Mobile B2B Sales: A Practical Guide for Sales Reps

Mobile automation is the new standard for B2B sales

Mobile automation is the new standard for B2B sales

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The mobile sales app for B2B represents the new standard for growing small and mid-sized businesses. It may be the greatest thing to happen for manufacturing and wholesale distribution sales reps since the invention of the printing press. Few technologies for business have the far-reaching impact on the quality of your work and your company’s bottom line of a mobile sales app.

If your company has outside sales reps, or sells at trade shows, on a showroom floor, from special events or on-site with a customer, for you, the era of the printed product catalog, the paper order form, and the fax machine is over. The integrated smart phone and tablet era is now. xkzero has summarized some important considerations for you here.

Salespeople

The impact of having everything you need in your pocket

Off you go to your prospect meeting. Off you go to the trade show. Off you go for another day on the showroom floor. Off you go, back to your hotel room. Off you go, equipped with a product catalog printed 9 months ago, a price list printed 6 weeks ago. Hoping the fax machine doesn’t get jammed when you send in your order. Hoping that a customer service rep is ready when you call to find out the status of the inventory you’d like to sell.

The new standard for B2B selling is the smart phone. It’s replaced the fax, the printed materials, and antiquated processes that hold back a business today.

How you will benefit from a mobile sales app as a salesperson:

  • You’ll be better prepared with fingertip access to up-to-the-moment customer and inventory data.
  • Customers and prospects will sense your increased confidence.
  • You’ll have the chance to close larger deals.
  • You’ll be able to complete high transaction volume sales more quickly.
  • You might not ever be late for a meeting again.

The price of not doing anything

Over 90 percent of the mobile sales automation projects xkzero has implemented over the past several years have been for companies that previously relied on the tools and processes of yesterday—printed product catalogs, paper order forms, and fax machines. For many of these businesses, sales reps had to call customer service for the status of anything customer or inventory related. Representing the entire spectrum of manufacturing and wholesale distribution industries, they have one thing in common. Once they switch from paper and manual processes to an automated mobile solution—they don’t change back.

More practical guides – Mobile B2B Sales: A Practical Guide for Executives

Ready to talk about charting a mobile sales strategy for your business? Contact us at info@xkzero.com or call 847-416-2009.  Visit the xkzero website to learn more about our winning solutions.

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Finding Your Perfect Match

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Did you end up getting married to the first person you ever dated?

Not very likely. Most of us married folk dated lots of people before we found that just-right person with whom to settle down and make a life. Why do we do this? Because finding out what we really want first requires life experience to give ourselves the chance to discover what we really value.

Can this selection process also apply when choosing business technology? To find the answer, ask yourself this question: Has my business been running the same ERP/accounting system since its inception? Likely not. Most companies start with a low-cost system like Quickbooks or Sage 50. The reason is smart leaders don’t wish to make too big of a commitment until there is evidence that the business is likely to endure.

In the early years, businesses go through a process of self-discovery. Most start-up businesses are primarily focused on creating new revenue streams, serving customers and attracting talent. Once they start to mature, and the full potential of the business starts to become evident, that’s when finding the perfect ERP system starts to make sense. At that point, businesses invest in a more hearty solution like Sage 100 or Sage X3.

Like decision makers at companies in almost every industry, you have another question to ask yourself. Given your particular growth stage, how can you take advantage of mobile technology? What mobile tools should you introduce to your work force–especially your sales team?

When choosing a mobile sales app–especially for companies with B2B wholesale distribution needs–here are some factors to consider:

  1. Understand the processes you wish to automate.
  2. Choose an app that provides a great user experience for everyone.
  3. Determine the level of ERP or CRM integration you desire.
  4. Select the operating system and hardware platform that is right for your company.
  5. Evaluate custom-tailored versus packaged systems.

Now, if the list above makes you feel squeamish (like the butterflies you used to get when dating), that’s okay. It means you should probably take it slow. You might not find your ideal match with your first mobile app. And that’s okay, too. By all means, though, do not let your nervousness get in the way of introducing mobile into your business.

If you’re a novice to mobile–if you don’t feel like you have a great handle on what mobile can do for your sales team–fear not. Just like you didn’t get married to the first person you ever dated–you don’t have to make a huge and long-term commitment to the first mobile software you meet, either.

There are low cost, low risk steps that you can take:

  • Find out if your ERP or CRM provider offers a mobile extension for your current system. These are often web-based apps that will provide your team access to customers, orders, opportunities, and perhaps inventory. These apps may be free or available at a low cost.
  • Try before you buy. Explore 3rd party ISV solutions and determine if they have free downloads in the app stores. If so, engage your sales personnel and elicit their feedback.
  • Consider a limited rollout of mobile built around one or a small number of sales people. Use this trial to evaluate behavior changes and tangible sales results in a more limited setting.
  • Talk with your Sage business partner, or key technology and other advisors to your business to discover stories and case studies of how similar businesses may be benefiting from mobile.

When it comes to mobile business technology systems, a match made in heaven is definitely out there. You might not find it on the first go around, but by taking action now you will gain valuable insight to set you on the path of–dare I say-mobile bliss.

perfect match

Paul Ziliak, the happily married co-founder of xkzero, did not marry the first person he ever dated, but was fortunate enough to eventually find his perfect match.  He now helps mid-sized and growing businesses mobilize sales and delivery processes.  @PaulZiliak @ERP_apps www.xkzero.com

 

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Creating a Great User Experience – Mobile Sales App for Distributors

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Creating a Great User Experience – Mobile Sales App for Distributors

Mobile sales automation can allow distributors and manufacturers to powerfully grow revenue, serve customers better and reduce administrative expenses. But it all starts with creating a great user experience.

The keys to creating a great user experience include filtering customers and inventory appropriately by user – and also enabling all of the sales functionality, but only the necessary functionality, on the mobile app.

This video shows how to accomplish that with iSales 100 – Advanced Mobile Sales for Sage 100. For more information contact xkzero at info@xkzero.com or call us at 847-416-2009.

Useful iSales 100 (Advanced Mobile Sales for Sage 100) Resources:

For more information contact xkzero at info@xkzero.com or call us at 847-416-2009.

What Makes the Best Mobile Sales App for Wholesale Distribution

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How to choose the best mobile sales app

How to choose the best mobile sales app to support your wholesale distribution company

What makes the best mobile sales app for wholesale distribution?

There is not one single app that would ever qualify as being the best mobile sales app to satisfy every customer. However, by following a few simple guidelines you can select the right app or apps that will make the most sense for youand bring new value to your distribution business.

Whatever your goals may beopening new revenue streams, reducing administrative labor, or simply improving the experience of doing business with youyou want to make the right choice.

These are the major things to consider in order to select the best mobile sales app for your wholesale distribution business:
1)
 Focus on creating a great user experience. 2) Be sure to meet the needs of the individual user. 3) Smartly address your back-end system (ERP/CRM) integration needs. 4) Select your devices (iOS, Android, Windows…) after you’ve determined how you’ll derive value. 5) Make sure your solution has the flexibility and customizability you need to scale and grow.

 #1 – Create a great user experience.

Mobile is all about replacing previously manual or antiquated processes with smart phone or tablet technology, but swapping out paper or fax machines with a smart phone app alone will not do it. In order to have great success (what else would you want) you’ll need to make sure to create nothing less than a great user experience. A great user experience means giving your sales people a tool they love so much it makes them want to turn to the app again and again. And a great starting point is a clean, intuitive interface.

# 2 – Meet the needs of the individual user.

Aberdeen Group said in a published report called “Mobile ERP: Taking ROI Into Your Own Hands,” “When ERP mobile apps are tailored to meet the needs of the individual or role in the organization, that is when you achieve high levels of adaptation.”

Besides creating a great user interface, your mobile sales app should be able to cater to individual needs like access to data and task level permissions. When evaluating the best mobile sales app for your wholesale distribution business be sure to understand whether or not you can control access to sensitive dataand whether or not you can control the types of activities that can be performed on an individual basis.

For instance, at a trade show, some users may have permission to add a new customer on the fly, but others may not. Some sales reps may be able to override pricing on a quote, and others may not. Get a clear understanding on your user access needs, and research the flexibility of security options with the app you’re considering.

# 3 – ERP / CRM / back-end system integration

Integration to back-end systems like ERP (enterprise resource planning), CRM (customer relationship management) or accounting software creates major value for a distributor in terms of labor efficiency and error reduction. Some apps offer no system integration which means any tasks you do or data you input with your standalone app you will likely have to repeat in your back-end system. Also, no system integration means your sales representatives will not have access to meaningful information like inventory availability, and open sales order status.

If a pre-existing integration into your ERP for your app is not available, industry veteran Alex Bratton says to plan for about a six month project on customizing that piece alone. Of course, if the integration is available out of the box, then you could be up and running overnight.

# 4 – Choose the hardware and mobile operating system that suits your needs.

Many companies do this in the opposite order. The owner or sales manager of a distribution company might say, “My people mostly have Androids, so I need an app that will work on those devices.” It’s all fine and good to limit your selection of mobile sales apps only to those that work on your current phones—but only if the app is capable of delivering the kind of compelling return on investment (ROI) you have in mind for your business.

If you’re serious about transforming the experience of doing business with you, a better course of action will be to first find the app or apps that are up to the needed tasks, then equip your team with the phones or tablets that on which they run. If your goal is creating differentiation, the value is in the appnot in the choice of devices.

# 5 – Customizability–packaged solutions versus custom built apps

If you’re buying an app from an online app storesomething that is available to any businessincluding your competition, the likelihood that you’re creating really unique differentiation is lessened. However, you will find that there are packaged solutions that are highly configurablepre-packaged solutions that can be tailored to your specific business rules. Packaged apps tend to be lower in price, and faster to implement. They come with less risk. Truly custom apps will tend to cost more money, but may provide the big difference you’re looking for. Vet your app developers carefully if you’re going that route.

More mobile resources for distributors:

To learn how xkzero can help empower your sales team and processes with mobile enabled ERP, contact us at info@xkzero.com, call 847-416-2009 or visit us on the Internet at www.xkzero.com.

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6 Cool Ideas for Distribution Companies

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Distributor sales rep
These days, with increasing frequency, your sales reps spend less time in the office tied to a desktop PC, and more time out and about—building relationships, and hopefully closing new deals for your distribution business. Have you given much thought to how well equipped your sales reps are—or are not—with mobile resources? Do they have access to the information they need? Are they prepared to anticipate and attend to the needs of customers and prospects? And can they do these things with the confidence and accuracy needed to win their trust, and ultimately—loyalty to your brand?

The key to more sales and happier customers could be sitting right in your sales person’s pocket. It can be as simple as taking advantage of the great mobile sales solutions available to distributors and manufacturers today. Think about it. If your sales reps are going to leave the office with just one tool in their pockets, shouldn’t it be one that provides information to make their lives—and your business—better?

Let’s look at 6 cool ideas for distribution companies -  specific things you can do for your sales reps to improve their performance:

  1. Provide downloadable and dynamic access to customer information and contact details. Not only do new sales reps normally have to manually enter all these details themselves—names, addresses, multiple contacts, phone numbers, email addresses and on and on—but they have to maintain them too. Let’s be realistic. Relying on manual updates, how accurate and complete will that data be over time?
    A good mobile sales app will allow you to distribute all the customer and contact info directly to the smart phone with only a login and a password. If you follow best practices, that information will be maintained in your back office ERP/CRM/accounting system. That way, you’ll never have another worry about whether your rep has accurate contact information to always be connected to your customers.
  2. While you’re at it, give them dynamic inventory access, too. This is especially useful if you can provide visibility by warehouse, and differentiate between quantity on hand and quantity available. If your inventory has visual appeal and your mobile app can display images, you’re on the path to eliminating those expensive, never current product catalogs you’re still publishing.
  3. Equip them with historical sales information. Do you want to convey to your customer that you DON’T care for them? Then make sure your sales reps are not able to recite what the customer has purchased from them throughout time—when and at what price. But if it’s informed sales reps you want, mobile access to sales history is vital.
  4. Let them enter their own orders. Does your sales process require making a call, or filling out an order form that’s faxed to the office to be rekeyed by someone else? If so, congratulations because by enabling a mobile sales app that allows for transaction entry will save you boat loads of administrative labor, and will get the orders placed, picked, and delivered faster. This will also eliminate all kinds of errors.
  5. Empower sales reps to accept payments, too. Even if your long-standing distributor relationship leads you to grant 30-day payment terms, perhaps a change is in order. The culture of immediacy of all things consumer apps (especially as millennials flood the workforce) may be reason to rethink payment collection. Let’s face it, no one wants a paper check. No one wants a paper invoice.
    And while you’re not likely to be accepting Bitcoin, swiping a credit card may become the new normal. If your business model includes selling at tradeshows, from a sales counter, or a showroom floor—taking payment directly on your smart phone or tablet could both delight your customer, accelerate your cash flow—and provides yet another opportunity to save on administrative costs.
  6. Have sales reps collect new intelligence. I see a lot of businesses scrambling to find the latest, greatest business intelligence tools. They seek the latest dashboard, the most meaningful pivot table, the easiest-to-use query. What I don’t often see is companies evaluating the nature of the information they collect.
    Mobile apps and smart phones are naturals for gathering survey information of any kind. That could be customer, competitor, sales rep, or vehicle data. You name it. Mobile apps also leverage a wide range of tools your smart phone or tablet affords, allowing you to collect photos, other images, videos, audio notes, electronic signatures, and even location-centric (GPS) data.

There are a number of important considerations before investing in a mobile sales app. However, as you can see—there is opportunity-a-plenty to stand out in your industry as the most informed, up-to-date, confident, efficient and modern distribution/manufacturing business. How cool is that?

Other resources distributors may be interested in:

Ready to build your own mobile sales strategy?  We’d love to hear from you. Email us at info@xkzero.com, visit www.xkzero.com, or call 847-416-2009.

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