The lifeblood of today’s sales representative is the mobile device. The ability for a company’s salespeople to quickly and efficiently service customers in the field — with as much ease as if they were sitting at their desks in the office — is no longer a nice-to-have advantage or differentiator. Mobility is a necessity to surpass competition and keep employees satisfied. After all, a happy sales force is one that can drive increased sales, and no sales rep wants to wait for a laptop to power up while visiting an important customer.
When Werner & Mertz GmbH, a German-based manufacturer and distributor of cleaning supplies, decided to upgrade from SAP Customer Relationship Management (SAP CRM) 4.0 to SAP CRM 7.0, the question of how to approach mobile sales figured prominently in boardroom discussions. With approximately €300 million in annual sales revenue, and as home to some of Europe’s most recognizable brands sold under an iconic “frog king” logo dating back 110 years, the business was not afraid of stagnant sales. Rather, it saw new opportunities in the mobile space that an updated CRM installation would be able to deliver, and the time was right to capitalize.
With the SAP CRM upgrade, Werner & Mertz envisioned combining the solution with a mobile platform to accomplish two main objectives: provide its sales personnel with single-source, real-time information through back-end integration with SAP ERP and SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse (SAP NetWeaver BW), and give them tools to optimize their store visits to the retail outlets that stock the company’s consumer products.
After consulting with its sales reps to discern their precise needs, Werner & Mertz decided to implement SAP Mobile Platform 2.2 and pilot the release of the SAP Retail Execution 3.0 mobile app. To optimize the app for its prioritized needs, the company focused its SAP CRM upgrade on modules that directly supported sales processes. A major factor in the decision was the solution’s hybrid model offering, which gives reps offline capabilities for mission-critical sales processes, with the app storing and updating information once online.
Another key factor for Werner & Mertz, especially as a ramp-up customer, was SAP’s managed mobility services for management and security of its devices through SAP Afaria. The business bought iPads and iPhones for roughly 150 sales personnel in Austria, Germany, and Belgium in the initial rollout.
Werner & Mertz CIO Michael Moser says that these factors, in addition to reassurances from SAP that 100% of the company’s existing mobile sales processes would be covered by SAP Retail Execution 3.0 within the next few years — with about 80% covered out of the box — made the decision to pilot the app a relatively easy one to make.
“In looking at the entire project, being able to move 80% of our existing sales processes immediately over to the new mobile solution was a great starting point,” Moser says. “We decided to move very early with the new technology because, within a few years, this will have the functionality to satisfy all of our processes.”
Ending Downtime Days
Previously, Werner & Mertz’s mobile sales practices involved a sales agent connecting a laptop at a customer location to manage an account out of the office. Following this process, to perform product audits at stores, for example, agents had to take digital pictures of merchandise and then wait until they arrived back in the office to download them.
Logistically, the prior mobile capabilities didn’t allow sales reps to optimize travel routes in real time or fill gaps created by sudden appointment postponements or cancellations, which could impact an entire day’s plans. Relatively straightforward visit processes, such as accessing a previous history visit or rescheduling a follow-up appointment, were often left to a sale agent’s memory or phone calls back to the office if the agent was offline.
When Werner & Mertz activated the SAP Retail Execution app, it focused its attention primarily on retail visit enhancements as a value driver for the overall SAP CRM 7.0 upgrade. The tour optimization component automates the sales visit planning process according to what sales reps enter as criteria, including customer priority, available stock, visiting sequence, or any other predetermined factors. And with the offline capacity, this information is available on the sales rep’s device at any location.
“Having a portable iPad instead of a laptop is a tremendous advantage,” Moser says. “You can take pictures and document the visit more efficiently. With this mobile access, customer data is available on the mobile platform, so if an appointment is suddenly canceled, you can arrange a new appointment with a nearby customer. And with GPS enabled, you can locate the best route to get there.”
Werner & Mertz also uses SAP Retail Execution functionality to integrate its trade promotion data with the app so that sales reps can manage trade promotions directly in the store. “Mobile sales reps have a trade promotion’s entire documentation available on their device — which promotion, which product, in which period, and for which client. This is all coming from a single source of information via the back end,” says Moser. “This capability opens a whole new window to trade promotion management that just wasn’t available with the old solution.”
With tour planning and trade promotions optimized for core sales teams in its largest territories, Werner & Mertz’s current plans are to deploy the app to sales personnel throughout its European subsidiaries country by country to Italy, Spain, France, and Poland. SAP has also reassured Werner & Mertz that future versions of the app will include functionality that addresses the remaining 20% of the mobile sales processes not delivered in SAP Retail Execution 3.0 (processes mostly for sales managers).
According to Moser, during the pilot project, Werner & Mertz strived to put SAP Retail Execution 3.0 into production as standard as possible; however, the standard version now includes some minor customizations that the business requested to help optimize certain processes. “The customization of the first version was one of the perks of being an early customer,” Moser says. “But now, we’re using the product 100% standard because SAP has covered every function that was mandatory for us.”
New Devices, New Looks
Reaching 100% standardization was not without a few bumps in the road, mostly in the testing phase. In trying to avoid overburdening its sales personnel, the project team handled the bulk of the testing process. In hindsight, according to Moser, it may have been better for the sales reps — as the frontline end users — to be more involved with testing. “Even though sales reps’ time is so limited because they are always with customers, looking back, it’s important to plan for that level of intensity and give them time to test the whole system,” he says.
As most sales end users already had personal smartphones and tablets, they didn’t have to spend too much time getting familiar with Apple technology or navigating new user interfaces. In fact, Moser says that it was more challenging for laptop users to adapt to a simultaneous Microsoft Windows 8 upgrade from Microsoft Windows XP. “In moving SAP users from a classic Windows environment to an Apple iOS environment, the challenges were more of a technical nature — just understanding the programming, the security aspect, the registration, and so on,” Moser says. “And with the mobile ramp-up, understanding and adapting to the new technology in the SAP Mobile Platform took some time. But user impact was never an issue.”
A More Mobile Future
Werner & Mertz started the project in June 2012 and went live in March 2013. Because the company encountered so few issues in its relatively seamless transition to SAP CRM 7.0 and the rollout of SAP Retail Execution 3.0, the business is considering whether additional mobile functionality might benefit sales reps in its professional division, who sell to commercial accounts such as hospitals or in bulk directly to cleaning companies.
When the project was scoped out, according to Moser, a main objective was reducing complexity, so the company focused on optimizing processes shared by its professional and consumer divisions. With the SAP Mobile Platform up and running, however, a consideration now is to distinguish whether the professional division might be better served by a mobile app focusing on processes that drive division-specific value, such as lead prospecting for large commercial accounts, for example.
Moser says that Werner & Mertz’s plans include rolling out updates to the app through mid-2014, including support for Apple, Android, and Windows devices, and delivering training material, document sharing tools, and reporting tools to sales staff through the mobile platform. Now that sales reps no longer have to wait for laptops to boot while servicing customers, they are eager to get their hands on anything else that could make their jobs easier away from the office. And even though it’s still too early to measure and compare a full quarter’s sales figures with the app versus sales prior to the app, a key benefit seen from the moment the app was deployed is a happy sales force. “Having modern tools that our sales reps are comfortable with is a big motivation for them,” Moser says.