With innovations cited in nearly 4,000 U.S. Patents, Cormac has been the founder of four software startups acquired by public companies. He is a quant finance pioneer who invented heatmaps, designed over 100 institutional trading systems, and perfected sentiment analysis for statistical arbitrage, using it to manage over $500 million for Tudor and Millennium. Most recently, he built a business social network integrated into premium news publications, which was acquired by News Corp.
Experienced Director Of Quality Assurance. Skilled in Trend Analysis, RMS, Sales. Strong operations professional a degree in Gemology from Gemology Institute of America.
Chris was previously VP of Sales for ProductsUp, founder of Silverback Social (acquired by PerformLine), and VP of Sales at Buddy Media (acquired by Salesforce).
In pursuit of a suitable CRM, Diamond Standard’s Director, Anila (Ani) Daci, selected Zoho One platform at the early stage for its usability, flexibility, administrative controls, and reasonable projected cost. The initial implementation was performed in-house with Mrs. Daci in the project coordinator role, and the company began its public operations in 2020.
A challenging aspect of that implementation was the fact that Diamond Standard is based on their complex, proprietary, high-end software platform. It was clear that the transactional backend needed to be integrated at some point with Zoho One. Taking into account that the nature of Diamond Standard’s business assumes the processing of the highly secured, private data, the integration was designed to keep the sensitive information strictly in the financial backend, leveraging Zoho CRM would have to be handled delicately and would not be a “business as usual” integration.
First, we had to guess what would be needed in the Zoho CRM. Ani and Dmitry had to collaborate and speculate on the most impactful manner to structure the nesting of the deals module. Ani had to leverage her years in retail sales to conjure what she believed would be most impactful.
A major obstacle Ani faced was a Diamond Standard Sales team that were reluctant to adopt this Zoho platform. These sales professionals were reluctant to use technology to help scale their efforts. She knew that the team would need to collaborate to build out the most robust version of the Zoho CRM, but this would never happen without full buy-in from the sales team.
To further complicate Ani’s charter for Zoho, the Diamond Standard team was growing. In June of 2021, the team welcomed Chris Dessi as Diamond Standard’s Chief Revenue Officer. Chris joined the team with a record of sales accomplishments in selling Saas, Fin-tech, and Reg-tech solutions throughout his 25-year career. Even running his own digital agency for eight years before selling it.
Ani didn’t know if she would have a friend or foe. Chris was hired to build a sales, marketing and communications team with an eye on innovation. During his interview process, Chris had shared with Cormac that he felt strongly that his team should use Salesforce as the Diamond Standard CRM, and HubSpot for all digital marketing efforts.
Obviously Ani was concerned. She and Dmitry had worked so hard to implement the Zoho CRM, and she could see what Zoho could one day mean for Diamond Standard. After all, as head of production, Ani was in charge of managing the creation of the worlds first regulator approved Diamond Commodity. No small undertaking. Ani needed a partner in this process.
During his first week as Chief Revenue Officer, Chris took a deep dive to analyze the Diamond Standard technology stack. Chris spent time with Ani to better understand why the sales executives were having trouble with the current Zoho CRM, and not utilizing the full power of the tool.
The first phase of the implementation was focused primarily on Zoho CRM. Chris was still concerned that the CRM wasn’t connected to the backend of the Diamond Standard system due to regulatory compliance issues that come along with this unique product. As a result Diamond Standard couldn’t automate communication to Diamond Standard customers, and scale marketing efforts based on customers stages.
The interim solution was clunky emails which were written by software engineers, and were proving to be problematic from a customer service perspective because they were confusing clients instead of clarifying their investments.
For example: if a customer had purchased a Diamond Standard coin, and began the KYC process, Diamond Standard ideally needed the Zoho CRM to ping them with a pre-written and automated email describing the Diamond Standard Coin minting process. Then another automated email when KYC is completed, and so on and so forth. All while avoiding the passing of any sensitive data so as to not violate any regulatory rules.
Seeing no real solution, and no sense of urgency to meet the needs of individual investors as the sales team was now focused on institutional sales, Chris and his team set out to get the most from the Zoho suite of apps. Educating himself on how those apps could help his team. As well as hiring technologically savvy sales executives to help drive global adoption of the Zoho apps. Collaborating with their Zoho Partner Dmitry, Chris spent hours exploring the power of Zoho apps. Those hours lead into months, which lead into astronomical success for Diamond Standard.
The sales team had expressed concern that individual investors couldn’t connect with the team as readily as they would have liked. Dmitry and Chris collaborated on writing the automated voice message outside business hours, as well as adding the business phone to the website. The implementation of Zoho Voice, coupled with Zoho SalesIQ proved to be an intoxicating combination for the newly hired Diamond Standard sales team. They began leveraging Zoho SalesIQ for proactive conversations with visitors to the Diamond Standard website.
Part of the joy of this interaction was the new access the team had with Zoho SalesIQ. So when new sales team members clicked on the profile of a visitor, they could see if the person was a new client, and what the last interaction had been. This proved to be critical in cultivating the deep relationship the Diamond Standard sales team formed with these early individual investors.
With their first victory under their belt, Chris and Dimitry set out to interact with Diamond Standard customers better. By now, Diamond Standard had moved into a new 11,000 square foot office, which Cormac wanted to use to host online meetings and in person information and Q/A sessions, and maybe even a cocktail hour or two.
The sales, marketing and communications team leveraged Zoho Backstage to fill these events. Those attendees were then parsed into the Zoho CRM. The leads that the sales and marketing team were able to aggregate into webinars, became the rocket-fuel for Zoho Backstage for in-person events.
Familiar with the power of marketing drip campaigns, through his experience using Infusionsoft, and HubSpot for his agency, Chris decided to immerse himself in Zoho Campaigns. For a few months, Diamond Standard used Zoho CRM alongside Zoho Campaigns to nurture leads and drive the initial orders through the company’s website.
Having run a social media agency for eight years, Chris was very interested in interacting with these newly minted Diamond Standard investors in social media. One day while speaking with Dmitry about his desire to have better optics into the Diamond Standard social media efforts via Hootsuite, Dmitry suggested Zoho Social. Within 24 hours, the Diamond Standard team severed ties with Hootsuite, and integrated Zoho Social into the powerful sales and marketing ecosystem.
Here again, the Diamond Standard team was excited about having such powerful data at their fingertips. Now when tweeting, to an individual Zoho Social gave them the powerful tools to know where this person was in the customer journey at Diamond Standard. Allowing for critical and important conversations in the social ecosystem which drove real sales.
A star Diamond Standard sales executive, Cat Jordan had been interacting a great deal with customers on the Diamond Standard website. She was concerned that some issues were getting lost between emails, and conversations in the Diamond Standard office. Cat came up with the idea to create a ticket for every online inquiry from a Diamond Standard client via Zoho Desk. She would then review, said ticket and parse that information to the appropriate executive internally. Effectively and even more efficiently usurping any need for technology like Zendesk.
So now when someone chatted, email or called the Diamond Standard team, that ticket would be placed into a holding pen. Here, Cat would then assign the issue to the proper Diamond Standard executive. Whether this be a sales or technical issue, Cat had leverage Zoho technology to solve the problem. Cat has since been promoted to Director of Client Service. We’re sure you can see why.
In May of 2022, Diamond Standard launched a new and exciting Fund with their partners Horizon Kinetics. The Fund is for accredited individuals only, and each investor had to fill out documentation to prove their level of accreditation. Collaborating, Dmitry and Chris spent weeks implementing a comprehensive and iterative Zoho Form which was implemented on the Diamond Standard Fund website. This implementation was placed front and center during the Diamond Standard Fund launch. Diamond Standard now had the slickest Accreditation process on Wall Street.
Now that business was moving in the right direction, Chris continued to grow the Diamond Standard team, with a focus on Client Service, and institutional sales to support the fund. The entire team now leverages Zoho Bookings in their email signatures. Here the user can choose to self identify as an individual or institutional investor. Allowing the sales organization to staff the calls accordingly. Effectively and powerful replacing the need for Calendly.
The Diamond Standard Fund temporarily leveraged Zoho Sign to confirm engagement in the Fund. This only recently changed because the volume of investors outpaced the Diamond Standard sales teams ability to support. This is the only time Diamond Standard’s sales marketing and communications team has leveraged an outside piece of technology other than Zoho.
Zoho Marketing Automation is now implemented on the Diamond Standard website servicing a gentle time engagement driven pop-up for a free Diamond Marketing Guide. As the team has grown, the full circle, branded viral loop that Chris created leveraging the Zoho technology has far exceeded all expectations.
By virtue of being centrally located, all the apps speak to each other, and all enhance the data which powers the sales and marketing machine. This data is critical as Diamond Standard continue to innovate and disrupt Fintech.
Finally, after the successful launch of the Diamond Standard fund, and nearly a full year since first discussing connecting the Zoho CRM to the back end of the Diamond Standard database, Chris and Dmitry got to work. By June of 2022, the Diamond Standard team had grown to six full-time sales, marketing and communications professionals. All of whom were utilizing all of the above Zoho apps driving astronomical success.
The initial dream was to send automated emails based on the stage of the customer in the sales process. This dream was put on hold because of the technical complexity of the integration, the focus on growing the team, improving our product offering, and a focus on institutional selling.
However, Chris and his team faced an impasse. The need for iterative emails notifying individual investors of their buying stage was growing, and growing fast. The Diamond Standard Zoho backed sales machine was humming along. Driving over $11million dollars of Diamond Standard Coin and Bar sales to individuals in Q1 alone.
It was now time to solve this issue, and solve it fast. Chris had to reduce customer service inquiries which were fueled by confusion with the Diamond Standard Minting process. As well as cut down on customer service calls. Which were bogging down the Diamond Standard sales team. Effectively removing them from their core responsibility of selling.
Solving this issue was paramount and Chris knew it would result in saving time and money. Not to mention these interactions were potentially damaging to the still brand-new, and fragile Diamond Standard brand.
With the sales machine now generating sales, and alleviating customer service issues, it was time to put a bow on the full power of Zoho. Diamond Standard went to the second phase of the implementation, connecting the real website-based orders with Zoho CRM’s Contacts, Accounts, and Deals modules.
The custom-tailored integration utilizes Zoho CRM API to reflect the investor orders in Zoho CRM Deals module, providing the marketing team with the precise, real time information.
Diamond Standard quickly evolved from the startup phase to the full-scale business with many on-site and remote employees, which triggered the need for the internal project (Zoho Projects and Zoho Sprints) and human resource (Zoho People) management tools.
Working with colleagues from the OpenCrowd team, United Parts of Chicago developed a custom integration between Zoho CRM and Diamond Standard’s backend, allowing the marketing team to see the commodity purchasing data and run the personalized email reminders for the investors. The integration is based on Zoho Flow and includes the backend-to-CRM data synchronization, constant updates for the CRM Contacts and the automatic lead conversion.
The Diamond Standard team further leveraged the Zoho CRM and have created custom dashboards to represent sales data, helping decision-makers with the tailored, and more importantly (real time) reports.
Zoho CRM’s native Vendors module has been heavily customized to store the data coming from the Diamond Standard Exchange (DSE) platform. The integration between Zoho CRM and DSE allows the company’s supply department to have the vendor’s data on hand whenever they need it.
In summary, besides Zoho CRM as the primary application, in place of a Salesforce integration — Diamond Standard successfully utilizes the following Zoho One applications. The combined network effect of each integrated application has catapulted Diamond Standard to the forefront of innovation, gaining global media attention from the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and CNBC.
United Parts of Chicago would like to thank Cormac Kinney, Ani Daci, Chris Dessi, and all the Diamond Standard team for participating in this case study.
All trademarks belong to their respective owners. Images courtesy of Diamond Standard, Ltd. Some technical details are omitted intentionally due to the NDA.