The trend towards mobile sales rep apps is skyrocketing. The days of out-dated catalogues, briefcases full of samples and error-prone paper orders are coming to an end. Today, savvy sales teams are equipped with tablets to show products, close deals and access critical information about customers and inventory.
At first thought, when shopping for a sales rep app, you may assume that all you really need is a great catalogue and order-taking capabilities, and perhaps some CRM. Selling is selling. What works for others should work for me. Your industry and market niche needn’t be part of the equation, right?
Actually, industry does matter. A lot. What you sell dictates how you sell, which in turn will dictate how much you’ll sell. This can be illustrated by examples of different requirements and priorities in three major sectors: Fashion and Accessories, Fast-Moving Consumer Goods and Jewellery.
In Fashion and Accessories, it’s all about the catalogue. The industry revolves around seasons, so you’ll need different catalogues for spring, summer, fall and winter. You may also need pre-season and post-season catalogues that can be managed differently. For pre-season, goal tracking by customer, item, and sales rep is useful. For post-season, the ability to automatically implement special offers to offload slow-moving items is essential. You want a sales process that supports these capabilities.
Fashion is one of those industries in which product presentation is paramount. You’ll want the flexibility to show:
- An item in various colours and patterns
- A model from different angles
- Close-ups on stitching, logos, etc.
- Promotional material such as PDFs and videos
- When it comes to the ordering process, the catalogue should support:
- Product two-dimensional matrixes (eg, size and colour)
- Mix & match
- Future inventory needs
- Multiple delivery dates
On the other hand, for Fast-Moving Consumer Goods such as food and beverages and cosmetics, it’s all about productivity. The emphasis is more on how fast the rep moves from customer to customer and maintains their retailers’ shelves stocked at optimal levels. So for these industries, it is critical that the sales rep app offers a range of activity management features, particularly:
- Planning and tracking routes
- Task management
- Visit reports
- Picture-taking with automatic filing by category
- Filling in planograms
- ERP integration to have updated inventory levels
And since these products are fast moving, the ordering process needs to be extra speedy. You will want your app to support units of measurements, packages, cross selling and upselling. The app should also enable sales managers to:
- Access statistical information such as planned vs. actual customer visits
- Monitor retailers’ compliance with contractual obligations (such as product display)
- Control the rep’s ability to provide discounts
Jewellery has another set of priorities in a sales rep app. Since there are many variations of an item – it can come with different gems, size of stone, in gold, silver, platinum, etc. – reps need excellent navigation tools to zero in on what they’re pitching. Reps can waste a lot of time in the sales process, unless the catalogue can search and filter by numerous characteristics.
Also very important is a toolkit to manage the complex price levels and discounts inherent in selling jewellery, for instance by:
- Automatically assigning different price lists and currencies to customers
- Enabling managers to make changes and apply discounts which are published instantly on the reps’ tablets
- Indicating special offers on the catalogue’s homepage
So before signing up for an app to improve the way you sell, it’s critical to drill down into your special requirements. When it comes to industry, one size does not fit all. And whether you are a small or large business should also be taken into consideration, because size matters too. But that’s another story.