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Do sales professionals need to be able to sell with an Ipad

How will the Ipad and other tablet computing change the way you collaborate with your prospects and buyers? 

With another new Ipad comes an obvious question, should my sales team be using it or not? I am interested in peoples opinions on whether sales professionals need to be able to sell with an Ipad/Tablet? iPads are replacing normal notebooks or PCs by many end users, especially senior management but do sale professionals need to change with the times or not? What are the pros or cons or adopting this technology?

Recently I circulated that question on some Linkedin Groups and these are the types of responses I got. These are the 7 responses I got.

1.  "I've deployed iPads to a little over 1,000 of my account executives. It's a tremendous productivity tool, but it is not a laptop replacement. Not yet, at least." 

Tablets are great for: 
* Email / Calendar (checking status, drafting quick replies) 
* Special applications designed for your business 
* Delivering presentations (on the screen or via connectivity to an LCD projector) 
* Quickly accessing information on the web, SharePoint, etc 

Tablets aren't so great for: 
* Creating documents (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, long emails) 
* Manipulating spreadsheets 
* Processor-intensive applications 
* Intense multi-tasking 

I'd say that tablets are a good "on the go" solution, but sellers still need a laptop to use for their office time. One significant advantage of tablets is that they are "instant on" and allow people to be immediately productive. If you get a 3G/4G embedded device, your people are connected virtually everywhere. Alternately, if your computer has tons of corporate security software, it can easily take 15 minutes to boot up to where the seller can be productive. 

2. In relationship to mapping out business pains with a customer on an Ipad -  Rupert, I think you have hit the nail on the head with your last comment - but only if you are presenting 1-to-1 or perhaps in a very small group. With the important caveat that both you and your customer / prospect need to be comfortable doing it, a tablet allows you to enter each other's personal space and make the selling / buying experience much more engaging. By handing a tablet with an interactive presentation to your customer / prospect you also allow them to navigate to areas of interest to them (giving you lots of feedback as to the usefulness of your presentation in the process) and putting you in the role of 'consultant' rather than 'presenter'. 

A tablet can also be much more like a brochure with the very great advantage of being interactive and connected - for quotations, order acceptance etc. 

3. One important lessons learned from our sales team is that the value of an iPad/tablet device is in the instantaneous access to information to answer a customer's question. The device becomes part of the conversation but not THE conversation. In combination with this lesson is that you can not simply replicate PowerPoint presentations that would be have been used on a laptop in the past, customers want the specific information. 

A second aspect of having an iPad/Tablet in your reps hands is that the quality of information that they feed into your CRM system is directly related to how short the lag time is between their sales call and their entering the data into your system.

4. There are 3 main areas of potential for iPads in the sales process: 

A. Laptop replacements (smaller, lighter, sexier, and cheaper when you consider the software you don’t have to buy for them.) 
B. Interactive presentation tools 
C. Giant leap forward for salesforce automation and connectivity to the chosen CRM 

#A The other one above is right about the potential need for some laptops. If your team has to manipulate complicated spreadsheets or draft long documents, they might still need a laptop in their care or hotel room, but they probably don’t have to carry it on the sales call. This alone can change the dynamic of a meeting, eliminating the customary opening of the 15” behemoth and booting it up and figuring out the wireless settings, and so on. 

#B is the most obvious right now. Anything your team has traditionally done with presentations or printed materials in a meeting can be done interactively -- simple PDF docs, Keynote presentations, Prezi presentations, not to mention interactive web sites. 

If your company invests properly in building an app so that your team can interact with the quoting and ordering process, I see a great future for #C, really streamlining things in this area. It’s not about tons of functionality which is where web and desktop development gets bogged down -- it’s about providing the core informational needs quickly and intuitively. That’s where the tablets will pay off. 

And obviously, providing access to the CRM for both receiving and providing information is a no brainer. The current app for the iPad is much improved, but still has a little ways to go.

5. Tablets in general have the potential to become portable "interactive"sales playbooks that help reps navigate more consistent and higher quality sales conversations, and quickly collect, organize and report what they learned during the call. They can also help improve more consistent application of the company's sales process.

6. I believe the real implication of the iPad will be in Product Presentation. Take a scenario where the sales reps have to make a large number of calls and needs to present many different products and cannot be a domain expert in any of the product areas. (Pharma / Financial Services / even education) the Product Management group can take control of the way the product is presented by providing video content on the iPad. The iPad will be part of the change process which will deskill some sales jobs. Companies will need to look at this not just because of costs but because of regulations and litigation.

7.  I was an IT manager on a project where we put 500 iPads into our medical device sales associates hands. Two reasons why we did this. 1st the competition already had them or were getting them. If your selling a high tech manufactured product (like an implantable medical device) you want to come to the meeting with a product that shows your company is up or ahead of the competition. 2nd, we re-tooled our applications to work on the iPad that they needed to perform their work. So we made the sales pro's cutting edge and also were more productive as they did not have to use laptops during the day and the apps worked better on the tablets. One shortfall that we had to overcome was that a decision was made to not offer robust training. A few users excelled nicely, but several just were not utilizing them as intended, and a few not at all. So it's important to launch with procedural training. And reinforce it after they have used them for 60 days. If you don't do this you may find that you bought a $800 ipad that allows them to read their email and given their kid a new toy.

These are some of the comments I received. I would be really be interested to hear how or if Fintech companies use an Ipad. We support quite a few Fintech companies so keen to learn how we can help in the sales process. 

This one was a good example I saw: Surely there could be better way.  We worked through a few use cases with her and in a few weeks put together an iPad app that provides client information to the sales reps, originate new product sales and even capture their daily trip log.     The last item is particularly interesting.  These sales reps spend their day travelling to client locations, and at the end of a tiring day needed to fill our expense forms and trip sheets for their sales runs.     The built in GPS in their iPads coupled with Google Maps could do this automatically.   Her sales reps loved it!



Selling with an Ipad

Comments: (1)

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 05 April, 2012, 15:15Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Most sales presentations are delivered to prospects in offices with prior appointments - laptops work fine in those situations. However, many salespersons still get the chance to make 1-2 minute pitches to prospects in unplanned and non-office settings in what could be called "water cooler moments", which could also happen in cafeterias, restaurants, tube stations, and so forth. Great salespersons are always prepared for such occasions and can deliver elevator pitches out of memory - no laptop, tablet or notes required. However, a tablet loaded with a canned demo allows even average salespersons to capitalize upon such moments. While this is a powerful use case for the use of tablets, justifying a business case for it might not be easy. "Distribute tablets to a few of your average salespersons and measure the results after a couple of months" would be the most logical pilot but you can imagine the political ramifications when the best performing salespersons are left out of it!

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