January 18, 2019

Field Sales Is Your Untapped Channel Opportunity

By Brian Howe

In this age of cloud computing, mobile Internet, smart devices, and improved sales methodologies you’d think salespeople would be better equipped than ever to sell more. Sadly, that’s not the case.

Field sales reps, who spend much of their working day on the road, are wildly underserved by technology. And here lies a huge opportunity for systems integrators and value-added resellers (VARs) to help improve the lives of salespeople by being much more focused on their specific needs.

Technophobia is rife in the sales environment – fuelled by reps’ bad experiences using technology. Although most reps have to regularly use technology in their day-to-day job, according to a survey conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Skynamo, more than a third (38 percent) believe the technology they have to use is “more of a hindrance than a help.”

It pains me that so much of the technology currently available to field sales reps falls seriously short in being useful to reps while on the road. In my experience, the problems reps experience with technology are rarely due to any fault of the technology itself. They’re due more to the way it is being deployed in conjunction with other tools.

Bridging the Gap between ERP and CRM
For field sales reps to sell effectively on the move, they need access to

  • accurate information about products and customers,
  • the latest pricing and stock information, and
  • the ability to act on that data (e.g., provide accurate quotes and submit orders).

This requires access to data and functionality stored in multiple systems – be it accounting or ERP systems and CRM systems. However, many existing systems fall short in providing this accessibility.

Field sales reps need a single interface they can use to easily access the data and functionality they need to do their jobs well instead of jumping between various systems on their mobile devices. Bridging the gap between CRM and ERP technologies is a way to improve sales effectiveness and increase the adoption and accuracy of existing software investments to ensure they’re working optimally for the business.

In so many cases the wrong technology is executed badly, because it was never designed for use by salespeople in the field.

The right technology is built for users – and with their scenarios in mind. In field sales, this means technology that is designed for use on a mobile device while on the road and that can access information and functionality in back-office systems. This is paramount, as implementing the right tools in sales can change the sales conversation from one based on fear and uncertainty to one based on certainty and trust in the technology and the people using it.

The Untapped Opportunity
According to our survey, 88-93 percent of sales reps said it would be extremely useful to have functionality such as the ability to view customer locations and the latest pricing and product or customer information while on the road. Only 30 percent of respondents claimed to already be using a mobile sales app (although many referred to WhatsApp and Excel as mobile sales apps).

For the channel, there is a huge untapped user pool crying out for such an integrated technology designed with field sales reps in mind. This includes reaching new prospect customers and driving revenues through existing clients that could benefit from complementary add-on products for the ERP and CRM systems they are already using – to expand their business, unlock additional value, and sell more.

For the end customer, successfully deploying a mobile sales application will result in five key outcomes:

  1. Reduced turnaround time between order submission and invoicing the customer, thus improving cash flow and customer experience
  2. Improved order accuracy, which reduces frustration levels among salespeople, finance, and customers
  3. Increased accuracy of data captured in the field, which is submitted to a central database
  4. Reduced amount of admin required for reps to sell and report on their sales and sales activities
  5. Heightened manager insight into sales activity in the field

All these benefits mean field sales professionals can extend their value, improve the quality and quantity of data being collected in the field, and have more time to spend with customers selling –a no reseller’s client is going to say no to that. Who doesn’t want to eradicate the inaccurate orders, incorrect data collected in the field, lack of visibility into sales activity, poor sales performance, and lost sales opportunities? Bridging the gap between sales teams and the data they rely on can no longer be ignored.

Brian Howe is UK Alliances Director at Skynamo.