Sales Reinvention: Why the iPad is a person to person innovation

Nothing happens until somebody sells something. -- Anonymous

I admit it.  I love salespeople.  There are few things more precious to an enterprise than someone who can create demand.  I have also been using my iPad for a couple months now, and as someone who studied the productivity of field salesforces for many years (see my 1996 research article on Knowledge Workers and Radically New Technology), I'm convinced that it has the potential to boost sales productivity significantly.  There are three main reasons.

  1. In my research, I found that when customer know more about the product or service being peddled they are more likely to buy more and buy "higher up" in the product line.  Most product lines are structured in such a way that the more expensive products are also more profitable to the company making the sale.  I studied configuration software and found that when a customer could "walk-through" a sales process, aided by the combination of a salesperson and a technological aid, the customer learned why they should care about different product features, and they bought them more often.
  2. The main problem with technology used in the sales process today is that it is too individual.  Whether it is your iPod or your laptop, it is largely a solo experience.  The great thing about the iPad, as my friend Chris Curran recently wrote about on CIO Dashboard, is that it is a potentially social experience.  The iPad is easily shared by two, three, or more people and vastly more communal than a laptop is.  This means that it can be easily integrated into any face to face sales process with the right training and tools.  This type of tool enables a great salesperson to be even better, and helps raise the mediocre to good.
  3. In selling, you often need to integrate a tremendous amount of data -- some historical and some dynamic.  For example, the best salespeople have a very clear idea of what you have bought before, and what the current price & availability are.  It is an old yarn in selling, that there's no meeting like the first meeting.  If a salesperson can go online and find availability, price, and shipping -- they can often make a multiple-step sales call into a once and done.  And as they say, time hurts all deals so if the iPad can help close sales by being the platform for all relevant data in a facile manner, its worth its weight in gold.

What do you think?  Is there a recent sales experience in which you wish your salesperson had an iPad or can you imagine one?  I'd love to hear your stories.

Other relevant posts & links:

Do You Curate Your Audience?

Five Attributes of Paradigm Breaking Innovations