How do you improve adoption of content portals and Mobile Sales apps?

How Do You Improve Adoption Of Content Portals And Mobile Sales Apps?

Manufacturers who sell through distributors face a problem...

...their outside reps just don’t know the products they sell well enough. 

Lack of product knowledge means that reps are unprepared to help customers solve problems. When buyers have questions about products the distributor reps often don’t have answers.

Which means that buyers lose confidence in not only the distributor but the companies they represent.


The Knowledge Gap

Buyers are more informed than ever before. Information available online to buyers means they can do research, learn about many different brands of products, and get all their detailed questions together before they ever go in to meet a dealer or distributor. 

When the buyer walks in armed with all this research and information on products, what’s a distributor sales rep to do? Get out the order is about all. Which is why many distributors refer to their own distribution network as “a bunch of order takers.” 


Fixing the Order Taker Mindset

But to fix this, the manufacturer has to think about how to make its sales network informed and sales-ready.

To get product information, training documentation, news and updates out to their sales network, manufacturers have two primary options:

  • Distributor portal
  • Mobile Sales App

Distributor portals are typically password-protected web sites or extranets that enable distributors to log in and access documents. Portals can be homegrown or purchased as products such as Sharepoint. 

Mobile Sales Apps offer mobile sales enablement to users in the field like sales reps. Being mobile greatly increases accessibility for users, especially if an offline mode is available. Mobile apps can be developed internally or purchased as a product like BAM!

However, the problem companies face is less about the specific features and capabilities and more about whether it gets used. 

If it doesn’t get used, its features are irrelevant. So how do you make sure it gets used?


The Field of Dreams Problem

In the classic Kevin Costner / baseball vehicle Field of Dreams there’s an iconic line: “If you build it, they will come.”

In technology adoption, this line has been converted into a classic fallacy because so many companies are convinced that if you simply build a thing you will attract users and adoption will happen if you make a good product. 

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The world is littered with the corpses of failed technology experiments, projects where everything was great (great vision, great features, great future!)….until it wasn’t. 

The missing ingredient here is usage, also known as “product adoption.”


What is Product Adoption?

Simply put, product adoption is when customers first hear about a product and then become users, usually recurring users, of that product. 

Both elements are essential. 

If users never hear about the product, they won’t adopt it. 

And if they don’t become ongoing users, then they really haven’t adopted the product, have they? 

Any new technology solution has a cost, both initially and on an ongoing basis to support and maintain it. Possibly even to market it to users. 

But it also has a return on investment to consider. And the return is always going to be correlated to the amount of usage. If it provides any level of benefit to end users, the more they use it, and the more of them who use it, the more the degree of benefit. So it is very much a goal to get as many users engaged and getting value as possible. 


The Best Ways to Measure Product Adoption

Simply put, we must answer the question: how well is our product (or tech or software or app) being adopted by our team (or dealer network or distributors)?

Generally speaking, manufacturers have little idea. Or no idea.

Measuring adoption isn’t all that easy it turns out. If it was everyone would be doing it. 

To figure out how much adoption you have, you need to measure usage, i.e. 

  • How many are using it
  • How much they are using it
  • How much are they using it over time


Metrics for Product Adoption

There are fundamentally three metrics for product adoption to track in order to gauge where you are as a company with your product.

Active User Rate (AUR) per Month

This is the % of registered users who are using the product. 

If you have 200 registered users, and 20 of them used the product in a month, then you have a 10% usage rate. 

Activity Rate per User (AR/U) per Month

The simplest and first way to measure this is how many days active “active users” were in a given month. 

For example, if for the 20 users above, there were a total of 200 days active across those users, then our users were active for an average of 10 days per month. 

AUR and AR/U Over Time

Most importantly is to see how usage metrics trend up or down over time. 

The goal is to see improvement over time. Humble beginnings are not only ok - they are to be expected. As long as you see improvement. 


How to Operationalize Adoption

In order to create a program of adoption that leads to continuous improvement, you must operationalize the program by answering key questions:

  1. What metrics are you tracking - AUR, AR/U, by month, and YTD by month?
  2. Who is responsible for collecting and reporting on the metrics?
  3. How will reporting be done and at what interval?
  4. How will additional feedback be collected - by survey, or via direct interaction (1:1, annual dealer meeting)

Avoid These Mistakes that Reduce Adoption Success

Now that we have better tools to both understand and manage product adoption, let’s look at some common mistakes that hurt product adoption efforts:

  1. Improper product roll-out 
  2. Lack of executive buy-in
  3. Lack of alignment on metrics
  4. No consensus on ROI calculation
  5. Lack of execution on program fundamentals

Moving Forward with Successful Adoption Strategies

Having success with adoption is all about engagement. If you can engage your users early (and often), make their job easier, and help them overcome any issues, it is more likely than not that you will have a growing user base and rising ROI.


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