Sales people have traditionally traveled around with thick sales binders, had three minute customer sales calls over a pallet of goods, and “operated under the radar” of sales management. Now, new technologies are changing the entire landscape – from smart phones to digital tablets – and companies’ sales organizations have to adjust to compete in the modern digital world.

Via many discussions with clients and prospects in the food industry, we have identified three opportunities and competitive advantages to connect the company’s sales force and make it truly mobile.

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Business Opportunity 1: Become Paperless

Media has for many years reported on the paperless society and how it will replace pen and paper. The truth is that digital tools – such as tablets – are complementary in nature. And they bring much greater benefits than simply being easy to carry around.

Printed materials are rarely updated and quickly become outdated. Any errors in sales sheets and catalogs are usually not corrected and remain until the next reprint or until the campaign is over. By producing and distributing all campaign and product materials via a secure Web service, you are guaranteed that the sales materials are always up-to-date. You also know how many sales people have adopted to use the digital sales content and can see which ones are still using printed content. This provides an opportunity for sales managers to provide coaching and training on an individual basis when needed.

Business Opportunity 2: Make Joint Visits “After the Fact”

An effective sales coach bases his engagements on what each individual sales person needs in order to perform at maximum potential. Having regular follow-up meetings with the sales persons are important in trying to understand why not everyone reaches their stated goals. However, it is not very time efficient, and almost impossible, to accompany each sales person on customer visits.

With a digital solution, a sales manager can not only see all the sales person’s customer meetings, but can also view the details of what happened during each meeting and which product information created the most interest from the customer. Comparing this data to the company’s top performers, a sales manager can coach and provide relevant advice and set clear and measurable targets for the sales person. Put simply – Joint visits “after the fact”.

Business Opportunity 3: Built-in Market Research

Whether you are giving an internal presentation at your company, or coaching your sales people, or negotiating for the best retail space at your resellers, you require specifics. You need facts. However, you no longer need to use expensive external consultants to obtain the necessary materials to base your decisions on. Use those already visiting the customers – your own sales people.

By using a digital sales solution, your sales people will have a dialogue with customers using the content on the tablets, thus creating valuable data for analysis. Over time, this data provides a detailed customer profile that supports your organization as a whole, and assists each sales person for further engagement. The solution also makes it possible to create orders, conduct customer surveys and report how point-of-sales materials are used and positioned within each store.

Take One Step at a Time

We understand that it can be difficult to realize the benefits of a digital sales solution compared to your current operations and business goals. The real benefit you get from the digital sales solution is a replacement of the static and linear PowerPoint presentation with a tool that fosters interactivity, engagement and a valuable dialog with each customer. It is important that you create a mobile strategy that clearly explains the purpose and goal of the initiative, and outlines each stage in the process.

Dare to go digital, but understand why and do it one step at a time.