It seems that mobile apps are destined to soon become the norm rather than the exception. That is especially true for applications used by sales people, as they spend so much of their time on the road.
Let's take a look at some interesting sales-related apps.
Sage Mobile Sales
Sage Mobile Sales for iPad provides sales representatives working for manufacturers, distributors and retailers with data such as order history, product availability and an online product catalog. It operates as a cloud-based subscription service running on Windows Azure, Microsoft's cloud platform. This app will have general availability in October.
"Through a cloud connection to Sage ERP, sales reps can process quotes and orders in the field, take payments and collect signatures using their iPad with the Sage Mobile Sales app," said Erik Kaas, vice president of Product Management for Sage North America.
FirstRain is all about customer intelligence. Within its portfolio, it owns Big Data analytics technology that finds business-focused Web and social media and integrates it into CRM and social enterprise platforms, including Salesforce.com, Chatter, Cisco WebEx Social, Microsoft SharePoint and Dynamics, Jive and Yammer, as well as research platforms such as Fidelity.com, Dun and Bradstreet's DNBI and Mergent.
Its latest tool involves the Salesforce Touch Platform, which enables development teams to create apps that integrate customer intelligence into tablet and mobile enterprise applications.
"FirstRain Touch combines Salesforce.com's mobile development platform with customer intelligence and visualization analytics," said Penny Herscher, CEO of FirstRain.
She said that a New York-based multi-national industrial conglomerate has been a customer of FirstRain for three years, with Touch-enabled apps going live over the past year. Its sales personnel use it to gain insights into companies and markets in which they sell, to help them engage their clients and prospects and identify opportunities.
Marketing, too, uses FirstRain to discover trending events inside industries to match products to markets and direct sales people to evolving opportunities. And executives can use it to stay on top of their top 15 customers, and the corresponding markets.
"Via an iPad, our app provides them with intelligence and analytics covering each sales person's accounts and their respective markets, covering industries by relevant markets, and delivering personalized information by individual user role," said Herscher. "The focus is on staying up-to-date on the account and identifying opportunity and risk triggers for each account executive."
Airpush deals with mobile advertising for publishers and advertisers. More than 65,000 apps and 2,000 advertisers rely on Airpush to deliver ad formatting and targeting. The company is about to release a mobile platform which will be known as AirDSP. Its aim is to provide a mobile real-time bidding capability that can be offered as an additional service to the company's 5,000-plus advertising clients.
Using AirDSP, these advertisers can run campaigns across all major mobile real-time bidding (RTB) exchanges and Sell Side Platforms (SSPs) from a single interface, using optimization and audience targeting tools in the industry, said Asher Delug, Airpush's founder and CEO. To create this functionality, Airpush partnered with Inneractive, MobClix, MoPub, OpenX, Smaato and other mobile real-time bidding supply sources around the world, in order to provide AirDSP clients with the ability to scale their campaigns.
Pipeliner is a sales tool that combines visualization, social team selling and a specific sales methodology to help with the sales process. Pipeliner Mobile CRM App for Apple and Android-based devices was created to enable users to access Pipeliner's sales features and synchronize all their data from the application's main screen. That makes it easier to take leads and other sales opportunities on the road. It further allows users to create, view and edit key prospect information, take notes, schedule meetings, complete activities and update prospect files.
Pipeliner mobile CRM for sales comes in CRM for Android phones and tablets and Desktop CRM Software for Mac, Apple iPhones and iPad tablets.
"There is the ability to synchronize automatically with the team database when you have access to the Internet," said Nikolaus Kimla, CEO of Pipelinersales Inc.
He gave the example of MTN Business, a cellular and communications service provider based in South Africa. The company needed a flexible and user-friendly tool that would allow it to monitor and maintain its sales pipeline in the office and on the road. Pipeliner provided an interface personnel can use to assign and follow-up leads, set targets and monitor performance. Its reports include chart and dashboard capabilities.
Icreon Tech, a software, Web and mobile app design and development firm, has been creating mobile apps for several years. It recently produced a mobile payment app for Starbucks, which uses it to process three million mobile payments a week. As well as improving the bottom line, the app allows Starbucks to access data from mobile payments to create targeted in-app offers and daily deals.
"Starbucks can optimize in-app notifications and offers by specifically targeting casual users (who barely use the app for payments) over power users (who make 90 percent of payments through the app)," said Devanshi Garg, COO at Icreon Tech.
Drew Robb is a freelance writer specializing in technology and engineering. Currently living in California, he is originally from Scotland, where he received a degree in geology and geography from the University of Strathclyde. He is the author of Server Disk Management in a Windows Environment (CRC Press).