Johnston Press has mobilised its field sales team using Salesforce.com running on iPads to reduce the need for staff to come into the office.
The regional newspaper company, which publishes across the UK and in the republic of Ireland, is running an eight-year roadmap to transform its business into a digital media company.
Key to this strategy is shifting the business towards an advertising-led revenue model. This will involve the sales teams at Johnston Press increasingly selling customers long-term advertising campaigns, which will help the business attain a steady revenue model that is not affected by seasonal variations.
Deploying Salesforce.com on mobile devices is integral to this plan, to provide cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM). The software will enable field sales teams to work more directly with potential advertising customers, by providing a mobile office on the iPad for managing the sales process and running sales presentations at customers' premises, while allowing people on the road to stay in touch with the office via email and mobile video-conferencing over a 3G network.
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"The sales team is armed with iPads, and can access Salesforce directly from the iPad. They are also using Google Docs," said Simon Pownall, group technology solutions director at Johnston Press.
The Google Docs cloud-based office productivity tool is used to provide email access and to enable the sales team to customise presentations on the road.
"We wanted to change the sales process. The team was spending a lot of time on administration and repeat orders. We wanted sales people to sell long-term advertising campaigns and we wanted to see where they were getting success," said Pownall.
The company commissioned Salesforce.com integrator CloudSense to develop a workflow application for the field sales team. The project involved implementing Salesforce.com and deploying iPads to access the cloud-based CRM system remotely using a smartphone as a tethered 3G modem. Salesforce.com is primarily used to manage pre-arranged meetings.
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The field sales representatives use Salesforce.com on the iPad to capture detail of a customer's advertising campaign. This information is then transferred to a customer service advisor in the office, who loads the advert into the incumbent advert processing system.
Although Salesforce.com can be run on smartphones, it is more difficult to use on the small screen. Pownall provides smartphone access to the system as a back-up to the iPad, but the main function of the smartphone is for 3G data access. Smartphones allow Johnston Press staff to use Wi-Fi-only iPads, avoiding the need to purchase additional 3G contracts along with the more expensive 3G-equipped iPads.
The company is also using the iPad to enable the sales team to collaborate with managers. It makes extensive use of Salesforce.com's Chatter collaboration tool, which provides messaging and a bulletin board to enable uses to share information. "We have 850 users, with 50 groups on Chatter," said Pownall.
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The company also makes use of the iPad's built-in video camera. "We use Apple's FaceTime to allow sales people to participate in video-conference calls with managers. Google Hangouts, an extension to Google+, is also being used to enable up to 10 people to participate in a video-conference session, with the ability to share the presenter's screen," he said. "We want to ensure our sales team do not feel they are on their own. Each member of the team has an opportunity to have five minutes of FaceTime with a manager, and Hangouts allows the sales manager to hold a conference call with the entire team."
The company has set up various dashboards to monitor activity. It uses mobile device management software from Alteris to provision software on the iPads and wipe the devices remotely should they be lost or stolen. "We can replace an iPad within 24 hours, and if one gets stolen it can be wiped within three minutes," said Pownall. "In the next phase of the project we're looking at Active Directory integration to have a single point to administrate all accounts.
Currently, order confirmations are sent out from the office. But Pownall said the company is looking at the possibility of using electronic signatures signed on the iPad to enable customers to confirm orders electronically.