How can a hosted phone system improve the efficiency of your field sales team? Cem Ahmet, Sales Director at Gamma Communications, looks into the use of hosted phone systems as a better way to manage a remote workforce.
Meet Charles and Eddie
Charles is a travelling rep. He visits customer sites across the West of England, conducting live demonstrations and closing deals. He is equipped with a company iPhone on a corporate contract and a laptop. His organisation uses a traditional phone system (ISDN and an onsite PBX) for its telecommunications.
Eddie is also a sales rep. He also visits customer sites across the West of England conducting live demonstrations and closing deals. He too is equipped with a company iPhone on a corporate contract and a laptop, except his organisation uses a hosted phone system in the cloud, which doesn't need a PBX, for its telecommunications.
Tracking the sales team
Charles and Eddie both spend a lot of time on the road, but the team based at head office still need to stay in contact with them to pass on leads or to forward customer calls.
Charles is often hard to get hold of – although he is pretty good at managing his diary, there are times when the sales team cannot reach him on his mobile (when they can find his number!). Is he in a meeting with a customer? Or in a network blackspot? What is he actually doing out there?
Eddie, on the other hand, uses an app on his iPhone that links directly into the company’s hosted phone system. His colleagues can see at a glance whether he is on the phone, in a meeting, or his extension has been marked as Do Not Disturb, as if he was using his desk phone. They have better visibility of his availability and can help customers contact him more easily.
Reporting on activity
Both salesmen may be closing deals, but how are they servicing existing clients?
When assessing Charles’ productivity, his managers have nothing but his word and a handful of half-completed activity reports. He is still closing deals, but there are concerns that he is not efficient in his approach to account management. There is, however, no way to accurately assess and improve output.
Eddie, on the other hand, creates a comprehensive audit trail of every phone-related activity passing through the company’s hosted phone system. This can be analysed by his managers to see how many calls he misses, if calls are abandoned, how long he spends on the phone to customers and what proportion of calls go through to voicemail. It is much easier to help Eddie to be more productive because his managers can see where improvements can be made.
Managing phone bills
For cost-conscious businesses, mobile phone bills can be a continuous source of frustration. So how can they be better managed?
Charles’ iPhone is his communications lifeline while out of the office and he often racks up enormous bills each month. He regularly exceeds the bundled minutes included in his call plan by ringing everyone from his mobile, rather than the more cost-effective landline in his home office. Controlling Charles’ bill is almost impossible.
Using his softphone app, the majority of Eddie’s calls are routed over WiFi through the company phone system that is hosted in the cloud. Even when he is in the car, calls are routed over his phone’s data connection. Using this set-up, calls back to the office are completely free. Calls to clients are also subject to the company’s competitive calling package. As a result, Eddie’s monthly bill is much lower than Charles’ every month.
Charles could be more productive on the road, deliver improved customer service and his company would benefit from much lower costs if only they were using a hosted phone system.
Moving to a hosted phone system can help businesses to better manage their remote workforce and gain competitive advantage through
● improved communications the sales team become a lot easier to get hold of
● improved reporting management can utilise detailed call activity records to make improvements to customer service delivery and business performance
● reduced call costs routing calls through the cloud means that all communications are subject to the lower prices charged under the corporate contract
For more advice on how hosted solutions can make your business truly agile, read the Uberflip 'Why Scalability Matters for Your Business'