Mobile Customer Relationship Management Roundtable
These days, keeping a customer database at the office isn't enough. On-the-go salespeople and field service technicians—and their managers—need mobile customer relationship management software (CRM) to retrieve and update customer information while they are on the road. A great CRM solution will minimize staff time spent on administrative tasks while maximizing time spent with customers, as well as provide managers the business intelligence they need to manage those staff and sales or service priorities.
We recently had the opportunity to speak with several BlackBerry® partners about mobile customer relationship management software. We asked them about how and why mobile CRM is being used today—and why it isn't—and asked for a look into the future of mobile CRM.
In this first half of our CRM roundtable, we look at the ROI opportunity and considerations in choosing a direction or solution. We also discuss who benefits when using mobile CRM. Next issue, we provide some pointers for implementation and peer into the future to see what’s coming around the corner and further down the road.
Salesplace BlackBerry Edition CRM software keeps users dialed into customer information via BlackBerry smartphones. This application allows you to keep track of contacts, appointment schedules, and possible sales leads, no matter where you are—and features wireless sync capabilities for those time when you're off the connectivity grid.
Worldwide Director of Marketing and Business Development, Maximizer Software
Maximizer's mobile CRM solution enables on-the-road sales representatives to access sales forecasts and browse comprehensive customer notes and documents. The BlackBerry edition syncs with existing Maximizer CRM databases, allowing online and off-line browsing of customer records and the creation of new contacts. The mobile dashboard keeps users apprised of overall team performance, while one-click maps ensure convenient directions to your next appointment.
Senior Product Marketing Manager, FrontRange Solutions
FrontRange's GoldMine CRM software manages information about customers, including contact and company details, meeting and call notes, email transactions, and day-to-day activities. GoldMine business functions manage marketing automation and sales-force automation, as well as customer service and support needs. GoldMine Mobile Edition for BlackBerry smartphones helps users manage their mobile CRM needs through an easy to deploy, secure, and easy to use mobile platform.
Vice President of Sales, TenDigits Software
TenDigits' MobileAccess is a platform for the Microsoft Dynamics CRM business software package. It works alongside Dynamics to provide a familiar look and feel, and provides mobile CRM capabilities that include multi-window navigation and mobile application integration (email, web browser, and phone). MobileAccess' bi-directional synchronization capabilities allow users easy access to cached data while offline, and ensures that business information on both the mobile device and office database is always up to date.
President, J2X Technologies
J2X's Handheld Contact software allows wireless synchronization with Sage's ACT! customer management database, ensuring that contacts, notes, customer history, calendar entries, and action items are up-to-date. This secure solution increases users' face-time with customers while reducing dependence on the home office. J2X has also built over 25 custom BlackBerry applications since 2001, and offers mobile expense management (ExpenseLog Pro) and mileage tracking/reimbursement (MileageTracker Pro) solutions.
iEnterprises' Mobile Edge application extends existing applications, allowing wireless users to access key information from anywhere. Mobile Edge works with existing CRM systems such as Siebel, NetSuite, Microsoft Dynamics, SugarCRM and Lotus Notes, providing a secure, easy to use, and highly configurable mobile solution that reduces downtime and empowers more users to utilize CRM more frequently in an effort to meet their clients' needs fully and efficiently.
To start, why don't we talk about the advantages mobile CRM offers?
J2X: The way it used to work is, a sales professional using CRM would go about their day; they would then update the records at the end of the day, or maybe even at the end of the week. Information lagged by a day, or maybe even more. Mobile CRM allows that information to be up to date all the time. Along with that, the information's accurate. Because the mobile CRM is pulling information in from other sources, like the phone-call logs or the emails, team members don't have to re-enter that information.
FrontRange: In the past, mobile road warriors didn't have the ability to really manage their CRM or the sales force automation processes while they were out of the office, away from their desktops. Now what we're doing, on top of the email and the phone integration, is providing your sales team with mobile CRM features and functionality on a BlackBerry smartphone.
Salesplace: I think one of the biggest benefits that mobile CRM offers is the level of comfort that users have with the mobile device. Mobile CRM itself forces developers like us to simplify and make things easy to do, right?
What are some of the common reasons companies are looking to implement a mobile CRM solution today?
J2X: The first is productivity—companies need to do more with less. The second is customer service, being more responsive to customers, using that as a competitive advantage. The third is shortening the sales cycle and increasing their closing percentages. Really, a mobile CRM does all those things really, really well.
FrontRange: Probably the biggest concern for a lot of clients is how they can integrate the BlackBerry platform, BlackBerry services, and BlackBerry smartphones with their on-premise CRM application. They need to capture all those emails and activities on their BlackBerry smartphones, but they need to couple it with their online CRM application. In the past, you had your online CRM world where you're managing your clients in one database, and then we had the mobile world, which was really sending out emails and activities for your clients, but the two were separated.
iEnterprises: Everyone, really, needs CRM, because everyone's a salesperson when push comes to shove—especially executives. We're seeing it expand within individual organizations that, perhaps, started with salespeople, to other job functions as well.
How can customers make sure they're making the right choice when they select a mobile CRM solution?
iEnterprises: We encourage, and really more than encourage—we almost force our clients to bring the stakeholders in and give them a voice in the project. There is certainly a balancing act between focusing on the most important things and then making sure that there's something in it for all the stakeholders, and making sure that they feel that they've made their mark on the solution.
And, certainly, companies are looking for ROI benefits by deploying a mobile CRM solution. Can you speak to that?
Salesplace: What are the drivers of ROI? It's either more revenue or lower costs. What could CRM do to address one of those two things? High user adoption of a mobile CRM is due to the fact that the users are comfortable with the technology: It's easy to get data into the system, it’s easy to get the data out of the system, companies are getting a lot better quality information.
FrontRange: What's interesting is, we are finding that by deploying a mobile CRM application for Goldmine, it's also helping drive the usage, which is essentially a return on investment of the core Goldmine application.
For example, [before a mobile CRM solution was available] I was often in the office only one day a week, so I was using the CRM application only one day out of the week. But now with the Goldmine Mobile application, for those four days I'm out of the office, I'm using my CRM application. I just happen to be using it on my BlackBerry smartphone. So it's increasing usage of that core CRM solution as well.
Could anyone speak to specific savings companies are seeing?
J2X: We find that on average, without a lot of scientific surveying, that people are saving about two and a half hours a week by using a mobile CRM solution. A lot of that time savings is a result of not having to do redundant data entry. Not having to enter things twice. Like going to a meeting, taking pen and paper notes, and then re-entering that into the CRM. That can all be done on BlackBerry now. There's no need to write, and it's automatically updated. Those things are where a lot of that time savings is coming from.
Maximizer: With the example of QuickCurb (a Maximizer customer), their salespeople are able to see one more prospect a day because of the time they're able to save by using CRM on a device rather than CRM on a laptop. Sigvaris has actually upped their sales quotas and sales targets; they feel that they're able to see one more client a day. That's pretty big.
Since you mentioned BlackBerry specifically, could anyone comment on deploying mobile CRM on BlackBerry smartphone?
J2X: It's really about companies leveraging their current investment in the BlackBerry solution, so they're extending what they've already paid for. In most cases, people have a CRM solution. In some cases they've already got a BlackBerry smartphone. If they've got the CRM and they've got the BlackBerry smartphone, we're really the piece that ties that together. That allows them to have the mobile solution. So the question is, why not leverage that investment that's already been made in the CRM solution and in the BlackBerry deployment?
Frontrange: Our usage of the BlackBerry smartphone itself has been a big efficiency gain for our Goldmine users. The reason being is that the BlackBerry smartphone is so easy to use—it has a QWERTY keyboard, a trackball, and the size and resolution of the screen are really enabling our CRM users to easily adopt the Goldmine Mobile application.
Salesplace: What is the BlackBerry smartphone good at? Well, I can phone people, I can use the BlackBerry calendar to arrange all my appointments, I can organize my tasks, and I can also send emails. So I'm doing all that anyways. Why do I need another tool? One of the strengths, at least, of what we've built is that we leverage the BlackBerry base engine; we provide an extension to it.
People want to know, "How can I easily, right from my BlackBerry messages area, send out that same email but have it attached to the contact and company record, the opportunity record, the account plan record?" This is the type of integration that is really key for a successful mobile CRM.
Although we've got a great product, I think a big part of the greatness is the tight integration with BlackBerry. As a salesperson, I don't really need to do anything different from email, phone, and creating meetings. But now, when I'm creating a meeting log or creating a phone call log, it goes right into that CRM tool.
J2X: I think [one place] where we get the "a-has," are with integration points to the BlackBerry solution, such as phone calls, emails, and mapping. Some of that integration comes from shortcuts within our applications, such as the ability to scroll between various sources of information, such as between activities or a calendar, or contact details.
BlackBerry Connection: Let's talk a bit about how salespeople and field service reps feel about mobile CRM. Do they immediately see the benefits?
Salesplace: Show me one salesperson in the world who likes to write reports. By nature, a salesperson loves people, loves to spend time communicating. They're not built for writing reports. So one of the biggest things that we've seen is the fact that with a mobile CRM, as long as they're updating information as the day and the week goes by, right on their BlackBerry smartphones, entering updates on their sales funnel, information is in real time.
J2X: We find that most people that we deal with who are in sales actually embrace the mobile CRM. Because the bottom line is that it saves them time and makes them money. Why wouldn't they use it?
Frontrange: What it really helps them do in sales within an account is what we call "player mapping."
You don't always talk to just one person in sales, you're talking to four, five, six people – the mobile CRM application helps them build out that player map. Now a sales force can understand all the other influences within that particular account that’s going to help them win that sale. So for existing accounts it provides much better account management.
BlackBerry Connection: Are there benefits for management too?
J2X: Management wants to know what's going on in the field with their sales professionals. Where sales opportunities are, where they are in the funnel, and what activity's taking place related to them.
Maximizer: What the managers really like about using Maximizer on the BlackBerry smartphone is they're able to ensure that every lead is followed up within 24 hours. The sales director for one client mandates that every lead has to be called within 24 hours of it coming in to the company. So the lead comes in and somebody pushes it out to [someone] in the field. That person has to indicate in the CRM system that they've followed up with that lead, so that the manager knows that action's being taken.
Remember to check back next issue, when we continue our CRM roundtable. We'll discuss how mobile CRM is being used in different verticals and some surprising features people are using. We'll also ask our experts to peer into the future and tell us how mobile CRM will change. BlackBerry Connection would like to thank all the participants for their time. For more information on these solutions, please visit the partner websites by clicking on the links provided in the sidebar.