Are you piloting iPad apps for sales reps at your company? If so, I bet you are concerned about the best way to make sure your investment is utilized to its fullest.

Not to get too far ahead of ourselves, but our free ebook Guide to Launching iPads is a great asset for companies of any size we recommend you check out as well.

As a marketer myself that launched an iPad sales app for my sales reps last year, I know what it’s like building up to that pilot launch. I worked with our vendor to wireframe, help design, fill it with content and forms: essentially put everything in place for my company’s iPad sales app. I even hand picked my 15 sales reps from different regions and different lengths with the company to try my baby out. Now it was time to turn the keys over to a group of sales reps to pilot the app.

And then came the problems.

There are a ton of variables when it comes to piloting iPad apps for sales reps successfully. I was so focused on what I, as a marketer, thought were important for the app, I completely neglected some key points I should have took into consideration before our pilot period began.

Here are the five biggest issues and problems we had, and what you should avoid, when piloting iPad apps for sales reps.

1. Going overboard with collateral during the pilot

As a marketer, all I did was create collateral. One of the reasons we chose to give our reps an iPad sales app was so they could share all of our collateral to drive sales. The first and biggest problem we had during our pilot was going way overboard with the amount of collateral on the sales app before the sales team ever saw it.

Remember, piloting iPad apps for sales reps is just about getting a feel for functionality. Overloading them with all of your collateral really has no place in your pilot. All of that collateral will come later once you have all of the bugs worked out from the pilot.

2. Hooking up your CRM during the pilot

One of the key components to the iPad sales app I worked on was how form submissions were tied back into our home grown customer relationship management system (not a system). Because it wasn’t a system, we were pumped the app’s analytics and all of that valuable marketing information was tied back into our CRM. When we told our pilot participants, all we got were blank stares.

All of that analytical API mumbo jumbo was really something the sales reps piloting the iPad app did not really need to know. Keep it simple at first when piloting iPad apps for sales reps, and just explain that critical prospect information will be tracked and saved for later use. Functionality first, features later. Much later. (Look at #3)

3. Too many app features to learn during the pilot

I wanted to make sure I could pack as many useful tools into the iPad sales app I developed as possible for our sales reps. The more tools, the better! Not so fast. During my pilot, I found our sales reps were getting mired with the features rather than the functionality. This caused us to get feedback on the bells and whistles we were not initially interested in with the pilot.

When it comes to the piloting period, you want to only give sales reps a few of the options you plan on unveiling at first to test. You can add additional features in new versions on the app down the road. If you overwhelm the sales reps with too many features, I found it’s less likely they’ll use the dang thing. And then you’ve lost their trust to ever go back to using the app.

4. Not managing expectations ahead of time

Before I ever got the green light from my CEO, I of course had to sell them on how successful deployment of this iPad sales app would be for the company. I had to detail all of the insights into analytics, its integration with CRM and the spike in lead generation is what the iPad sales app will eventually do…just not right now in the pilot period. One the pilot began, my CEO wanted to see stats right away. He wanted analytics when I needed feedback from the sales reps.

Remember, the idea of piloting iPad apps for sales reps is to answer one question: Do they use it? Keep everyone involved with the project well grounded during the pilot period. You can set all of the goals you want once it’s deployed to the entire sales force.

5. Changing app versions during the pilot

I had one sales rep during my pilot period call and made a great recommendation for the functionality of the sales app. It was a great recommendation, and I asked the change get pushed out to the pilot app. A few days later, a different sales rep called me and wanted to know why I was making changes to something he was already testing. From that point on, I did not make any changes to any feature on the app or its functionality.

Gathered feedback, corrections and additional collateral will all go into the first live version. Multiple versions when piloting iPad apps for sales reps will only add confusion to the entire process. Yes, the whole idea of the piloting iPad apps for sales reps to generate as much feedback from the reps who will use your iPad sales app on a regular basis. But you don’t want to make changes while the pilot is still going on.

In the end, piloting iPad apps for sales reps can seem like an overwhelming project. But remember, it doesn’t need to be 100% perfect for the pilot. That’s what the pilot is all about. Give your selected audience just a taste of the real thing. Make sure it’s something your sales reps will actually use to the fullest. Have each sales rep report back to you independently with what they liked and didn’t like. From there, you can tweak and launch your iPad sales app into the lead generating, revenue building, time saving machine you planned it would be.