1) Sales Training Automation
If you thought you are going to call the field users in a classroom from every far-off territory to train, it’s not going to work. Repeating that for newly joined resources is even more impractical. The software platform that you choose has to come bundled with a mechanism to
- A) propagate training through the sales network hierarchy itself
- B) access to multi-media reference material within the mobile app
2) Sensitivity to End User Experience
Keep it simple – Make a clear distinction between functionality that is core to your goals and functionality that appears fancy or nice-to-have. Remember your objective from this automation is field force productivity, order fulfillment, increasing no of stores and great shelf display. Given the skill level of field force in most countries and the high attrition rate, keeping the mobile app functionality simple is crucial to success.
User Interface – Life in the field for sales personnel is challenging. It’s fast paced. Automation is to make it faster. A poorly designed application interface might act as a speed breaker and not be seen by a field force as a friendly tool. On the other hand, a cleverly designed app with business process context awareness will be seen as an enabler.
Robust Technology – We all know out there in the streets, basements and country side, low cellphone signals or no signal is part of life. No buffering, no stoppage of mobile app functioning is the basic thumb rule. If you cannot guarantee this, do not automate.
3) Real time Field User Support
Irrespective of how robust the software is, field users need to be able to call and get support. High turnover and skill levels make real time telephonic support a must for ensuring sustained adoption levels and success.
4) Engaging Platform
A lot of field force automation is about enabling processes, which do not have direct accounting impact. For such software to succeed, it has to offer value to the end user at every point of interaction and more importantly, it has to engage the users with insightful information and lure them into using the platform more and more. Remember a networking platform such as Liked-in offers value in every interaction but is mostly the platform itself that keeps pulling us back on to it and make those interactions possible.
5) Don’t Ignore the Handheld Device Matters
Device Size-Smartphone size is the most handy for a field force. Don’t use a phablet or a tablet to compensate for a poorly designed app interface. Bigger devices make sense only when field force has a very strong need for running multi-media on the same device.
Field Testing-In addition to ensuring on-paper specifications of OS, Memory, Connectivity, GPS etc, do make sure chosen device model is field tested. Manufacturers do tend to tweak the OS that might conflict with a few of your app functionalities. Field testing is also a way to be sure about batter life.
Remote Device Management- Mobile app platform that you choose should come with in-built device management and monitoring features. For elaborate application access and data control, it should come bundled with MDM software features.
Device Procurement Policy- Different companies find different policies suiting their environment and HR policies. Some opt for fixed reimbursement to field sales personnel and let employees purchase the device of their choice, others fully fund it. Make sure a clear decision is made about this up front.