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The Tablet-Enhanced Sales Force
Best practices for implementing a successful iPad program.
Posted Nov 9, 2012
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Are you strongly considering issuing iPads to your sales force? Or evaluating your best options for a mobile strategy? If you are conflicted about moving forward with an iPad program—one that your team will use and your company will find effective—you are not alone.

Think about this: The iPad was introduced only three years ago! Most budgets are planned and set looking ahead three to five years. Very few sales and marketing leaders could have anticipated the significant impact tablets and smartphones would have on field sales strategies.

As an organization that has rolled out iPads to its entire sales team, and witnessed many clients rolling out iPads to their own sellers, SAVO has compiled a list of best practices that we share with customers prior to their iPad deployment. Below are five best practices that should help any organization succeed as it prepares to introduce tablets to its salespeople:

1. Provide training. Don't assume your sales team knows how to use the iPad beyond the basics of checking email. For example, showing them how to stop a program (by double tapping the home button and manually closing the application) or take a picture of the screen (by pressing the home and power buttons at the same time) are fundamentals users should be familiar with, but most are not. This applies to everyone on your team, regardless of age. Do not assume Millennials will automatically pick up the device and know what they are doing. If you don't have the means to train your sales team, have them visit their local Apple store and register for one of the store's "How To" classes.

2. Set expectations. Clearly identify the applications your sales team should be leveraging, provide information on how to use these applications, and identify goals associated with the applications and how those goals will be tracked. While most apps are designed to be intuitive, do not assume that all sales reps will use them in the way they were originally envisioned.

3. Address CRM. Assigning concrete expectations to data entry processes, especially in regard to CRM systems, should be done during the early stages of an iPad implementation. Just because sales reps have greater access to their CRM tool doesn't guarantee they will become better users. By setting the expectation that the sales team should use the enhanced CRM access to update company data, contact info, and opportunity status as it occurs, your CRM system will be much more useful. If you don't do these things, your iPad will become this generation's Palm Pilot. CRM systems have notoriously low success rates, not necessarily related to the technology, but rather to seller interaction. Be sure to manage the expectations for both the sellers and your executive team with regard to the impact that mobile access will have on their CRM success.

4. Use more video. The iPad, by its very nature, is visual. Brief, concise videos are very helpful to sales teams. Two great uses of video include internal videos that teach or reinforce sales messaging and external videos that help sellers build greater value into their sales process. Filming top reps as they move through the company pitch on a whiteboard or demonstrate how they walk a customer through a specific product demonstration is very useful to the rest of the sales team, especially new reps. Sellers are taught correct, company-approved messaging through observing their peers, a practice that lends itself to better retention than hearing it from a company trainer. The most popular external videos are brief (three minutes or less) clips that highlight a customer experience. These clips are easy to weave into a client meeting, but brief enough that the seller can continue to control the flow of the meeting.

5. Don't let "great" get in the way of "good." Many organizations have experienced "near starts" to an iPad program, but have had difficulty executing. This often happens because someone on the company's mobility team has a vision of "perfection" that is so complicated and includes so many moving parts that it's virtually impossible to get started. This happens due to complicated systems, too many system integrations that try and automate every single action for a sales rep, or a lack of understanding of how sellers interact with clients.

Implementing an iPad strategy can be difficult, with many bumps along the planned path. However, following these best practices can help get the program off the ground.


Scott Eidle is the director of mobile apps solutions marketing at SAVO. He has more than 19 years of field sales and strategic marketing expertise, including working for and selling to companies ranging from the Fortune 500 to start-ups.


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