Mobile Computing Powers Successful Sales Teams – Interview with UNTETHER.tv's Rob Woodbridge

Rob Woodbridge

Photo courtesy of Ottawa Business Journal

These days it is tough to talk about sales excellence without talking about the mobile computing technologies that are helping sales teams be successful. We recently caught up with tech entrepreneur, mobile industry expert, UNTETHER.TV host and author, Rob Woodbridge, to talk about the latest mobile technologies and how they are powering leading sales teams.

Peak: Mobile computing has become mainstream and some of us literally live in our devices, but how is mobile technology impacting the way businesses work?

Rob: There isn’t a piece of business today that isn’t being impacted – positively or negatively – because of the wide adoption and use of mobile. It obviously starts with real-time information that can be accessed in, er, real time. There are no longer a delays in business metrics, customer feedback and those that were built into the system that businesses used to have as an advantage over their customers – however slight it was. Real time means pricing, customer/peer reviews and product/service availability. The significance of real time is an erosion of brand loyalty with the mid-tier brands – customers have the power and they are flexing their muscle.

With this real-time access to anything the pitch and tone of sales needs to change dramatically. The world’s offerings are on display making almost everything – except the scarce things that are extracted or grown of the earth – a commodity. This puts emphasis on the way something is positioned (for example, the value of a product or the customer benefit of the service), deemphasizing the features. Sales changes from bells and whistles to driving tonnage, increasing basket size or creating deeper engagement with a customer.

Because of the way mobile intersects our day and empowers our decision-making process, the rules of engagement have been drastically altered. There are more ways to reach customers as a result but now the focus becomes about context. Context wraps a layer around sales that, if used properly, helps close deals.

Peak: CRM systems are now commonplace in sales organizations, and with such a high proportion of staff in the field, one might expect the sales function to be leading the charge in terms of adoption of new mobile technologies. Is this true? Is the salesforce behind or ahead of the curve vs the rest of the organization?

Rob: The virtual act of marrying a company’s CRM with mobile is the panacea for sales but it is really just the first steep step in integrating mobile into a business. It is one thing to have access to information on the go – contacts, documents, locations and business history for example – it is another thing altogether to use it to build business and close deals. The sales force has the most to gain from using the tools mobile brings and are often the first to adopt the physical technologies (hardware like laptops, smartphones and tablets) but not when it comes to adjusting the sales process based on the softer side of mobile (the analytics, data refinement and targeting).

Most of the emphasis these days is on marketing, customer engagement and retention – something that mobile is rapidly becoming very good at and something that most organizations understand. Bringing new sales techniques that incorporate a combination of social, local and mobile means a partial blend of the marketing and sales role – or at least a bigger awareness of how each terminate in the devices they, and their customers, carry.

Peak: What are some of the most exciting technologies you are seeing that can help the salesforce excel today?

Rob: Not to get all “touchy-feely” but tools that help in relationship discovery and development are in focus today. Web services like LinkedIn have already proven considerable value in the sales process and mobile is a natural extension to this. Mobile tools that add context to relationships and enable educated conversation are technologies that can really help in sales today. Think about using mobile as a contextual, location-aware, relationship management tool that brings these elements together with corporate and social knowledge – a strong base to build from.

Peak: What do you think the “untethered” salesforce will look like in 5 years?

Rob: 5 years is hard to predict when no one really saw the entire mobile and app revolution coming in the first place so take this in context to that. There will be two big shifts that happen to the sales force in the coming years. The first is the operationalization and mobilization of the right data to serve the right customer. This will lead to a more tailored, focused sales effort – think of it as 1 to 1 sales on a mass scale. The second broad trend is a deeper blurring of the sales and marketing responsibilities when it comes to relationship development and customer retention.

Most of the challenges ahead won’t be technology-related, they will be around our ability to modify human behaviour to adapt to the changing sales landscape brought on by the possibilities of mobile.

Exciting times indeed. Check out more of Rob’s insights at UNTETHER.tv