Mobile Sales Force Automation Software – Choosing Android Phones

There are few points that need to be considered while choosing an Android device for your Mobile Sales Force Automation Software or Mobile CRM.

1. Android version

Please make sure that the mobile / tablet has Android 4.0 or above. Most of the Android OEMs do not provide upgrades. So, it’s best to pick a mobile/tablet which has at least Android 4.0 for the purpose. Make sure that the Mobile Sales Force Automation Software supports the Android version.

2. Serviceability and support

Does the Android manufacturer provide support for the devices in places where the team would be using them? If the device manufacturer does not have service centers in places where problems could occur, then the sales team will have to send the device to Head Office and then request for a new device in the meantime. If they have a local service centre, then they can easily get the device checked themselves. For companies with nation wide presence, a wide support and service network becomes very important.

3. Battery

Does the Android phone/tablet provides sufficient battery backup for a single working day? Battery usage depends on a lot of factors. If in case you are using a real-time location tracking system where up to the minute location information is provided, then the phone would use significant battery resources. Choose a phone with at least 1400 mAh battery.

4. Camera

The quality of the camera depends on the purpose for which it will be used. In case the sales team needs to take photos of documents, then an Auto Focus camera with at least 5 MP would be required.  Otherwise, a camera with 2MP will be sufficient.

5. A-GPS

Mobile Sales force Automation software also provides location tracking features. For most accurate locations the Android phone should have GPS chip. GPS works even without internet. Whereas, A-GPS requires internet and is less accurate than GPS. It’s fine if an Android phone/tablet has both GPS and A – GPS.

6. Speed

There are slow Android phones and there are phones which have a very slick and fast interface. A lot depends on the operations that need to be performed and the user experience on an actual device.

Based on our experience at PepUpSales, we suggest taking these points into consideration while finalising the Android phone / tablet-based on your budget. But always get a couple of devices first before ordering the whole bunch!!

Using Sales Force Automation Software Effectively

Having deployed a Sales Force Automation software is a job half done. The other half is to get people to use it.

In most cases, there is an initial resistance from the sales team. They are used to their old ways of using pen and paper. The MIS team does all the number-crunching work. The data is erroneous but there is no way to find out.

There are a few points that the Sales Heads can keep in mind while persuading their team to use the Sales Force Automation software:-

1) Stop taking reports in excel! Take reports only from the sales force automation software.

2) Ask the team to claim their expenses in the SFA software.

3) Let the team view their reports on the move right from a mobile app. So, they know where they are heading during the course of the month.

4) Have an internal person well trained for hand-holding the team in case of training issues.

5) During the Weekly sales call or the monthly sales call, ignore any data except the one from the Sales Automation software.

6) Stop giving route plans / PJP on paper. Instead, ask the team to log in to their mobile apps.

Once all the communication starts happening through the sales force automation software, the team will realize its benefits and adhere to its usage.

Android Apps for Tracking Salesmen

It has been observed that there is a certain level of mistrust between a company’s management and it’s sales team. This is more prominent in smaller sized companies where the owner himself is heading most of the business operations.

For smaller business owners GPS in a mobile phone is something which they love to use extensively.

Getting real time location of your field sales can give a feeling of assurance rather than wondering if it’s a problem with the sales team or something else.

For industries like FMCG, where the salesmen have to cover at least 40 outlets in a day, the knowledge that a salesman has visited the outlets is very substantial. A retailer has only a small budget that he can use to buy products. Any FMCG salesman who doesn’t visit an outlet will lose the market to a rival company. Retailers, in general, like to stock only those items whose supplies are regular.

With time these companies can evaluate the outlets based on their orders. But before this evaluation takes place, it’s important to know if the salesmen are actually visiting the outlets or not. Otherwise, the evaluation will be error-prone.

A mobile SFA app running on a cheap Android phone/tablet can easily determine the location of the salesperson as well as the route he had taken. Such apps should have a mechanism of automatically switching on the location tracking either at a particular time of the day or based on the salesperson’s attendance.

Also, the mobile SFA app should not drain out the battery quickly. In a real life environment, the location of a person would not change for 10-15 mins. So any location tracking information finer than this would not serve a purpose. In turn it will drain the salesperson’s phone’s battery.

What companies should look for in a Mobile Sales Force Automation Software

For customers, it becomes very confusing when it comes to purchasing a mobile Sales Force Automation solution.

There are so many providers, offering very basic features to ones with advanced features. It’s easy to compare them from a cost and features perspective. But looking deep inside there are a few other points that need to be kept in mind.

Five points that IT Managers, Sales heads should look at while finalizing on the mobile Sales Force Automation software.

1. Does the mobile sales force automation software need your present and future requirements?

Many times companies are not able to visualize the need beyond a certain point. So, you can say that you need location tracking or order management only. But do you think you will need other advanced features like Expense Management (TA/DA), deviations etc in the near future? If the solution has newer advanced features built-in, you may not buy them right away, but when you need them you can simply ask for an upgrade.

2. How does the mobile sales force automation provider support remote field users?

For a customer with a pan India workforce, it will be difficult for a solution provider to support users from different places. Does the provider have a mechanism or technology to resolve and fix issues of field workers remotely? Initially, the salespeople show resistance to any mobile SFA. Can the solution provider show you (with proof) that it’s a problem with the salesperson itself rather than the solution?

3. Is the solution provider ready to customize the mobile SFA software?

Say, you are a growing company and adding salespeople every few months. Or you are targeting different markets or channels. After some time, you may need that your mobile SFA software either integrated with your ERP or there might be some changes that you want to get fully assimilated into your company/channel. The solution provider should be willing to customize it for you. Of course, they will charge you for it.

If it’s a SaaS (cloud-based) provider, check if they have an on-premise model as well. Because any on-premise software can be customized to your exact needs.

4. Is the technology robust?

Field salespeople need to be spending time on sales and not worrying about the device’s battery being drained out.

A good Mobile SFA should work on a 2G network. It should not consume battery even if the location tracking is on.

It’s advisable to get 15 – 30 minutes of location updates rather than every second. This makes sure that the battery runs for the whole day and you always know where the person is.

The solution should be able to download large data even on 2G networks. Some companies have 50k different products or variants. Some want to show detailed order history. All this requires a huge amount of data to be downloaded over the phone. 3G networks are not available across the country. So, the mobile SFA solution should work in a 2G and offline environment.

5. Is the technology secure?

Mobile can be lost or stolen. Salespeople will have the app always logged in. Can the mobile SFA solution log out a salesman remotely? Is the data on the mobile device secure? Does the solution support limit access to a particular SIM or device?

Ideally, the data on the mobile device should be encrypted by the mobile SFA. So, even if the device falls into wrong hands, your data will be secure from prying eyes. Any sales coordinator or authorized person should be able to log out and deny access to any salesperson remotely.

Why FMCG companies need Mobile Sales Force Automation

Ten reasons why FMCG companies need Mobile Sales Force Solutions more than ever:-

1. Reduce reliance on distributors

Traditionally FMCG companies have relied heavily on distributors for pushing up sales and pushing new products into the market. The approach was to pile up inventories at distributors and stockists and the sales will take care of themselves. This doesn’t work anymore! Distributors have become wary of such tactics. With the competition heating up in the Indian market, distributors have options of changing companies.

2. Improve Sales Team performance

Field sales staff need to have data on their tips to communicate with the market. Readily available data like prices, schemes, contact details of retailers, etc can help them utilize their time so they can focus on their code activity i.e selling. Head Office can push new products catalogs to sales rep even before the products are launched. This enables them to gather market feedback even before the first prototype is ready.

3. Real-Time data

Mobile Sales Force Automation solutions can help FMCG companies in gathering real-time data. So, when Sales heads want to push a new product or scheme into the market, they can get the feedback within a couple of days rather than a month.

4. Secondary Sales data

Secondary sales data is needed by FMCG companies to forecast demand. In the current scenario, a distributor places orders to a company after the receives the secondary orders. With a mobile SFA, the company can get to know the market demand before the distributor/stockists places primary order.

5. Cross-sell and up sell

The company can use the secondary data collected to cross-sell or upsell products to retailers. This is very valuable in a competitive market.

6. Expand to newer markets

Expanding to newer markets becomes a breeze. The company headquarters can now track and manage the salesperson without an additional overhead of managerial layers. This is significant for smaller companies who want to control their cost of sales.

7. Connect to retailers

Companies can connect to the retailers directly. Until now, it was almost impossible for the company to have up to date contact details of the retailers. Now a salesman can punch in all the details of the retailers into the mobile SFA app.

8. Track merchandising activities

Merchandising activities can be tracked and managed by taking photographs from the Mobile SFA app. Merchandising becomes very important in modern trade where the company needs to make sure that the right product facings, as well as stock, are available. This is needed to stand out from the competition.

9. Track stock at distributor/stockists/retailers

Sales Rep can punch in stock details held at the distributor/stockist or retailer level. This can help companies to decide on their material planning objectives and help maintain optimum inventories.

10. Micro market analytics

Companies can gather micro market information correctly and swiftly. Earlier, the company had to compile paper-based DSR (Daily Sales Report) from all their salesmen and then compile them to gather an idea about demand. But other metrics like the best performing product or retailer in a micro-market were next to impossible. The data collected from mobile SFA can be utilized to gather such analytics.