Tablets, like the iPad, have opened new possibilities for businesses and enterprises, as expressed in our recent white paper on how businesses can launch the iPad to your sales team.

They easily and securely integrate into existing business environments while having the power to transform the way people do their work. In fact, during an April 2012 earnings conference call, Apple CEO Tim Cook said 94 percent of the Fortune 500 and 75 percent of the Global 500 either are testing or deploying the iPad. Whether that’s overstated or not, it’s definitely eye-popping. Companies that want to make the iPad an asset to their brand need a plan.

At FatStax, we happen to specialize in helping companies implement the iPad with our iPad sales app. The steps we outlined below can help guide a rollout of iPads and iPad software to enterprise sales teams.

Create a Cross-Functional Team

Think about existing software systems and business processes that will integrate with the iPad. The owners of those systems—on the technical, operational and business sides of the organization—should get involved early in the process. Build a cross-functional team that connects internal stakeholders with external consultants and developers.

Get key people in IT, marketing, sales and other relevant areas involved early on this team. It will show others that the idea has broad-based support. Finding allies now and keeping them throughout the iPad rollout will make it easier to navigate company policies, and it may inspire a broader mobile strategy for the organization.

Engage Team for a More Realistic Budget

Engaging other departments may reveal additional ways to use iPads for sales to build stronger client relations. But it may also may potentially uncover additional expenses. Use the input of others to create a realistic budget. Remember to look beyond the cost of purchasing an iPad for each person. Keep in mind additional hardware that is essential (iPad Cases, Data plans, Support, Programmers, Security, Distribution, VPN, Apps and the Pilot program.

Work with an Experienced Development Team

Unless a company has the desire and budget to build its own mobile development and support team, the fastest, easiest and least expensive way to keep pace with changing hardware and software is to rely on developers outside the company. Developers that specialize in designing all-inclusive apps for enterprises live and breathe everything related to the iPad. These specialized vendors have worked with other enterprises, giving them a great deal of exposure to user experience preferences. They may have additional advice and ideas on the best way to securely deploy iPads, as well as their product to enterprise sales teams.

Test Assumptions in a Pilot

A great way to test assumptions, uncover missing budget items, and reveal enterprise software integration needs is to conduct an iPad pilot. Consider tapping people who already own the iPad for personal use or who have been especially vocal about adding them to the sales team’s tool box. Let participants discover what they need to make the iPad an effective part of the sales process and daily workflow. Sales people have the job of closing sales, so don’t plan for users to test more than three to four apps in a pilot. Starting simple with a mix of everyday apps and one custom app is much more manageable. Once they become more comfortable, then you can introduce iPad selling techniques.

Plan for Widespread Distribution and Use

All the feedback and planning will pay off as a company prepares to deploy the iPad to its entire sales team. With iPads in hand, C-levels on board and pilot feedback digested, there are only a few more small steps to take before launching.

  • First, you must verify delivery dates for iPads and accessories at all the launch locations.
  • Secondly, determine how users will make app purchases: Personal Apple ID or company credit card.
  • Lastly, and most importantly, plan a grand scale launch event. If you carefully coordinate the timing of hardware distribution and training, sales reps will feel confident from the start. The training and communication should encompass more than the introduction of a new gadget.

It should introduce a new way of succeeding in sales.

When launch day comes, keep it fun and provide every opportunity for reps to become familiar with the iPad. Encourage them to use the iPad, even with customers, so that they will get comfortable faster. They’ll make mistakes, but the hands-on experience will pay off, helping them to cure time restraints.

Sales people are driven to win, so make the iPad launch a worthy challenge. Encourage their interest in the iPad and its applications by creating fun or goofy awards for things like chief bug finder, fastest downloader, best wallpaper art and more. Anything that engages users and gets them excited about using the iPad will contribute to a successful enterprise launch (even Angry Birds).