Field sales reps have a reputation for being early adopters of technology that will make them more productive. They know that the more efficient they can be in communicating with prospects, the more productive they will be at advancing the sales cycle. This desire to be connected, and the availability of powerful Smartphones connected over fast wireless networks has laid the groundwork for a rapidly emerging trend in sales management; a fundamental shift to in the moment management of agile field forces powered by real-time, location based activity streams.
Sales and merchandising professionals want to be efficient, productive and connected. Today’s Smartphones and Tablets make it easy for them meet these goals, and by their nature enable extremely efficient two-way communication with field management. The expectation and desire is there for these field reps to conduct their day to day business using modern mobile technologies. There is a new breed of sales tools emerging that leverages massive advances in mobile technologies to convert these expectations and desires into hyper-efficient sales.
The Psyche of the Great Sales Rep
Great Sales Reps are, by definition self-directed, independent decision makers with strong personalities. They can assimilate a situation, determine a course of action, and act. They are able to move quickly from one opportunity to the next, and strive to make their work process as efficient as possible. Great sales reps never short change their customers when it comes to personal interactions, and keep the administration of the sales process ‘behind the curtain’.
All of these characteristics are balanced by the great sales reps’ aversion to being managed. Their independent spirits, and self-motivation are in direct conflict with managements desire to harness their energy and both direct and duplicate their success.
These factors all contribute to the need to provide sales reps with light-weight, non-intrusive tools that allow them to capture and report details of their sales activities ‘in the moment’, and at the same time provide visibility to sales management.
The latest generation of mobile sales tools delivers these capabilities.
Ubiquitous Mobile Access
The explosion of capabilities delivered by mobile technology has put massive power in the hands of field sales organizations. The current baseline Smartphones have as much processing power as desktop and laptop computers of a few years ago, setting a solid foundation for the features that the most efficient and agile sales organizations demand.
SmartPhones all include GPS receivers, which can be accessed by the applications running on the phone. The user doesn’t have to interact with the; the application can do it on their behalf, reporting the exact time and location of every activity throughout the day.
This kind of data gives managers exactly what they need to make sure that territories are being covered appropriately, and that reps are being as efficient as possible as they work in the field.
Forms on the Fly
Every organization is interested in collecting data that is unique to their business. Best in class mobile workforce management solutions provide customizable forms that can be defined and managed by field managers ‘on the fly’.
Mobile forms enable organizations to quickly gain insights about customer satisfaction, competitive activities, complaints (which become instantly actionable by management), and customer demographic data.
Ubiquitous wireless connectivity for reps in the field creates the opportunity for communication in many forms, from conversations attached to specific activities, to announcements broadcast to the entire team. The current state of the art in mobile workforce management enables managers to review incoming data in real time, and comment on the activities ‘in the moment’. Managers can both coach their team, and develop a more complete picture of what is happening in the field through these enhanced communications channels.
The most current mobile phones have incredibly high resolution displays, very powerful speakers, processors that can manage smooth video display and are connected on high bandwidth networks. All of these things make mobile devices well suited for sharing extremely rich marketing and productivity enabling content.
Companies go to great expense to create rich content, but it is often out of the reach of reps when they are in the throes of selling; when they need it most. By giving access to web based rich media, sales management empowers its reps to add power and credibility to conversations with customers, and can better inform and train those reps with more effective tools.
Productivity Enabled Integration
As smartphones, and now tablets, have evolved over the years they have transformed from clunky devices used only for making phone calls, to Personal Information Managers that also tracked contacts, to communication hubs capable of managing email and text communication on top of voice, to powerful and elegant handheld computers.
All of these advances have made the ‘mobile phone’ and evermore important tool for field reps. The explosion of utility that these devices carry is being multiplied by tighter and tighter integration between capabilities. Instead of switching between a text messenger, a contact manager, an email system, a calendar and a phone to conduct business transactions, new and powerful tools incorporate all of these capabilities in a single application. Reps can dial the phone from within the application, read text messages attached to activity reports and update their calendar from a call report.
The integration of productivity tools that have evolved on mobile platforms into the new generation of sales and merchandising automation solutions is a key driver of efficiency for well managed field organizations.
The new paradigm in field management has arrived. Reps expect to have access to extreme productivity tools, managers hold their reps accountable, and expect to be able to have real time, actionable knowledge about activity in the field. Organizations can understand and react instantly to new information as it is being developed. Managers can remotely coach their reps by keeping their fingers on the pulse of field activities, and leveraging in-app communication channels.
This level of agile field management and responsiveness is now a reality due to the explosive growth in mobile capabilities; capabilities being leveraged by only the most innovative field sales automation and retail merchandising management solution providers.