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Rusty Bishop

Dumb reps are a waste of time and resources for manufacturers of high-value products. But there’s a simple way to turn even the most uninformed sales rep into the smartest rep your buyer has ever met, thanks to mobile technology.

Given the pace of mobile computing innovation and smartphones, it’s never been easier for your marketing team to influence the sales of high-value products. It doesn’t require MBAs, epic design skills or coders. It’s a simple matter of cutting through the noise. But, it’s cutting through the noise that is the hardest part.

Take, for example, the oft-quoted research study by SiriusDecisions that buyers of B2B products have completed 70 percent of their buying decision with online research. To address this, manufacturers have poured money into their websites, filling them with videos, tables, attributes, and a myriad of details that ultimately make all of us look exactly like our competitors. To test this, Google your top product by its generic name and compare your product page to a few competitors. Warning: This exercise might make you a little uncomfortable.

Yet, the majority of B2B buyers (60 percent) still state that a face-to-face meeting with a salesperson is the most preferred channel when making a final purchase decision, according to SAP’s 2015 study, “What’s The Future of Sales?”

We believe the reason so many high-value product buyers still rely on sales people to make the ultimate decision is in the deep, relevant details. A product’s attributes can either make or break the success of the buyer’s project. For example, it can pose a significant safety risk if the wrong electrical circuit is purchased and installed in a building.

Your buyers still rely meetings with your sales people because they:

  1. Cannot determine what differentiates your products from your competitors
  2. Cannot find the relevant details to make a decision from online resources or other sources
  3. Don’t have the time to research all the alternatives and trust your rep/company to help them make a decision

The buyer’s decision to spend her valuable time with your rep is the perfect opportunity to help them uncover the relevant details that they need to make a purchase decision.

However, when your reps meet with these well informed buyers without the proper tools to address the relevant details buyers can’t find own their own, they look dumb. Ill-informed reps are a liability for manufacturers of high-value products, as they consistently fail to win sales due to their lack of product knowledge. They are also a waste of time for buyers, and that erodes trust in your brand.

The good news is, there’s a simple way to turn your reps into the most knowledgeable resource a buyer could ever need. Mobile technology is the ideal way to provide your reps with the critical product details they must have in order to increase the buyer’s confidence and trust that your brand has the right solution they are seeking.

Despite this convenient solution, manufacturing lags all other relevant verticals except Media, Professional Services and Public Sector in the investment and adoption of mobile selling tools and apps, according to a report from Salesforce.com. The very types of tools that your reps need to stop looking dumb and deliver the relevant details to customers are already available, and they being used in other industries with great success. Your competitors either know this or will know it soon, and, they will eventually make the decision to spend money to help their teams succeed and stop looking so uninformed in front of buyers.

Fortunately, if your company has yet to launch a mobile initiative to the level of success you want, it likely has nothing to do with you.

The good news is manufacturers just need to distill it down the basics. Once you have the basics in place, the rest of your mobile sales tool will build itself and, you’ll get the glory.

The basics are simple. The best mobile sales tool for your reps, whether they are internal or external, is the one that provides on-demand relevant product details.

For every manufacturer sales team, the relevant details may be different. For some, it will be specs and images, while for others it may be videos that show how a robot moves in a facility. Still, others will need to cross-reference your SKUs with those of a competitor or discontinued products to help buyers find the best fit.

Delivering these types of tools to reps’ fingertips is entirely doable, and now, more affordable than ever before. Even small to mid-market manufacturers have begun to invest in them.

Ultimately, the ability to access on-demand relevant product details could be the ace-in-the-hole during in person encounters that:

  • Differentiates your products from your competitors
  • Provides buyers with critical details that are difficult to find online or in the literature
  • Reduces choice for buyers with too little time to make informed decisions on their own

The questions are, where are the relevant details your buyers need to make the decision to purchase your high-value products and why don’t your reps have it at their fingertips?

Rusty Bishop is the CEO of FatStax.

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