6 Mobile CRM Mistakes You Do Not Want to Make

Thursday Apr 21st 2016 by Drew Robb
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With mobile CRM's ability to help sales people close deals, you want to get it right from the start. Avoid these mistakes as you plan your mobile CRM initiative.

Sales people are among the most mobile folks at any company. So it's no surprise that mobile CRM appears to be popular.

In its most recent Technology Trends study, IT research firm Computer Economics found that companies are investing in mobile applications at a higher rate than previously. More than two-thirds of enterprises are investing or considering investing in mobile applications, and mobile CRM is one of the biggest drivers.

"About 50 percent of those companies investing in mobile applications cite mobile CRM as one of the planned uses for their mobile application investment," said John Longwell, vice president of Research at Computer Economics. "If you have people in the field, giving them instant access to customer information can be a great advantage."

Enterprise Apps Today recently spotlighted ten mobile CRM apps. But buying software is only part of the road to successful mobile CRM initiatives.

Here we focus on some of the mistakes people tend to make in selecting or implementing mobile CRM tools, how to overcome resistance during the transition to mobile CRM, tips on making implementation easier, how to deal with legacy CRM apps that may not be suitable for mobility, and the importance of planning and strategy in setting a direction for ongoing mobile CRM initiatives.

Six of the most common mobile CRM mistakes:

  • Assuming mobile CRM apps will work sales miracles
  • Making mobile CRM all about management
  • Not converting mobile CRM skeptics
  • Not adequately addressing mobile CRM goals, training
  • Selecting the wrong mobile CRM software features
  • Not having a mobile CRM strategy

Assuming Mobile CRM Will Work Sales Miracles

A common mistake is to expect mobile CRM apps to miraculously transform the sales team. The basics of selling and sales management still apply. Mobile CRM can enhance them, but it won't replace them.

"The app itself will not compensate for an under-trained salesperson, or a bad or nonexistent sales process. The biggest mistake I see is companies thinking that tools can solve skill issues," said John Golden, chief strategy officer, Pipeliner CRM. "Train your salespeople on selling, then train them on using the mobile CRM to support how you want them to sell."

Making Mobile CRM All about Management

Another common error is only thinking things through from the management perspective. This is the ruin of software projects in general, not just mobile CRM.

Case in point: The U.S. Postal Service introduced a point-of-sales system in all post offices in the late 1990s. This enabled management to slice and dice numbers like never before and view sales from a local, regional or national level. But it slowed every sales transaction. The salesforce disliked it, but they were stuck with it.

You would think that companies would try to ensure any new sales or CRM software provides tangible benefit to employees. Yet this error continues to be perpetrated on unsuspecting sales people with alarming frequency.

"Too often, sales managers choose systems for their own needs without considering what their reps might want or need," said Luke Wallace, CRM Market Research associate at Software Advice. "When they do this, they run the risk of purchasing software that reps dislike and, therefore, won't use."

Not Converting Mobile CRM Skeptics

Another mistake, which applies more when a good CRM system of measureable benefit encounters resistance from certain quarters of the sales team, is letting recalcitrant members off the hook.

"Many sales managers are lackadaisical about reps who resist," said Wallace. "They let some reps get away with not using the system properly - or at all - which can lead to widespread adoption problems and, ultimately, costly shelfware."

Involve at least one or two sales reps in the mobile CRM software selection process, he suggested. At the very least, ask for their feedback before making a purchase. This helps generate early buy-in and ensures you select software that reps see value in using.

"Also be sure to explain to sales reps how the mobile CRM system will benefit their day-to-day operations, not just how it helps managers," Wallace said.

Reward early adopters and encourage them to share their mobile CRM success stories. Back this up by taking your time on implementation. Sales reps need time to learn how to use the system properly. Otherwise, they might get frustrated and dig in their heels, Wallace said.

Not Addressing Mobile CRM Goals, Training

Losing the backing of one group of users can signal the beginning of the end for mobile CRM success. So it's vital to look at the implementation as more than a mere IT initiative. Real people are involved; managing their concerns, lack of understanding and resistance is the make-or-break point of many projects.

"Companies need to invest time and resources into ensuring every user is using CRM to its full potential," said Sean Alpert, senior director, Product Marketing, Sales Cloud, Salesforce. "CRM allows sales teams and users to be more successful, but the tool is only as powerful as you make it."

His tips for success include getting aligned on the goals for the CRM deployment and creating a diverse range of training programs, from general system overviews to modules that show how to accomplish specific functions.

Selecting Wrong Mobile CRM Features

Selecting the right features for mobile CRM software is key, said Martin Schneider, head of Product Evangelism at SugarCRM. Some features are vital, others may appear vital at first but might be more appropriately classified as nice to have, and then others may be pushed by vendors but not very important at all. Making too many features available on mobile devices may hamper adoption.

"Think about what absolutely must be there in a mobile capacity. Use common sense and think about use cases," said Schneider. "For example, do reps really need to forecast their entire year on a phone? In many instances, trimming the feature set will enforce best practices."

Ideally, there should be a consistent CRM experience for the user, across mobile and desktop. This encourages the sales team to leave their laptops behind when they are on the road, relying instead on tablets and smartphones. However, the feature set must be properly designed and customized, Schneider said, so they can work seamlessly on their desktops upon their return to the office.

Not Having a Mobile CRM Strategy

Many companies have an existing CRM system that is not enabled for mobile usage. They must determine how to transition from that platform to mobile CRM. Those with legacy systems that pre-date mobile often require a migration.

"If you bolt on a mobile component, data silos will be created — and not just around the customer, but also around the metadata-like activities like calendar and meeting notes," Schneider said.

The downside of this is that reps can lose sight of what is important to the customer. In the end, believes Schneider, bolting on a mobile component is more difficult and cumbersome than migrating to a flexible, cloud-based and mobile-friendly platform.

But whether the implementation is from legacy to mobile, or simply extending a modern CRM system so it performs better externally, the role of planning cannot be understated. With more than half of high-performing companies currently delivering or planning to deliver sales directly to customers and prospects via a mobile app within the next two years, according to Software Advice survey findings, it's important that companies think through their mobile CRM plans carefully and make it a top priority.

"The greatest mistake that companies make is in the initial deployment of their mobile CRM strategy," said Greg Gsell, director of Sales Cloud Product Marketing, Salesforce. "From the outset, sales managers need to think about the value they are providing to sales reps and how they can best integrate their data within their mobile CRM."

The most successful companies, he said, are deliberate with their mobile CRM strategies. They identify and train on the top use mobile cases. They understand their reps' pain points and start solving these first. This not only adds focus, it reduces the initial budget and improves return on investment. This will then pave the way for more mobile features to be added.

"Companies and consumers rely on their mobile devices more than ever before, so without a mobile connection, opportunities to engage customers and prospects in the right way are often lost," Gsell said. "Whether it's face-to-face interaction or contact through mobile, sales reps need access to their customer data. Denying your sales team a mobile method to consume customer information can mean the difference between closing a deal and losing it."

Drew Robb is a freelance writer specializing in technology and engineering. Currently living in Florida, 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).

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