As we’ve covered previously in our posts on building the ultimate sales app, the first two steps are determining your specific app’s purpose and outlining the definitive feature set well in advance of development. While this may seem self-evident when reading it here, you’d be amazed at how many companies embark on the development process without a clear vision for precisely what their app needs to do and what features it will require to achieve that.
Luckily, there are mobile solutions partners that can help guide enterprises through that process (which we’ll cover in part V). Before we get to that, though, we need to talk about the possible shortcomings of every app — adoption barriers.
The greatest sales app in the world will not make a dent in your bottom line if you can’t get your sales and operations staff to use it. As is true in many departments, salespeople are often creatures of habit — they have their own personal routines, strategies, approaches, etc. They find what they perceive works for them and stick to it like white on rice on paper plate in a snowstorm.
Having been in sales previously, I know all too well the creatures of habit salespeople can become. This can work to their advantage in certain ways, because those routines, if they work, can certainly set salespeople up for long-term success if they stick to those routines. That being said, this desire to stick religiously to a specific approach can make modernization a difficult task for the executive staff. If you’re trying to implement a CRM, or are adding to yours by incorporating a mobile suite of apps, this can seriously “cramp salespeople’s style” if those tools are not useful, intuitive and ultimately capable of allowing salespeople to do their jobs better.
Many salespeople don’t want to disrupt their methods in any way, but adoption will be impossible if your app is not designed expertly.
Some things to keep in mind when evaluating barriers to adoption:
- How tech-savvy are your salespeople? Are they used to working with the newest mobile technologies? Do they all clamor for the newest iPhone or Android phone when they’re released? Do they love tablets and use them independently of work?
Determining your sales-staff’s level of native comfort with mobile technologies will help guide your development process because you can either leverage your staff’s existing knowledge to incorporate advanced features and usability or you can design your app to appeal to a less technologically-inclined demographic if your sales staff trends older or less tech-savvy.
(One of the chief ways to bring every salesperson into the fold of your app is through professional-grade design. If you can put together an app that is intuitive to use — meaning your staff doesn’t have to spend a lot of time learning how to use your specific program — then adoption rates will be MUCH higher than if it’s a complex system that requires specialized training to operate. If your app has an engaging interface — basically, does it look “cool” and have interesting and useful flourishes of panache to entice users to keep using it — your staff is much likelier to engage. By really committing to the design process with your end user in mind, you can bypass a lot of the hurdles to adoption right off the bat)
- Do you have the technical infrastructure to support your proposed app or will you need to build it? While this is not salesperson specific, it’s an integral question in the app development process. If you’re trying to arm salespeople with an on-the-go collateral update tool that also integrates with a backend CRM, you need to have push capabilities, cloud storage of documents, encrypted access to that collateral, an existing CRM software platform (or SaaS arrangement), and all the backend servers, networks, firewalls, etc. required to make that app run. If you don’t already have some of these things, then you’ll need to build them before your app will be useful. You have to plan for these types of questions to make sure you’re not launching an app that doesn’t possess the proper infrastructure to be effective or useful.
By evaluating your current staff’s existing mobile tendencies and expertise (or lack thereof), keeping a constant eye on the design process and your apps’ ultimate end users, and planning for the technical infrastructure required to make your app go, you can avoid the pitfalls from which many companies suffer when building a sales app. You have to remember who is going to be using your app and ensure that you build a useful tool that will truly help them do their jobs more efficiently and profitably — for both the company and their personal bottom lines.
If you lose sight of your end user, they won’t be users for long.