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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- Choosing the right mobile sales app
- Why Apple vs. Android is not the question for mobile business
- 6 questions to ask before deciding to invest in mobile business
- Manufacturers and Distributors: a checklist to help understand your unique mobile sales needs
- How a large food distributor eliminated the fax machine and clipboards