If you read my website or we talked to each other about startups, you may know that I like to focus on the problem, first before creating and even thinking about a solution. At the moment we are investigating the challenge to get the right content, on the right moment for the “mobile” sales manager.

Besides of Customer Development which is not described in this post, we also analyzed the challenges by mobile sales managers as described in articles and research documents. In this case we focused on the a white paper “Best Practices Mobile Sales Enablement” from Profitable Channels. Profitable Channels designs and delivers sales enablement solutions and programs that help engage your customers, energize your salespeople, and enable your sales process.

The whitepaper which is made in 2012 already, offers solutions, but based on the solution we assume it is related to problems (or challenges).

Summarized we see the following (mostly standard) problems:

  • Not enough sales (so want more sales)
  • Sales can be more efficient (so you need a smaller salesforce to reach same audience)
  • Customer can be more satisfactied
  • Mobile salesforce doesn’t have (most) accurate content
  • Mobile salesforce is not able or it is difficult to make an order. Besides many mistakes appaears in the orders
  • Competition created a new standard with mobile devices for the salesforce
  • Big printed catalogs are hard to use and there is no convenient search

The problem is the highest for the Manufacturing- and Medical devices Industry, followed by the Retail- and technology industry.

Based on the problems, there are a range of solutions provided and this is only half of the document.

I invite you to read most important part of the whitepaper below. It is all taken from the white paper “Best Practices Mobile Sales Enablement

The Opportunity to Transform Sales Results and Differentiate the Client Experience, summarized:

Drive revenue growth with new sales and share of wallet with real time access to the right sales information at the right place and time to advance the sale. For example, a custom clothier increased sales transactions by over 70% with a mobile application aimed at making it easier for clients to select, envision and design clothes. Several packaged goods businesses have increased on premises sales significantly with better merchandising, cross sell and order accuracy.

Improve sales effectiveness by simplifying the sales process to improving sales productivity, maximizing the return on selling assets, and shrink the sales cycle. A technology business significantly reduced costs by eliminating the need to bring subject matter experts on an initial sales call. One manufacturing business is using iPads to reduce sales administration and paperwork by 30%. And an engineered materials business reduced sales overhead, order entry errors and the time to create complex custom proposals with a mobile application.

Differentiate the customer experience with high degrees of collaboration, a visually appealing sales interface, and client insights. For example, a building products manufacturer was able to significantly boost sales in a challenging market by using tablets to redefine the venue, interaction, intimacy and process for selling their product to homeowners. Several automobile retailers are making it possible to customize, showcase and visualize features in 3D using a tablet – in the dealership, on the test drive, during lunch, or at home.

In which industries is it used today already?

Highly mobile sales forces that conduct sales on premises or at clients’ homes have achieved early success using tablets in sales. These include route salespeople, home energy consultants, designers and fashion consultants;

Pre-existing “channel ready” products that can be demonstrated, configured or visualized digitally. For example, businesses selling Saas solutions or online services are able to use tablets immediately to demonstrate and sell their products;

Well organized, searchable digital content that can be deployed faster on tablets than poorly organized paper-based sales materials. Investments in content – videos, simulations, CAD drawings, animations, online assessment tools, video case studies, and interactive sales presentations – are essential to mature tablet programs;

Pressure from competition and customers to use tablets in selling situations. Adoption levels are higher in industries where tablet selling is quickly becoming the norm such as the software and medical device industries;

Large product catalogs and offerings that need to be configured designed and visualized during the sales process. The findings found high adoption rates with retail, medical and manufacturing industries selling broad catalogs of tangible and customizable products such as cars, medical devices, or custom configured solutions;

Order entry errors and fulfillment problems. Organizations where order accuracy and speed of fulfillment significantly drive revenue growth, productivity, and costs. Businesses with inefficient sales follow-up, frequent order errors, excessive paperwork, delays, and untapped cross sell opportunities, were realizing positive returns quickly on their investments in tablets.


And then some solutions, provided in the whitepaper:

Using tablets in sales can make it simpler, more intuitive and easier for sales professionals to:

  • Navigate content quickly with gesture-based touchscreen tablet interface and advanced search tools;
  • Share rich video, 3D animation, graphic images and visual ordering tools with clients;
  • Access cloud based sales aid applications directly, improving usage and increasing repeatability of sales best practices:
  • Collaborate with clients in face-to-face environment because several people can see the same content at once on a tablet laid flat;
  • Gather and record more client information during sales interactions using image and voice capture, interactive survey tools and location based services;
  • Communicate with ready, remote access to e-mail, videoconferencing and social media;
  • Execute sales transactions with on-site quotes, digital signatures, expedited order entry and live tracking.

Six Ways Tablets Can Improve Sales Effectiveness:

1. Consistent execution of the sales process – Most organizations invest in sales processes, guides, plays and workflows in an effort to share the best practices of “star” performers and improve overall performance. But sales organizations across every industry are underutilizing their sales methodology and failing to use documented best practices. As a result, the performance gap between top and middle sales performers persists with the bottom 80% of sales performers delivering less than half of revenues in most companies. Many organizations are reducing non-customer facing time and selling costs by automating sales tasks including sales follow-up, order fulfillment, proposal generation and calendaring. For example, 19% of the mobile sales programs studied in this project were focused on enabling tablets with access to CRM and existing fulfillment systems to enable more consistent real time follow-up on sales opportunities, shrink response time to clients, and reduce administrative work for salespeople.

2. Differentiating the client experience – Sales organizations are struggling to adapt to rapidly changing buyer expectations for insights, fast access to information, and a rich interactive experience. For example, 60% of B2B purchasing decision-making is completed independently by the customer before the first sales call. So increasingly sophisticated and time starved buyers view anyone who does not offer insights, ideas or a distinctive buying experience as simply an order taker or a waste of time. Several
of the sales and marketing executives interviewed in this project were keen on using tablets to differentiate the client experience. 11% of organizations are investing in tablet
applications that create interactive client experiences. They are using 3D product visualizations, tools to help collaboratively configure or specify offerings, and rich “consumer grade” visuals to enhance the buying experience.

3. Making cross selling simpler – Cross selling is a key driver of organic growth because it is five times easier and more productive to cross sell than to prospect. Still most sales organizations struggle to increase “share of wallet” because salespeople lack the confidence, skills and subject matter expertise to effectively introduce new solutions and services to clients without “product pushing”. To improve cross selling, many of the companies in the study wanted to help salespeople introduce new ideas and relevant solutions in a more consultative selling approach. 13% of companies surveyed were planning for or investing in ways to facilitate better cross selling by using tablets for faster and easier to access subject matter experts, customized product recommendations, and relevant thought leadership content to clients. The most advanced organizations were providing data-driven decision support in the field to support better cross selling recommendations, consultative selling, and advice.

4. Reducing selling costs – Selling costs as a percentage of revenues remain high because expensive sales assets and infrastructure – sales content, CRM systems, and training assets – are not fully utilized by salespeople. For example, 90% of sales materials created are not used by sales11 and fewer than 50% of salespeople use the CRM tools provided by their company.
85% of sales executives do not believe their CRM implementations have measurably lifted sales. 25% of the mobile sales programs studied in this project were implementing tablet sales strategies to help maximizing the return on their large investments in selling content, systems and processes by providing fast and flexible access to product catalogs, workflow management, and CRM systems from one central “hub”.

5. Improving training speed, retention and coaching – Traditional approaches to training and sharing best practice are costly and very inefficient. Sales managers have few tools to help them coach effectively. As a result over 80% of training is not applied in the field and salespeople lack confidence to execute cross sell and solution selling strategies effectively. Tablets offer potential to help sales managers reinforce selling best practices with coaching tools and better visibility into their salespeople’s activities. However, relatively few companies in our sample were exploiting this potential. Only a handful of the organizations implementing tablet sales strategies were prioritizing applications that reinforce investments in training and coaching. These firms were investing in sales guides, coaching tools and playbooks that help accelerate skills acquisition and can be used in real selling situations.

6 Improving sales productivity – Salespeople spend less than 30% of their time engaging the customer in sales calls. Other quality sales activities such as researching, preparing for, and following up on sales calls take a significant amount of time and are still very labor intensive. Tablets can help eliminate or automate steps of the sales process and administrative sales follow up tasks so salespeople can spend more time selling. For example, salespeople spend 30 hours a month searching for and creating their own selling materials. To address this problem, over half of the organizations implementing tablet sales strategies were planning for or investing in ways to provide salespeople real time access to the right sales assets and information at the right place and time to advance the sale.

SOURCE: “Best Practices Mobile Sales Enablement” from Profitable Channels.

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