Where Is the Sales Enablement for Deskless Workers?

Mobile workers are set to make up 75 percent of the U.S. workforce by 2020, yet it’s still quite rare for cutting-edge solutions to get built and released with them in mind. This is especially true of salespeople. Most sales enablement solutions primarily focus on salespeople sitting at their desk. What about retail folks walking the showroom floor and talking to customers? They're lacking in tools to help them with sales enablement, even though research shows that sales enablement technology increases customer retention rates by 14 percent, resulting in further guaranteed revenue. The opportunity for companies to build software for deskless workers could be worth billions, not just for vendors but also for the companies who would see benefits in productivity and ultimately revenue.

Juggling Multiple Mobile Tools

Effective sales strategy is a combination of right tools and training and resources. The deskless nature of the sales team makes it hard for organizations to train their sales force and equip them with the right tools and content to drive sales. All kinds of technology companies are currently working to solve the mobile sales enablement challenge, from Adobe with its Experience Manager to Box and Salesforce with their mobile applications. All these are very helpful with organizing content for easy access. But there is one underlying problem—they don’t work in sync with one another. Just imagine how it looks when a salesperson has to juggle multiple apps during a presentation with a prospect; it’s not only inefficient but also presents a poor image for the company. Compounding this problem is when you have multiple options for sales tools and the types of content they can access; something’s bound to fall through the cracks.

The answer is an umbrella tool that lets you work with the apps from Salesforce, Box, Google Docs, etc., into one format for easy access. Larger enterprises could build their own tool, but that just presents more problems as it would divert resources for development and administration. A smaller or midsize company isn’t likely to have the resources to build an umbrella solution. The best answer is a third-party tool. That silver-bullet solution would make sales enablement a lot easier, especially for deskless salespeople relying on a medley of mobile apps to get access to vital data and materials.

Ears on the Ground

Brick-and-mortar stores which sell through physical outlets also suffer from poor visibility of what's happening at  the shop floor. Retail analytics solutions are efficient in providing macro-level insights about consumers and business, but they don’t capture the micro-level interactions at the shop floor. The key is to make it easy for the folks on the shop floor to share customer feedback, insights based on their interactions in real time. This could enable management to take effective measures quickly, ultimately leading to better sales and customer satisfaction.

An Umbrella Could Help “Make It Rain” for Salespeople

So what happens when you have this one umbrella? Having one platform doesn’t just mean that you have a simple location for all of your data; it means that all your sales staff are interacting and sharing in one place. It’s this closeness that opens up much greater opportunities. Many traditional sales enablement tools only get you so far; they give out the needed information but lack the second part required to help salespeople close the deal: the conversation.

Analysts firms such as Forrester have long stressed how important it is for salespeople to sync on messaging and strategy, but the best way to do that is via conversations. That means staff meetings and one-to-one syncs that are enabled naturally in a traditional office environment. When you work in an office, it’s much easier to walk around and ask your superiors if they have advice on dealing with a particularly difficult type of prospect. The same is true if you’ve got insight of your own to share. Of course, mobile salespeople don’t have that luxury, and likewise don’t have a place for these conversations. This is where the umbrella app comes in, since it can act as a shell not just for content but also for chat applications so salespeople can talk with each other. Some would argue that email already enables this, but the problem is that in order for the best possible sales enablement results, these conversations need to happen in real time.

Sales enablement is about more than having the best content, it’s about having the best possible access to applications, content, and conversations. The great thing about mobile phones and tablets is that they enable more conversations for the enterprise, which happen faster than the traditional format of sending emails to everyone. Sales enablement technology needs to embrace real time, but in its current state it can’t, as everything a salesperson needs is disparate. At the end of the day, sales enablement means being an enabler in helping people close the deal—and having everything under one umbrella, in real time, is the best possible way to make this happen.

Praveen Kanyadi is the cofounder and vice president of products at SpotCues. Prior to SpotCues, he was a senior product manager at Yahoo! where he led product management for a variety of social platforms. Before that, he was a cofounder at emaginhub.com and a product manager at Cordys. 

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