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Author's profile photo Trent Young

4 Challenges for Mobilizing Data in Field Sales and 5 Steps to Overcoming Them

In the past years, I have had many conversations with companies considering or in the process of implementing mobile analytics and reporting for field sales.  Many companies have struggled with this shift in delivering data to their sales users.  This shift is not about introducing a new mobile app—many times it’s about changing behavior, making tough choices and transforming how data is being used in the field.

Here are four of the most common struggles I hear from organizations looking to take their data mobile for field sales.

“We send this data out daily (or weekly) in Excel and sales likes it that way so they can pivot and slice the data how they want to analyze their territories.”

Really?  Your reps spend time slicing their territory every week?!  Imagine having 300 sales reps getting data every week and playing the data analyst role—what an inefficient use of time.  Leave data analysis to the data analysts.  Step One:  Agree on the data and KPIs that really drive performance and get out of the business of making your sales people analysts.

“My sales managers ask for too much ad-hoc data. If they can’t get this data they need on demand it won’t work.”

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a time for ad hoc analysis, but usually in sales they are asking for this to tell a story and often it’s a story around why they didn’t meet the goals for the KPIs you agreed on in Step One above.  Step Two:  Stop the ad-hoc reporting frenzy that enables sales managers to shape the data in order to explain why they didn’t meet XYZ sales KPI.

“My team uses pdf reports, so giving them interactive visualizations is too big of a paradigm shift for them.” 

It’s true, it is a big change and change is difficult.  Step Three:  Start with numeric mobile reports, and visualize second.  Better yet, provide the numbers they are used to and the visuals.  Step Four:  Focus on the benefits of the interactive visualizations, not the differences.  Can you sort and filter a pdf or printed report?  Give examples of how they can use the new capabilities to their benefit.

“My team won’t adopt it, we’ve tried new tech before and it failed.”

It’s  good to be skeptical when considering new technologies. Just because the latest tech is appealing, doesn’t mean it will be embraced.  Step Five:  Make the adoption of new technologies about transformation and improvement of how sales reps manage their territory.  Delivering up-to-date market share, inventory, order and compensation data within two taps and in-the-moment isn’t about being trendy, it’s about driving decisions and data-driven discussions with customers that yield results.

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