The role of a salesperson is difficult. Salespeople are often challenged with less than perfect working environments, yet they are expected to excel without the tools office workers have at their disposal. In the office, workers have all the resources they need readily available: presentations, files, data, and experienced staff to help with department-specific answers to questions.
But what about those whose jobs require them to “live” on the road? How can they most effectively do their jobs and gain access to the same tools that in-house office workers have? That’s what we’ll be examining in this blog post.
The life of a salesperson
The typical salesperson spends 80% of his or her time out of the office. There are trade shows, customer visits, and of course, transit times to consider. I know a salesperson who spends fully 20% of his time either on a plane or waiting for a plane in an airport. And that’s why the mobile revolution has taken hold in our society. More and more workers need mobile, flexible solutions for how to get their jobs done. And, they need our support working this way.
We’ve largely done a good job of connecting on-the-go workers to each other – providing access to phone and email via mobile devices. But that’s not enough. Mobile workers also need to be connected to their data, with the ability to access the right information and the right person at the right time on the right device. Companies send salespeople out on the road and those salespeople must be able to do their job—right at the time they are selling. To better support this mobile salesforce, let’s examine the basis for the resources they’ll need.
Trust of data
There is nothing like going into a meeting with a spreadsheet that you have spent a couple of hours on. And then everybody else walks in with the spreadsheets they have spent a couple of hours on. And you spend most of the meeting time trying to figure out whose numbers are correct – and very little time getting something accomplished. Everybody loves meetings, right? Yeah. My ideal is that when you go to a meeting, everybody has the same numbers. And you can do business and collaborate, thereby getting business done quicker.
Consistent information across the organization, across multiple devices
It would also be nice if we could provide information to all the employees that need it – not just siloed employees in certain roles or departments. We need to provide support on a lot of devices. Employees on the road, working remotely, or in the office, should be able to use whatever device they are comfortable with and still get their job done. Information sharing needs to expand so that whatever information a salesperson needs is right at their fingertips – with no file size limit. This will help workers try and understand what is happening in their business. Asking questions can be a self-sufficient process instead of taking up the time of multiple employees.
Detailed data to enable decision-making
It’s not sufficient to just provide a cursory look at data that a sales person cannot engage with. A key part of decision-making involves asking deeper questions until you get to an answer. Too many products on the market provide pre-defined drill-paths (or no drill-paths at all) so you can’t necessarily get the data you need. A salesperson should be able to ask and answer: “What’s happening with these particular products? Is there a reason that company ABC is no longer ordering the same volume of these products? Is there something that we are not doing correctly? Have they switched to a different distributor? What is going on?”
There are other ways we can improve productivity and efficiency. Tools for sharing, like bookmarking and exporting, should be added to devices so salespeople can share documents, presentations, and videos. Salespeople should also be able to get that information connected or disconnected. Tracking can be very tedious and time consuming, so let’s find a way to get tracking automatically. Workers should be able to see exactly where they are on every single project. They must know what needs to be done, and what customers they need to visit, to be able to do their jobs. Is it too much to ask for all this and have the tools be easy to learn and integrate with third parties?
Dimensional Insight’s Distributor Advisor
Here at Dimensional Insight, we’ve been working on providing our customers with all these capabilities through Distributor Advisor. Distributor Advisor is available on iPads, Windows-based tablets, and PCs, making it easier for sales people to access the information they need no matter where they are – in the office or on the road.