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Mobile As a Second Priority Is a Mistake
on Direct Sales

The rapid rise of smartphones and mobile devices has transformed the business landscape, and wise Direct Sales businesses are paying closeattention to this trend. Unfortunately, many do not know where to start when it comes to creating in a mobile strategy that fits nicely not only into the corporate plan but into their representatives toolbox.

CEO’s are asked the same questions all the time:

    - How many people have mobile devices?
    80% of all online adults in the US own a Smartphone. 9 out of 10 Direct Sales representatives hold an iPhone or an Android and 42% owns tablets, mostly iPad. (Global web index + Leapfactor customer surveys)

    - Do people really prefer mobile?
    Facebook reported in October 2014, 1.35 billion monthly active users. Of those, 1.12 billion were mobile users. (Facebook 2014)

    - Will mobile users really buy over their phones?
    M-Commerce will grow from $133B in 2013 to $516B by 2017 and represent 74% of the total mobile internet business. (Digi-capital 2015)

Historically, Direct Sales followed a simple business strategy:
(1) develop a quality product and a story that representatives can sell
(2) guarantee that the business could take and ship orders
(3) make sure commissions are calculated and sent promptly.

A decade ago, the blueprint of Direct Selling lead to the prioritizing of replicated websites. This shift was a response to market trends recognizing the importance of the Internet. Unfortunately, we know today, that these replicated websites do not work well in many key respects.

When we think about the replicated website, the only thing that changes from one website to the next is the representative’s name and information. Worse, the lack of website personalization combined with SEO inefficiencies make replicated websites an increasingly outdated option for Direct Sales businesses. Just ask any direct sales business how much of their revenue comes via replicated websites..

The conventional Direct Sales business will provide the following tools for a representative:
  1.  A welcome kit that explains the business and provides product & marketing material.
  2. A replicated website where representatives can direct customers & to place orders.
  3. A back-office tool to enroll check commissions and enter orders.

Although these tools create the foundation of a representative’s business, they also create barriers and lead to lost opportunities and sales, especially when the representative is in the moment of truth with the potential customer/future representative.

Considering the goal of the Party Planning companies is to increase parties and recruit, the tools initially provided become ineffective, as it is a hassle. First, they must take down all of the potential customer’s information via pen and paper before entering the order(s) into their back office tool. This order entry generally occurs after the parties as the representative will use their personal time at home to data enter orders using their personal laptop/computer. Worse, during the entry stage, when a product is not within the inventory, the representative must notify the customers.  Given that the timespan from party to order could be hours or days, this bad news would lead to unhappy customers.

Network marketing goals include obtaining and nurturing customers but more importantly, recruiting new representatives. Sales strategies involving setting up new/recurring orders and enrolling a new representative at your one-on-one meeting, lead to the same barriers, which is why back-office strategies are best avoided.

In order to grow your Direct Sales business, you need to make sure you can pay commissions and ship products, first and foremost. Next, you can take the step of enrolling more people faster, and finally, you must try to enhance sales by increasing retention rates and customer longevity. Putting mobile first helps you improve in all of these areas. 

Salespeople already have a smartphone device and they know how to use it. Therefore, the mobile app gives them the ability to sell in real-time and enroll a new representative during the moment of truth.  They no longer need to rely on their back-office tool to progress their business.

This empowers salespeople to sell more effectively while simultaneously getting rid of the pen and paper bloat and superfluous back-office processes. New recruits will be more confident within their first 30-60-90 days knowing they have everything they need able to embrace their new business; training material, videos, marketing material, and product information all leading to their ability to talk about the opportunity more effectively. Overall, mobile enhances the onboarding process while keeping to compliance policies.

As such, Direct Sales businesses are left asking a simple question: If more than 9 out of 10 consultants are using their smartphones all day long and the vast majority of consumers want to order items through their mobile devices, why should a Direct Sales business prioritize replicated website any longer?

Mobile First: The Powerful Answer to Grow Business

The simple answer is that Direct Sales businesses need to prioritize mobile first for your business strategy. Still not convinced? When we look at Facebook’s business growth it offers compelling evidence for mobile first. They report that within their third quarter of 2014, 66% of their revenue came from mobile advertising. This was a 49 percent growth over the previous year, demonstrating there is a changing of the guard that dictates prioritizing mobile is the way to build a business strategy designed for today’s marketplace. Sticking with replicated websites in 2015 is an antiquated way of thinking. It is the equivalent of carrying around a Sony Walkman to listen to music instead of using your iPhone or Android device.

Direct Sales businesses that still use replicated websites are experiencing fewer and fewer sales through the channel. Consultants bristle over the wasted time spent on back-office and “front office” business procedures, and this results in less growth as well. Further, today’s customers want to be engaged in new and exciting ways. Social media is a natural ally of mobile platforms and social media is key to a contemporary business strategy. Customer facing native mobile apps and consultant office tools that run on tablets and mobile devices will create serious growth for today’s Direct Sales businesses. 

After all, the foundation of Direct Sales lies within the personal relationship between the representative and the customer. Nothing nurtures and personalizes this process more than social media, given that a representative can take advantage of their personal Facebook page to build relationships and enhance sales. Contrast this approach, attempting to make a personalized connection with a corporate Facebook page, and the difference in the approach becomes clear. Where personalization builds sales, a mobile first development strategy is needed now more than ever.  

A mobile first strategy makes the underlying assumption that tablets, task-specific apps, and smartphones are an employee’s primary tools for working efficiently. This assumption bears out in reality, thanks to large corporate enterprises and digital agencies that have been placing mobile at the forefront of their business strategy for years. Direct Sales businesses that ignore these facts and the overwhelming mobile first trends are simply ignoring the changes the marketplace has experienced over the past few years and missing key growth opportunities.

Mobile commerce and representatives, quite simply, are now allies rather than enemies. As a front office tool, native mobile apps are client-facing allowing the representative to take full advantage of benefits a replicated mobile app offers, including: 

  • Enhanced Customer Convenience
  • Better Analytics Data
  • Benefit from Push Notifications
  • Increase & Improve Sales
  • Increased & Easier Enrollments
  • Better Value for Customers
  • Increased Retention

Moreover, representatives will use apps in ways that prove advantageous for productivity, increasing innovation, and enhancing effectiveness. Presentations can be customized through centrally controlled materials and orders can be taken on the spot when compared to replicated websites. 

Apps, in their own right, provide significant benefits. Apps create better on-boarding processes, reduce enrollment process liabilities while increasing enrollment rates, increase field effectiveness at events like planning parties and provide metrics that are timely and contextually helpful.  As a result, you will increase the odds of making one more sales or retaining a customer for two more weeks. In practical terms, this would double your business while also providing more value to the customers at the same time. 

Mobile and social development strategies will not render web or browser strategies entirely obsolete, in the same way that the Internet did not get rid of the need for brick and mortar banks. Rather, mobile and social business strategies have become the top priority due to the many advantages these platforms create. Too many businesses view mobile as a “we’ll do it later” priority. In today’s marketplace, this is backwards thinking: The time to prioritize mobile first is now. 

Do take caution to avoid being fooled by adaptive replicated websites with native apps or mobile friendly back-office tools. This is not a true end-to-end mobile strategy. Similarly, corporate Facebook or Twitter campaigns are not the same as giving your representatives the tools to do their own social media campaigning that builds your brand, within compliance.

Check this info graphic created by the IMB mobile first team that talks bold numbers about the Digital Front Office.

When your goal is to create a breakthrough mobile businessstrategy, be sure to find development products that will cater to the specific needs of your business and honor a mobile first business strategy mind setour budget on a post-it to compare vs. actuals in the future.

July  22, 2015

A SaaS company that created a proprietary cloud based Mobile Platform designed from the ground up to support Game-Changing business Apps that transcend CRM limits and transform the way businesses enable their field sales staff to better engage and serve customers at the moment of truth, increasing revenue growth.

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