Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Dawn of a New Era- Selling Tools

Dinosaurs R Us.  I consider myself to be cool, hip and technology savvy, however, I could find myself subscribing to the motto.  And, based on conversations with some of my long term friends, it might be happening to you as well.

For a guy like me who remembers the 1960 Mercury Comet, rotary phones and life without fax machines, I sometimes feel awash in a tidal wave of technology gizmos.  Since they first arrived, I had this feeling that iPads (and other tablets) were as much status symbol as workable tool. 

Early on, I heard the story of easily being able to check email, update calendars and access some quick information via the web.   Users also showed me how they could take notes during customer calls and shoot pictures to their inside sales contact.  I wondered, couldn’t a lot of this be accomplished using an existing iPhone and a 99-cent notebook?  I was still a doubter. 

For every minute saved with the new-fangled devices, I saw ten minutes worth of distractions.  For every customer facing use, there were dozens of visits to Sports Center, Facebook and who knows where else.  I liked the pads as a toy, but wondered about the tool.  But, thanks to a cadre of younger sales guys, I started to see good, solid, usable stuff. 

First, one sales guy showed me how they had loaded their pad with product related PowerPoint presentations for a couple of product lines.  At a subsequent call, they used bits and pieces of the PowerPoint to reinforce a well thought out product presentation.  The iPad use wasn’t all that unique on its own, but the ability to stress points during the presentation was cool. 

Secondly, as I made calls with a young seller from a client who was very involved with services, I saw the iPad used to show the customer a number of projects which were similar in scope to a value-add project being considered by their organization.  The organization and structure of the pictures of projects were well thought out and the ability to expand portions of the picture to show minute details was a great sales aid.
Over the past few weeks, I have seen an explosion of manufacturer produced iPad apps designed for distributor sales people.  The shining star of this group came from a sensor company.  The app steered the salesperson through a list of questions required to identify the best product for the customer’s specific application.  Simply put, this little program enhanced the salesperson product and application experience – giving the relative neophyte all of the benefits of years of experience. 

The app allowed the salesperson to talk to the customer about every facet of their application including things like electronic specifications, environmental concerns and mounting criteria.  At the end, of the conversation, the sales guy could send the customer a detailed spec sheet, and other pertinent data, electronically.  It was instant gratification for the customer and enhanced potential for closing the order. 

It could be just me, but this week alone I have had at least 10 usable apps for iPads sent my way from friends in the field.   I take back those evil thoughts about iPads as a status symbol.  I want to raise my right hand and swear on the ghost of Steve Jobs, these things are real.  Real tools, real value, and really need to be further exploited.

Finally, I am compiling a list of great sales apps for an article which will be published in a distributor trade publication.  I would like to have your nomination for “must have” apps for sales people.  Each person who sends me a response will receive a genuine “Post Card from Iowa”.  Further, we’ll have it delivered to you by a uniformed government employee.  


Michael Beach said...

I think one of the most powerful applications for either a sales rep or for a channel partner is a CPQ app (Configure, Price, Quote) like PowerTrak from Axonom, or QuoteWerks from QuoteWerks. Business rules are built in up front by the techies, and the sales rep or channel partner can configure, price, and quote without fear that they're going to forget some essential widget, and know that the thing will work. jltary

Unknown said...

I really like Evernote it's a good way to keep misc data organized. It's even on the cloud, so it's available on my phone, tablet and laptop.

Doug Ales said...

Uniformed government employee? Thats funny!

I use my Ipad app often

Jessica DeLuca said...

Are you familiar with RepFiles? It's a content distribution tool that manufacturers are using to deliver their sales and marketing collateral to sales reps' and distributors' mobile devices. Through the RepFiles apps (which are free to access and are compatible with both Android and iOS devices), users can access files anytime, anywhere - with or without an internet connection.