How Mobile Applications Can Help the Sales Team

Paul Mah

A long-awaited WordPress client for the BlackBerry has just been released as a public beta, which got me all excited since I have been looking for a tool to help me blog when on the move. And yes, WordPress does have its use in the SMB too, as can be evidenced by the readers who concurred with my suggestion to use it as an internal communication tool. Anyway, the news of the WordPress client got me thinking about the role of mobile applications in business.


PDAs and "palmtops" were once considered nothing more than playthings for tech enthusiasts or necessary gadgets for mobile executives. The inclusion of mobile capabilities by Palm created the niche called smartphones, which proliferated and forever changed the mobile landscape.


Despite the popularity of smartphones, however, the use of mobile applications in business continued to lag and they're mostly implemented by enterprises rather than SMBs at this point. Contrary to popular belief, though, building custom mobile applications is not that much harder than their desktop cousins. In addition, the requisite SDK and programming tools for building on mobile platforms are usually available at very low cost or free.


Obviously, there are concerns in terms of the device security and compliance, which I will not cover today. IT Business Edge blogger Carl Weinschenk did write recently about how the smartphone security free ride will soon be over, so check it out.


In the meantime, below are a couple of benefits that mobile applications can bring to the sales team in the SMB.


Real-time availability of data


At a previous SMB where I worked, the members of the sales team would make frantic calls back to the office to inquire about the availability of stock to accommodate new orders from customers. In addition, pricing estimates were also derived from static numbers that had little bearing on the constantly fluctuating price of the actual raw materials.


It really would not be hard to pluck the figures from the relevant databases and push them on a read-only basis to the sales team via mobile software running on their smartphones. In today's competitive climate, being able to access real-time data can mean the difference between clinching a deal and losing it.


Reduce time in the office


Having the sales team hanging around the office for any length of time is certainly not an ideal situation for most businesses. As it is, the ability to access customer information while on the move translates directly to fewer trips to the office, increasing the productivity of the sales team.


Are there any mobile applications in use in your company - customized or off-the-shelf?

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Jul 9, 2009 9:30 AM Robert Anderson Robert Anderson  says: in response to Paul Mah

We have several areas we want to develop. One is connecting into our Oracle system for customer contact info, sales figures, etc. There is an app for the iphone that connects into the Oracle CRM for some of the information we need. We also want the salesmen to be able to enter their current zipcode while traveling (or possibly retrieve from gps) and have customer locations mapped out for them on the smartphone. This info  will probalby be pulled from our Oracle database. Entering orders and having them populate our Oracle system from their phones would also be a plus. These are just a few of the thigns we are looking for. Blackberry App world seems to have a lot of catching up to do with the iPhone, but even the iPhone apps I have found are not really fitting the bill of what we are hoping to acheive. Until then, they will have to rely on their laptops and the internet.

Jul 9, 2009 6:58 PM Robert Anderson Robert Anderson  says:

I am currently in charge of looking into options for mobile apps for our salesforce, which has a mixture of blackberries and iPhones. There doesn't seem to be very many off the shelf apps out there for retrieving and distributing the data we are looking for. If so, I haven't located them yet. There tends to be a lot of organizational type apps such as calendar and contact management apps, but not many data pushing apps.

Jul 9, 2009 7:25 PM Paul Mah Paul Mah  says: in response to Robert Anderson

You can actually tap into MDS for the BlackBerry for creating a secured data channel, though it is a lot harder to program for the BB (where the GUI is concerned) compared to the iPhone.I am not aware of any proven push capabilities on the iPhone beyond that of Exchange Activesync for calendaring/contacts/emails.

What are your needs exactly?  Is push capability considered vital?

(You might want to log into your ITBusinessEdge Account when you have the time, and add the Display Name you would like to use. )

Jul 13, 2009 7:25 PM Vaibhav Rampuria Vaibhav Rampuria  says: in response to Robert Anderson

Hi Robertii,

Would you be interested in creating a custom app that suits your need. I think it would be difficult to get a offthe shelf app from iPhone and Blackberry and make it suit your needs.

Let me know and we can discuss this further,


Vaibhav "VB"

Jul 21, 2009 6:01 PM Paul Mah Paul Mah  says: in response to Robert Anderson


I think what you're looking at would probably be enterprise-centric or custom applications rather than something you can buy pre-packaged off the shelf. RIM does have a huge list of partners who specializes in such enterprise solutions though.

I can't seem to find the huge brochure they used to release annually, but you can probably find more specific information over at RIM here http://na.blackberry.com/eng/solutions/.

Do let us know how it went for you.


Paul Mah.

Aug 4, 2009 11:03 AM Melvin Powell Melvin Powell  says: in response to Robert Anderson

Check out www.vizusuite.com

We provide a mobile solution that allows creation of forms for data collection on smartphones.  Fields in the forms can be text, number, date, time, picture, vocal or signature.  Forms can also be pushed to mobile devices.  Offered as Software as a service and can be implemented very quickly.  Very useful for an mobile user that needs data collection.

You can email  melvin.powell@cybercat.net to get live web demo.


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