Custom Mobile Apps Take CRM Returns To Maximum


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Talk to the tablet.

Making CRM go mobile used to mean having to live on the technological bleeding edge.

No longer. Thanks to rapid advances in cloud CRM, coupled with critical-mass uptake of high-powered smartphones and tablets–iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry, and Android, here’s looking at you–it’s never been easier to put just-in-time customer information in the hands of your salespeople.

Arguably, however, there’s a new mobility frontier to master, and that’s creating “consumerized” business applications that are just as easy to use–and dare we say, fun?–as the latest mobile apps on offer from Apple, Facebook, Google, or Yelp.

3 Waves Of CRM Mobility

To understand the types of business returns that are now possible thanks to mobile CRM apps, it helps to know where we’ve come from. Briefly, we’ve seen three waves of CRM mobility:

  1. Accessing data: These projects were designed to take selected data from Siebel, Salesforce, or Oracle CRM On Demand, and make it viewable on a smartphone. In general, we worked with Pyxis Mobile–now known as Verivo–to make this happen.
  2. Tapping browsers: With the introduction of modern, full-featured browsers on devices such as the iPhone and iPad, the evolution of cloud computing, and mobile-focused sites such as Salesforce Touch, salespeople now have access to pretty much their full CRM application, all from their smartphone or tablet’s built-in browser.
  3. Creating custom apps: The latest wave in CRM mobility is creating custom-built, native iOS or Android apps that are fully consumerized, meaning they look, feel, and work just like any other well-designed mobile app on the device. Only–in this case–they’re tapping the power of your underlying CRM data and related business processes.

Case Studies: Maximizing Mobile Returns

Why bother with custom apps? Well, as great as the mobile version of Salesforce might be, some smartphone and tablet usage scenarios demand more–as demonstrated by two customer projects we now have underway:

  • Medical device manufacturer: This firm’s sales reps–who are themselves physicians–literally go into operating rooms to help other doctors use their very specialized product, to make sure everything is going fine. To maximize sales force productivity, the manufacturer wants to design a mobile app that includes videos and instructional information, and which can be taken into operating rooms.
  • Major investment firm: The firm is pursuing a custom iPad app that will make it easy for salespeople to identify their next steps: who they should be meeting with, full customer information at a glance, as well as all of the products that a customer could be buying, but isn’t. It also wants to present that information in an interface that combines eye-popping Angry Birds (I’m exaggerating) graphics with excellent usability.

Mobile App Developers: Going Cheap

Custom apps are becoming a reality thanks to the related development costs continuing to decline, as well as the development tools and underlying platforms continuing to improve. In addition, cloud CRM systems continue to increase the available data-access options, and even allow for storing information offline.

While it’s early days for creating custom apps, the possibilities seem boundless. Instead of requiring salespeople to manually log every client visit, why not mashup devices’ built-in geolocation with a Foursquare-like paradigm for logging visits: “It looks like you’re visiting the site of Customer X. Do you wish to record a customer site visit?”

The latest version of the iOS operating system that runs the iPhone and iPad, meanwhile, includes a microphone icon in the keyboard for every pop-up app. What does this mean? Simply put, the dream of voice-entered notes for your CRM application–one of my 2012 predictions for CRM–is now possible, and built in. With just a little training, your salespeople could be using it tomorrow.

Harness The Power Of Mobile

Already, nearly every Fortune 500 firm is using the iPad, and many have adopted it specifically for sales teams. On the flipside, salespeople arguably have the attention span of a gnat. Creating custom CRM apps helps keep salespeople not only informed, but engaged, and practicing the sorts of sales behaviors that lead most directly to closed deals, revenue, and thus returns.

But how can you take advantage of the new mobile possibilities? Start planning. That means first articulating your overarching business goals, and then working backwards from there.

That’s been the approach practiced by the two customers mentioned above. The investment firm, for example, is targeting increased wallet share, by increasing penetration into existing accounts. Accordingly, by arming its sales force to the teeth, when they’re on a customer call, they’ll have every required piece of information immediately to hand.

For the medical device manufacturer, meanwhile, its business goal is to make sales reps more efficient–that is, productive–because maintaining a sales force comprised of physicians is expensive. By ensuring that required tools and information are immediately to hand via a mobile app, their sales reps can more rapidly answer questions, troubleshoot problems, and work with more clients.

By articulating clear business goals and identifying how mobile CRM can help make them happen, building mobile apps quickly becomes a no-brainer.

Learn More

Innoveer Solutions, now part of Cloud Sherpas, helps businesses maximize their CRM returns by identifying desired business goals, finding the right tools and technology for the job, and delivering rapid implementations that remain focused on achieving your desired business capabilities.

Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Flickr user Johan Larsson.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adam Honig
Adam is the Co-Founder and CEO of Spiro Technologies. He is a recognized thought-leader in sales process and effectiveness, and has previously co-founded three successful technology companies: Innoveer Solutions, C-Bridge, and Open Environment. He is best known for speaking at various conferences including Dreamforce, for pioneering the 'No Jerks' hiring model, and for flying his drone while traveling the world.


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