Making the Mobile App Sale to SMBs -- And Then Keeping It!

May 29, 2014

Oh, yes indeed, smaller businesses continue to be skeptical of mobile worker apps.  But there are ways to still make the sale … and to keep these infamous high-churners as long-term, profitable customers.

Responses to our annual decision-maker survey reveal that the SMB segment (which we’ll define as fewer than 500 employees for this discussion):

  • Is much less likely than larger firms to recognize the business value of mobile employee apps.
  • Is much more likely to have absolutely no plans to introduce mobile worker apps.
  • Views cost as its #1 purchase barrier.

Let’s use the mobile workforce management (MWM) category of apps as an example.  This is one of the highest-growth software solutions covered in our survey.  However, it continues to encounter key adoption barriers – which are even more intensified among small and mid-sized businesses.  Some top growth inhibitors include:

  • MWM remains a somewhat fragmented marketplace, with a wide array of vendors, multiple channels, and a variety of approaches to implementation (standalone, integrated with current desktop ERP or Field Service Management solutions, on-premise, cloud-based, etc.) that can be confusing and intimidating.
  • There can also be multiple components that must be decided upon before actual implementation can commence, including choosing the appropriate mobile devices, network data plans, any necessary professional services, and post-sale technical support. 
  • Worries about expense and return-on-investment (ROI) are the norm with SMBs.  If new mobile devices are required, or on-premise servers have to purchased, or if software has to be extensively customized, the solution can quickly become unaffordable to a small business on a tight budget.
  • Problems with ease of deployment, ease of use, and worker resistance can rapidly result in the smaller customer ceasing to use the solution and churning out.  The small business owner rarely has the time or in-house resources to address deployment issues of this type.

So what’s a vendor to do?

The savvy SMB vendor or channel partner focuses on providing the following:

  • A simplified purchase decision-making process
  • A quick hard-dollar ROI
  • Easy-to-use solutions
  • High-touch onboarding assistance

Based in large part on its ability to address each of the above requirements, we just presented our 2014 Customer Value Leadership award in the Mobile Workforce Management Solution category to Xora, Inc., a ClickSoftware company.

Xora has over 15,000 customers in the U.S. business sector, with more than 130,000 users of its solutions.  Its cornerstone product is the Xora StreetSmart™ software application for mobile field service employees.  However, the app itself is just the beginning.   Xora targets small and medium-sized companies with a best-in-class strategy that’s designed to neutralize all of the SMB’s key worries:

  1. Hands-on customer support program – Xora’s goal is to make the “time to perceived value” as short as possible for each of its customers.  Onboarding help can range from online classes to one-on-one consulting.  Regular, proactive “Smart Start” emails contain recommendations and product info.  “Xora Insiders” webcasts are provided quarterly.   An easily-accessible website maintains house documents on best practices, use cases, tools, etc.
  2. Affordable, cloud-based delivery -- Xora StreetSmart is a prepackaged, cloud-based solution.  That translates into timely implementations, an affordable pricing model with monthly per-user subscription pricing, the ability to scale quickly, and third-party management.
  3. Strong carrier partnerships – Xora has forged strong partnerships with three U.S. Tier 1 carriers – Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T.  These relationships are key to being able to successfully (and profitably) reach the SMB customer.  The support of the carriers also legitimizes the MWM product category as a reliable and desirable business solution for the SMB customer.  And by vetting the various MWM vendors beforehand, carriers produce a short list of top alternatives, which makes the purchase decision-making process quicker and less painful for small businesses.
  4. Expanded definition of solution value – MWM solutions began as primarily track-and-trace apps focused on employee location tracking.  Vendors then expanded these solutions to automate and optimize work processes out in the field.  Xora has taken solution value one step further, recognizing that MWM apps can be designed to significantly enhance actual customer engagement out on the front lines.  This type of forward-thinking directly enhances the potential value that customers harvest from their MWM solutions.

Convincing smaller businesses to risk valuable time and money on mobile worker software apps can be challenging.  Xora provides a good example of how to capture and keep SMB customers.


Jeanine Sterling

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