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Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Use a Website as a Mobile Sales App

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A lot of companies wonder why they can’t just use their websites as a mobile sales app for their sales team to look up product information on their iPads.

After all, your product information is already on your website. And, most companies have websites. Seems like a pretty logical conclusion to open up Safari on your iPad, pull up your website and show your products to prospects, right?

Many companies have indeed deployed iPads and expect their sales teams to simply use the existing information on their website to sell. We recommend you check out Why companies deploy iPads? and the Guide to Launching iPads; two free ebooks as part of a series on choosing the right iPad app for your company.

For some, using their company website is a perfect solution. For others, a company website doesn’t fit their sales process and issues with Internet access in the field significantly reduces productivity.

So, let’s compare the two, starting with using your website as a mobile sales app.

A website as a mobile sales app

Websites are built for the Web–the Internet. The Internet is great for consumers to learn about things and share information.  Mobile access to the Internet makes your website a useful tool for sales people on their iPads, since your marketing team is probably filling it up with great information, right?  Well, if I had a nickel for every time a sales person (and sometimes marketing) has told me their website “sucks”, I wouldn’t need to write this blog.

Advantages

  • Your information is already present. This saves you from having to re-create content.
  • Your information is up to date. Most companies regularly update their websites.
  • It’s familiar. Your sales team probably knows your website very well.
  • Prospects see the pages. When your rep shows the customer the web page on their iPad, they know where to go when they are navigating on their own.

Disadvantages

  • Unreliable internet. When the Internet is not available or weak, your iPad is a paperweight. Useless as a sales tool.
  • Slow loading pages.   Server issues, no mobile site, bad internet -for a number of reasons, sometimes it is painfully slow to load webpages in the field. That results in BORED prospects and impatient reps.
  • Search results too general. What happens when you search for a product or brochure on your website. Do you have to scroll through dozens of entries or click through to see if its the page that you want? Ask your sales team how useful that is.
  • Difficult to send multiple files by email. Every rep will be in a situation where a prospect needs multiple brochures or product details. Website page emailing is done by creating a web-link to the file in the Mail App on the iPad. This makes it impractical to send multiple files at once to a prospect.
  • Not designed as a sales tool. Websites are designed for customers and Google bots, not sales people.  There is no flow, no solution selling, etc.
  • Lacks integration with existing systems. Want analytics of how your sales team is interacting with customers on their mobile device?  CRMs such as Oracle and Salesforce.com won’t work with your website to log details of a sales call.

 

Mobile sales apps

Advantages

  • Sales collateral always available. All the important product information and presentations are ready for offline viewing.
  • Sales-focused content.  The information your sales team needs to sell products and services is often very different from consumer information on your website.  Think presentations, manuals, specs and details, etc.
  • Send customers multiple files. Most sales apps, like FatStax, are designed to send an array of product information in one single email.
  • Apps actually are sales tools. Mobile sales apps are focused on field sales people’s daily functions.

Disadvantages

  • Price. Most iPad sales apps cost about $25 per user/per month, depending on the customization and collateral you want to put into the application.
  • Time to deploy. It can take some time to get the right mobile app built and launched.
  • Build new content. To take advantage of a mobile app, you may need to re-format or create some new selling content.

For more information on sales apps, you can browse through our top 7 most asked questions page.

Using your website as a mobile sales app is a great entry point to get your sales team started using the iPad in the field. However, it’s not  designed to be a selling tool like mobile sales apps. Sales people that are in an office or retail location with excellent Internet access (WiFi) can probably use your website just fine on their iPad. However, field sales reps will struggle and be less effective.

 

Finally, here’s a quick test.

Whereever you are right now, open a browser on your iPad to your website.  Record how long it takes you to find product details on 3 of your products and email them to me at rusty@fatstax.com in a single email.  Go ahead and try it. I’ll respond in an instant.

About J. Rusty Bishop, PhD

I've spent the last 5 years helping great brands create amazing experiences for their sales teams during one on one sales interactions. Helping sales people do their job is my passion. When I'm not working, I am on the ocean fishing in San Diego, Ca.