Mobile reps have unique challenges. They can’t just head to the nearest file cabinet, or walk down the hall when they need to find something or someone. And managers can’t pop their heads into reps’ cubicles for a quick update. You’ve got to figure out how to manage your business when you’re in the field, regardless of whether you’re out all day every day or whether you travel longer distances in less frequent measure.
According to Forrester, 50 percent of companies admitted that supporting mobility was the number one priority they had for their employees. And if you attended Apple’s April 2012 earning’s conference, you would’ve heard Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, say that 94% of the Fortune 500 are testing or deploying the iPad.
Aside from companies looking to buy mobile devices, there’s been a LOT of chatter on BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). BYOD is the phenomenon where employees buy and use their own mobile phones, and tablets to manage their life, and not just their personal stuff—their work stuff too. For companies, there are both pros and cons to this trend. In its favor is the potential cost savings. If employees supply their own equipment, that could save companies thousands if not millions of dollars. In its disfavor are the potential security risks and the question of who owns the data.
Why not consider six applications that are road-tested and perfectly
suited to mobile reps despite who owns the equipment. The right
mobile tools can ignite productivity, shorten sales cycles, and provide
much needed management insight.
1. Online Marketing Materials
Reduce the time it takes to respond to a prospect’s interest from hours to seconds. It costs a small fortune to print sales materials and it’s a hassle to lug them around town. Shuffling through catalogs and stuffing brochures into cars is a fast track to insanity—especially when you find you’re missing the one sales material you need at that precise moment! Think too, about what happens when your prospect asks, “Can you just leave me some materials?” This presents a couple of problems. You miss an opportunity to get their contact details including their email and the materials that are left behind can’t easily be shared amongst colleagues. Use a content delivery tool that makes it possible to send electronic product collateral within seconds of entering the prospect’s information, automatically. Managers also benefit greatly from the insight they can get. If managers can discover ‘product A’ materials are being delivered at a significantly higher rate than ‘product D’ materials it could uncover important trends that impact forecasts and indicate market trends. Then there is this… product collateral requests are objective evidence of prospect interactions and appointments.
2. Online presentations
Just because you’re in the field doesn’t mean every meeting will take place in person. Remote reps need the ability to give online presentations too. More and more, reps are choosing to give prospect presentations using a smart phone or tablet instead of a laptop. Ubiquitous connectivity and instant-on applications are features that mobile reps have come to demand and they’re leaving their laptops back at the office because of it. With all that speed, it’s no longer acceptable to reps (or their prospects) to have to download software each time they want to conduct a presentation. And why stop with convenience and speed? You should insist on a tool that provides a comprehensive presentation management system including the ability to send and track the presentation files through email and to auto-log presentation events into your CRM system. Now we’re gettin’ there.
With so many companies notoriously suffering from poor CRM adoption, perhaps it’s time to re-think the whole thing? If not the whole thing, how about re-thinking at least the way you ask your field reps to log calls and report activities? The form-factor and connectivity features of mobile devices lend themselves beautifully to new user interfaces and fast data-input. If you have a CRM system already, don’t just port it over to a mobile device. You’ll suffer from the same use-ability issues if you do. Instead, use a fast, fresh, interface that speeds the process from minutes to seconds and automatically updates the CRM system at the same time. If you don’t yet have a CRM, these newer apps can handle all the important contact details, history, and call logging by themselves.
4. Field Teams
For teams that are in the field non-stop, like those in retail merchandising or pharma, you’ll need a comprehensive tool that provides Swiss-Army-Knife like capabilities. Real-time exchange of information can be essential for spotting trends and out-smarting your competition. Look for a tool that lets you collaborate with your mobile team via billboard and text messages because email is poorly suited for interactive discussions and sharing quick bits of information. You’ll also want the ability to submit and get orders and invoices from the field in real-time. While you’re at it, why not put the smart-phone’s camera and geo-tagging capabilities to good use. Capture store displays, installation parameters, or competitive promotions in images that are automatically stored and easily searched. Taking orders through a mobile device will enable you to close orders easier and faster and will reduce effort and errors at the same time. Keep your team up to date by making the latest information on products, promotions and pricing available on their mobile devices.
5. Expense Management
There’s no longer any reason for you to hold on to paper receipts or to make expense submissions a process akin to having your teeth pulled. It’s just too easy to snap a photo of your receipt, select a category and ‘file’ it away in your online expense system. When you’re ready to submit, your receipts are already entered and associated with the proper accounting entries. Gone will be the days of chasing expense reimbursements and correcting errors after the fact. You can reduce expense report delinquency by 40% or more and eliminate costly credit card late fees. The name of the game for mobile reps is to eliminate manual processes that slow them down and devour attention—leaving less time to sell. Managers will rejoice at the reduction in expense management paperwork and revel in the assurance that expenses are tracking with plan. Ditch outdated, laborious manual paperwork you can do more easily electronically.
At one point or another, you’re going to need the prospect to sign something. If you’re still asking them to print, route, sign, and fax or email paperwork, you’re asking far too much. That process takes time and time is a deal killer. Esignatures can make it fast and easy for prospects to sign and for you to accelerate sales cycles as a result. You can offer your prospect an option of signing on your smart phone or tablet. And you can also send the document to them through email. They can sign using their computer without ever having to print the document. You eliminate the cost and time required for over-nighting critical documents and you never have to wonder where the document is in the signing process. Esignature solutions are not only about collecting a signature electronically. They make it possible to track your documents and to know at any point in time, which documents are awaiting signature, which have been forwarded, and which have been signed. Managers find this to be an invaluable tool for staying on top of their team’s opportunities.
You can see how the right mobile tools can ignite productivity, shorten sales cycles, and provide much needed management insight. I’ve put together a special Quick-Guide Report where you can learn about specific solutions for each of these 6 Mobile Selling Applications. Click here for instant, ‘no-registration required’ access to the PDF report.
Special note: I want to say ‘thank you’ to my friends over at SalesOpedia for mentioning this Quick-Guide and making it available to their readers. SalesOpedia has fantastic resources for sales professionals. Subscribe to their blog here.
Author, Nancy Nardin is the foremost expert in sales productivity tools. As President of Smart Selling Tools, she consults with many of the top sales productivity software vendors as well as end-user organizations looking to select the right tools. Click to get Nancy’s What & When weekly digest with invitations to complimentary webinars and informative publications. Follow Nancy on Twitter @sellingtools or subscribe to her Tool Talk blog. Nancy can be reached at 916-596-3035. To schedule a free 30 minute consultation.