In today's hectic business world, sales calls, meetings and any number of other events routinely take people away from their desks and, more importantly, away from their computers. This limits the access they have to their customer relationship management (CRM) software and contact databases. For salespeople in particular, this makes success difficult because they depend on the information maintained in these systems.
However, the proliferation of mobile devices has made remote access to these resources possible, and mobile CRM products have arrived to help close the gap between onsite meetings and the desktop sitting back at the office. With the right mobile CRM solution, salespeople can access important data from company servers and can update information quickly and efficiently from their mobile devices.
The key to this is finding the right solution based on your enterprise's unique needs. However, there are some must-have features to look for when trying to find the perfect mobile CRM solution:
- Growth Potential - When choosing the right mobile CRM solution, be sure to account for your company's growth potential, and then consider whether or not the software will be able to handle the anticipated increase in workload and business expansion. Adding additional salespeople increases the need for collaboration and retrieving cross-team information. A truly scalable solution should be able to operate as effectively with a whole fleet of users as it does for a single individual.
- Ease of Use - As with any business product, a new mobile CRM solution will only be profitable if it is used regularly. Look for a mobile CRM solution that has an easy-to-use interface and intuitive features. Flashy interfaces and a multitude of features may seem impressive. In the end, however, these simply add clutter to the product and confuse the user. A successful implementation of a new technology solution hinges on user approval, and any I.T. administrator will say adoption is best achieved when the product is simple and familiar.
- Synchronization Capabilities - One of the most important features a mobile CRM product should have is the ability to synchronize data between mobile devices and desktops. Look for an application that can synchronize not only while in the office, but also out on location. Mobile synchronization assures access to the most current data for each client account, even moments before walking into an important meeting. It also allows salespeople to send updated records of any recent transactions back to the office so work on the order can begin immediately.
- Task and Appointment Scheduling - Choosing a mobile CRM product that also has complete scheduling features, such as those found in Outlook, will prevent users from overlooking deadlines and missing important meetings. Quality mobile CRM applications will provide users with the ability to schedule events and set up reminders that will either e-mail or alert them about impending deadlines or upcoming appointments.
- Tracking Capabilities - A good mobile CRM application has to give users an at-a-glance run down of where their clients stand at any given time. There is nothing worse than going on a sales call not being able to remember what happened during the previous meeting. Attempting this without comprehensive CRM tracking capabilities can be like trying to light a fire without any matches. Success is possible, but more often than not, the individual simply ends up rubbing two sticks together, hoping for a spark.
- Handheld Compatibility - Another critical feature for mobile CRM applications is cross-compatibility with the myriad of handheld devices currently available. In larger companies, rollouts of new devices occur in cycles, which have the potential to create compatibility headaches between older and newer products. In small companies, employees may be asked to provide their own mobile devices; this also increases the diversity of handhelds. It is imperative to look for a mobile CRM solution that is interchangeable across multiple mobile operating systems, such as Palm and Windows Mobile.
- Compatibility With a Standalone Version - As often as people use their handhelds, they almost always return to their home base - the desktop in their office. Mobile CRM solutions that incorporate into a larger standalone application ensure the ability to jump between the two without any disturbance to productivity. Using a dual product which incorporates a mobile and desktop version assures accuracy during desktop/mobile synchronization. It also increases the probability of successful adoption because users will become familiar with the same interface, whether on their device or on their desktop.
- Professional User Training - The last critical feature to look for in a mobile CRM application is user training. Several of the most reputable mobile CRM software providers offer professional training programs for users, showing them how to best use the application to maximize their efforts and close deals.
With the convenience of mobile devices, business can literally happen anywhere. However, this does not need to come at the expense of productivity and efficiency. Mobile CRM applications, particularly those with the features listed above, provide a way to stay connected to mission-critical systems and databases while away from the office.
Author Bio: James Wong is the co-founder and CEO of Avidian Technologies.