Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Future of Mobile and Route Sales Applications for Smart Phones, Part 2

This article is the second in a series on Mobile and Route Sales Applications for Smart Phones. You can read part one here.

In this recent article I described my need to know when the New York Times newspaper arrived at the local Starbuck's Coffee shop. I wanted an email or text message telling me that my paper arrived at 7:44 AM. Why? I wanted to buy a copy before it sold out. If it was sold out, I wanted to know the next closest location that may have one in inventory. This required some application integration and clever real-time notification systems, but it was very doable. The route sales/driver also would appreciate the above application as it would sell more papers and there would be less to pick-up and transport back to the warehouse for recycling.

In this second article in the series I want to focus on the use of business intelligence and business analytics as it relates to mobile applications. If you are driving a vehicle and/or using a Smart Phone, you do not want to be doing a lot of research and analytics on your small screen while driving. There should be a workflow already created in your central database application that you can simply activate through a request on your mobile device. This could be a series of queries, filters and reports that can all be activated and analyzed by the business analytics software in the central office. The resulting report of this analysis is your instructions and action steps as a sales person or route driver.

You should be able to know and do the following:
  1. What products generally sell the best the last half of October in this location? Don't make me guess or spend half a day researching. Just tell me the results and how many units you should sell. If there is a promotion, rebate or sale on these specific products tell me.
  2. If a store has sold out of a product line, and there is inventory in a nearby store or delivery VAN that is not selling, tell me so the inventory can be shuffled. (See related article)
  3. What is the profile of my best customers? What prospects match that profile in the part of the sales territory where you are travelling today? Give me the route and best sales approach so I can stop by for a quick sales call.
  4. I want my customers to appear on a map. I want LBS (location based services) shouting out to me instructions on what the customer has purchased, what they are likely to purchase, and what promotional campaigns I should be sharing with them. As you have limited time with each customer, you need to be using your time most efficiently to generate the most sales and profits.
  5. The business intelligence software in the central office, should be advising me as to what combination of products are most likely to appeal to a customer at this time. Don't make me research through my catalog and inventory. Prepare a list that can be quickly printed off on a mobile printer in the vehicle.
  6. If a competitor is running a national or regional promotional campaign, tell me. Tell me how we can compete effectively against it. Don't make every sales person try to come up with their own unique strategy and plan. Keep your sales people face-to-face with customers and prospects and using the company's best messages and programs.
  7. Don't force me to learn and remember every sales, discount, rebate, marketing and promotional campaign in advance. Provide me with the list that is relevant to each specific customer only. Let's be efficient with our time. Don't talk about a promotion on Prune juice if the customer's store doesn't carry it.
  8. Provide the route sales person with a list of retail locations (on a map with push pins and best routes) carrying your competitors products and then provide them with a good competitive proposal. Again, make it easy.

All of these points are simply ideas as to how CRMs (customer relationship management) applications, business intelligence software, business analytical software, marketing and promotional management software, mapping/GPS and inventory management software all integrated together with pre-configured workflows can quickly produce, in real-time the information most needed by a mobile sales and/or route delivery person. This information can be packaged and synchronized out to the sales person's Smart Phone.

If you would like to discuss this topic in more detail please contact me.

Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobile Strategy, Sales and Marketing Consultant