Get Your Reps In the Cloud

Ofer M. Yourvexel

Sales reps must have missed the memo about the paperless office issued sometime in the early ’90s. While in New York recently, I spotted a dozen or more sales reps woefully trapped in the past.

How could I tell? The guy schlepping down a crowded sidewalk laden with an oversized sample case and a dog-eared catalog stuffed under his arm, glancing at building numbers and frantically checking his watch were the most obvious signs. Clearly he was running late for an appointment and trying to find the correct address.

Others may have been slightly less conspicuous, but large sample cases and phonebook-sized booklets jammed under an arm are usually pretty sure indications that you are witnessing what should be a dying breed: the paper-centric sales rep.

Affordable and comprehensive sales solutions accessed through easily portable tablet computers can help reps for wholesalers make the leap from being far behind to very current – and they can do it almost  overnight with a mobile sales force automation (MSFA) plan.

MSFA makes a huge difference in wholesale sales, where a sleek, full-color, easily searchable online catalog can speed the ordering process and enhance sales meetings. MSFA also can cut the time reps spend on administrative tasks like calling the warehouse to check on availability. That gives them more time to work productively with their clients, briefing them on new products and trends. It can improve sales substantially. 

When your sales reps look buttoned up, your whole company looks buttoned up.  Sales reps play a critical role in the success of your company. Putting tablet technology in their hands can revolutionize how you do business, how your company is perceived, and foster stronger relationships between your company and your clients.

ROI Is Immediate

With technologies including cloud computing and software as a service (SaaS), sales apps on portable devices are affordable and flexible. And they save trees and backs. No more paper catalogs to print and update. No more, or at least fewer, samples to case up and drag around from appointment to appointment.

Another compelling reason companies make the leap to iPad sales apps is that the cost of entry is low and implementation is fast. Small businesses without a single iPad in house often can be up and running on these easy-to-use apps a few days after securing an iPad. The start-up period is longer for companies that want to integrate the sales app with an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, but is still typically measured in weeks. 

In addition to high-def and full-color e-catalogs, functions like real-time stock level checks, and immediate order processing are extremely helpful. Some apps allow for customer signatures on electronic orders, real-time customer credit checks, and even GPS functionality that help reps plan out the most logical route for the day and quickly locate the offices of customers and prospects.

Don’t get left behind. Paper-based sales should be a thing of the past. They lead to outdated information, misplaced orders, ordering errors, lost faxes and worse. It’s not too late to bring your company into the 21st century. Leap beyond paper-based systems, and explore the varieties of tools available that do a lot more than just eliminate paper and pens.

Ofer M. Yourvexel is the CEO of WRNTY Ltd. His management experience spans the global high-tech and retail sectors.