I often get asked this question, when I tell people that 19th Mile is a mobile sales CRM – “Does it mean the entire CRM is in a mobile app?” The answer is no. A mobile sales CRM (at least according to us) doesn’t mean mobile only. It means mobile first. Mobile first means that the application has been designed first keeping in mind that the primary device for usage, both data entry, and consumption, is going to be a mobile device like a smartphone or a tablet.
However, though a mobile device might be the primary tool for data entry and consumption, it would be a mistake to ignore the desktop user e.g. sales leaders, sales operations, sales enablement, inside sales etc. The common sense rule of thumb should be that you give your users comfortable access to what they need, where they need it and in the device they access the most. The objective is (or should be) always to enable the user to perform their tasks in the best way possible. So, while a field sales professional needs a mobile app that allows easy access to updated client information and a no-fuss way to input and report on actions, a sales manager needs to be able to view, analyze, and share this information easily on a desktop. Or a sales rep can use the mobile app for data entry, and he could use the web app for reporting. In this context, a mobile-first app can be enhanced by a web component that provides the right combination of features from the mobile app and additional web-only functionality.
The next question I get is “What’s the big deal about being mobile first”?
When you go mobile first in your sales CRM, you’ve essentially decided to start by designing for a much smaller screen size for someone who is in the field sales. From there on you take an approach of progressive enhancement. This helps because:
- It forces you to be economical in design: no bells and whistles or functionality that “might be nice to have”. Also, no unnecessary data entry, taps, and swipes unless you really need that information and will give the user something in return for their effort. So you end up with a tool that focuses on core value – that’s always a good thing.
- It allows you to take advantage of native mobile features such as cameras, gyroscopes, audio recorders, and GPS, using which you can give your users a lot more bang for their buck. These features take advantage of essential smartphone features in a sales context, which can help the field sales rep enhance their productivity on a day-to-day basis, and automate a lot of repetitive tasks.
- It allows you to reach many more users. Depending on the profile and work environment of your primary user base, a mobile-first approach can make or break your product adoption. People who work in the field (think sales professionals, field technicians, delivery personnel) need their mobile tools to work with them.
The combined impact of the above is to make a sales CRM much more accessible and usable than its web or desktop counterpart. It is not uncommon for mobile first CRMs to achieve adoption rates in the high 80s or 90s. With such adoption rates, ROI is naturally much higher.