One of the primary benefits of B2B apps is their ability to improve the buying cycle – from both a sales and customer point of view, says Peter Gough, founder, ORM London
Mobile applications are often seen as the domain of the B2C market, but they are equally relevant in B2B. They are particularly useful for sales teams on the road, helping to keep them informed of important product or service updates, as well as allowing them to keep their colleagues back in the office informed of their progress.
A well-presented, branded app can also be used as a sales tool in face-to-face meetings or to push content to prospects and existing customers. One thing is for certain; using new multimedia devices – especially tablets – to show clients apps is not only innovative, but can set your business apart from the competition.
But before you go down the route of creating an app for your sales force,
there are a number of key issues to think about first.
1. Design and user experience
A well-designed app, with a slick, branded user interface will not only impress customers and give them a better sense of your brand, but crucially it will motivate your sales team to actually use the tool. If it’s something they are proud of and want to show off, they will be more motivated to use it as part of the sales process.
Although the design is important, a good user experience is vital. Often brands think about the look of an app but fail to create a tool that is easy to use. An online brand is more than just a
corporate logo and a background image. High-quality interaction reflects a professional business that prospects will respect and trust.
2. Tailor the app
It’s important not to simply replay existing sales processes. Creating an app is an opportunity to change things. Talk to your sales team and find out how they sell. Talk to your customers and find out what they like and what they don’t like about the existing process. This will allow you to get early buy-in from both your sales team and your customers. It will also allow you to create an app that’s going to streamline sales.
Another thing to remember is that many people think the sales process has to be linear, but one of the joys of an app is that it’s interactive and allows your sales person to tailor the experience depending on how they like to sell and their customer’s needs. They can jump around to different sections and drill down where necessary, for example by looking at the data behind a sales graph for one customer but not for another.
Making sure the app can be used on and offline is also important when your sales team is on the road. Not all locations will have online access and if you are a sales person meeting a customer you will still want to be able to use the application.
3. Leverage app functionality
One of the great things about apps is that they can take advantage of sophisticated functionality available on the device the app is being used on. Native apps allow you to push information to your sales force – for example meeting notifications or alerts when new information on a prospect comes through – which is great for making sure they’re fully up to date on the road.
Apps also allow you to take advantage of real-time, localised data. For example, updates on market data can be automatically sent to the app to keep your sales force informed.
They also allow you to pull information from your sales force – for example the status of a deal after a meeting – helping management keep track of the sales process and reducing delays in the
In addition, an app can also be used as a central communications hub, replacing traditional communications, such as email and attached spreadsheets, streamlining communications with customers and colleagues.
4. Integrate your app
Pushing and pulling data from an app for your sales force is never going to work if it stands alone from your core sales or customer relationship management system.
Whatever system you use, tracking progress will only be useful to the rest of the organisation if it fits in with what they are already using. Whether it’s Salesforce, Siebel or another system,
you should make sure your app syncs with it.
5. Give your app flexibility
No matter where your business is headquartered, efforts to localise apps should be made. If your sales team is spread out in a number of regions across the globe then making sure you create versions in varying languages, with different content and perhaps different design, depending on the culture of the local market, shows you are making an effort to connect with your customers.
It’s not only about location, your sales team might be selling different products to distinct market sectors, or speaking to a number of business roles within an organisation. Giving an app the flexibility to have different content for different people will make the experience a more personal one.