Enterprise iPad Apps – Note to IT, Keep It Simple for Field Sales

Enterprise Sales

As we work on developing the next version of FatStax for iPad, one thing has become clear from our user feedback – keep the responsiveness and simplicity of the app. In the initial versions of our iPad sales app, we took advantage of the features of the ipad that have made it so popular – fast, responsive, simple.

We are impatient and we build FatStax for impatient people.

For those decision makers contemplating whether to build enterprise ipad sales apps in-house or buy existing sales apps, consider the field sales end user. The field sales end users are impatient, have high expectations and don’t care about generic “productivity”. They want a tool that helps them sell more.

From our experience, they want sales apps that are:

1. Responsive

When you tap, there is immediate user feedback that the iPad got the information and is responding. Tapping on buttons or links has to show that feedback now-no guessing on the part of the users. The iPad touch response isn’t perfect but good enough to generate that user perception.

Does the app include search or other more resource intensive capabilities? Users need to get feedback that the search is progressing and get quick results delivered to their screen. This is one reason using a web app on the iPad is not as satisfying to our users as an app where the critical information is available locally on the iPad. That is also why we continue to develop a more robust offline search capability for FatStax. It’s harder to develop but is preferred by users.

2. Logical and Intuitive

Imagine that your field sales force (who pay the salaries of everyone in-house) didn’t have the benefit of any training sessions and they had an one-time opportunity to sell to a customer using your app. How would the interface change? Would your team take an extra few days for your iPad pilot project to test it in the field to make sure those opportunities aren’t lost?

Even if there is extensive training available for field sales, an app should stand on its own, able to be picked up and used productively in a couple of minutes.

3. Focused

Field sales has a lot going on and it’s easy to get distracted. It is critical to help keep a sales team focused on the tasks at hand, especially when in a selling situation. Comprehensive, swiss-army-tool-like iPad sales apps, (which I’ve written about before) have a lot of distractions built-in by their very nature. While helpful for some aspects of the sales process, these sales apps have a lot of capabilities that are not needed at the point of sale.

4. Able to help them sell

Sales people want to sell more. They don’t necessarily want to be more “productive”, if productivity means they will be able to do more administrative tasks in the same amount of time. Which category do the enterprise iPad apps you are planning or developing fall into?

We’ve worked with IT teams developing enterprise iPad apps as well as those creating catalogs of apps for use with their sales force. There are mobile development teams that understand these user demands very well, while some have a lot to learn (and will hear about it at the next sales meeting).

Listen to your end users about what they need to sell more.

You might be pleasantly surprised at how many items this feedback eliminates on your to do list.

About Mark Walker

Mark is an experienced sales and marketing executive and entrepreneur who excels at creating products that increase sales force and marketing productivity through mobile devices and cloud-based services.