Mobile Sales Apps: What You Need, What's Overrated, and What's Next

by Orrin Broberg, on Sep, 9, 2014

Having a mobile sales app, being mobile ready, and empowering a mobile sales force are three things we really care about at Modus. You may have guessed that if you read our blog or follow us on social media. But we’re not the only ones who are deeply invested in mobile. There’s a lot of content throughout the business community that talks about the must-have features of your mobile sales app or your mobile sales strategy. The overwhelming amount of data available made me start thinking about what is truly necessary in a mobile sales app, and what’s just overrated.


Applications Should be Smart, Simple and Easy to Use.

Overall, the most important concept of a mobile sales app is that it’s simple and easy to use. A salesperson doesn’t go into a mobile sales app just to use it -- they’re multitasking. They’re giving a presentation, sharing a video, showing new product specifications, and introducing a new prospect to your brand all at the same time. It’s important that the app doesn't bother them with updates, or get in the way when they're using it in a meeting. A good app steps back and lets your sales team take the lead with content they can quickly access. This way, they can focus on doing what they're supposed to -- connecting with the customer and selling stuff.

Secondly, you should be able to access the app offline, wherever you are, without requiring a connection. Great apps shouldn’t care if you’re online or not, you should be able to access the content you need once it’s loaded into the app. Picture the situation when a sales rep has only 10 minutes to meet with a busy doctor in the basement of a hospital -- there’s not going to be great service, if any, and there won’t be wifi. Your sales team needs to be able to count on the fact that they can access the marketing materials they need no matter the circumstances. Otherwise, the nightmare of looking unprepared and unprofessional will be very real for your sales team, which reflects poorly on your brand.

What’s Unnecessary? Too Many Options and Creating a Presentation From Scratch.

A lot of mobile sales apps focus on salespeople editing or creating content. There’s a lot of talk about building your own presentation from scratch. But why would you want to place that burden on your salespeople? In my mind, marketing has that strong suit. Their job is to build a presentation that conveys your brand message and showcases your product. Sales people should be focused on making the human connection. When you give too many people the option to create branded sales presentations, you run the risk of watering down the brand image and introduce errors. It makes more sense to centralize that capability to a specific group, like the marketing team.

Another overrated feature is a bevy of options and menus. You can configure something to the end of the earth, but chances are your salespeople will be overwhelmed with more than ten options. Less is more when it comes to apps in general, but especially with regard to sales apps. Overcomplicating the technology with too many options defeats the purpose of an app almost entirely, and can inhibit your sales team.

What Does the Future of Mobile Sales Apps Look Like?

The future of mobile sales apps is about collaboration and automation. I think we can all agree that salespeople don't love data entry. Manually entering sales details for leads, prospects and customers is a waste of salespeople's time and misuse of their talents. Mobile sales apps right now aren't the eyes and ears of CRM. But, if you can push apps to collect data you'd have to enter into a CRM anyway, you can avoid having the salesperson fill it out. The future of mobile sales apps will involve automating as much of the lead capturing process as possible. That will help your salespeople get in front of as many people as possible without having to spend more time entering data. Collecting data and integrating that data into a CRM is necessary, but why does the sales rep have to hand enter all of it? For example, at Modus, we are using the mobile device's built-in camera to scan barcodes at trade shows to automatically populate lead capture forms.

My second prediction is that mobile apps will store data differently and allow customer data to be accessed in ways that weren’t possible before. If your salespeople are working with similar clients, it would be helpful for them to be able to look at each other's notes about how their clients, or individuals in the same location, profession, or company, responded to various sales materials. This eliminates a lot of guesswork and leads to a more efficient -- and ultimately more profitable -- sales process. Liberate the data and the sales will follow.

There are a lot of options and predictions for the future of mobile sales apps. Knowing what’s necessary, what’s not, and what’s hopefully coming next can help us get a grip on what these changes mean for our own organizations. Do you have any ideas to add, or do you think I missed anything? Leave me a note in the comments or Tweet it to us at @modusengagement!

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