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The Mobile Salesman: How Mobile Technology Is Changing Business

July 23, 2015

8:00 pm

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While recent economic pressures may plague people who work in sales today, those employees definitely have an edge over previous generations when it comes to technology. 2013 was a landmark year as more people used their mobile devices than desktop computers to access the Internet. Mobile device use in sales has skyrocketed and is changing the face of how business is done today. Here’s a look at four reasons why.

Employee Devices

The increase in use of mobile devices over desktop technology means more people are bringing their personal devices to work with them. For sales personnel who are mostly on the road, having a smart phone or tablet allows them to manage contracts and access real-time data when they area away from home or the office, thereby speeding up the sales process. Smart devices give them the accessibility to handle client emergencies 24/7, and the company doesn’t have to spend money on laptops or company phones. However, this also creates a conundrum for employers who are rightfully concerned about security issues when the line between work and personal technology becomes blurred. The answer for many companies is a bring your own device, or BYOD, policy. This is a set of rules governing the use of work information on personal devices and can be set up any way a company needs. While many businesses have a long way to go in creating the level of security they need, BYOD policies are a step in the right direction.

Software as a Service Programs

What programs are employees using on those personal devices? Many companies are moving to software as a service programs rather than having their in-house IT departments build them. SaaS platforms provide à la carte, semi-customized utilities for customer resource management elements like contact information, lead generation and conversion, contract timelines and supplier data.

The beauty of SaaS programs is they provide a company’s sales force with real-time data and use cloud storage. Therefore, no major IT changes are necessary, and information can be accessed and shared virtually anywhere. Marketing campaigns can be easily integrated into the sales process, and much of what used to be done on paper can be carried out on devices no bigger than a large tablet computer. This also reduces printing costs for employers and makes the business more eco-friendly.

“Social” Media

So-called “social” media have been steadily blowing traditional sales and marketing techniques out of the water for the last decade. Originally designed to connect friends and people with like interests, social media are anything but exclusively social these days. Consider these 2014 statistics: the average Twitter user follows five or more brands, and users who are utilizing mainly their mobiles to Tweet are 60 percent more likely to follow at least 11 brands.

The impact of the above information on sales is multifaceted. Sales campaigns and corporate websites clearly need to be mobile-friendly to target the highest volume purchasers. Businesses need to be enhancing the sales process by creating social media dialogues with their customers as online “conversations” are now another way to make a sale.

Training

Many of the issues mentioned herein are now being incorporated into corporate sales training for management and field personnel. Sales training itself has changed radically of late, with more companies moving to online training for their employees.

Online sales training has numerous benefits over conventional classroom training. Distance learning costs less than bringing sales employees to corporate headquarters, and they don’t have to sacrifice time in the field closing deals to attend initial coursework or pursue continuing education. Online training generally lets employees move at their own pace and keep key materials handy even after training is completed.

Allowing employees to study in a way that works best for them can enhance retention and ultimately improve results. With traditional training methods, only about 80% of the material is retained a month after training is finished, not an ideal statistic to be sure.

As mobile technology improves, the sales profession is likely to see more use of these devices to both manage their jobs and to reach consumers. Companies that are late to the game in using mobile devices for their sales staff or in appealing to customers would be well advised to act quickly to catch up.

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Alex Espenson is a recently retired business owner turned consultant, with a passion for entrepreneurism and marketing. When he isn't writing or consulting, you can usually find him out on the river with his fly rod, or hiking in the hills near his home in Boulder Colorado.

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