Most B2B organizations already know that mobile technology can have a significant impact on sales enablement. According to a recent Aberdeen Research study, however, mobility now plays a critical role in separating best-in-class field sales teams from their competitors.
The Aberdeen study – Sales Mobility: How Best-in-Class Remote Sellers Are Replacing "See" With "Do" – found that 40% of the best-in-class (BIC) companies surveyed said their sales reps regularly use mobile devices during client meetings. As a result, these reps are able to support their client-engagement activities with real-time access to the web and to corporate data.
Best-In-Class Firms Embrace Mobile CRM, Remote-Data Access
Aberdeen Research conducted the study to identify emerging best practices for managing mobile sales effectiveness and to provide a framework by which readers can assess their own mobility strategies. The term “sales mobility” in the report refers to organizational support of sales and/or account management professionals whose work involves out-of-office activity.
The study identified some other common characteristics that distinguish mobile sales enablement at BIC firms:
- 89% enable synchronization of calendars, contacts, events and/or tasks;
- 74% remotely view and modify key CRM sales information such as accounts, contacts, leads, opportunities and forecast;
- 65% use instant messaging or chat on mobile devices.
Not surprisingly, the Aberdeen Study found that an overwhelming majority of all field sales organizations (88%) equip their reps with company-issued laptops, netbooks or tablets. About 68% of these companies also issue sales reps with mobile phones, and 67% have created web portals for remote access to data and applications.
According to the report's author, Aberdeen VP and Principal Analyst Peter Ostrow, the trend towards equipping sales reps with a greater variety of mobile tools and applications will have important productivity benefits.
“The opportunity to utilize both PC-like and phone-ish tools created even more ways for ‘road warriors’ to use the technologies they most prefer, to get their job done efficiently,” Ostrow stated in the report.
Competitive Pressures Drive Sales-Mobility Initiatives
At the same time, however, the report identifies a number of areas where BIC companies are using sales mobility to gain a competitive advantage. Half of the best-in-class companies surveyed said that providing access to sales collateral and other key data sources – at any time and from any location – was critical to supporting their field sales activities.
“The most popular desire, deploying mobile applications in support of sales activities, speaks to the enterprise’s recognition of the need to retain all the crucial elements of the sales cycle,” Ostrow stated in the report. “This includes prospecting, proposing, closing and delivering business value to customers without a concern for physical location limitations.”
In addition, 45% of these companies said they enable their sales reps to input/access customer or account data from any device when on-site with a prospect or customer, and 39% deploy mobile apps that support sales processes.
According to the study, companies that engage in these types sales-mobility activities see significant productivity gains: 76% of these firms reported attaining their team sales quotas, while just 53% of companies without a sales mobility strategy reported attaining their quotas. These mobile-enabled firms also reported higher customer retention rates and more accurate sales forecasts than their competitors.
The Aberdeen study also identified the key business pressures that lead sellers to adopt mobile selling protocols. First, the study noted that more than two-thirds of all respondents said growing demands from customers are driving their mobile strategies. Other firms cite increased competition, expansion into new geographic regions and economic pressures as reasons to adopt more aggressive mobile-selling strategies.
Sales Mobility Adds Managerial Skills
While training and education is clearly an important part of any sales enablement strategy, most of the best-in-class companies surveyed are careful not to cross the line into micro-management: Just 5% say that remote monitoring of sales reps or account managers is a priority.
“Sales managers don’t aggressively use sales mobility to spy on their staff or track their GPS movements,” stated the report.
Besides respecting the professionalism of their field sales reps, part of this reluctance to monitor sales reps too closely may be due to a lack of dynamic sales-coaching tools that are effective in the field. "As far as coaching goes," Ostrow concluded, "while static sales training content was seen as a strong BIC trend, dynamic sales coaching may not yet be ready for the current state of devices and applications in use.”