2010 Best in Mobile SFA/CRM
By Kassandra Kania
Tool manufacturer powers salesforce with the rollout of an in-house mobile solution.
When RIDGID, a division of Emerson, went searching for a mobile solution to help its salespeople access and record customer data with ease, the company came up empty-handed. "None of the vendors had an offering that met our needs," explains Justin Daw, director of IS development. "A lot of solutions looked the same and weren't emphasizing mobility, and that's what was key to moving forward."
As a result, the professional hand and power tool manufacturer developed an in-house application, RIDGID 360, as a mobile approach to CRM. The application runs primarily on BlackBerry Bold 9700 and Blackberry Bold 9000 devices. Currently, RIDGID 360 is available in seven different languages and is being used by 150 sales reps globally.
Prior to the implementation, sales agents relied on laptops running a traditional CRM system--but using this system to access and record information in the field was slow and inconvenient. "There was an offline component that could be synchronized, but after the first two weeks people quickly stopped doing that," says Daw. "The only time they would use [the system] was in the morning or the evening, so we wouldn't get a record of their activities throughout the day." In fact, only 10% of the salesforce entered sales data into the CRM system. They also relied on day planners to manually record new customer information, access contacts, and take notes. "It was ugly," admits Daw. "We had this huge disconnect and loss of visibility."
Now, with RIDGID 360 easily accessible via the BlackBerry, sales reps no longer need a laptop or a day planner. They can quickly update information, book appointments, check inventory, and access unlimited customer data in real time, thereby improving customer relationships and providing better service. "We went from 10% of the sales reps using the old CRM system to more than 90% entering information into the new system," says Daw. "It's changed their whole model of doing business."
Furthermore, the volume of reported sales calls per day has increased from 0 to 300 in less than six months, and nearly 7,000 new contacts have been added to the system since it went live. "Management and marketing are happy because they have visibility to thousands of new end user contacts that they didn't have visibility to before, so they weren't able to market to them." says Daw. "And they also have an idea of what's going on in the field so they can better see how the sales reps are spending time, what products they're demonstrating, etc."
The solution's success, coupled with positive feedback from end users, is leading RIDGID to plan a commercial release of its software. The application is also being evaluated by four other Emerson divisions. "In 18 months we expect to have 3,000 users on the platform," Daw says.
Sound Mobile Investment
Mobile application frees investment advisers to venture beyond the office walls.
serves more than 1,100 financial services firms and 100,000 investment professionals. Its technology platform NetX360 helps brokers and investors manage clients' accounts and develop sales and revenue opportunities. But without a mobile version of the software, investors were often tied to the office and lost valuable face time with clients.
"Advisers used a combination of laptops to access information and printed reports," says Suresh Kumar, CIO. "They're often dealing with lots of financial information about various clients' accounts as well as market data they may have an interest in."
With NetX360 Mobile, traditional office meetings are a thing of the past. "The solution provides an alternative and allows them to go where the clients are and meet in locations other than a formal setting," says Kumar. "If they're on a golf course with a client, for example, and they're notified of a market event they want to react to, they can do the transaction right there." Investment professionals also have instant access to client contact information and driving directions on one platform.
Currently, 1,700 employees are using the application on a variety of BlackBerry devices, Windows-enabled phones, and iPhones. The company is also running a beta test of the iPad application, which will provide users with the added benefit of a client presentation tool.
According to usability studies and customer feedback, the solution has improved efficiency, allowing investment professionals to focus on strategic business development and attract new customers.
Lean Inventory Management
Salesforce solution manages store inventory of natural beef products.
Laura's Lean Beef is sold in 7,000 grocery stores nationwide--but the company had a beef with its antiquated inventory management system.
"The hardware was out of date, and the software was no longer supported," says Jeff Tanner, director of information technologies. "Our product line was growing, and we couldn't add more products."
In addition to using discontinued Apple Newton Message Pads, the company's 40 reps carried cell phones for voice communications and laptops for e-mail access. Analog transmission further delayed store call data transfer.
To address productivity issues, the company deployed Flowfinity Actions on BlackBerry 8320s. The BlackBerry Enterprise Server allows for real-time updating of forms and reports.
The solution addresses three business processes: inventory management, customer information management, and customer feedback collection and reporting. Now, sales reps can make real-time changes to store profile information and report inventory levels, instantly alerting management to concerns or product backup issues.
The number of completed calls per day has doubled, and resolution times for quality assurance issues have improved from days to hours. "Before, it was a carousel effect of calling people in the organization to determine where the quality assurance issue occurred," says Tanner. "Now, reps complete QA forms at the store, take photos of the product with the BlackBerry, and submit the forms with embedded photos."
Sales reps have more face time with customers, and management has visibility into inventory levels and POS displays. "The BlackBerry is a unified device that's significantly improved communications in our sales organization," says Tanner.