Mobile Salesforce taps into beer sales

Mobile Salesforce on BlackBerrys has helped Karl Strauss Brewing Company sell more beer and save money .

Karl Strauss, the San Diego-based brewer of beers such as Red Trolley Ale, Woodie Gold and Stargazer I.P.A., had an outdated process for its dozen or so field reps, according to John Snead, the company's director of beer operations. The reps would write down sales and order information and either fax, phone, email or physically bring it into the office so the CRM data could be entered by a processor.

"We can't have our reps bound to desks," Snead said.

The company deployed the Apex Mobile platform from, which integrates back-end CRM systems to the field reps' BlackBerry devices.

Now, field reps enter CRM data into their BlackBerrys through's Apex Mobile to create real-time orders from the customer site and to synchronize data. The brewery customized its Salesforce SFA and Apex Mobile applications and also used partner apps from the AppExchange directory to integrate data from Microsoft Dynamics GP with Salesforce. The integration made for a single, centralized source of customer data for sales operations.

Snead said that Strauss customized Salesforce to track multi-level relationship information about current and potential beer buyers, including funnel-status for in-process opportunities, demographic profile data, potential volume, alcohol licensing status, geographic detail, and personal information of customer contacts.

All necessary forms can be completed via BlackBerry without switching between screens. Account data is wirelessly transmitted to the home office within minutes, an order invoice number is assigned, and the data is available in the Salesforce applications.

To help integrate back-office data in Salesforce, Strauss deployed partner applications from AppExchange, including:

  • Scribe Sales Order Component, which extends the functionality of Salesforce to support order integration with ERP systems, allowing users to convert opportunities to orders and automatically pass those orders to the back office.
  • Scribe Insight for AppExchange, which integrates the Salesforce environment with existing on-premise third-party and custom applications.
  • Salesforce Integration for Microsoft Dynamics GP, which gives real-time integration of customers, products, orders and invoices between Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics GP.

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"With Salesforce, our field team is more effective and business data is readily available for our sales, finance and management teams," Snead said. "By integrating data across our organization, the Salesforce solution has enabled us to more accurately forecast our sales and manage overall costs. It's been a great success and key to growing our business."

The biggest hurdle, Snead said, was "how do you get salespeople to use it, to adopt it?" But illustrating the time it saves and the boosted productivity, he said, was a strong enough argument and convinced the team.

"If this helps us sell an extra keg or two a month, it pays for itself," he said.

The mobile Salesforce solution has increased the company's close rate by half an account per rep per month, according to Snead, yielding $500 in additional monthly income. It has also boosted retention, yielding two new accounts per month. He added that better management insight has also increased the average volume per account, raking in an additional $2,600 per month.

The system also improved productivity, giving field reps an extra 90 minutes a day for four days a week.

Overall, Snead said, the system brings in $3,400 a month in increased income and about $360 in displaced or redirected expenses.

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