There was a time, not very long ago, when all a new salesperson might be given to do their job was a desk, a phone and possibly a list of accounts and prospects on a few sheets of paper. Soon, it might start to look strange if salespeople aren’t equipped with an app.

Some small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) might be skeptical of using apps as a sales tool, especially if they suspect employees are spending too much time playing mobile games or messaging their friends and family. That may mean missing out an opportunity, however, because more evidence suggests that Canada is on the cusp of a major shift from slow, disconnected, paper-based processes to ones that can be driven largely via smartphones and tablets.

Consider the following reasons to begin crafting a strategy to boost sales with business apps:

More sales, faster: In its annual top 10 predictions for the technology sector, Toronto-based market research firm IDC Canada described those who use apps as part of their business will achieve “escape velocity” — in other words, they’ll be able to get away from manual ways of completing everyday tasks. “Companies that invest heavily in developing internal mobile enterprise applications will edge out competitors by becoming more productive and collaborative,” IDC said.

SMBs should take a few minutes to step back from their day-to-day work and think through all the steps they need to make a sale. Is there a place where apps could eliminate one of those steps, or make it a more fluid process? Figuring this out up front will help you calculate your return on investment before app development even begins.

Custom apps, easier: SMBs might put off by what they perceive as the potential skills required to create an app to assist with areas like sales and marketing. The reality is that more people across the country are available to get apps off the ground and into employees’ smartphones. In a study released last year by the Information and Communications Technology Council of Canada, for example, the number of people employed in Canada's apps economy has grown to over 64,000, and will top 110,000 by 2019.

Employee resources, maximized: The use of apps doesn’t mean everyone in a company will be chained to their smartphone or tablet. As a story in the Globe and Mail recently suggested, savvy firms recognize that the most “mobile” parts of their workforce (like sales reps) are best positioned to take advantage of these tools. “It is very unlikely that you can create a large PowerPoint presentation on your iPhone,” the Globe reported. “However, you can overview and approve information created by somebody else working from his or her desk.”

Find out why the sales team of the future is mobile in 10 Advantages of a Mobile Sales Team  and how TELUS is signing up more customers in less time with mobile.