How Sales Managers Can Stay Aligned with Their Mobile Workforce
For years, the laptop computer has been an integral, and invaluable, tool for the mobile workforce. Employees on the go, whether on the floor or in the field, could always stay in touch via their cell phones, but to truly get the documents, training content, and online materials necessary to perform their jobs, the laptop served as a lifeline to their organizations, whether they were connecting with corporate or with a manager in the back of the store.
Laptops are gradually losing their favored status with the mobile workforce. Tablet technology is taking over—the IT experts at Gartner predict that in 2015, tablets will outsell traditional computers for the first time. As this reality sets in, the drawbacks of laptops as a mobile tool begin to become apparent: They’re bulky; they’re not quite as user-friendly when used by a worker to interact with a customer; and for the newest generation of employees, they are somewhat old school.
This shift to tablets doesn’t mean sales managers will suddenly experience a knowledge drift away from their mobile workforce. In fact, with today’s tablet-based training, video, and communication software, their relationship with associates can improve and even flourish. Here are some ways how sales managers can stay aligned with their mobile workforce in the midst of this new technology:
The Tablet Advantage
As already stated, the rise of devices such as the iPad and Surface has highlighted a few of the laptops’ warts. For starters, tablets are easier to carry around and to show to customers. Mobile workers on a train or in a coffee shop can more easily view content (for example, training videos) on an iPad. Tablets are much simpler to use as well—there’s no major operating system concerns to worry about or keyboard shortcuts to learn; simply swipe the touchscreen and you’re in business. The laptop may never be truly replaced, but for most functions outside of elongated typing tasks, a tablet is a more than adequate alternative, with a lower price tag and less support issues. The end result is the same: employees aligned with their sales managers.
Automated Content Delivery
The mobile workforce must be able to receive directives, training materials, data reports, and other important content in a timely manner. Sales managers can’t be worried about whether employees have read the proverbial memo. The latest tablet-based solutions incorporate automated content delivery into the process. A manager or exec sends content to their workers’ tablets, and almost instantly, it appears (with notifications) on the appropriate devices. Content can easily be revised and updated—or pulled back entirely—as well, and an employee’s iPad doesn’t even need to be awake for this activity to occur.
Streamlined Communication and Collaboration
Communication between sales managers and the mobile workforce can be a challenge, to say the least. Phone calls, emails, and texts are naturally essential, but what happens when communication concerns sales or training content? A buried email or forgotten voice message can lead to negative consequences and disrupt the alignment between sales manager and employee. Shifting processes and content to tablets offers an opportunity to attach communication to the content itself. For example, if an employee has a question about a training video, his or her feedback can be made via the solution. The sales manager is notified of the concern and can answer back; this can all happen seamlessly, without email or phone calls. Furthermore, this streamlined communication evolves into true collaboration—managers and employees efficiently work together to solve problems and strengthen productivity.
How difficult is it for you to stay on the same page with your mobile workforce?