By Katherine Jones, Director of Marketing at NetSuite
We all know that our sales teams should be leveraging the businesses advantages of mobile devices when they are out of the office. But like most things, it can be easier said than done — that is, done well.
Wireless connectivity has become mainstream in today’s workplace. Here are some stats from IDC and Gartner: IDC says 40% of workers now travel for business and they say this will rise to two-thirds by 2007. Gartner reports that there will be 41.1 million mobile professionals worldwide by year end 2007.
Planning for your mobile device integration is not intuitive — it does take some thought. Here are five points I think are important to remember in creating a mobile workforce.
1. Good mobile integration is a business tool, not just a communication mechanism (like the traditional cell phone). It is a way for your teams in the field to always have access to up-to-date customer data and to be able to address customer requirements at the point of interaction.
2. Business data security cannot be compromised. Like any other computer access, you want to ensure that security is provided for users of mobile devices. For example, the same access rules and logon controls that apply to laptops should apply to wireless devices used in accessing your business data.
3. 360° customer data is essential. The mobile sales team needs to be able to reliability access the most recent data on the customer from their CRM software — including the products or services purchased, the status of deliveries or returns to that customer, any problems or issues raised by the customer, and the status of his or her accounts. Is there an out-standing product issue? Are payments in arrears? How can you sell most strategically if you do not know?
4. Availability-to-Promise is a mobile requirement. Remote sales people need to be able to look into stock and tell if the item the customer wants is available. Likewise, field service personnel need to know if a part is in stock, on order, or at another depot location. As these discussions may well be had in person in front the customer, instant access to reliable data is crucial.
5. Enable transactions. The empowered mobile workforce needs more than just data access — it needs the ability to conduct business from any location. The ability to place an order, close a deal, update a support record, post time against a project — done remotely through a wireless device — can shorten the lead-to-cash cycle, improve customer satisfaction, and result in the increased accuracy that ensues from immediate data submission.
[Photo courtesy of cysend.]