The trend towards mobile sales rep apps is skyrocketing. The days of outdated catalogs, briefcases full of samples and error-prone paper orders are coming to an end. Today, savvy sales teams are equipped with tablets to show products, close deals and access critical information about customers and inventory.
At first thought, when shopping for a sales rep app, you may assume that all you really need is a great catalog and order-taking capabilities, and perhaps some CRM. Selling is selling. What works for others should work for me? Your industry and market niche needn’t be part of the equation, right?
Actually, industry does matter. A lot. What you sell dictates how you sell, which in turn will dictate how much you’ll sell. This can be illustrated by examples of different requirements and priorities in three major sectors: Fashion and Accessories, Fast-Moving Consumer Goods and Jewelry.
In Fashion and Accessories, it’s all about the catalog. The industry revolves around seasons, so you’ll need different catalogs for spring, summer, fall and winter. You may also need pre-season and post-season catalogs that can be managed differently. For pre-season, goal tracking by customer, item, and sales rep is useful. For post-season, the ability to automatically implement special offers to offload slow-moving items is essential. You want a sales process that supports these capabilities.
Fashion is one of those industries in which product presentation is paramount. You’ll want the flexibility to show:
- an item in various colors and patterns
- a model from different angles
- close-ups on stitching, logos, etc.
- promotional material such as PDFs and videos
When it comes to the ordering process, the catalog should support:
- matrixes (e.g. size and color)
- mix & match
- future inventory needs
- multiple delivery dates
A division of VF Corporation – which represents brands such as Wrangler, The North Face, Timberland, Vans, Lee and Nautica – wanted a feature-rich catalog that would project a high degree of professionalism. Their customized app efficiently handles their complex ordering process and offers multiple sizing, ordering by pre-packs, and mix and match options.
On the other hand, for Fast-Moving Consumer Goods such as food and beverages and cosmetics, it’s all about productivity and direct store delivery. The emphasis is more on how fast the rep moves from customer to customer and maintains their retailers’ shelves stocked at optimal levels. So for these industries, it is critical that the sales rep app offers a range of activity management features, particularly:
- planning and tracking routes
- task management
- visit reports
- picture-taking with automatic filing by category
- filling in planograms
- ERP integration to have updated inventory levels
And since these products are fast-moving, the ordering process needs to be extra speedy. You will want your app to support units of measurements, packages, cross-selling and upselling, as well as double as a sales route planner. The app should also enable DND sales managers to:
- access statistical information such as planned vs actual customer visits
- monitor retailers’ compliance with contractual obligations (such as product display)
- control the rep’s ability to provide discounts
Pamso, a producer and distributor of 1500 kinds of meat products, was looking to improve all stages of the sales process. Their tailored app provides efficient product presentation, lightning-fast searches and order-taking, accurate GPS location and is integrated to their ERP system. It also gives management a comprehensive tool to monitor sales reps’ activities.
Jewelry has another set of priorities in a sales rep app. Since there are many variations of an item – it can come with different gems, size of stone, in gold, silver, platinum, etc. – reps need excellent navigation tools to zero in on what they’re pitching. Unless the catalog can search and filter by numerous characteristics, reps can waste a lot of time in the sales order software process.
Also very important is a toolkit to manage the complex price levels and discounts inherent in selling jewelry, for instance by:
- automatically assigning different price lists and currencies to customers
- enabling managers to make changes and apply discounts which are published instantly on the reps' tablets
- indicating special offers on the catalog’s homepage
STS Top Time, a distributor of GUESS jewelry and watches, needed to simplify its complex order-taking process. They wanted the ability to manually sort items, instantly access inventory and generate customized reports and dashboards. The company implemented a sales rep app with a two-dimension matrix tailored to the jewelry industry, which enables easy presentation of different styles and options on a single screen.
So before signing up for an app to improve the way you sell, it’s critical to drill down into your special requirements. When it comes to the wholesale industry, one size does not fit all. And take into consideration, whether you are a small or large business, because size matters too. But that’s another story.