Often the way to be successful in sales is to have the edge on “the other guy.” Where once all you had to do was dress to impress, now you need to be equipped with all of the requisite tools and resources at your fingertips. It used to be acceptable to call your colleagues for advice and get back to your client once you have the answers. Now, clients demand that you can look up any and all details while you stand in front of them. They want you to be able to contact the rest of your team and have answers within moments. These are the things that make the difference between a sale and a lost opportunity.
Enter the iPad, the new pinstripe suit.
Laptops are great. They let us bring our offices with us wherever we go and they work like a charm: as long as you have enough battery life and you can find a desk to set them on and you can get the client to wait a few minutes while you pull it out of the bag and get it to book and and and… They just don’t cut it anymore. The iPad lets you work all day on a single charge. You can be booted up and ready to work in moments and accessing the Internet using 3G or tethering to your iPhone.
It is more than just sales figures and cost comparisons and product look-ups on the fly that make the iPad an ideal sales companion. Consider the ability to schedule appointments, send and receive e-mails, manage your contacts, conduct video-conference style meetings all with the same device. All of this while still giving you the ability to do a little word processing and work on that spreadsheet while you sit in a waiting room. And then there are the apps. Collaborative tools, demonstration tools, presentation tools, oh my!
There is an additional advantage for those companies who may have salespeople that are a little less tech savvy than others, it also means training being needed for a single device and a single interface that is consistent across the iPad and the iPhone.
Parallel to this movement is the increasing adoption of Apple technology by the corporate world. According to Forrester Research, nearly 50% of businesses are now using Mac computers which only serves to compliment the increasing use of iPads and iPhones in those same markets. This use of Apple products at a corporate level means two things: your IT department can more easily support a fleet of sales-related iPads but also that when your salespeople are onsite they are using the same technology their clients are (consider even the use of AirPlay to do product demonstrations on a larger screen).
The folks at Level 3 Communications understand the potential that the iPad lends their sales-force. InformationWeek reported that Level 3 just deployed 1,300 iPads to their North American sales team, enabling them to do the things that they feel are most important: offer price quotes, build and make presentations, send email, look up customer records and check products. When asked how the iPads are evolving their business strategy, Nick Taylor, senior VP of infrastructure and strategy is quick to say that he thinks his team is already making better use of their time. He explains that, “they find themselves with these seven-minute chunks of time [between meetings, at an airport, or in a taxi] that you really can’t do much with, and they’re online and they’re collaborating.”
Also consider that with the addition of a ever widening range of payment gateway options being added to the iPad’s arsenal, it could mean that salespeople can not only pitch the sale but they can complete it all at once.
And it has just begun.