In December 2012, we published the 12 Sales Trends Report for 2013 and released a brief summary of each trend. This month we are focusing on the sales trend “Going mobile – the rise of smart phones in sales”.
As Australia deals with the challenge of becoming more globally competitive, organisations are making greater use of both increased mobility as well as tele-conferencing using smartphone technology. Anecdotal research is showing that smartphones are giving salespeople an edge in a number of ways.
This sales trend will see salespeople transitioning from always needing to rely on traditional selling practices such as in person face-to-face meetings and getting used to doing business via video streaming and smartphone chat apps.
The increase in mobile telecommunications technology means that salespeople and organisations will make more use of Skype, Tango, FaceTime and other mobile video conferencing technology when it comes to working with their clients. This also has the added benefits of cost savings and business sustainability i.e. decreased travel time, car costs, airfares and CO2 emissions.
Coupled with this, salespeople are now able to process orders on the spot with clients, run their sales territories, diarise appointment and update pipelines and client data bases via mobile apps linked to their organisation’s systems. Customers are already able to track their deliveries with apps and SIM card technology; and what about circumventing clunky CRMs? There are mobile apps for that too. Pretty soon everything will be in the palm of our hands, if it isn’t already.
According to Greg Martin, director at Intilecta Apps¹, we need to think differently about data and how people like to access and use it.
Rather than build a CRM and make salespeople adapt to it, which rarely if ever works anyway, why not build apps around what salespeople already use and make the system work for them in familiar territory. We need to harness the way salespeople work already to give management the visibility they need. As Greg says, “what if sales tools were so easy to use salespeople loved them and sales governance happened automatically?”
Now we are talking. People are already using the apps of their preference to connect with one another and use the easy access to information in creative and useful time-saving ways such as:
Presentations: Making effective presentations using videos and interactive slides shows via tablets and smartphones
Note-taking and proposal preparation: Saving time by taking notes using a tablet in client meetings, which you can instantly upload to the cloud or email where the time taken to prepare a proposal is halved because you do not have to transcribe your handwritten notes to a typed format. By the way, if you cannot come at typing on a tablet in a client meeting, but can see yourself writing on a tablet with a stylus pen instead, there are handwriting recognition apps that immediately translate your tablet handwriting into text format.
File Sharing: Sharing files with colleagues or clients at the touch of a screen or via cloud systems such as Dropbox.
Project Management: Easy project management, especially around communication, file sharing and task management and allocation with internal stakeholders, clients and suppliers: systems such as Basecamp or Trello are excellent project management systems you can see from anywhere..
Prospecting, lead generation, networking and social media: apps for LinkedIn, FaceBook, Google+ and the like are making it easy to research, prospect and network with clients and prospects while on the road. It is estimated that there are over 1000 known social networking sites that are connecting over 1 billion people in the world. In the business world there are at least 20 well-respected business working sites that can be useful, LinkedIn by far the largest at this point in time, all accessible via smartphone technology.
Order placement and closing deals: orders and deals can be prepared using electronic forms and electronic signatures, all linked to company systems: both supplier and customer.
Monitoring stock and delivery schedules: companies can give salespeople access to stock inventories in real time whereby salespeople can immediately relay to customers whether items are available. In addition, customers can tap into their deliveries by tracking shipment movements via SIM and satellite technology i.e. Startrack Express.
Collecting customer data: customer contact details can be easily uploaded and stored in company systems including photos, audio and video recordings (with permission of course), contact details, notes, electronic information, etc.
Virtual meetings: as previously mentioned, the instant meeting access via smartphones using the likes of Skype, Tango and other mobile video conferencing technologies will help salespeople and customers get on with doing business without having to wait on flights or spend hours in cars driving to and from appointments unnecessarily. Face-to-face meetings are likely to be more specific and targeted for key activities and events. Face-to-face client meetings will not stop, but the frequencies will change because we will get the virtual face-to-face time we want and need.
Integration will be key: those organisations that allow their salespeople to access real time data, and connect with their clients via mobile technology will be giving their sales teams a distinct advantage. The technology is not so new but how people and organisations harness its power in the coming years will break new ground.
Remember, everybody lives by selling something.
¹ Intilecta Apps supplies smartphone apps that bind with data held in any enterprise data store (local and cloud) and blends them together to create instant knowledge that can be accessed by people anywhere, anytime and on any business device.
Sue Barrett is a sales expert, business speaker, adviser, sales facilitator and entrepreneur and founded Barrett Consulting to provide expert sales consulting, sales training, sales coaching and assessments. Her business Barrett P/L partners with its clients to improve their sales operations. Visit www.barrett.com.au