AGF wins big with wireless CRM

Sales management is now faster and better for AGF Management Ltd. after the investment management firm deployed a wireless solution for capturing and accessing client data real-time.

The application from Waltham, Mass.-based Pyxis Mobile Inc. was recently rolled out to AGF’s entire Canadian sales force – along with Blackberry devices. (AGF’s 40 sales teams serve around forty thousand wholesalers – financial advisors who sell and manage products for more than one million investors).

The central challenge for these teams is acquiring a deep understanding of clients’ complex needs.

The company wanted a way to capture relevant client data at the point of contact and access it during sales meetings.

Laptops used in the past hardly helped, and AGF sales teams experienced the usual limitations: excessive time spent each day downloading data from the network and synching this information later.

As sales reps previously found it difficult to capture client data on the road, they usually e-mailed or phoned assistants with information that needed to be entered into the customer relationship management (CRM) system.

This long and laborious process was error-prone and information on subtle nuances of the client relationship was lost.

With the Pyxis implementation though, all that’s no more than an unpleasant memory.

Today AGF sales reps easily enter data without intermediaries. “85 per cent of our sales people [enter] activity information via Blackberry into our CRM [system]. That’s a huge number for us,” says Steve Elioff, senior vice-president of CRM at AGF.

Equally important, reps have real-time access to CRM, enterprise, and back-office data during sales calls. Pyxis’ mWholesaler allows reps to wirelessly access contact details from CRM systems as well as rep, branch and firm level sales history. Another module, mReports provides executive management reports highlighting investment updates, company financial summaries, operation activities and IT status.

According to AGF, deployment of the Blackberries and Pyxis software was accomplished in a record time of 13 weeks. As Pyxis’ domain expertise is wireless solutions for the investment industry, no customization was required by AGF.

The software is designed to work with the data model and definitions typically used within the sector. “For us, it was a simple matter of mapping the application to our existing CRM [system],” says Elioff. “It was probably the easiest technology deployment we’ve ever done with a sales group.”

AGF is a major win in Canada for Pyxis, which is planning to expand here as well as internationally. Pyxis says its products are already being used by 10 of the top 20 asset management firms in the United States. “Over 30 per cent of all mutual fund wholesalers are using our applications in the field,” says Christopher Willis, director of marketing and business development at Pyxis.

He says Pyxis Mobile is the only vertically-focused enterprise data delivery software developer that caters to the investment sector. The future trend, he says, will be to provide more customized applications and functionality on Blackberries. “Users are clamouring for Blackberries, but there need to be business benefits and ROI,” says Willis.

In the not-so-distant future, he said, users will get full value from their enterprise applications.

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