The Top 5 Reasons Companies are Buying iPads for their Sales Forces
Why are companies buying iPads for their sales forces?
Last week, we visited a large trade show and had dozens of discussions with companies about the iPad and how they are thinking about using them, especially in the field. Although this meeting was in the life science space, our contacts in other B2B markets essentially mirror what we found.
Our (admittedly unscientific) straw poll results were that:
about 2/3 of the companies either have a current pilot project using iPads in the field, are actively developing a plan for 2011, or already purchased iPads for their sales forces.
Only a handful of companies have already made the investment but based on our conversations, next year looks to be an inflection point for using the iPad as a field sales tool.
Here are the top 5 reasons we discovered why companies see the iPad as a potentially valuable field sales tool.
1. The iPad is the perfect size
It’s not too big and not too small. Taking the iPad in the field is like carrying another file folder or legal notepad – not a big deal. The larger and heavier a sales tool is, the more often it stays at home or in the trunk. A sales tool is not very useful if it’s not available in the field at the sales moment of truth (to hijack a term from Google and P&G).
2. The iPad is easy to share
Presentations, one-on-one discussions, email communications are all not only possible but easier using the iPad than any tools currently in the field. Don’t get me wrong, I think there are some definite needs in these areas for better apps and performance, but the iPad platform is there to build on.
The quality of the screen invites a side-by-side, one-on-one discussion. (Is it just me or is it really difficult to tap in the proper place when looking at the iPad upside down?)
3. The iPad is not too technical
In news reports, there are complaints from technophiles that you can’t do all the same things on the iPad as on a computer. That is true but the simplicity of tapping to access information and not having to locate a file actually makes life a bit easier for reps and their IT support.
Information served up in apps can be more intuitive. Why? Apps are usually related to a specific set of tasks and functions which match up much better in real-time customer interactions when you are focused on searching for a product, sending some information or locating a support link or document.
In addition, there is less training needed, although we still recommend a basic primer for all. That simplicity reduces the overall cost of training and support.
4.The iPad invites Instant Response
The sales reps we talked to love the instant response of the iPad. Customers are impatient and sales people are impatient. Speed matters (check out a related post, The Competitive Advantage of Speed in Sales here).
The instant on, the single tap to open an app, the ability to do a task quickly matters, especially when you are doing a lot of those routine tasks. And if you make a mistake (hit the wrong icon for instance) you don’t have to wait long to correct it. You simply close and tap on the correct one. Try that on your laptop!
5. The iPad is perfect for Going Green
Some companies see the iPad as a quick way to accomplish another key goal, reducing paper and waste. There are an incredible number of paper catalogs, sales brochures, flyers that end up in the trash. As a testament to how fast some businesses move these days, some printed materials actually never see the light of day before they are obsolete.
In addition, the shipping costs of paper to a widely dispersed sales force can significantly add up for a marketing department. Viewing and sharing PDFs and Powerpoint slide decks on the iPad is a welcome alternative to printing and handouts. Even if it just cuts out 10% of a company’s printing costs, that can be a significant cost savings.
The Bottom Line
Companies value each of these factors differently. However, those investigating the iPad see the potential for the sales force to produce more sales, reduce expenses or both. We see first hand what the impact that having information and selling tools at sales reps fingertips does to increase the speed and quality of the sales process.
What reasons are your company finding to launch iPads to the sales force?