Who: Putnam Investments is a global money management firm with 207 institutional clients and more than 9 million shareholders and retirement plan participants. It manages $188 billion in assets.
Challenge: Putnam Investments uses customer data to help mutual fund wholesalers follow up leads and maintain good working relationships with customers. Sales representatives accessed that customer data wirelessly with mWholesaler by Pyxis Mobile, but had trouble synchronizing their iPAQ devices with desktop systems.
"Synchronization was an issue," says Tom Halloran, managing director at Putnam Investments. "Our salespeople want to visit a customer, get their information and move to the next appointment. They really don't like to spend a lot of time on the administrative side, inputting information. Plus, with our existing solution, if the battery life expired, all the data had to be reloaded and that just ate up time."
Sales representatives also had trouble aggregating data. Either a sales representative or an internal sales partner at Putnam's offices had to input the collected data--a time-consuming process that was done only once a week. Data collected in the field often wasn't entered into the company's database because sales representatives didn't have time to consistently sync their devices to desktop systems. "We had a goal of 85 percent productivity for our internal salespeople, but they were getting bogged down entering the sales touch points for the wholesalers," explains Halloran. "The time they should be selling was taken up by all this administrative work."
Solution: Putnam deployed Pyxis Mobile's mWholesaler on BlackBerry devices to connect sales representatives in the field directly to the company's database.
The devices have enabled sales representatives to enter data themselves and send it wirelessly without having to sync with desktop systems. As a result, sales representatives are more prepared for sales calls and can focus more on their job (making sales). Representatives also can send a thank you after meeting with a customer, and quickly input information into Putnam's database. In addition, the BlackBerry solution eliminates the need for sales representatives to carry laptops--most of the data they need can be accessed via the device.
"With BlackBerry and Pyxis Mobile, it's now easier and faster for the wholesalers to enter the data themselves and send it wirelessly--without the hassle of cradling."
Results: Besides increasing productivity to more than 90 percent, and improving the speed and consistency of data collection, Halloran says the BlackBerry solution has given Putnam a competitive edge. "We know more about our clients than anyone else does. If you think that within five minutes of leaving a meeting, we can have all the information captured about that customer and visible throughout the organization, you realize the power."
The quality of sales also has improved. Before the BlackBerry deployment, sales representatives could gather data about customers' relationships with Putnam but could not get details about which of their competitors' funds was being purchased. Notes Halloran: "We've been able to customize the Pyxis Mobile solution to profile our customers better, so we know who else is doing business with them and how to competitively position our funds."
And better customer profiles has led to better customer relationships. Because they can quickly aggregate data, sales representatives now have more time to spend with customers. "We can now sit next to them and pull up all the information on the BlackBerry device to show them how many of their offices we've visited, how many of their representatives we've seen, in any period of time," Halloran says.
The BlackBerry solution's biggest endorsement, however, has come from the sales representatives themselves. "From a user perspective, BlackBerry and mWholesaler seamlessly integrated," Halloran says. "Our wholesalers have always wanted one device that did everything and they now have it. And as the person who often has to field the complaints, I couldn't be happier."