Depending on where your company is in the process of deploying iPads, we recommend starting with Why companies deploy iPads? or the Guide to Launching iPads; two free ebooks that will get you primed and ready.

Last week, we visited a large trade show (in Houston) and had dozens of discussions with companies about the iPad and how they are using them, especially in the field. The question we asked them point blank was: Why?

Why are companies buying iPads for field reps?

Our (admittedly unscientific) results were echoed again and again…

  1. Size
  2. Screen
  3. Ease of Use
  4. Sharing
  5. Saving Print Budget

So let’s dig in a bit…

5 reasons companies are buying iPads for field reps and trade shows


1. Companies are buying iPads because they are the perfect size to carry

iPads are not too big and not too small. The device is like carrying another file folder or legal notepad – not a big deal. Unlike a laptop that’s heavy, it’s easy to hold in your hand all day long at a trade show.

2. Companies are buying iPads because the screen is easy to see and share

Presentations, one-on-one discussions, email communications are all really easy to see on the iPad screen while sharing. The retina display is just so dang clear, it’s awesome.

It’s the quality of the iPad screen that invites a side-by-side, one-on-one discussion. (Though, is it just me or is it really difficult to tap in the proper place when looking at the iPad upside down?)

3. Companies are buying iPads because they not too technical

We hear complaints from “technophiles” that you can’t do all the same things on the iPad as on a computer. While this is true, the simplicity of tapping to access information and not having to locate files actually makes life a bit easier for reps and their marketing friends in the trade show booth, too.

Information served up in apps is also a bit more intuitive. Why? Apps are usually related to a specific set of tasks and functions which match up much better in real-time customer interactions. For example,  searching for a product, sending marketing collateral or locating a support link or document is more straightforward when using an app than when using your laptop.

In addition, there is less training needed. Whose kids are not playing games on iPads all day long? I watched a 4 year-old find a game in the App Store,  install it and start playing without parent intervention (ok, that brings up other issues). The point is that this intuitiveness reduces the overall cost of training and support.

4. Companies are buying iPads because they drive Instant Responses

The folks we talked with at the meeting loved the instant response of the iPad. Customers and booth visitors are generally impatient. Speed matters (check out a related post, The Competitive Advantage of Speed in Sales).

Here are the buzz words we heard:

  • “Instant-on”
  • “Single tap to open apps”
  • “Ability to do a task quickly matters, especially when you are doing a lot of those routine tasks”
  • “If you make a mistake (hit the wrong icon for instance) you don’t have to wait long to correct it”

5. Companies are buying iPads because they save print costs

Some companies see the iPad as a quick way to accomplish another key goal, reducing printing and shipping costs. There are an incredible number of paper catalogs, sales brochures, and flyers that ended up in the trash at the conference. As a testament to how fast some businesses move these days, some printed materials actually never see the light of day before they are obsolete.

Additionally, marketers complained about the shipping costs of paper to a geographically-dispersed sales force or to trade shows/conferences. Viewing and sharing PDFs and PowerPoint slide decks on the iPad is a welcome alternative to printing and handing out brochures.

Would you like a 50% reduction in print budget?  Me too. Additionally, it fits well with many environmental initiatives for companies.

The Bottom Line on Companies Buying iPads for Field Teams

Companies value each of these factors differently. However, those investigating the iPad and iPad sales apps see the potential for the sales reps and marketing teams to produce more sales, reduce expenses or both. We saw firsthand the impact of having information and selling tools at sales reps’ fingertips can do to increase the speed, quality, and ultimately, success of the sales process.

What are the key reasons your company is finding to launch iPad sales tools to the field?