Blog Insights About iPad Sales Apps and News from StoryDesk

July 7, 2011

A Guide to Using your iPad as a Sales Tool

Introduction

The iPad is the best game-playing, movie watching, time-wasting, Facebooking, photo-viewing, magazine-reading, shopping tool in the world. Which is why every day enthusiasts queue up in front of Apple stores all across the world to spend $500+ on a device that is far more luxury than necessity.

But the iPad’s most important users aren’t waiting outside in the cold. They’re too busy trying to make this month’s numbers.

The tablet revolution’s greatest impact will be on enterprise customers. The iPad stands next to the mobile phone and email as among the most important business innovations of the last 50 years. Call around to companies big and small and you’ll discover that CEOs are the first person in most organizations to start using the iPad. Witness Apple’s overt push into enterprise hardware sales—a market it has otherwise ignored in favor of consumers. Walk into a sales meeting where someone is using an iPad, however awkwardly, and you’ll see an audience captivated by otherwise yawn-inducing content.

We’re at the beginning of something very, very big. Much like technologies that have come before—the web, blogging, Twitter—we’re faced with a choice. We can deride and ignore it until surrender is forced upon us. Or we can wrap our arms around change and leverage it to maximum benefit. If you’ve gone to the trouble of reading this post, then we’ll assume you’ve opted for the latter. Congratulations. We can’t tell you where this journey will lead you and your business. But we can tell you what we’ve learned so far.

Why is the iPad a Great Sales Tool?

What’s so damned special about this device? Put another way, how do I convince my boss/colleagues/CFO that we need to buy iPads for the team?

Every company’s needs are different, but here’re some good answers to these questions.

1) PowerPoint sucks. Sales presentations off of a laptop are boring and no matter how compelling your offering, a PowerPoint deck simply doesn’t do it justice. You want to go into meeting feeling confident and energetic. You have a great product/service. Give it the staging it deserves. Beautiful, interactive stories hold people’s attention better than static slide decks. Will you close more deals because of it? The honest answer is “I don’t know” but it’s pretty clear that the world is moving to iPad so jump on the train instead of pretending that there is no train.

2) Close deals on the spot. If you’re in the type of business where you can take orders and sign deals on-site, then the iPad (with the right app) is uniquely capable of letting you take orders and get a signature on the spot. Send it directly to your sales coordinator. Try doing that on a laptop.

3) Better control over your brand. When sales pitches are locked into an app on the iPad Management and legal can have 100% confidence that reps are staying on brand and on message. No room for improvisation—and miscommunication. What’s more, changes can be made centrally and pushed out to the entire sales force instantaneously.

4) Use an app to present, and then let the app be the “leave behind.” Include in your follow up email a link to download your company app. Use that as a communication and sales channel to strengthen ties with to your customer.

Why do you think the ipad is a great sales tool? How will you use it? Tweet your ideas to @storydesk

Pre-Pitch Preparation

1) Make sure your iPad is well charged. At least 50% going into the meeting. You don’t want the battery dying in the middle of your presentation. We recommend keeping a charger in your briefcase.

2) Clean it. Keep a chamois in your iPad case to wipe off smudges and fingerprints. It takes two seconds and it will give your presentation that added level of “crispness” that clients seem to notice.

3) Lock in the orientation (landscape or horizontal) so your presentation isn’t shape-shifting every time you move your iPad. Go to Settings>General>Lock Rotation. Then slide the switch on the side of the iPad according to your preference.

4) Have your presentation open before you turn on your iPad. You don’t want your client seeing the Angry Birds app on your desktop. You want to lead the conversation directly into the sales materials.

5) Think through how you’re going to smoothly transition the conversation on to the iPad — and then off it. Set up the conversation to the “solution” to the “problem” is found on the iPad. And then find a way, conversationally, to transition from the iPad to the desired next step in the sales process.

During the Pitch

Keep focus on YOUR message; not the iPad.

Remember, Tim Cook sells iPads. You sell ______.

Therefore:

1) Handle the tablet like you would any other business tool (not like it’s a Fabergé egg). Pull it out of your bag thoughtfully but without losing eye contact with the customer. Place it on the conference table but very clearly inside your personal space. It’s not a toy for everyone at the table to play with.

2) Avoid pressing the Home button and exiting your presentation. Enough said.

3) If you’re presenting to just 1-2 people, position yourself alongside the prospect (not opposite). It may seem a little weird at first, but it’s a friendly and intimate way of engaging your clients. This sort of body language communicate comfort and confidence. The iPad gives you permission to get a little closer. Pop a Tic Tac and go for it.

4) If you’re presenting to more than a handful of people, connect your iPad to a projector or monitor. If you’re connecting to a monitor (TV), you’ll need a Digital AV Adapter. If it’s a projector, pick up a VGA Adapter. We recommend keeping both on hand.

5) Navigate slowly. You’ve been through your presentation or catalogue dozens of times. Your audience has probably never seen the material you’re about to show them, so be sure to give them ample time to internalize the information you’re presenting. One of the benefits of presenting off of your iPad is that the deck doesn’t need to be structured as a horizontal slide show (think PowerPoint or Keynote). The iPad lets you go up and down as well as side to side. Most people aren’t yet accustomed to being presented to this way, so, again, pay close attention to how you structure your talk and the speed at which you present.

The Follow Up

Standard practice is to leave behind a copy of your presentation—either in hard copy, on a USB key, or sent in an email. This practice is borne more of desire to keep the communication channel live and active than any real belief that someone will spend much time with the deck at a later date. Given this convention, we advise optimizing the “leave behind” as a communication channel. What does that mean?

Your client expects a follow up email with materials you presented. Instead of attaching a PowerPoint deck, provide a link to an app for download. That link pushes him to download to his iPad your company’s app. Within that app is your presentation, to be sure. But there’re also white papers, references, information about your company, industry data, access to your online community, and a host of other features that give you and your client a chance to engage each other on an ongoing basis. Use the app as two-way communications and content channel. Once it’s downloaded to her iPad, she’s unlikely to ever delete it.

Okay, all this is great, you’re thinking, but what if your client doesn’t have an iPad?

A few thoughts.

1) A web-based player can simulate an iPad app navigation and still let the client save and export content. It’s not an ideal scenario, but it will get the content to him without technical difficulty.

2) Depending on the stakes, consider providing your client an iPad to hold on to. It may be the best $500 you’ll ever spend.

Measuring Success

Is the iPad unaccountable marketing spend or a investment with clear ROI?

It depends on your business and how you use the iPad.

Here’s what we know to be true:

1) Measuring the impact of a communications medium is notoriously difficult. The more impactful the communication, the harder it is to measure. Few customers will ever point to then iPad as the reason they decided to do a deal. Conversely, even fewer will point to a lousy presentation as the reason they decided not to do a deal.

2) Beauty breeds confidence, and confidence sells. Collateral materials that imbue a marketer with a sense of esteem about the product he is selling rubs off on everyone. If you look good, you feel good.

3) Content leads to conversions. Then iPad is a world class content delivery device. If it’s also equipped with the ability to execute transactions, they you truly have the perfect sales AND buying tool.

4) Communication leads to conversion. The iPad is a world class mobile communications device. Use it to listen to the needs/wants/dreams of your customer and tailor your offering accordingly.

5) Decisions to adopt unproven technologies are driven by fear of inertia and a desire to differentiate. Those are good motivations to have.

What do you think of all this? What have you learned about using your iPad as a sales tool? We’ll be opening up our blog for comments soon. In the meantime, please reach us on Twitter.

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