4 new Business Development Managers coming on board in summer 2023.

“Thanks to Performa IT the technology we have at our fingertips is proving very effective in driving growth and adding value to our business. And I think we are just scratching the surface of what it can do for us.

“With more brokers we can bring more introducers on board. With more introducers we can reach more customers and help more businesses. It’s win-win.

“But it’s also possible for us to really work the relationship that we have with introducers too to build a strong network and become an authority in business finance,” Chris concludes.

Recommendation for Performa IT

“I would definitely recommend any small business looking to establish competitive advantage with Salesforce to talk to Performa IT. 

“Their level of service, responsiveness, cooperation, willingness to listen and sort issues is second to none. You can spend a lot of time looking at alternative implementation partner offerings, but you won’t get the same value out of anyone else,” says Chris.

Performa IT says

“It is so great to work with a visionary and ambitious company who know what they wish to achieve and want Salesforce to enable it!

“Acorn Business Finance are making a name for themselves among UK funders and are giving their competition a run for their money with their clever use of CRM technology.

“It’s a pleasure to support them and we look forward to helping them deliver even more value for their customers and partners.”