Sales Management: The Wonders of Wireless

Reps can recover 30 minutes of downtime everyday with 24/7 connectivity to the Internet.
Jan 01, 2006

Peter Thompson
Sales reps do not exploit one of their greatest assets: downtime. From postponed meetings and delayed flights to unpredictable traffic and hours spent waiting in doctors' offices, reps lose valuable time. Erratic travel schedules often dictate when and where they can work. Such uncontrollable variables hamper their productivity and reduce their chances of meeting sales quotas on time. But sometimes, even when they are far from their home base, reps can still perform essential parts of their jobs, which include checking work e-mail, downloading product and pricing information and presentations, and accessing medical practice information. Most reps have the right equipment to be productive—namely laptops and PDAs—but they often lack one essential sales tool: 24/7 connectivity to the Internet.

According to industry analysts, reps could recover at least 30 minutes of each day if they had access to a high-speed wireless Internet connection. Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity), and other similar technologies, enable users to connect to the Internet anytime and from almost anywhere. Wi-Fi "hotspots," or locations where Wi-Fi enabled devices can send and receive data wirelessly over the Internet, can be found everywhere from airport VIP lounges to hotels to coffee shops to unlikely locales, such as EZ Lube Service Centers. Offering a fast and consistent connection, wireless connectivity can transform downtime into prime sales time.

A Competitive Advantage

Risky "Free" Hotspots
Mobile Internet access also gives pharma companies a powerful competitive advantage. Although many companies don't speak publicly about their Wi-Fi hotspot programs, many have implemented mobile communications strategies. At least five of the world's top ten pharmaceutical companies have specified, tested, or deployed large-scale programs for Wi-Fi connectivity. Because reps joust daily with a staggering number of competitors for only a few minutes of face-to-face detailing with doctors, they need tools that can help them make the most of every minute. Reps can gain a competitive edge with Wi-Fi hotspot Internet access.

Use downtime better, drive more sales

Just a few things to do on downtime:

  • Make another sales call
  • Answer e-mail
  • Download a new presentation with last-minute changes for a meeting that starts in an hour
  • Download new sales literature and other files that are too big to handle on a handheld device
  • Access medical practice information
  • Update the company's SFA or CRM system while the information is fresh
  • Complete an online training module.

Deploy tools to speed the sales process With faster communication throughout the day, mobile reps can accelerate sales follow-up and shorten the sales cycle. They can e-mail sample requests, medical information requests, and rep-supply orders, or request an immediate sales follow-up contact. They can also check product pricing, inventory, shipping and sales data. When they can't attend a meeting in person, they can easily jump online for an audio-visual conference or briefing, which generally requires a fast connection to operate smoothly.

Adopt Wi-Fi for the whole enterprise Adopting new communications technology can be challenging because many enterprise concerns must be addressed—not just the sales value.

Increase cost efficiency Some reps have already recognized the value of Wi-Fi for sales efficiency. They have subscribed to Wi-Fi service on their own, running the cost through their company expense account. To give managers better oversight and control over the cost of wireless broadband access, companies can opt for a corporate subscription. The cost-effectiveness of the Wi-Fi hotspot network will depend upon the carrier a company selects and the size of the mobile work force. But the more reps a company can enroll, the lower the cost of corporate subscriptions.

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