Why Not All Sales Apps Are the Same
How CRM apps and consulting apps support sales
Not all sales apps are the same. A sales app must fulfill a specific purpose to achieve a high level of acceptance among users. That's why companies are well advised to distinguish between CRM apps and consulting apps.
There is hardly any area of business where personal contact is as essential as B2B sales. Knowing the customer and their needs have always been the linchpin of sales. But whereas sales professionals used to rely primarily on their gut feeling and on analog processes that had been established for decades, today there are vast amounts of data from which to deduce what a (potential) customer needs and what he is interested in. The customer journey is becoming increasingly digital - and B2B sales cannot ignore this (any longer).
Do Not Introduce Sales App for Its Own Sake
This makes it all the more critical for B2B companies not to digitize sales-relevant processes over the heads of the sales team and to introduce tools that they hope will increase efficiency. Providing software, such as a sales app, for its own sake is not a good idea. The key is getting salespeople on board from the start and convincing them from the ground up that they will benefit from a sales app because it will make their day-to-day work more manageable and provide them with meaningful support.
However, this can only be achieved if the sales app digitally maps processes that are, on the one hand, indispensable for a functioning sales department and, on the other hand, prone to errors. Companies are therefore well advised to consider which use cases might be suitable. Against this background, a distinction is usually made between two sales apps: CRM and consulting apps.
What Is a CRM App?
A CRM app is a sales app that supports sales employees in the following tasks in particular:
- Capture data
- Manage data
- Manage leads
- Manage appointments
It is important that a sales app for customer relationship management can be operated intuitively and is therefore very user-friendly. Experienced salespeople, who may have worked predominantly in analog in their early years, are usually not very interested in maintaining data in a CRM system and keeping it up to date. That's why a CRM app must support the salesperson in their job day in and day out. For ease of use, it should be reduced to essential functions: The sales app must allow users to manage customer data, leads, and appointments with as few clicks as possible.
Are There Proven Sales Apps for Customer Relationship Management?
To provide their sales force with an easy-to-use sales app for customer relationship management, companies can rely on the standard solutions of established CRM providers with a clear conscience. These include Microsoft Dynamics 365 and SAP Sales Cloud, for example. There is no need to invest in custom development because customer relationship management primarily maps standardized processes, and (potential) customers have no access to or insight into the sales app. Therefore, adapting the mobile application to one's corporate identity (CI) is not necessary. Nevertheless, it should be ensured that the application maps company-specific processes and is integrated into the existing IT infrastructure. Ideally, companies work with a service provider who not only advises them independently of manufacturers but also connects the sales app to existing systems and provides it as a cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution.
What Is a Consulting App?
A consulting app has an entirely different focus. This is a sales app in which sales staff can find all the information, materials, and documents they need to sell their products in the best possible way. The advantage of such a sales app is that all sales-relevant information is available digitally. This means that salespeople do not have to take heavy catalogs and countless brochures with them to customer appointments, nor is it necessary for potential customers to make a potentially arduous journey to inspect a highly specialized system that weighs tons. Salespeople have everything with them on their tablet - consistently and always up-to-date. The information and materials provided by such a sales app include:
Does It Make Sense to Develop a Consulting App?
Considering that companies' products and services are as diverse as the companies, it makes sense not to rely on standard solutions for a consulting app. Such sales apps should not only support individual consulting concepts and effective sales processes. They must also be implemented in the respective company's corporate design (CD). After all, such a sales app is a helpful tool that enriches sales-oriented conversations with new and existing customers. For branding, it is crucial that companies communicate consistently across all channels - including sales meetings - and touchpoints, such as a sales app, and thus create the visual recognition value offered. Accordingly, companies are well advised to have a native sales app developed by an experienced service provider.
What Is a Native Sales App?
A native app is a mobile application that
- is developed for a specific operating system (iOS or Android) and runs on supported devices (smartphone or tablet),
- is optimized for the software and hardware of the respective end device,
- optimally fulfills functional and visual requirements
- makes ideal use of the device's capabilities (camera, accelerometer, etc.),
- is particularly suitable for complex or computationally intensive applications,
- can be linked with various data sources, and
- can also be used offline, thanks to continuous data synchronization.
What Requirements Must a Consulting App Meet?
For a consulting app to help salespeople provide the best possible advice to potential and existing customers and support them on their way to a well-considered purchase decision, the sales app must meet several requirements:
Assuming that a consulting app is developed specifically for the user company, it can ideally map the individual use case - from virtual showrooms in which sales staff present machines and systems to 3D visualizations that allow zooming into individual components and providing supplementary information as well as interactive diagrams and animations at neuralgic points, to augmented reality mode that will enable companies to virtually check whether a machine has room in the factory or warehouse.
A consulting app must work reliably at all times. If it were to fail during a customer appointment, it would be an embarrassing faux pas that could cost companies a lucrative deal.
If a sales app also works offline, salespeople are not dependent on a stable Internet connection during customer meetings. This is a significant advantage, especially for meetings in regions with weaker infrastructure.
With a sales app, salespeople create an optimal basis for professionally conducted sales meetings. In preparation for an appointment, they should be able to create individual customer folders by loading information such as master data and customer history into the mobile app - alongside product descriptions, images and specifications, videos, animations, and other visualizations. An intelligent search delivers accurate results if the data in the respective source system is tagged with meaningful tags and metadata.
Sales experts must show PowerPoint presentations and product-specific documents that correspond to their company's corporate identity in a customer meeting, for example. The sales app should also support a second-screen mode. This makes it possible to display what is being shown on a larger screen in a conference room and thus offer it in the right light - i.e., in conformity with the CD.
For salespeople to be able to convince in a consultation or sales meeting not only with technical expertise but also in dealing with innovative applications, the sales app must be easy to use and create a good user experience. That's why user companies should insist on professional UX and UI design during development.
For customer-specific consulting, sales-relevant data from various systems - from CRM and DAM to PIM and CMS to Sharepoint - must be consolidated centrally in a sales app and be available in an up-to-date and structured form at all times. Customer-specific master data and customer history originate from the CRM system. Digital content flows from a DAM tool into the sales app, including graphics and audio. The PIM solution contributes product information such as prices, specifications, and the like, while descriptive texts from the CMS enter the consulting app. The basis is a data integration platform such as Arvato SyncTank. Thanks to bidirectional interfaces and connectors, it is possible to seamlessly exchange data between the sales app and different enterprise applications.
Why Do Sales Apps Even Exist?
What Google already confirmed in 2012 in the globally respected study found out in collaboration with Gartner in 2015 is that prospects have already completed around 60 percent of the buying process before they contact a vendor's sales department. Since then, the proportion of optimally informed opportunities is likely to have increased further. Potential customers are therefore well informed about a B2B company's products and services - without the supplier's notice. Only those who are convincing in all channels and at all touchpoints make it onto the shortlist.
In addition, more and more B2B buyers are digital natives who have grown up with the Internet and not only use digital solutions as a matter of course but also evaluate purchased products and services online. Against this background, the task of B2B sales and B2B marketing is changing. Companies used to - strictly speaking - not have to do any marketing at all. The potential customer contacted the sales department directly. The first contact was usually a phone call or an initial face-to-face meeting. In both cases, sales professionals could shine with their convincing demeanor. Today, much of the customer acquisition process shifts to marketing. It develops prospects for sales maturity, and sales "closes the bag." In other words, for salespeople, it's no longer just about selling. Precisely because prospects are very well informed, their task is now to advise them on how to make a good buying decision. The professionalism of the advice stands and falls with the quality, availability, and topicality of the sales-relevant information. This is precisely why a sales app is indispensable - today and even more so in the future.