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
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."