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Taking CRM (customer relationship management) out on the road - How to empower your mobile employees and remote teams with information

At Datel, we help many companies to upgrade their core systems in order to take advantage of radically new technology. Here, Datel CRM Consultant Danny Owen looks at using mobile technology and the benefits of equipping employees on the move with access to your CRM system from Sage.

Imagine if your sales people could access up-to-date account and contact information on the customer they’re about to visit, along with related information from your business. They could view the customer’s purchasing history to cross-sell and up-sell. They could track recent orders, spot trends and identify any emerging issues. Maybe there’s a problem at your end with delays in processing orders. Perhaps orders have fallen off or the customer isn’t paying as promptly as they used to.

Putting the sales person in the driving-seat

 

It's not hard to see how having this information at their fingertips helps sales people to strengthen the relationship with the customer and improve service to them. They feel more in control of the conversation and can also maximise their time between calls, rather than constantly touching base with the office.

All this – and much more – is possible when you implement a customer relationship management solution that offers mobile access.

It’s not just sales people who benefit, either.

Consultants and project teams working on site; managers needing at-a-glance business insight for informed decision-making; staff working from home… you can give them the same access to customer and business information as their office-based colleagues.

 

It’s a two-way street: information captured out on the road or entered by managers visiting remote sites is constantly fed back, refreshing your central CRM system with a stream of new data.

This brings the added advantage of not having a mound of paperwork awaiting your return to the office. You’ve been able to tackle administration on the move.

So how has Sage made it easier to implement mobile?

Industry observers pinpoint 2011 as the year when global smartphone shipments first topped those of PCs. In this age of mass mobility, it makes sense to have a solution that can work on a range of devices: laptops, netbooks, tablets, and smartphones. This is what Sage has done.

Mobile access to CRM is available for businesses using Sage 200 CRM (the CRM functionality within Sage 200) and those using the web-based Sage CRM solution that typically integrates with Sage 200 and Sage Line 500.

To get technical for a moment, mobile access is available as both a non-native and native application. A non-native app is where the user’s browser interprets the information for the mobile device. A native app is an application program that has been specifically developed for use on a particular platform or device.

In this case, mobile is available as a non-native app for:

  • Sage CRM 7.1 and 7.2

  • Sage 200 CRM 2011 and 2013.

With the non-native app, the user enters a web address onto their mobile device. After successfully authenticating with the CRM server, the user is automatically directed to a page based on their device:

  • iPhone users are greeted with a slick simple-to-use site that is quick to navigate and retrieve details from

  • Laptop users are presented with the full user interface

  • iPad or tablet users see an interface specifically designed and optimised for use with 10-inch (or smaller) tablets.

Stay informed even when out of coverage

A native app – Sage CRM Sales Lite – is already available in the App Store for Sage CRM version 7.2 and is about to be launched for Sage 200 CRM. The ‘Lite’ is actually a bit of a misnomer. Introduced in May 2013, the app has proved its value in enabling sales people to view and update person and opportunity information, tasks and appointments.

Every time there is a mobile signal or Wi-Fi connection, information is pushed out to the device. To give an example: if you're about to go on a rail journey, synchronise your device while you still have coverage and you’ll have access to a snapshot of all information even if the train becomes stuck in a tunnel!

Incidentally, both apps support native iPhone integration, such as iPhone maps, calls and emails.

 

In his next blog post, Danny will look at the business value to be gained from linking social media with CRM.

“Our field-based salespeople are really benefiting from mobile access to information. Before meeting with their customers, they can consult an eight-week order history on their mobile device. When they’re visiting a prospective customer to pitch for new business, information such as pricing is again readily available to them without any need to contact the office.

"It’s very empowering for them, while our customers get ready answers to their questions. It goes a long way in helping to build the relationship.”

Based in Rock, Cornwall, Sharp's Brewery supplies cask, keg and bottled beer to thousands of outlets across the UK. Read the full case study to find out how Sage 200 CRM is equipping the brewery’s field-based sales team with in-depth customer information.