Guest Post By Ashley Furness, Blogger and Market Analyst for softwareadvice.com/crm.
According to recent reports, 78 percent of employers will invest in tablets by the close of next year, 83 percent of which will choose the iPad. Oddly, most haven't created a corresponding implementation strategy.
With Mercedes Benz, General Mills and other big-name companies deploying the device, it's easy to imagine the iPad as some sort of silver bullet for sales. But as Boston Scientific CIO Rich Adduci recently told me, it wasn't the technology alone that upped his team's game. It was the strategic plan. His company purchased more than 2,000 iPads for sales two years ago when the first iPad was introduced.
“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,” Adduci said. “When we saw Steve Jobs walk out on that stage with the iPad, we all thought, ‘that’s it!’”
In an effort to help future iPad investors refine their strategy, I asked mobile sales strategy experts what tips they would give sales managers for making the most of their Apple upgrade. Here's a list of their top recommendations.
1. Monitor and Adjust Usage
SAVO Group Senior Marketing Director Dan Schleifer said sales management should articulate clear usage goals for their iPad-equipped team and use the results to measure effectiveness. This "governance plan" should monitor such sales activities as deals closed, training materials opened and competitive analyses viewed. In the case of a new product launch, this information will ensure the team is correctly focusing their outside sales efforts. These events are often company's biggest revenue growth initiative of the year, but also frequently fail in the field due to low adoption.
SAVO Mobile (recently named one of the "Top 11 iPad Apps for Sales") provides such oversight tools, plus others for delivering the latest marketing assets in real-time. Linking these materials with conversions can also show marketing which of their iPad efforts are most successful and should be replicated.
2. Look at the Big Picture
When vaccines developer Novartis Vaccines went to The Cement Bloc to help fine-tune their mobile strategy, sales managers were reporting issues getting the team to use all of their iPad applications. Leadership wanted the device to represent a key shift in engagement between sales representatives and their customers, but reps were frustrated by having to manage so many different tools. The Cement Bloc ended up creating a custom solution that more broadly fit Novartis Vaccines' needs.
“Companies that build a bunch of disparate apps find it’s not sustainable, than have to rebuild one platform and end up spending way more than they should,” Excellis Interactive Marketing Director Molly Maple said. Her company specializes in "big-picture" iPad strategies that seek to encapsulate all of an organization's needs in one place. This is exactly what they did for one medical device client that needed a fix for their 2,200-person, iPad-equipped sales team. The firm was juggling Dropbox for storing, a calendar app, and mobile CRM. Excellis created a solution that integrated all three operations, plus more.
3. Create presentations that take full advantage of the iPad's vivid display.
Experts said one of the biggest rookie mistakes is using the same PowerPoint presentations you created for your laptop. Don't get me wrong. This isn't going to damage your sales chances, but it's not going to help them either. Gary Galusha, vice president of sales for UpSync, even called the practice a huge “missed opportunity." His company's tool allows sales teams to create interactive presentations on the go that make use of the iPad's pinch, twist, swipe and other unique display functions. Users can also combine images, videos, PDFs, HTML 5 and other digital assets. Previously-made presentations are easily searchable using the technology's meta tags. Viewers can also instantly share on social networks and rate the presentation. “One of our clients said they were in a lunch with a major corporation who asked about a particular product. The rep put together a presentation in about three minutes,” Galusha boasts. “He closed the deal before lunch was over.”
When implemented into the selling process with careful planning, iPads can be a useful tool for any sales rep. But skimp on the proper strategizing and your investment could go to waste.
Ashley Furness is a Market Analyst for technology consultancy Software Advice. Her blog provides expert reporting on CRM software, Marketing Automation and sales strategies.