How To Build Your First Sales Support App
Sales is a business area where mobile and apps are already starting to have a great impact.
The advantages of the mobile format naturally suits the sales process. Having access to sales documents and resources on mobile devices makes sense for a team that needs to regularly attend external meetings, events and spend a lot of time on the road. Using mobile apps can also help increase productivity and ultimately contribute to increased sales. Other benefits of sales apps include:
- They are interactive. Mobile devices can be easily passed around among people, making for more collaborative meetings and helping prospects to better understand the company’s products or services.
- They make your product look good. Using images and videos to show your products or services to clients can make them look more visually engaging and attractive.
- They avoid double handling of information. With a mobile sales app, you can also instantly submit information and data that you are collecting, eliminating the need to keep it in a spreadsheet and then transfer to a database. Not only does this save time but it also reduces the risk of human error.
- They make you stand out from the crowd. Although the use of enterprise apps is increasing, most companies still haven’t adopted them, so using a mobile sales app will make you stand out from your competitors and make your products and services more attractive.
- They are practical. A sales support app is a great way to visually present information to clients no matter where you are and you can rely on the information being up-to-date (no more searching for PDFs on the shared drive!)
In this article we outline what you need to do in order to create your first sales support app, what features you should include and how you can make your app a success.
1. Plan your content
The first thing you will need to decide is what content your app will contain. And in order to do this it is important to understand your business needs and your audience:
Understand your business needs
Why does your company need a sales support app? What business processes will it support? And how will it help create new opportunities for your business?
All these questions are important in order to figure out what exactly your app will do and how it will meet business goals.
Your mobile sales app could be designed to keep salespeople up to speed with your products or services no matter where they are, or it could be used to show these products and services to clients on a mobile device. Knowing the exact goal of the app will therefore be essential to ensuring that the design correlates with it.
Understand your audience
As I mentioned, a sales support app can be intended only for sales people to consult service or product information or they could use it to show these to clients in a visually engaging way.
The best way to figure out what the app content should be is to talk to the sales team themselves and find out what their needs and issues are. Once you know this, you can think of ways in which your app could fill these needs or solve these issues.
You can even take this a step further and ask them how exactly they want to use the app in order to personalise it to meet their exact needs and ways of working. After all, they are the ones who will be using the app.
Select your app features
Depending on the kind of sales app, the features will vary. These are three of the main types of sales apps and the features you should include for each of them:
Service or product overview app
A service or product overview app is the most basic mobile sales app.
This app can serve to divide all of the company’s products and services into categories, with essential descriptions and sales information.
The app can be used by sales employees themselves to refresh their memory about the product or service, or they can use it when meeting with clients to explain to them what the product or service entails.
Sales proposal app
A sales proposal app is an easy and effective way to show potential clients your products or services in a way that is appealing and conducive to sales.
The app can display product and service information in a way that is interactive and engaging, giving clients the “wow” factor that can help you stand out from competitors.
For instance, the app can include a gallery to allow sales teams to show visually engaging images of the products or services to potential clients.
This not only makes it easier for salespeople to show them visually what is harder to describe in only words, but it can also give customers a much better idea of what the product or service is like and therefore incentivise them to purchase it.
The app can also include an order form to make a sale faster and more convenient once the customer has agreed to purchase it.
This is particularly true for salespeople selling away from the office; being able to submit the sale information directly into the app rather than having to make a record of it to input into the central database once they are back at the office can significantly save time and reduce the margin for human error.
Sales playbook app
A sales playbook is an app used to train sales employees. The app is designed to train new sales employees or to bring existing employees up to date with the latest products and services.
A sales playbook app can be divided into different sections, including a product section with information about all existing products and services and a competitor analysis section to keep employees aware of strongest competitors in the market and to design their strategies accordingly.
The sales playbook app can also make it easier for salespeople to increase their knowledge by providing battle cards to aid their learning and even by providing “gamified” features such as points and badges to encourage users to keep trying and learning.
This has the additional benefit of making learning into a more enjoyable experience, fostering the absorption of knowledge.
2. Build your app
Once you have planned everything that is going to go into your app, it’s time to actually build it.
Building an app is as much a creative process as a technical one. Whether you hire an external developer or use an app builder to create your own app, the design will be of utmost importance to ensure that the app is a success.
This means that you will need to think of your app in a holistic way, ensuring that its design correlates both with user needs and with technical constraints and requirements. So for instance, how your users access information may vary according to whether they are using a smartphone or a tablet.
These are some of the key considerations:
Determine devices and Operating Systems (OS)
Not only do different devices vary in shape and user behavior, but there are also a range of operating systems and development options (eg. native or hybrid) available.
Most companies will create two separate apps for each of the most common operating systems, Android and iOS. However, if your sales employees all use the same operating system that may not be necessary.
In the same way, you may want to think about whether your sales employees will use the app from a smartphone or from an iPad or tablet. It has been proven that users use smartphones and tablets in very different ways, so it is important to bear this in mind when designing the app for each device.
For instance, if the app is going to be used during a meeting then a tablet is the device that is most likely to be used, as it can be easily passed around and used to display information to other attendees. On the other hand, a sales training app will most likely be used on the go such as during commutes, so a smartphone is more likely to be used in this case.
Think about logistics
It is also important to think about how the app will be kept updated and in working order.
Surprisingly, this is one of the things that companies get wrong the most. What they don’t realise is that it is not enough to create an app but that apps are long-term commitments. An app is only as good as its content and if the content is outdated or it doesn’t work properly after the latest operating system release there is no way your audience will continue to use it.
It’s therefore important to think about who is going to be in charge of updating the app. After all, if salespeople don’t have up-to-date information about the products and services they are selling, they are not going to be able to do a very good job as a salesperson.
Determine the user experience
It is not enough to provide the features and content that you know your audience will need; it is as important to ensure that the overall app experience is designed in a way that is accessible, intuitive and easy to understand.
In this article we outline some of the elements that make an app great from a user experience perspective.
The most basic one is keeping the app content simple and easy to navigate. By including only the most essential and vital information in the app and allowing users to arrive at it in as few taps a possible, you can make it easier and faster for your users to find the information they need, which is exactly what they want when it comes to mobile devices.
Another important consideration is to take advantage of those features that are mobile-specific, such as integration with native mobile functionality such as the address book and the camera. For instance, a mobile sales app would greatly benefit from allowing users to contact clients by phone or email simply by tapping on the contact’s details on the app, rather than having to copy and paste them as they would on a computer.
Finally, an important user experience element in this case will be to ensure the app works offline. There is no way of knowing whether salespeople will have access to WiFi or any mobile connection while away from the office, so ensuring that they can use the app at all times whether this is the case or not will be a big plus to user experience.
3. Test and launch your app
Your app is ready! You are probably eager to send it out and wait for the compliments to flow in from your sales team, but before you do so it’s important that you test your app.
Any issues may put your audience off using the app altogether, so it is better to ensure that it’s in full working order before sharing.
The best way to test an app is to distribute it among a select group of employees and ask for feedback.
Work out what obstacles they are facing from a user experience point of view and solve them.
It’s an extra step but it can make all the difference in the world to improving your app.
Once you are confident that the app is optimized, you can go ahead and share it with the rest of your audience.
4. Review – analyze and optimize
But the process doesn’t end here. As I mentioned earlier, an app is a long-term commitment and it is therefore your job to ensure that it continues to deliver value to your salespeople long after its launch.
By using analytics tools you can look at metrics such as number of users and frequency of app use and figure out how the app is performing.
And of course, you can continue to directly ask users for feedback in order to continue optimising the app.
Most importantly, you need to make sure that the app is always up-to-date and that any technical issues are promptly solved.
And there you have it! All you need to do now is watch your sales revenue go up.