2009 Mobilizer Awards: Best Mobile SFA/CRM

By  Kassandra Kania — November 06, 2009

Sunbelt Rentals finds mobile CRM app speeds data flow and lets reps respond quickly to customer needs.

In the construction equipment rental business, sales reps must often satisfy customers' needs the same day. "If a customer needs a backhoe today or tomorrow, you have to be able to tell them immediately if it's available and what the rental rate is," says John Stadick, VP IT for Fort Mill, SC-based Sunbelt Rentals. "If you can't, a competitor will show up and try to rent it to them."

Sunbelt had tried a variety of mobile CRM solutions in the past without much success. The sales force still relied on calls to and from the branch to obtain information, as well as books and binders for recording data and entering it in the Web interface at the end of the day. "We needed to get data into the hands of our sales reps while they're standing on a job site, so they can give their customer the right information quickly -- whether it's information about their account or the rental rate for that day," explains Stadick.
Sunbelt deployed Apple's iPhone 2.0 to 1,200-plus users enterprise-wide and worked with Customer Connect to implement Microsoft CRM 4.0 and customize the Web interface. The company provided basic training and was impressed with how quickly its reps adopted the iPhone and mobile application.
Now, sales reps can access real-time information pertaining to a customer's account, rental history, and outstanding invoices as well as quote equipment rental rates without having to make a phone call first. The system also helps them respond more quickly to leads and conduct follow-up activities in a timely manner.
According to Stadick, the greatest benefit of the iPhone application has been the sales reps' ability to respond to customers' needs quickly. The solution has also allowed the reps to get information or take action on their own as needed, rather than calling the inside sales reps at the Sunbelt store. "We've seen a 10% to 20% reduction in phone calls between sales reps and branch offices," says Stadick. Customer service reps now have more time to concentrate on customers in the branch.
By pushing live data regarding pricing and equipment availability to the reps, Sunbelt estimates that the company's return on investment will be $10 million to $15 million annually. This increase in revenue is based on a 10-week control test, explains Stadick, in which a price optimization engine fed one group optimized prices while the other group was not fed specific rates.
Stadick also credits the iPhone application with helping to increase rental rates. "Every month we saw rental rates go down," he says. "There's less work out there and competition is greater, so that drives down the rates."
About one month after implementing the iPhones, Stadick noticed rental rates inching back up. "A large part of it is because we've been able to put the right rate in front of the reps, whereas before they had to guess or call in. Now they're getting live rates off the system. It's helped drive [our rental] rates back up."

Honorable Mention


CRM software gives medical hosiery firm Sigvaris a leg up on customer service
Sigvaris North America, a Peachtree City, GA-based manufacturer of compression garments for the healthcare industry, needed to replace its email program, Lotus Notes, and its in-house CRM system, eSales, with a mobile solution that would increase its sales reps' productivity.
"On a daily basis, our reps call on dealers who sell our products as well as doctors who prescribe them," says Lisa Wells, Sigvaris Marketing Consultant. "Physicians have a very limited amount of time to spend with our reps, so it's important for our reps to be responsive immediately and appear well informed."
The company selected Maximizer CRM and worked closely with Moonstone Technologies, an IT consulting firm, to implement the solution. Within two months, Sigvaris' entire U.S. sales force went live. Initially, reps used Dell Axim PDAs during the day to collect data and synched up the devices at home to download data at the end of each day.
When these devices became obsolete, Sigvaris replaced them with BlackBerry
smartphones that connect in real time. In addition, the company upgraded to the latest Mazimizer software, version 10.5.
Since implementing Maximizer CRM, the sales force has seen a significant increase in productivity, says Moonstone's Joey Annan, IT Manager, Americas. "Their expectation was six calls a day. That's been moved up to seven," he says. "Reps have better planning of itineraries and spend less time driving around. They also spend less time hunting for information, and they're able to use their time more productively."

Honorable Mention

Magazine field sales crews reach the right demos with mobile CRM
At Wirral, U.K.-based Candis Magazine, door-to-door salespeople are responsible for half of the company's subscription sales. For this reason, Newhall Publications needed a mobile solution to help its sales force target the appropriate audience.
The company rolled out Global Bay's GBMobile platform on HTC 6500 PDAs. The solution replaced a Web-based sales force automation package that was difficult to use, time-consuming, and costly to make changes to.
With the new solution, Candis can make changes quickly and easily, adding new apps as needed and rolling them out to its 117 mobile workers. Salespeople can now access Sonar Check, a demographic profiling system that helps them identify the right customers. "Without Sonar Check, our salespeople were selling to the wrong people, and it was costing us," says Chris Harman, IT Director.
Using Sonar Check, Newhall Publications will save $182,000 per year in sales commissions that would have been paid for unprofitable sales.
The mobile solution has also reduced data entry and improved vehicle inspections. "Before, the compliance level for inspections was about 30%, and every month someone had to chase people who didn't complete paperwork," says Harman. "Now, we're around 99% compliant."


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