For a salesperson, life is predictably unpredictable – targets change, customers differ and dither and the items you're peddling often upgrade or change entirely.
However, there are certain things, no-matter your occupation, that can be relied upon: water is wet, fire is hot, and regardless of your location, you will likely have a mobile phone on your person.
With this being the case why do salespeople so regularly ignore the potential of one of the few aspects of the job that can be relied upon?
Step into a business meeting, whether it's with colleagues or customers, and the table immediately becomes littered with smartphones. The extent to which these devices have pervaded our everyday lives is apparent in recent findings from the O2 and Samsung "Mobile Life" report: the average user spends more time with their smartphones than with their spouse or partner.
This growing reliance is even more pronounced in business, where employees are now liberated from their desks due to the technology that has ushered in an era of BYOD and mobile working. While businesses remain keen to exploit this, emphasis is usually placed upon tablets rather than the devices that are far more ubiquitous.
So why do businesses hesitate to embrace the idea that the smartphone is not simply a device to respond to emails and check for amusing Facebook updates, but a valuable business tool that can combine the nuts-and-bolts practicality of old-fashioned pen and paper with the interactivity and connectivity of a tablet or desktop?
Part of the problem is that the mobile phone is still primarily viewed as a consumer device.
Sure, the ability to make calls from anywhere has enabled salespeople to work more freely while on-the-move, but the perception of these devices has unfortunately advanced little since the days of gleefully parading your high score on Snake to any willing onlooker.
Now, with the incredible advancements seen in modern mobile technology salespeople should be looking at their smartphones not as a convenient status symbol, but as a tool that can be utilised to impress customers and drive sales.
What then, is the next step? The sheer amount of apps available for these devices – not just those involving ninjas and birds – is vast, and any salesperson should do the requisite research into what tools can, and will, help them make a sale.
Are they looking for something that provides a visual approach that would impress during a customer meeting?
Try a data visualisation tool. If the salesperson requires the ability to crunch numbers and share them in a straightforward, accessible way, then a business intelligence app should be the priority.
The apps that can transform a mobile phone from a glorified Gameboy into a fully-functioning and purposeful business tool are merely a click away (here are some of the best on iPhone), with many providing free trials so that executives can sample their usefulness before making the commitment to buy.
It seems odd to be in permanent possession of a device that can help your job run smoother and use it purely for its basic functionality and to peruse cat pictures. This needn't be the case, and by adopting this approach sooner rather than later, the stronger the differentiation will be between you and your competing sales agent.
- Steve Neat is SVP, EMEIA, Roambi. Steve is an enterprise software sales leader with 30 years experience in both established and start-up software companies including Oracle, Siebel, SAS and SAP.