Mobile CRM

Mobile CRM Apps: Easy In, Easy Out

It is a truism that consumers’ smartphones, armed with a slew of sophisticated apps, function as mini computers. That being the case, smartphones programmed with sales force marketing and productivity applications have almost become sophisticated enough to be compared to mainframe computing.

They’re not quite there yet, but sales force software deployed in the mobile environment has become quite formidable, giving its users a range of high-end features.

In general, there is a focus on improvement and development in three areas for the sales industry, Taptera CEO Chris O’Connor told CRM Buyer.

They are “making the face-to-face sales meeting more exciting, valuable and productive; reducing the onerous tasks of updating CRM systems; and providing a simple communication and collaboration tool so sales folks can communicate with customers and their support networks,” he explained.

That is the broad brush picture. Translated into actual apps, this functionality is being seen in new e-detailing, closed loop marketing and sales collateral apps. It can also be seen in CRM tools like Salesforce Touch and Taptera Sophia, O’Connor said.

“The one common denominator is that the apps need to be extremely easy to use — no training,” he emphasized. “Get in, get out, and get back to selling.”

Personalized Customer Data

Personalized customer intelligence on a mobile device — say, information about a customer’s specific business developments that are relevant for the sales person’s products — is a must-have for B2B sales teams now, FirstRain CEO Penny Herscher told CRM Buyer.

“They need to see the handful of critical developments that tell them what’s new and changing for their customers and so makes them smarter about their customer’s business and the customer’s industry,” she said. “With this intelligence, they can find opportunities and drive the right deal and the right strategy.”

Leveraging big data analytics to understand the customer’s business better is a growing trend for sales tools, added Herscher. “The ability to use analytics to uncover trends in each specific business line of the customer, and analyzing the top emerging trends that impact the sales person’s knowledge and strategy” have become competitive differentiators.

Securing the Contract

Security is a feature that is in high demand among sales reps, Mari Tangredi, cofounder and VP of business development at CloudPrime, told CRM Buyer.

The company just debuted QuickDrop by CloudPrime, which allows salespeople to send sensitive documents such as contracts, updated customer records or payment information from their iOS device while they’re in the field, with a high level of security (256-bit AES encryption).

Sales representatives are typically on the road and conducting business in clients’ offices. They need to send confidential documents such as NDAs, trial agreements, subscription agreements, and invoices, Tangredi said.

“There are a handful of startups addressing the need for a BYOD solution for confidential communications,” he added.

Productivity Always Needs Improvement

Sales reps are also looking for improved productivity features, Kelly Weinhold, product strategist with Angel, told CRM Buyer.

“One of the biggest trends in mobile sales features in 2013 will be the ability for applications to have quality, user-friendly transactional features,” she said. “Since we’re seeing many consumers use mobile devices as a personal assistant, this leaves a big door open for businesses to design mobile applications and features that will actually help users be more productive and get things done both in and out of the workplace.”

Angel recently released Lexee, a self-service SDK that enables businesses to voice-activate any mobile application, Weinhold noted. Lexee applications are built using a point-and-click Web portal, which means business users can design a voice-activated mobile application.

If mobile applications were voice-activated, a user would be able to check their bank statement via voice, order from a favorite restaurant, and even book their next flight — all via voice, Weinhold said. “For 2013, we’re going to see more and more businesses design these easy-to-use features with customer productivity in mind.”

Erika Morphy has been writing about technology, finance and business issues for more than 20 years. She lives in Silver Spring, Md.

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