User Buy-In Boosts Sales

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Cingular Wireless had a CRM system with every sales automation bell and whistle imaginable. There was just one thing missing: No one wanted to use it. Of the 2,000 people with access to the system, fewer than half were actually taking advantage of the access. And of those using the system, less than 50 percent were on the average accessing it just once a week. So in 2002 the Atlanta-based wireless provider pulled back the system and streamlined the tool. For example the new version delivered a single dashboard that the sales force could easily navigate and optimize in a multichannel environment, says Michael Fields, director of sales operations for Cingular Wireless. "We worked closely with our own staff to pare down and identify what was needed," he says. "Now I like to say that a drunk monkey could use it." In fact, the revamped version of Siebel 6.3 deployed became a must-have for everyone on the sales force. "Users also like using the tool, because the number of required fields dropped to two from 10 and everything is much easier. You don't have an engineering degree to use this tool," he says. In addition to needing access to the data in Siebel via the laptop, the sales reps needed real-time access to their customer information while they were in the field. The solution was to enable Siebel via a wireless handheld device. The wireless deployment began this past May, and according to Fields, the plan is to roll out the new system to 1,200 users over the next year. The pilot for the program included 50 reps from the San Francisco office, and all the training was done over the telephone. "It was amazingly easy to do," Field says. Users in the pilot market are now accessing the system an average of five times per day, according to Fields. Cingular was also careful to make sure the product works with any sales reps' Blackberry RIM devices. "We don't want to be restricted when a new device comes out," he says. One of the most popular features of Siebel Wireless, he says, is that once a lead is entered into the system it is sent to the appropriate sales rep via an email that contains the phone number in a link that can be clicked on and dialed directly Fields says it is still too early to provide hard ROI numbers, but says the benefits are clear. So far Cingular has been using the revamped Siebel 6.3 to increase sales by conducting historical trending and cross- functional analysis of point-of-sale information; to qualify leads by using analysis of recurring revenue; and to understand how servicing and cost impact product selection and sales. "One of the biggest benefits is that everyone is totally committed to using the system," he says. Sales reps are more efficient and customer service reps can handle more accounts than before using the system.
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