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DirecTV Gets Truly Mobile CRM

Antenna Software lets the satellite TV provider's area sales managers tap into Siebel's CRM On Demand application via BlackBerrys.

Satellite TV provider DirecTV works with more than 6,000 independent dealers who resell its service to residential customers. Directly serving those distributors is a team of nearly 700 area sales managers, who need critical information, such as financial data, active service requests, and activation and cancellation rates, while in the field.

DirecTV has been for several years a satisfied user of Siebel's CRM On Demand system, but it didn't work for field sales managers who couldn't carry around a laptop, says Erik Walters, a program manager for DirecTV's sales and operations arm. "For our guys, that's not mobile enough."

Walters' team faced an increasingly common problem in companies with mobile sales and field employees: how to mobilize an existing enterprise application.

DirecTV coupled the back-end CRM application with mobile middleware from Antenna Software. Antenna creates front-end systems that tap into popular enterprise mobility platforms like BlackBerry and Windows Mobile, providing data to mobile users from various databases via a single integrated interface.

DirecTV has 675 employees using Antenna, vastly increasing the productivity of sales managers, Walters says. In the past, an industrious area sales manager would be lucky to see three or four customers a day; now it's closer to 10 or 12.

Sales managers use BlackBerry 8700s and Curve 8300s, and all will move to the Curves in the next 90 days. Users prefer that model's light weight, flexibility, and GPS, which DirecTV plans to make more use of in upgrades to the On Demand app.

The move to a mobilized CRM platform is part of a broader shift in the way DirecTV sales managers interact with dealers. The company's changing how it handles calls and requests from dealers, Walters says. "Everybody is looking for that 360-degree view of the dealer customer."

To get that view, DirecTV will implement the hosted Call Center On Demand product from Siebel parent Oracle for incoming phone queries from dealers. The success of the mobilized CRM On Demand has given the company confidence to move to a more hosted model for its overall relationship with this critical group of resellers.

Illustration by Sek Leung

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