- Mobile capabilities have become a standard functionality in sales applications
- The ability for sales reps to access technology “where they live” is critical to productivity
- Sales operations must ensure that constant access to technology does not become a distraction for reps
It was a beautiful summer day, and I was lucky enough to be enjoying a day at the beach. As I sat in my chair and looked around me, I quickly realized that about 99.9 percent of my fellow beachgoers had a smartphone. How did I surmise this so fast? Easily – they were looking at them about 99.9 percent of the time. The scene got me thinking about how mobile technology has become an essential part of our lives, and by association, an essential part of sales organizations (yes, sad to say I began thinking about work on a day off). The question that began to form in my head was whether mobile technology is really making sales reps more productive. I watched the other beachgoers grabbing their phones approximately every 3.7 seconds, interrupting a conversation in person almost every time. This just seemed to be more of a distraction than a productivity enhancer.
Truth be told, I’m a strong believer that mobile technology is critical to enhancing sales productivity. I’ve told many clients to think about how technology can help deliver information to sales reps when they need it and where they live (which is often on the road). Mobile capabilities are a key focus of many sales application vendors, and those capabilities have become very powerful. A good example is the ability of sales reps to make updates to opportunities within the sales force automation (SFA) platform from their phone right after a meeting – and not just add a note, but close out tasks, change the stage and request followup from other sales resources. That is productivity enhancement, but can it also become a distraction? Think about what happens when you look at your phone for “just a second” to see if you got any new text messages. Next thing you know, you just spent 30 minutes looking at email, the latest news and updates that friends have posted online. I believe the same thing can happen – and is happening – with sales reps.
How can this level of distraction be avoided? Through technology enablement. Sales reps are introduced to all the technologies available to them within a best practice onboarding and certification program, but most programs are only focused on how to access those tools and the critical information that must be entered. What’s missing are best practices on mobile time management – just because we have constant access doesn’t mean we need to access it all the time. It’s critical to enable reps’ knowledge of which mobile applications are best to help them at which points throughout different sales activities. For example, it’s best to map when entering information in the SFA instead of when accessing the sales asset management application to prepare for the next sales meeting is appropriate.
I’m sure some will read this and think, “A good sales rep knows how to manage his or her time.” While this is true, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t offer insight on ways to make this time as productive as possible. Mobile technologies are valuable productivity enhancers, but just make sure you teach your sales reps how, when and where those technologies help best.