Michael Fields, director of business sales operations for Cingular Wireless, discusses the challenge of implementing CRM.
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Cingular was a newly formed company at the time, and our goal was to build a world class sales organization. To attract professional B2B salespeople we wanted to have common sales processes, along with the best tools available to support their needs.
When did you first implement CRM?
In December 2000 Cingular selected Siebel Systems, after considering other tools. We then brought in PWC to help us with the initiative. We deployed Siebel 6.3 in November 2001.
What were your key criteria for selecting a CRM vendor?
We were looking to get the best for the B2B sales channel, and Siebel is considered the best in the industry for sales automation. It is used by several world class sales organizations, as well as by our top competitors.
What were the key challenges or obstacles and how did you overcome them?
That was a tough one. We did all the things PWC said to do, which included obtaining field input and upper management support, but we overloaded the tool. You would have needed a degree in SFA just to use it. So initially Siebel was not accepted nor used by a large percentage of the sales force.
How did you gain executive and user buy-in?
To address the lack of buy-in we did three things. We got an executive sponsor, Joe Baker, vice president of business sales and operations. We then went to other sales leaders within Cingular to find out what they wanted to gain from the tool, like insight into key accounts and increasing productivity from the field. With that, we sold the idea of using Siebel to key executives.
Then, with the sales force, we said, "If we streamline the tool, will you use it?" They agreed, so in late 2002 we worked with them to identify their needs and pare down the solution. The tool was reengineered with a reduced number of fields and screens for the reps. We then redeployed the tool in early 2003 to the entire B2B sales channel. Today we push key information to upper management so they can support their people using the tool and increase their sales productivity.
What were the main rewards and results of using CRM?
We are now able to do one forecast for the entire B2B channel (22 markets across the U.S. and Puerto Rico). We can hold people accountable to meet their forecasted numbers.
We distribute more than 100 leads per day to our B2B sales reps; we weren't able to do this prior to using Siebel. As a result, customer service has improved. We can react to B2B customers faster--within hours.
With Siebel, Cingular managers have a tool they can use to coach their sales reps in account and funnel management. The Siebel tool helps support increased sales productivity in the B2B sales channel.
What are your future plans?
We're planning to integrate our internal billing data into Siebel. Using a phased approach, we're going to add modules for which we have licenses. In late 2004 or early 2005 we will begin our upgrade to Siebel 7.5.
Cingular recently completed a successful pilot of Siebel Wireless, offered on the Blackberry handheld from Research In Motion (RIM) over Cingular's GPRS data network. The reps have 70 percent of their Siebel functionality on their handheld. This includes all of their contacts, as well as all of their opportunities and activities.
Before you deploy a CRM or SFA tool, have your business process well thought out and in place.
Use a phased approach, since providing too much functionality at one time can have a negative impact.
Give users only what they need; don't overengineer to give them everything available.
Get buy-in at the outset.