This post is the second in a series by Mark Ippolito. Mark is a Sr. Manager with Lenati and leads Lenati’s Sales Optimization Practice. Lenati’s solutions for sales strategy and design, segmentation, account planning, field enablement, partner channel development and sales measurement have been deployed at leading technology, software, and telecomm companies including Adobe, Google, T-Mobile, WebTrends and many more.
Part 2: Focus on Performance Gains Ahead of Technology
In Part One of our series, we identified and evaluated specific mobile device field enablement scenarios already taking place among leading edge sales organizations. In Part Two, we focus on the specific performance metrics and enablement types organizations have identified to realize the greatest impact to their business. Key Insight: When considering adoption of technologies, Sales, Operations and IT leaders can easily be enamored with new devices or applications and the capabilities they may offer. In the process some lose sight of the measurable impact the new technology should deliver to the business. Our study finds that those organizations that are having the most success in leveraging the unique and powerful capabilities of mobile devices are first and foremost investing time and resources to understand the business impact or desired behavioral change they want to drive before determining the device and enablement strategy.
Figure 1 - Before embarking on a mobile device enablement deployment, study participants identified these key metrics most frequently for improvement. Note: Totals are greater than 100% as some participants selected more than one metric to improve.
Identify the Key Performance Metric for Your Business The best practice among those organizations who are realizing the largest performance gains are those that target a very specific performance metric for which mobile devices are uniquely able to accelerate. Regrettably an organization’s key strategic objectives may become obfuscated (some may say hijacked) by a myriad set of complex technical decisions— device selection, application capabilities, CRM integration, database configuration, etc.— that are implicit with any type of large scale mobile device field enablement deployment. But it doesn’t have to be like this. Rather than lead with the “technology decision” the organizations deriving the most value from their mobile device investment, instead lead their decision by isolating the metric they want to impact. For example: a medical supplies distributor sales operations team, when faced with the challenge of increasing the volume of new client sales calls, rather than look to see how a device might help them achieve this goal, the team first considered the question: How can we increase reps’ productivity and call on more qualified prospects in their assigned geography? Before locking on a device or technology, they set to first execute a sales segmentation exercise to quantitatively measure the number of prospects in a given reps territory. With this information in hand, cross referenced with publicly available data of those prospects who were buying from competitors, a mobile device equipped with GPS became the optimal delivery mechanism to get this information into the hands of field reps. Not only did rep productivity increase (i.e. more sales calls), but the rate at which new customers converted increased as reps had line of sight to the specific competitor products they knew they had to compete favorably against in order to win the business.
Figure 2 - Research study participants prioritized Sales Effectiveness for investments in mobile device enablement. As noted above there are other enablement types which also hold potential for impact on sales performance and should be investigated for potential impact to your specific business goals.
Isolate Specific Component of the Sales Cycle: While capabilities of devices are varied and powerful, we caution against developing the Swiss Army knife approach that assumes every stage in the sales process can be accelerated with the introduction of a clever mobile application. Rather, best practice among sales organizations we identified isolate a specific stage or action within the sales process that they believe should have the biggest impact on the sales outcome. Here are examples from two different industries: 1) Insurance Sales: Before engaging in a mobile device enablement application, the sales leadership team of a large insurance provider determined that they were losing sales to competitors at the “quote stage” of the sales cycle. Rather than focusing efforts on increased sales volume, they appropriately focused on sales effectiveness and developed a solution to equip reps with the capability to submit and receive real time price quotes to clients who previously were waiting 1-3 business days for a quote. Business Impact: Close ratios increased accordingly and, most importantly, customer retention rates increased – a key industry benchmark. 2) Broadcast Media Sales: Alternatively, a broadcaster with field reps located in remote geographic locations from the main production center, identified an obstacle in the sales process that mobile devices are uniquely poised to overcome. Post-sales meeting follow-ups typically required reps to send a demo reel customized to the client’s industry sector and had to be produced at the broadcaster’s production center. Reps typically waited 3-5 business days (or longer) to deliver a demo reel to the prospective advertiser. Leveraging existing investments in a sales force automation tool, the sales operations team provides production with advance visibility to the appointment calendar for each rep. In turn the production center produces industry and geo-specific demo videos in advance of the reps sales calls. Business Impact: Equipped with iPads, reps now show demo reels to clients during the 1st meeting shortening the sales cycle and increasing the close rate. Focus on Delivering Greater Value to the Customer: Another trap for sales leaders considering mobile device field enablement is to overly focus on improving performance of the sales team without first giving consideration to how the customer will receive greater value. Example: For a large logistics management firm, rather than embarking on a costly device or application development strategy, regional sales managers saw an opportunity to provide greater value to customers by empowering reps with wireless cards for existing laptops. Business Impact: While still on-site with the client, reps are enabled to not only enter client orders, but output signed contracts before leaving the client premises satisfying client demand for new services while also facilitating clients’ procurement process. In Part Three, we’ll share best practices for how your organization can go about planning to design, develop, execute and deploy a mobile device field enablement strategy optimized for your business.