In our discussions, we occasionally hear from companies that are planning on creating their own sales app. We call those DIY or do-it-yourself apps, and some turn out great. Understandably, companies try to take advantage of in-house expertise or resources so they do not have to use a third party developer or purchase an additional software service, to address their mobile sales needs.

They usually have a development team in place for their website or other internal software. They do an excellent job in that arena. Sometimes there is a member of the team that built a simple IOS game app that is even in the App Store. Now that you have the expertise in-house, why not take advantage of the resource you already have?

Should you buy or build? Important question, right?

Don’t get me wrong. There are benefits for going the DIY sales app route:

  • You work with your own team of employee developers tailoring your sales app to your specific sales process.
  • You choose all of the sales app’s appearance, features and functionality.
  • You avoid Apple’s sometimes-lengthy approval process for submitting to the App Store.

At the same time, there are disadvantages you may be encountering with your DIY sales app project. These disadvantages may even be hindering your app launch and effectiveness for your sales reps in the field.

Clunky Won’t Cut It

In this article from ZDNet, a medical equipment company’s head of systems support was quoted after she launched her company’s DIY sales app.

“I learned to use it by bashing my head through it,” she said. “I haven’t had any training whatsoever. It may be clunky a bit, and have done better at certain things, but it worked for us.”

That is not something I would tell my CEO.

Yeah boss there’s all of these benefits to a DIY sales app, but: It’s clunky, I have a headache from bashing my head through it and it could perform certain functions better.

Sounds as if the app was created in a vacuum with little input from users, to me. If you’re going to invest in a sales app for your field reps to increase productivity, drive sales and enhance your customer’s buying experience, it makes sense to get them involved early.

Three Signs Your DIY Sales App Project is in Trouble

When you start to experience any of these scenarios with your DIY sales app, it may be time to reassess your internal mobility project.

1. Your app project is becoming unmanageable

A lot of your company’s departments will want to have input for an iPad sales app.. Sales, marketing, IT, product development and customer service all have a stake in the app. With multiple stakeholders, you can struggle to get the app “perfect” to everyone’s liking or get the necessary feedback from all parties in a timely fashion. This adds time and cost that might derail a DIY sales app project.
2. Your app project is taking time away from your real job
You were hired to tackle specific responsibilities for your company. Developing or coding are not in your job description. How about managing a software development project? In our experience, someone from the business-side needs to be driving this to be effective.

We’ve had companies tell us it took them nine months to design, develop, test and launch their DIY sales app. Then tack on another three to six months for piloting and getting the bugs out. Once it’s deployed, you still have to maintain it with new features, new products, and changes your sales reps ask for. Each of these phases needs to be managed with input from the business. Who is that in your company?

3. You can’t consider alternatives because too much money has already been spent

We already have spent X on this app, we should just keep going.

Depending on the bells and whistles of your DIY sales app, you could be looking at a $25,000-$300,000 budget just to get the app into your sales reps’ hands. With that much cash invested, you may think it makes sense to keep pushing forward.

Consider the reason for the project in the first place whether its increasing revenue, or reducing marketing spend or increasing time productivity for the sales team. The sooner you launch the sales tool, the sooner you realize the benefits. Traditional economics tell us that businesses should not let sunk costs influence their decisions. If you would not start the project knowing what you know now, it might be time to re-evaluate the merits.

Buy or Build?

In the end, it’s really up to you. You know the benefits of controlling your own DIY sales app project. But unless your company has a lot of cash, people and time to throw at launching and maintaining a DIY sales app, it might be time to outsource to experts.