Without question, the most important step in the sales app development process is determining a specific and well-defined purpose for your application. Only once you have a firm handle on that can you proceed with planning, wireframing, storyboarding and ultimately development. Without a granular understanding of your goals, companies run into scope creep, delays, communication misunderstandings between you and your developer, you name it…. But, if you determine the precise nature of your sales app from the beginning, you can avoid all of these potential setbacks.

The second consideration that naturally follows from determining your app’s purpose is the feature set. Once you’re confident that your purpose is well-defined and in line with your goals, the feature set provides the next piece of planning integral for smooth project flow. If you start working on storyboarding or development with only a loose understanding of the features you want within your app, you can run into the exact same problems you’d encounter with an ill-conceived purpose, namely scope creep, delayed time to market, and a potentially poor working relationship.

When I say feature set, I mean the actual things your app will do. If you’re building a field sales app, for instance, some features you’d be looking at would be sales presentations with real-time upload/download capabilities with your content management system to ensure that all field reps have the most recent collateral, inventory lists, and pricing. You’d want the ability to close sales on the spot, so it would need to integrate with your inventory management system as well as your sales platform and accounting software. You’d want the app to work seamlessly with your CRM so you can capture the customer’s information and track their buying experience as well as have the ability to reach out in the future to check on that customer. You’ll need the ability to accept payment on the spot, so that means using a credit card reader of some kind. If you want to avoid paying the credit card reader’s manufacturer a per-swipe fee, you’ll need to work with an agnostic vendor and support that choice with a credit card payment processing partner that can handle the encryption and data transfer within PCI compliance. Do you want people to be able to share their recent actions on a social network? Because that too requires deliberate planning, especially when it comes to user experience mapping.

If it’s more of a productivity tool, then you might be looking at expense reporting that allows sales representatives to photograph their receipts. It might use scraping software to pull relevant details from the receipt so they don’t have to enter everything by hand. You might want a dashboard on the backend of your webservices so accounts payable can keep an eye on every salesperson in the field in regards to what they’re spending and on what. Your app might contain a KPI dashboard so that your c-suite can monitor all of their salespeople within one application. You might want a messaging and collaboration tool that allows multiple individuals to work on the same thing simultaneously, like Google Drive or Dropbox. Once again, there are a bevy of options that the right partner can work through with you to determine exactly the feature set that fits your needs.

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Ultimately, everything comes down to planning. The more you have planned earlier, the better the app and the faster the time to market will be for launching it. Once you’ve settled on the true purpose of the app, ascertaining the specific feature set provides the next important step toward launching the perfect sales app and showing you the money!