Five Concerns We Hear about Providing iPads to your Sales Force
With consumer devices crossing over to business applications, managers are faced with decisions about adopting these mobile devices in business.
After all, employees reason, if I can use the device to be more productive in off hours, why can’t I use it to help me be more productive at work?
Logical request? Yes, but it’s also reasonable for companies to do their homework before leaping. My last post focused on The Top 5 Reasons that Companies are Buying iPads for their Sales Forces.
In those many conversations, we also heard objections and concerns about adopting these devices and bestowing them on their sales forces. Some had the ring of truth, some smokescreens.
1. “iPads are not secure enough for our company”
There is a concern with devices that make it easy for field sales to take corporate information with them outside the office. For the iPad specifically, we hear the reluctance more with companies that do not currently support Apple products. Even if there are fewer actual security issues with Apple products (seems that there are), knowing what you are dealing with is more comfortable than the unknown.
Most sales forces currently have laptops and mobile phones that probably contain more information than iPads. The security concern has been around forever and will continue not just with Apple products. With the additional security in the new 4.2 upgrade, the arguments seem to be more and more like an excuse to stay put.
2. “We just don’t have the budget, right now.”
It’s not so much buying an iPad itself, which is seen as relatively inexpensive and a one-time charge. The cellular subscription charges for cell coverage add up. The addition of Verizon as a carrier helps adoption simply because many companies can just add that to existing contracts. And they have some negotiating power with their current supplier.
There is also the additional expenses for IT support – setup, deployment, updating or adding systems, maintaining, training, etc. that are included in the considerations.
It’s true to an extent. Companies need to weigh the costs of ownership versus the benefits. It’s always easier to document costs than the benefits of a new technology. Piloting new technology and tracking the results will give answers to these questions. Stop guessing and potentially overweighting the costs and underestimating the benefits.
3. “We are waiting to see how other companies will use them.”
Most companies are followers – looking at leaders in their industry to emulate what works and avoid what doesn’t. By nature, most companies take a wait and see attitude towards new technology.
To be fair, most companies want to know exactly what apps their reps will use and how to integrate this tool with their current sales processes. In that way, waiting is prudent. However, if companies aren’t actively investigating the how and why of adding new mobile tools like the iPad to their sales forces, they are avoiding the issue, hoping it will go away. It won’t.
4. “It’s just another toy for sales, not a tool”
Sales representatives are sometimes known for complaining about not having enough resources and, when they get them, they complain about not having enough resources. Remembering previous cries for wolf, the company ignores another request. “The iPad is just the latest toy that sales wants but doesn’t really need.”
We never actually hear those words. What we hear is that “we have bigger priorities” or we are going after ‘low hanging fruit” with other projects. The mindset is that there is little additional value to providing this tool to the sales force.
Not putting a device in your sales force’s hands because there is a possibility they might occasionally play a game or movie on it is pretty silly. For those that really want to do spend their time that way, they can do the same with a laptop or smart phone that is already provided.
5. “They Already have Laptops”
The iPad is not a device that makes creating or editing documents easy. When it gets more horsepower, that will change. Field technical support or sales specialists that need to work with specialized software or create multiple documents locally are not the best candidates right now for the iPad.
Laptops are mobile but they just aren’t FIELD devices for field sales forces. The vast majority of sales people that focus on generating sales and converting prospects do not use their laptop regularly in the field, even if they carry them.
Conversely, iPads ARE field devices that can be used very effectively in the selling process. In that way, these devices are complimentary. Would you take away a smartphone just because you can get skype on your laptop?
The Bottom Line
The common thread is that the costs of ownership outweigh the returns. Expenses are usually easier to document than benefits. If your plan is to wait until the benefits are so apparent that it’s a no brainer, you miss an opportunity to plan effectively and will need to scramble when your competition starts seeing how iPads make them much more productive.
If you don’t have a plan in place to document the expenses and benefits, in practice, then these objections are just excuses.