What’s wrong with the game app Angry Birds?

I admit that my family and I like to play Angry Birds. Them more often than me (I’m not as skilled as my daughters).

However, this popular app is used as an example for some companies to decide against arming their sales force with mobile tools and devices. At a trade show recently, a Sales Manager explicitly said that she made the decision to not to purchase iPads because she was afraid of distracting her sales force with games. She actually mentioned Angry Birds.

She and others in her position fear that suddenly their entire sales force will be addicted to playing time-wasting games and watching mindless videos when they should be making sales calls.

As a former sales manager, I’ll admit that it’s an argument that seems to hold some weight, on the surface. However, as we talk to more and more companies that are in the middle of making strategic decisions about which mobile tools to provide their sales force, it’s clear that it can be also be an excuse to avoid a decision. From large companies deploying enterprise apps to businesses with a small sales force, we hear many of the same concerns.

No manager wants to introduce technology or tools that will reduce their sales force productivity. In conversations with our clients, we reinforce the need to have a plan to effectively launch mobile devices like iPads into their sales force for the best experience, including the best sales apps matched to their workflow.

The knee-jerk response to characterize these admittedly consumer-oriented devices as time-wasters is silly and maybe a bit dangerous in such a competitive environment.

Six Reasons why Angry Birds Should not be an Excuse to Deny iPads to your Sales Force.

1. Sales compensation is generally tied to performance.
The more time reps play, the less time they spend generating sales, the less money they earn. Good reps know that too much playing equals falling performance, less money, and manager on their back. There is a self-regulating mechanism. Don’t blame lack of performance on the games. If your team is having problems, it’s larger than that.

2. Managing by lowest common denominator hurts top performers.
Denying your sales force a mobile tool because you know that John over there will not use it productively is a losing strategy. When most of your management rules and policies are directed at punishing the lowest performers instead of supporting your best performers, you are not building a strong sales team. Of course, there need to be policies in place but weight your efforts and attention toward the people who are leading and carrying your sales team.

3. Company executives can use iPads, why are the rules different for sales people?
An Apple exec said that 80% of the Fortune 500 companies are testing or using iPads. Based on our observations, many of those are executives and management types are using iPads to read email and documents. Their time is valuable as is sales. I’ve seen and talked to many executives who enjoy some downtime playing a game or catching a video on their mobile device. Are they denied mobile devices because they might play a game or two?

4. They are using these devices already in the field-with Angry Birds on it.
Poll your reps. You will be surprised. You might as well get out in front of it. During my conversation with the first-mentioned manager, one of her reps actually brought his personal iPad over to show her how he was using it in the field. She had no idea.

5. Playing is good-sometimes.
It’s a proven method to help familiarize new device owners get used to gestures and actions. And sometimes you need to get away for a few minutes to come back refreshed and more productive.

6. Find and Provide Better Sales Apps
Instead of worrying about non-productive apps, companies need to find and provide iPad sales apps that actually help your sales team be more productive. It’s not as easy as buying iPads and letting the sales reps figure it out. Don’t get caught up in the lazy “it’s so intuitive I don’t have to train” mindset. It is a tool like any other tool. Spend the time to help your team use it effectively.

Many companies restrict the apps to only approved enterprise apps on mobile devices. There are benefits and disadvantages to this approach. However, if you don’t have those management tools in place right now and it’s possible for your sales team to download Angry Birds, consider other factors in your decision regarding mobile sales force tools and the sales productivity apps that go with them.

Are you part of a sales team using iPads? Or do you use a personal iPad for sales? ¬†Feel free to leave a comment below – we’d love hear your about experiences with using your iPad as a sales tool.