• December 1, 2007
  • By Coreen Bailor, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

Mobile Data Gets Better Reception

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For salespeople in the field, having access to accurate, up-to-date client data can mean the difference between closing a deal and watching it slip through their fingers. Rather than lug laptops and folders, satellite-television service giant DirecTV wanted to arm its 75 area sales managers (ASMs), directors, and vice presidents managing and supporting the company's 5,000 dealer networks with the ability to easily tap into pertinent sales and marketing information when mobile. The ASMs' customers are the dealers -- huge outfits like Best Buy and Circuit City, as well as smaller, independent stores -- that help DirecTV sell to end customers. To strengthen the quality of its account and opportunity information, the service provider leverages Oracle's Siebel CRM On Demand application in its marketing and sales operations. DirecTV's ASMs can use their laptops to log into the Oracle software and retrieve information such as financial data and service requests. But the company wanted even more mobility. "To truly bring it into their hands and in their BlackBerrys was the key for us," says Erik Walters, manager of technical operations at DirecTV. "We had to make sure that they could be just about anywhere and access information." DirecTV needed a solution requiring minimal involvement from the IT team but flexible enough to enable the company to make changes on the fly. "Sales reps know what their key ideas are and we wanted to make sure we could pull those key ideas out and present them in a very simple fashion so that when they're sitting there with a dealer they don't have to go hunting around," Walters says. DirecTV tapped mobile enterprise solutions specialist Antenna Software and its AMPower Sales application. DirecTV runs the Antenna application on Research in Motion's BlackBerry 8700, 8800, and Pearl wireless handheld devices on the Cingular (now the AT&T) network. After a six-month pilot to a subset of the ASMs, the Antenna tool went live in January 2007. Incorporating Antenna has allowed DirecTV to provide mobile, real-time CRM data to its sales force. "Sometimes there's not as much value for the sales reps who feel like they're putting a lot of information into the [CRM] system but really are not getting access to the information when they really need it, which is when they're in front of customers," says Jim Hemmer, CEO of Antenna. "One of the things that Antenna provides is this missing link in this process -- the ability to interact with that information on a timely basis." Of course, DirecTV's sales force still uses laptops to access Siebel CRM On Demand. But by mobilizing the data within the system, sales reps are much more productive and efficient while on the road. DirecTV has seen a 30 percent jump in the number of accounts that are visited each week, improved frequency of sales data reporting from seven days to one, and reduced service-request resolution from five days to three. Moreover, its sales team saves more than 90 hours a week, while visibility of application data from internal systems has improved 100 percent. So, Walters says, "they now have all the key metrics they need in the palms of their hands." The Payoff: By mobilizing its on-demand CRM application, DirecTV has:
  • increased by 30 percent the number of accounts that can be visited weekly;
  • improved frequency of sales data reporting from seven days to one;
  • reduced service-request resolution from five days to three;
  • seen its sales teams save more than 90 hours a week; and
  • doubled visibility of application data from internal systems.
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