What are the key business drivers for moving toward wireless and mobile CRM among SMBs?

On the streets of major North American cities business people are walking around staring at the palms of their hands. Why? Because the age of wireless is upon us. This was not so, even seven years ago. Today, whether the carrier is Bell, Cingular, AT&T or Rogers, the device manufacturer is Nokia, RIM, Palm, or Motorola, the wireless world has evolved and presents many opportunities for SMBs to gain a competitive advantage.

Widespread adoption of mobile customer relationship management (CRM) software is a relatively new phenomenon, so the term requires a definition. Simply put, mobile CRM refers to the ability of CRM software users — including field-based sales and service personnel — to access internal prospect and customer information while out of the office. This can be accomplished with the use of a laptop and hotel Internet connection, but, increasingly, savvy organizations are using wireless innovations to access prospect and customer information while away from both the office and a wired Internet connection. They’re using wireless PDA devices.

Pressure is building for SMBs to use these newfound capabilities. Senior executives who have already tried the technology on their own can often envision ways to improve their operations through better, more frequent communication amongst employees, customers and partners. IT managers, typically early adopters of new technologies, can provide the technical confidence needed to apply high-tech solutions to the business issues you face every day.

Customers, especially in a business-to-business context, have come to expect the same level of sales and service from all of their suppliers. While this expectation presents challenges, it also creates room for competitive differentiation by the suppliers who are most responsive.

All SMBs have the opportunity to use mobile CRM solutions, whether the focus is on gaining market share, increasing revenue or improving customer satisfaction. But be sure you’re getting what you require. When choosing wireless/mobile SMB solutions, selected systems should be:

  • Readily adaptable to your business processes
  • Proven, in a large customer base
  • Accessible from anywhere
  • Secure, and exceeding internal demands
  • Affordable

For businesses seeking to build positive customer experiences that will result in long-term customer relationships, the key reasons to adopt mobile CRM include:

  • Keeping up with your competition
  • Attracting and retaining top sales and service talent
  • Accessible from anywhere
  • Competing effectively against larger companies
  • Building trusted relationships by automating communication strategies based on user-defined preferences
  • Increasing customer loyalty

There is a wide array of mobile devices and CRM software products out there. The best implementation approach is to pinpoint specific areas where such innovative technologies can be embraced, ensuring every step of the way that such techniques will make your organization more effective and efficient. These incremental, measured steps can be taken with limited risk to your organization before a larger scale deployment is undertaken. In my opinion, most SMBs will try to adopt wireless/mobile CRM in this manner. The smarter ones will succeed.

Peter Callaghan is executive vice-president, sales and marketing, with Maximizer Software, a Vancouver-based vendor of CRM and contact management solutions for SMBs.

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