Just a few years ago, the market was abuzz with the announcement of new sales force automation tools on your mobile device. Now you could have access to all information, anytime, anywhere. For those of us not in the office very much this seemed like a “dream come true.” Then reality set in. It was great for managing your calendar and email, which allowed you to always be in contact and know exactly what and where you needed to be. But regarding SFA, the network speed was limited; the applications were not optimized for the smaller screens, and it was cumbersome to find and update data on these small devices.
Even as the apps got better and the network speed vastly improved, it was still difficult to type on these small devices. Many folks got good at scheduling follow ups, taking some very basic notes, sending an email back to the home office for someone to follow up on, and other basic activities, but most did not use it to update their opportunities or forecast management. Instead, they waited until they got back to their office to do those activities. So while it was a significant improvement the dream was never completely realised.
Now with the iPad, Android, Blackberry and other tablet devices it has become so much easier to manage all aspects of your customers and prospects, right there in front of them. These devices are so much better than a laptop as they instantly start; have multi-touch screens for easy navigation and a high-quality screen resolution. A recent IDC report states that across the globe, tablet sales are projected to spike from 16.1 million in 2010, to 147.2 million by 2015. Approximately 45 million of which will be purchased by companies for their employees. Furthermore, another recently conducted study by Dimensional Research and commissioned by Dell KACE found that among 750 survey respondents, 87 percent mentioned their employees use personal devices for work purposes, from email and calendaring, to CRM and ERP. At Palladium the same applies, with staff using personal iPads and iPhones both in the office and on the road.
In the past, sales force automation vendors have focused on behind-the-scenes activities such as contact, calendar, and opportunity and forecast management, and with tablet devices these activities will be so much easier to do. With quick and easy access to the information, it will be much easier to update this information while sitting in front of the customer. The typical sales person will no longer be embarrassed to try and access and update the information on these new devices.
But the real gain for SFA will be the ability to do customer-facing selling. You remember that fad, don’t you? Where the salesperson sits in front of a customer and shows them graphs, charts and other cool data. Now with the advantages of the tablet devices customer-facing selling may be on its way back again. Think about sitting in front of a prospect and showing illustrations of your products, or a side-by-side comparison why he should stock “product A versus product B,” or easily checking inventory in your warehouse and immediately being able to show to the prospect. The possibilities are endless, putting more power in the hands of the sales person to make them not only more efficient, but more effective. Maybe it is time to go “Back to the Future.”
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Most of this article was originally published on the FrontRange blog.