Black Diamond Anticipating $500K Savings with Sales Workbook App

Whether you’re on rock, ice, or snow, Black Diamond Equipment has the clothing and gear to help you conquer the mountains—safely and in style. Black Diamond shares its customers’ passion for adventure and innovation, so it’s no surprise that the company is reinventing the way that the sales cycle operates in an industry used to antiquated, analog sales tools.

Sales representatives traditionally used a printed “workbook”—essentially a catalogue describing all of Black Diamond’s products in detail when presenting to retail buyers each season. But sales often start before product lines are even finalized, making it challenging to keep printed sales collateral up to date. Now, the Black Diamond Spring 2017 Workbook app, created with Adobe Experience Manager Mobile, gets instant updates into the hands of sales teams to improve planning and reduce errors during the buying process. In the video and interview below, Eric Wynn, Marketing Director from Black Diamond and Matt Law, Executive Creative Director from technology partner Blink Worldwide talked with us about the decision to go digital.

Adobe: What does the sales cycle look like for Black Diamond?

Wynn: It takes time for factories to manufacture an entire season’s worth of products, so Black Diamond starts working with our retail partner buyers one year before our products hit their shelves. Product lines often aren’t completely finalized at this point; designers are still trying to predict what colors and styles will be popular with customers. Every season, Black Diamond presents from 400-500 individual product styles to retail buyers, with about 25% of those styles changing each season, so it can take a long time to hammer out the details for every product.

Adobe: How will switching from printed workbooks to a mobile app change the selling process for your reps?

Wynn: Workbooks are obsolete by the time they reach the sales reps’ hands. We’d send out updates as soon as we could, but getting information distributed to all sales reps and buyers around the world wasn’t easy. People would mark up their workbooks with pens and sticky notes and dog-eared pages as they tried to keep up with the changes. The resulting confusion could lead to errors and delays if buyers were getting the wrong SKU numbers or planning their season around discontinued styles.

We reached out to our long-time creative partner Blink to create the Black Diamond Spring 2017 Workbook app. With a mobile app, we could reach our entire sales force at the same time with quick, accurate updates. Moving to an app would also give us new options for interactive, hands-on sales materials that bring our products to life in a way that paper documents can’t.

Adobe: Why did you decide to work with Adobe Experience Manager Mobile?

Wynn: We were familiar with the reliability and innovation of Adobe, as our internal marketing team uses Adobe creative software regularly. After talking with Blink, Adobe Experience Manager Mobile offered the best solution as the familiar interface allows our marketers to make changes themselves, resulting in faster updates.

Infobit 1Law: The workbook app we developed with Adobe Experience Manager Mobile is flexible enough that we can continue building on it, updating for every season instead of starting from scratch. It has the features that we want now, such as push notifications when there are dramatic shifts in the product line and deep linking, which takes users directly to the changes described in the push notification. But the app also has the ability to expand with new features in the future, such as video asset libraries and the ability to place orders straight through the app. It takes no extra effort to publish the app to both the iPad and web viewer so that everyone can view it, and the entitlement capabilities mean that we’ll eventually be able to have separate entitlements for sales management, sales reps, and retailers.

Adobe: How will the app change the way you do business?

Wynn: With the workbook app, Black Diamond is changing the rigid sales cycle to something more agile. Adding a new product line last minute is much less of a gamble when we can distribute changes, call attention to the update, and judge interest through one app.

For the next two seasons, the only collateral we’re printing is something that we’re calling the Quick Start Book. It gives a high-level overview of product lines at a glance and drives buyers to look for more detailed information in the app. Black Diamond expects to save about $500,000 over the next three years on printing and distribution, so the company will see significant ROI when we’ve gone completely digital. Working with a digital app also makes it much easier to reuse content and create multi-language versions of the workbook to better reach global audiences for very little added cost.

Eventually by using the built-in analytics in Adobe Experience Manager Mobile, we’re hoping to get better insight into what buyers are looking at. Right now, forecasts are largely based on anecdotal evidence from the sales force about what seems to be resonating with retailers. If forecasts are wrong, Black Diamond may either miss out on sales or be stuck dealing with excess stock. With analytics, we’ll get a much better idea of what retailers are looking at, giving Black Diamond a better idea of what orders to place with factories.

Adobe: What are the app benefits for the sales force?

Law: In addition to the app always being up-to-date and having a cutting edge workbook to present to retailers, the Black Diamond brand is known for its visuals. Its marketing materials feature amazing photographs of athletes climbing mountains or zooming down ski slopes. With the app, we can take visuals to the next level by adding animations and 3D renderings. Interactive content helps sales representatives articulate the benefits of complex Black Diamond technologies like the JetForce Technology powering Black Diamond’s award-winning avalanche airbag packs. Sales reps can even create customized “playlists” of products so that they have the right content on hand for each buyer.

We’re also working to integrate the app with ERP and order-taking systems. Sales reps will be able to show buyers real-time inventory updates and place orders right away. So if a certain style of jacket won’t be available for a few weeks, buyers will know that they need to adjust their orders.

Adobe: How does the app help buyers and retailers?

Law: Trying to organize orders with a changing workbook is always difficult for buyers. Fast updates will allow Black Diamond to keep buyers better informed, and we’re planning to use push notifications to highlight major updates, like new product lines that launch outside of the seasonal sales cycle. The workbook also contains in-store marketing materials for retailers—everything from posters and signage to videos. Collateral can get lost with a long sales cycle, but with push notifications we can remind retailers when products are ready to hit shelves. We’re hoping to also include instructions for how to construct displays and use proper color schemes that get customers interested in Black Diamond.

Wynn: Working with Adobe Experience Manager Mobile, we’ve created an app that allows us to tell enriched stories and get product detail into the hands of our sales team and buyers. There’s nothing quite like our workbook app in the industry. With the app, we’ll give retailers support and communication that immediately improves the buying experience and makes them feel like partners invested in Black Diamond.

Read Black Diamond’s recent news coverage from MobileStrategies360.

Read the Experience Manager Mobile solutions brief for the retail industry to learn how Adobe’s mobile app solution can deliver even more solutions for retail.

Learn more about the new Adobe Experience Manager Mobile.

Want the technology partner’s point of view on building this app? Read Blink Worldwide’s blog post here.

Customer Stories, Manufacturing, Retail