A few years ago, business-to-business (B2B) sales people carried catalogs in their cars and delivered them to sales prospects as a way to promote their products and encourage their prospects to purchase. Customer perused those catalogs and assembled their orders, which were phoned in and processed by customer service representatives.
Today, the same process of interacting with customers and purchasing B2B products looks nothing like it used to. Where sales people and customers alike used to hit the catalog for immediate product information or to place an order, today’s customers and sales people are much more likely to hit the web for up-to-the-minute details. What’s more, the way that information is being consumed on the web is changing. What used to be the domain of the desktop computer or laptop is quickly being usurped by the smart phone or tablet device.
In short, you need mobile commerce capability for on both sides of the sales equation—for your sales people and your customers alike—if you plan to flourish in today’s mobile-driven business environment. Here’s why:
Your customers are shopping “in the field.” The days of strict 9-to-5 work hours are a thing of the past. Most company employees have remote and mobile access to work email as well as the ability to complete day-to-day tasks away from the office. In short, your customers are just as likely to be “in the field” or “working remotely” as they are to be “in the office.” Ask yourself:
- Are your customers handling email and routine tasks, including placing orders for products via mobile device while commuting home from the office?
- Are your customers placing orders from their living room sofa after putting the kids to bed?
- Are your customers looking for solutions your company provides while waiting to board a plane at the airport?
Your sales team is using mobile technology on a day-to-day basis to engage in the sales process. Or at least they should be. Your internal end external sales teams are less and less likely to be tethered to a desktop or laptop computer. Instead, most sales people are mobile, often working remotely or from the waiting area of the airport, and they are probably using their smart phone or table device. To remain relevant in an increasingly mobile environment:
- Your sales reps need to be able to quickly log in and provide up-to-date product information and pricing while sitting across the table from a customer.
- Tablet devices provide more flexibility and portability than laptops and are more likely to get used on a regular basis.
- Tablet devices are easier to get through airport security for your traveling sales force, making them a more pleasant technology option.
- Smart phones are always in a pocket, brief case or purse—at the ready to answer product questions on the fly.
Savvy manufacturers and distributors recognize the increasing power of having an effective mobile commerce strategy in place and either have one presently or are making strides toward implementing one. They realize that a customer is more likely to see their mobile site first, with traditional ecommerce playing a supporting role and are adjusting their strategies accordingly. Those that do will have an easier time remaining relevant as more and more of their customer base moves to taking their B2B business mobile.