Part 4 of our blog article series: "Strategies for business success"

In today's world, smartphones, tablets and similar devices are virtually everywhere. We enjoy unprecedented levels of connectivity and access to information from wherever in the world we happen to be - news is now available live and streamed in real-time; e-mails can be read on the go; it's possible to Google the answer to almost any question you can think of; catch up on TV shows when waiting at the doctor's office; video chat with friends overseas while you sit in your favourite cafe enjoying a morning coffee.  Or, like most people, use it primarily to scroll through Facebook!

From a business perspective, if you have a tablet or smartphone you already possess the right tools needed to shorten your sales cycle and boost your bottom line. From CRM apps, to invoicing and payment technology, there's a mobile solution available for your small business that can make it easier to convert inquiries into prospects, and nurture prospects into customers.

1. CRM ("Customer Relationship Management")

Nothing improves the outcome of a friendly sales call or meeting than being able to demonstrate that you know, understand and care about your customers' needs.

A mobile CRM app provides you or your sales team with instant, up-to-date data on all your customer accounts. It also enables you to quickly capture data on new prospects and customers whilst you are meeting with them, or as soon as you hang up the phone.

With your customers sales history at your fingertips, including detailed information on buying preferences, it is easy to suggest relevant new products, up-sell or cross sell on the spot.

If you are new to mobile sales tools, you might want to look into Insightly, an app that ties in project management capabilities with a CRM. This solution allows you to access your customer database, as well as collaborate, assign tasks and create milestones for your sales team while on the go.

Most accounting software also has a CRM element that you might not be maximising. MYOB Essentials and Xero are both popular, mobile-accessible accounting solutions. Both of these allow you to store names, contact numbers and notes, and view reports on past transactions.

2. Quotes and invoicing

Don't miss an opportunity to have your quote at the top of your potential customer's list for consideration. Phone quotes and hand written carbon copies have done the job in the past, but nowadays your average consumer is expecting more. As other businesses issue slick, branded quotes via e-mail, it's all too easy for customers to forget your phone call or misplace your paper quote.

Traditional invoicing also has its fair share of limitations. Issuing timely invoices, tracking payments and following up accounts can easily consume a large part of your day. How often does a client claim they didn't receive an invoice in the post just to put off paying, or not pay at all? Some clients also like to pay in fractions of the actual invoice value, but how will you know when it's fully paid?

Mobile solutions can alleviate some of the stress. You can generate invoices while you are still on-site, direct to the client's inbox – no more "lost in the post" again! You can also make use of the tracking built into software such as MYOB OnTheGo and Xero and send follow-up statements, accurate to the cent that day, while you're out on another job.

3. Accepting mobile payments

If you were equipped to take payment on the spot, how dramatically would it impact your bottom line? Mobile POS (Point of Sale) tools empower small business owners to close sales instantly, minimizing the risk of your customer raising objections later, or simply changing their minds.

Easy and secure credit card processing capabilities are an important feature of mobile POS solutions and make instant payment a breeze – anywhere, anytime.

Vend is a robust tool designed to easily manage sales on your iPad.

Major banks also provide methods for accepting payments while on the go: BNZ's PayClip is a small device which connects to your phone and allows you to receive EFTPOS, debit and credit card payments, with the benefits of low fees and no long term contracts; ANZ has FastPay, an app available for both iPhone or Android; ASB's version is Accept mPOS, a handheld pinpad that allows contactless, chip and swipe payments.

MYOB OnTheGo is another app tie-in with MYOB software which can connect to PayClip to receive card payments anywhere your phone can go.

Choosing the right mobile solutions for your business

The reason many business owners hesitate to use mobile tools is not due to lack of interest; they simply feel overwhelmed by the many choices available and are too busy to research the options.

If you want to take advantage of mobile technology but don't know where to start, your first step is to look at your current systems. You might not be utilising your online accounting software to its full potential, or you could discover you are using an outdated system, in which case it may be time to look into an all-in-one mobile-friendly accounting solution.

Still unsure how to proceed from here? Why not give us a call or send us an email - we'll be happy to assist you with selecting the right software that best fits your business needs.

Keep on eye on our blog this month as we present a series of articles on
strategies for business success

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