How to Power Up Your Sales Force With Tablets

Bill Rosenthal

Tablets are helping to reinvent the sales profession. They’re making it possible for sales reps to be productive pretty much any time anywhere. Reps are using the devices to breeze through the humdrum tasks that need doing before and after the sales call – and make the calls themselves much more productive.

At Trane, a heating and cooling systems company, tablet-carrying sales reps are closing sales at twice the previous rate. Tablets allow them to walk the customer through the systems installation process, take a digital signature and begin installation in one meeting. Kindred Healthcare, which sells to hospital systems, is increasing its close rates and giving sales managers data that helps them identify best practices and areas that need improvement.

Reps for Keco Pump & Equipment have been using iPads for three years. Andrew L. Bleier, the company’s CEO, calls tablet selling “a much more intimate way to display our products and features. You can sit side-by-side with the client and feel much more comfortable giving them the controls and allowing them to scroll through the offerings.”

What’s Said and Shown

A tablet allows the salesperson to access external content more easily than with a laptop. But having a more versatile way to present information doesn’t necessarily translate to more effective presenting. Unfortunately, many reps focus on putting on a dazzling show. Others data-dump – presenting information before they establish a relationship and learn the customer’s needs.  Yet others keep their eyes and attention on the tablet rather than the customer.

Sales reps have to understand that what they say is as important as what they show on the tablet. They must be selective when deciding what external material to use. The process has to begin by identifying the main points that the presentation should bring across. Only then should the rep select the visuals that will best add impact and clarity to support those key points. When it comes to making a tablet presentation, less is usually more.

The rep should avoid getting committed to using the content in a particular sequence. It’s also necessary to be ready to adjust a presentation as the rep-customer dialogue clarifies needs. Reps should anticipate the questions the prospect might ask and have visuals available to help answer them.  The visuals should be easy to read and easy to explain. Complex information can be clarified and easily left behind by using collateral.

As with any sales call, the rep has to listen carefully to what the customer says, watching body language and facial expressions for clues and adjusting accordingly. A rep can't do the necessary listening and watching while focusing on the tablet. The focus must remain on the customer.

Recognizing the need for reps to use tablets more effectively, our company has added a module on how to present affectively when using a tablet to our sales training programs. This module advises reps to tap the screen to bring up a new visual, think about what they’re planning to say and turn to the customer to say it. Reps are instructed to give the customer a chance to see or read what‘s being shown before beginning the explanation.

Sales staffs that equip reps with tablets find the reps access the CRM system more frequently than before. Tasks like researching the customer, making sales appointments, and recording information (taking notes and scanning images) are easier and more mobile than ever before.

It’s necessary for the rep to be certain there will be connectivity during the sales call. The rep should know how to open, close and navigate the content; make certain URLs are bookmarked and apps are preloaded and tested; and verify that the battery is fully charged.

If the rep plans to use a stylus pen it should be kept attached to the tablet when not in use. To avoid covering the screen with a hand, it’s advisable to use a glove/hand strap on the back of the tablet or a sturdy tablet easel.

It’s a good idea for a company's sales leader to select a standard tablet setup for the sales force, make it the staff’s communications hub and delivering sales training through it. Reps who aren’t at the cutting edge of technology may need special help using tablets. Everything should be carefully tested before being used.

The future belongs to the sales forces that are equipped with tablets.

Bill Rosenthal is CEO of Communispond, which has taught 700,000 people to present with clarity and power in any situation. In addition to other courses, it offers two sales training programs: Sales Presentation Skillsand Socratic Selling Skills. Free whitepapers, articles and videos on all aspects of selling and communications are available on the company’s website. Contact Rosenthal at