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Now is the time to take your sales force mobile

20 Mar 2012

Today, many senior executives and CFOs wonder whether outfitting the sales force with the latest mobile devices is truly necessary. Their concerns are understandable: the IT industry is famous for hyping new products as breakthroughs, and handing tablets and smartphones to a large sales team can cost plenty.

I believe the excitement about mobile technology for the sales force is indeed warranted. Companies that play wait and see or, worse, ignore the technology stand to lose out on substantial improvements in sales force effectiveness and efficiency.

In companies that are not ready to take the plunge, I frequently hear these excuses and to my mind, the last one is the worst:

"We won’t get anything out of it.” 

Tablets and smartphones that tap into Sales 2.0 cloud applications are helping companies in a range of ways; some are harder to quantify than others.  Cloud software built for mobility is reducing field administration work, real-time analytics software is optimising call plans, mobile presentation tools are taking the formality out of client presentations, mobile video calling and conferencing is connecting the team in real time  and last but far from least, mail and company information is accessible anywhere, anytime.

"The technology is too new—we’ll wait until it matures.” 

Tablets and smartphones may seem like a whole new category of technology that is far from being perfected. However, the category dates back quite a way. Apple released its first tablet in 1993. What we have seen in the past three years is the arrival of a perfect storm of technologies: powerful devices, applications for presenting information in new and compelling ways, and high-bandwidth wireless communications that make this information available to sales people at the moment they need it in the field.

"We don’t want to invest and have the product be discontinued in a year.”

Worried about which mobile platform will dominate? Don’t be. That war might take years to conclude, and it may never be over. Just consider the PC market. More than 30 years after launching one of the first personal computers, Apple still has a healthy share of the PC market (although Windows computers have, of course, the largest share). Apple dominates the tablet and smartphone market today but history tells us this position is not necessarily assured.

"Only senior managers should have these premium devices”

As if the tablets and smartphones were deemed ‘luxury play things’ for upper management, many CFOs and senior executives are holding on to separationist thinking of yesteryear. As we see the demise of the company car, the car park, four week holidays and expense accounts, some still cling to the idea the ‘fancy stuff’ should only be used by senior management. After all, "what else is there to separate us from general staff?"

If you are a senior manager, accountant or CFO, it’s time to get over yourself. The younger generation in your business will more than likely reside within the sales and marketing departments of your company and see tablets and smartphones no differently to the desk calculator and phone. They are the business tools of today’s generation that inspire innovation, communication, and the sharing of knowledge. They subliminally inform your most important assets, your staff and your customers, that ‘you get it’.

Parts of this article originally from ZS Associates

About Sean McDonald

Sean is the founder andmanaging director of Sales Systems Ltd. His company and team of consultants help organisations improve the overall effectiveness of their sales and marketing operations through the introduction of new processes, tools and technology to ensure they are operating at peak performance in today’s highly competitive environment.

Sean is a regular writer and contributor to Techday.