cross-screen marketing solutions

Don’t Let Your iPads for Sales Investment Go to Waste

With huge names like Mercedez Benz and General Mills jumping on the iPads-for-enterprise bandwagon, it’s clear the device has huge potential for upping the outside sales game.

Unfortunately, too many companies assume just making the purchase is enough. In fact a recent study reported more than half of companies interested in buying iPads for sales have articulated a clear adoption strategy.

“We talk to companies all the time where they literally purchased iPads for their team with no idea of what they were going to be doing with them,” said Matthew Suggs, vice president of enterprise sales at MediaFly Inc.

Below are tips from experts for crafting an effective mobile selling strategy for the iPad.

Keep an Eye on Usage

SAVO Group Senior Marketing Director Dan Schleifer recommended sales managers define clear usage goals and key performance indicators for measuring those benchmarks. To do this, leadership should first consider whether they want to use the iPad primarily as a presentation and sharing tool, CRM productivity tool, or both.

“A classic example [of a situation where you would measure usage] is launching a new product. For many of our customers, this is their biggest revenue growth initiative, and one that often fails in the field due to low adoption,” Schleifer says. Sales enablement software solutions offer such monitoring tools to see such data as whether a sales rep went through product launch training, viewed competitive analyses, or downloaded relevant sales assets.

“If a sales rep hasn’t done these things, I can guarantee that they’re not out pitching the new product,” Schleifer said.

Go Beyond PowerPoint

One of the iPad’s most powerful assets for sales is its vivid display. The screen can flip, zoom, pinch and rotate. But just using it to run standard PowerPoint presentations is a “missed opportunity,” argues Gary Galusha, vice president of sales for Upsync a content management, presentations and integrated business application developer. Sales and marketing should work together to create presentations and materials that make full use of the screens varying functionalities.

For Boston Scientific–which rolled out more than 4,500 iPads to field sales teams in 2010–the touch screen allows users to spin, zoom and rotate complicated device models and run through interactive simulations.

“Trying to show innovative therapies in a way that is easy to understand and see was challenging in the old world, particularly as health care professionals’ time was increasingly difficult to come by,” notes Rich Adduci, Boston Scientific’s Chief Intelligence Officer. “When we saw Steve Jobs walk out on that stage with the iPad, we all thought, ‘that’s it!’”

Think Big

Many companies make the mistake of thinking about their mobile strategy in pieces. First they mobilize their CRM system, then they roll out an app for sales, another for accounting, another for data storage, and so on.

“Companies that build a bunch of disparate apps find it’s not sustainable, then have to rebuild one platform and end up spending way more then they should,” Excellis Interactive Marketing Director Molly Maple explains.

Her company specializes in devising big-picture mobile strategies to prevent or compensate for this kind of fragmented development. One medical device client, for example, came to Excellis to unify processes for their 2,200-person sales team. The $3.5-billion company was using Dropbox for storing, a calendar app for scheduling, and mobile CRM.

Users were frustrated. They needed a way to integrate all three applications with activities where the sale happens in the presence of the customer, Maple said. So, Excellis created a single application that allowed reps to schedule meetings, manage account information in CRM, check inventory, place orders, collect payments and sign contracts. This centralized all of their sales activities and eliminated the manual processes of sending orders and invoices separately.

When implemented into the selling process with some careful planning, the iPad can be a useful companion for a sales rep. But don’t expect the device to be a silver bullet for your team.

“Transitioning your field sales team over to an iPad platform is more than just an upgrade of their technology. It represents a key shift in the engagement between sales representatives and their customers,” says Meghan Lopresto, vice president of multichannel marketing and sales force analytics for The Cement Bloc.