What happened to the “good” old days when sales and marketing people spend vasts amount of time preparing PowerPoint presentations for a big customer meeting, where all the decision makers were in your audience, you had a couple of hours for your presentation and no one had any distracting devices such as Blackberries, IPhones, IPADs, Laptops or “others” such as IM, Facebook, Twitter and endless emails to keep them distracted from giving you undivided attention? Or…a Preparing for a Trade Show where your audience would truly have “quality” time to spend with your sales/marketing teams in learning about your new product offering or “sitting” in your controlled auditorium style environment to learn about your solutions? Those days are the past, and sales and marketing teams are working hard to identify how to craft their message in this new age of short-attention spanned, overwhelmed target audiences.
I was chatting with Jim Mooney, CEO, RO Innovation about the differences in his selling cycles over the last ten years and he commented that “you need impact materials at the point of sales, which may be at Panera, Starbucks or wherever. You’re not always in a boardroom. I’ve always been an advocate and coached my sales teams about the art of the five minutes sales pitch. The idea for RO Innovation came from my years of fine-tuning my sales message to be flexible enough to address anyone’s business challenges and portable enough to be delivered literally, in elevators and anywhere else. Our solutions have always let sales and marketing teams quickly access and deliver the right information to prospects….the proliferation of smartphones and tablets makes it even easier for organizations to enable their sales teams to use our solutions to build relationships with potential customer in any venue at any time.”
With the proliferation of mobile technology and more and more of the corporate workforce working virtually, this is more true than not. Pew Internet’s July 16, 2012 survey reports that “a quarter of American adults now own tablet computers, a major increase from the first measurement of tablet ownership by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project in the late summer of 2010. In September 2010, 4% of American adults owned tablets and now 25% do.
An article in Gigaom.com specifically states that “A laptop is an ineffective replacement for a catalog, and presenting a slide show on one is awkward. Using an iPad as a presentation tool, on the other hand, is natural. The tablet is easily passed around, can be read like a magazine, and can also output to external displays with less hassle and fewer steps than a laptop.
A recent report at InformationWeek details the story of Level 3 Communications, which recently equipped its entire sales workforce with iPads loaded with apps that provide access to pricing information; presentation creation; and display, corporate email, customer records and inventory checks. The iPad proved more than up to the task of supplementing and mostly replacing laptops. InformationWeek goes into much more detail about what the iPads meant for Level 3, but the advantages for salespeople on the ground can be boiled down to three main categories:
- Instant on. The iPad’s ability to instantly wake from sleep and pick up right where a user left off exceed that of even the fastest SSD-equipped notebooks, and it only sips power in tiny amounts in order to provide that functionality. That, combined with its superior portability, makes it the perfect tool for doing “quick checks between meetings, at an airport, or in a taxi,” InformationWeek says. With a laptop, five minutes in a taxi might not seem like enough time to make powering up worth your while; with the iPad, that’s a nonissue.
- Connectivity. The iPad (at least the 3G models) provides always-on cellular network access, as long as you are within coverage range. Some laptops can offer that, but the process is still often more complicated than just tapping the wake button and being ready to surf, email or chat. But it’s not just cellular radios that make the iPad great for sales; built-in GPS positioning means salespeople can get locally relevant information, like clients or potential clients in the immediate area, in only a few short steps via task-specific software.
- On-device demo. A laptop is an ineffective replacement for a catalog, and presenting a slide show on one is awkward. Using an iPad as a presentation tool, on the other hand, is natural. The tablet is easily passed around, can be read like a magazine, and can also output to external displays with less hassle and fewer steps than a laptop. And apps like OnLive Desktop and Iongrid make it even easier for iPads to sub in for notebooks capable of running desktop presentation tools.
Jim Mooney also commented that the buying cycle has changed. “With internet searches and strong social communities a significant part of a buyer’s pre-contact research, people are much more informed when they come to us to request more information or a demonstration. A salesperson has to be ready with the right and specific information on the spot. The sales force at RO Innovation has lugged its share of printed collateral to trade shows and customer meetings and has responded both to our tired arms and the input of our customers with mobility. Both our iPad application and our ReferenceView ™ solution mobilized are designed to display information easily as well as collect demographic so that sales people can forward relevant case studies, reference material and other compelling information to be viewed at the prospect’s convenience. All the tracking and metrics of our solutions are still available and the sales person’s time is freed to engage in much broader conversations with more prospects.”
For more information about how RO Innovation is responding to the new sales processes, please visit us at www.roinnovation.com