Article

Mobile CRM goes direct to sales force at DirectTV

Barney Beal
For DirectTV's 75 area sales managers and sales support staff, keeping connected with 5,000 retailers is no easy task, particularly from the road.

The sales team for the El Segundo, Calif.-based satellite television provider visits DirectTV retailers across the country and educates them on how to better run their business, run marketing campaigns and increase account activations. Before this year, all the sales team's preparation work was done on laptops and in Excel spreadsheets.

"Data was often old by the time they got a report, and the fact they had to cull it from multiple locations was always a problem," said Erik Walters, manager of technical operations.

Earlier this year, DirectTV contracted with Antenna Software, a Jersey City, N.J.-based mobile software provider to extend Siebel CRM On Demand to its mobile sales force.

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"There are over 5,000 dealers in the retail channel," Walters said, "for 45 guys to get out there and touch each of them as often as possible is daunting."

DirectTV has been running Siebel CRM On Demand with 130 users, 75 of them mobile. It just wasn't practical jamming Siebel's Software as a Service (SaaS) application onto a mobile device. So DirectTV worked with Antenna to deploy Siebel to its sales managers, all of whom use BlackBerrys, Walters said.

Accessing up-to-date CRM information from a BlackBerry has simplified the life of the area sales manager considerably. Since moving to the mobile application, they have increased the number of accounts that can be visited in a week by 30%; saved 90 hours a week, thanks to the ability to update calls anytime; and shortened service request resolution from five days to three, according to Walters.

Where sales managers used to spend time preparing reports before they went in to see dealers, now they can quickly access data for dealers right from a BlackBerry, including information like open service tickets, key performance metrics and something of particular interest to dealers: account activations.

"Their world revolves around activations," Walters said. "[Dealers] want to know, 'How am I doing compared to last month? What are the Q4 offers?' -- whatever can help them sell better."

The move to mobile did require some customization of the company's user interface (you can't put 5,000 accounts on a scroll-down menu), and that was relatively easy, Walters said.

Additionally, because Siebel CRM On Demand is a SaaS application, upgrades are made automatically as part of the subscription price. Antenna upgrades are made along with them and any configuration changes that DirectTV makes to Siebel CRM On Demand can be submitted to Antenna for corresponding changes to the mobile application.

Looking forward

DirectTV currently has mapping capabilities in the online CRM application to indicate to sales managers if there is another dealer in the area they can call on. The company hopes to extend that capability to the Antenna product.

Currently the company is beta testing a program that allows sales managers to report service requests directly to the support team while they're meeting with dealers. It's already paying dividends. One sales manager was able to provide a support answer before he left a meeting with a dealer.

Finally, the company is working to extend the metrics and figures it provides to dealers to a portal, allowing these users to access the information on their own.

"I know that they are getting out there, and dealers are getting better information and tools," Walters said. "It has been very nice to see that what we were promised was delivered."


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