With the evolution of the tablets in all facets of business today, I think the most fundamental benefit of deploying any technology with the sales force often gets overlooked… affording more time for establishing and deepening client relationships. I know of no device, despite jazzy commercials and billionaire CEO product introductions, that replaces or automates fundamental skills core to sales success (relationship building, discovery, scoping, negotiation, and follow-through). These skills take time – lots of time – to hone and deploy, so anything that delivers more time to the sales rep is a worthwhile investment in my book.
So, why are companies investing heavily in the deployment of tablets? I believe it’s the numerous secondary benefits that ultimately drive the primary benefit of providing more time for building and sustaining lasting relationships, including:
- Planning the day with ease – Salespeople have technology at their fingertips, from as simple as on-the-go meeting planning and client contact research to sophisticated lead management and route planning. Also, having a tablet handy prevents the non-stop open and close of a laptop and trips to the local coffee shop for free Wi-Fi.
- Creating message consistency – The Marketing organization now has the power to own the creation and instantaneous distribution of core messages and value propositions, while Sales reps can dial down the homegrown PowerPoint development and focus on delivery. The push-pull tug-o-war over messaging between the two functions will at least have increased governance in a tablet-based world.
- Automating performance & compensation analysis – I know of no better forensic accountant than a sales rep combing through reports to calculate their incentive comp. Tablets provide the ability to better integrate the front, mid and back-office data for quicker access and validation of performance and rewards.
- Lightening the load – For those of you who have “carried the bag,” you can appreciate the benefits of leaving the binders at home.
- Enhancing selling speed & efficiency – Aspects of order fulfillment and other business processes can be better accomplished in an environment with real-time data capture and error checks, reducing any embarrassment or unnecessary follow-up. The rep can close the sale the first time, as opposed to waiting on the right forms, approvals, etc.
Tablet deployment does not come without complications and sales process considerations, however. Paper is never eliminated, as there will always be “leave behinds” and other documentation required; data security risks abound; IT is never free; and for those firms that truly want to sell from the tablet, huddling a client around a 9″ screen is never an easy task.
Has your firm deployed tablets or other mobile computing solutions to the field? Is it everything you thought it would be? We’d love to hear from you.