What to consider when building a sales app

Everyone remembers the iconic scene from Jerry Maguire in which Tom Cruise’s character is seen in his office, screaming into his phone, “show me the money!”. And as silly as it might sound, the scene rings true on a number of levels. Tom Cruise was the ultimate sales person, willing to do what his client asked of him in order to keep his client’s business. But what was ultimately at the top of Rod Tidwell’s list of priorities was for his agent to show him the money.

That’s exactly how you should view a mobile sales app.

Sales apps exist for one purpose, and one purpose only — to show you the money. They can accomplish that goal in many ways, namely: decreasing costs, shortening the sales cycle, making your salespeople more efficient, increasing closing rates, increasing sale size, increasing sale frequency, etc. If implemented the correct way, the right sales app can benefit your business in a way few investments can.

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The factors to contemplate when building such an app fall under four main areas of consideration:

• Purpose
• Features
• Barriers
• Partners

As always, there will be some graying of the lines between a few of these classifications, but they generally encapsulate the things you ought to be thinking about.

The first thing you have to think about when building a sales app is, “what is the purpose of this app?”. All sales apps are not created equal — that goes for the quality of the craftsmanship as well as the goal of the application. Some general things to consider when determining what your true purpose is:

Is this a productivity tool, a sales aide, or a hybrid model?
There is a big difference between productivity tools and sales aides. A productivity tool focuses more on your sales force and ensuring that they can integrate their mobile actions with your CRM software. It might help them log calls, sales meetings or expense reports while they’re on the road. It could provide up to the minute analytics so the salesperson knows how much time they’re spending on which client and how much each of those clients actually represents in revenue potential. These are items that make it easier for salespeople to do their jobs. Of course that can translate into greater sales, but it’s more of an indirect route.

This type of tracking and CRM integration might lend itself more to a mobile phone app as opposed to a tablet application, because this is the type of data the salespeople might be encountering far more while they’re on the go, using their phones. That’s not set in stone, obviously, but it might make sense to target a mobile phone rollout before a tablet rollout.

A sales aid is more focused on helping your salesperson when he or she is in the pitch meeting. This definitely lends itself more toward tablet app development because you’ll be sharing your screen and/or your device with the potential customer. You want to have up-to-the-minute collateral available for your sales staff to use in whatever meeting they’re in. Furthermore, you want to make sure that the collateral that they’re using is the approved version(s) built by your marketing and sales team as opposed to a personalized version a salesperson has altered to “fit his style.” Dynamic content management is an attainable goal by building a custom sales app.

The third way is that of a hybrid model, which usually involves building a suite of enterprise sales apps to empower your sales force (and the operations team overseeing them). Do you have a desire to increase productivity while providing concrete tools to help salespeople close more deals in person? Then maybe you build a more comprehensive app, or you build a suite of apps for your staff to use. No matter what, though, you’ll need to think long and hard about the purpose of your app before jumping in head first.

Coming up…
In our upcoming blog posts, we’ll cover some other examples of “purpose” questions you need to ask, as well as get into features, barriers, and partners. Stay tuned to learn how to “show me the money!”.