Tablet Computers’ Killer App?

Anyone who works in sales enablement needs to take notice of how rapidly tablet computers are sweeping across the corporate landscape. According to recently published research from Model Metrics, 68% of companies plan to have tablets deployed in the field by 2012. Over 40% have deployed or plan on deploying them by the end of 2011. And almost 50% of those deployments, according to the study, involve sales force automation applications.

As we have blogged previously, the rapid and widespread adoption of tablets represents a huge opportunity for organizations that are willing to make an investment in sales enablement. Even further, deploying tablets to the field in the absence of high-quality sales tools designed for the tablet platform is a waste of the technology investment. In many ways, sales tools—such as automated proposal builders, presentation templates, and product comparisons—should be a “killer app” for the tablet in B2B selling because they represent a perfect alignment of technology benefits with user requirements. For sales tools to be effective, they must be easy to use, intuitively interactive, and fast: all of these characteristics are part of the raison d’etre of the tablet device. Moreover, though, tablets enable sales tools to go a step beyond the status quo because, if done well, they can facilitate customer participation. Compared to handing a prospect a feature-based product comparison sheet, how much more effective would it be to hand prospects a tablet loaded with a diagnostic app that walks them through a series of questions about features, benefits, and value that highlight key points of differentiation for your product versus the competitions’?

Perhaps the most important component of the tablet opportunity in the sales force is that tablets can provide significant support to the majority of sales people in the vast middle of the bell curve—not the stars but those who have some skills and the best of intentions. If the greater structure, consistency, and interactivity enabled by the tablets can raise the average performance of this group just a few percentage points, it can represent millions of dollars in revenue gains.

More banks launch initiatives for National Small Business Week

Earlier this month, we posted a blog on small business initiatives from Citi, TD Bank and Wells Fargo, which were introduced in advance of National Small Business Week. As National Small Business Week is taking place this week, other leading banks have also introduced new small business initiatives.

  • Chase introduced a number of initiatives, including incentives of up to $1,000 for new small business checking customers, as well as Instant Storefront from Chase, a solution that enables small businesses sell products online.
  • Bank of America launched a suite of small business charge cards (see our blog on this launch).  In addition, the bank has partnered with SCORE to develop a five-part series of three-hour workshops for small businesses, entitled “Simple Steps for Starting Your Business.”
  • Capital One partnered with Better Business Bureau to introduce Managing Credit – Made Simpler, a set of resources to help small businesses to manage credit.
  • American Express OPEN introduced AdManager, a tool to help small businesses manage online advertising campaigns

It is notable that the number of small business campaigns is much larger this year than it was for National Small Business Week in 2010, reflecting the improved economy over the past year, as well as banks’ renewed interest in the small business market.

Bank of America launches suite of small business charge cards

Earlier this week, Bank of America introduced of a suite of three small business charge cards. Up to now, Bank of America has only issued small business credit cards.

This new suite will compete in the small business charge card space with leader American Express, as well as Chase, which now issues an Ink Bold charge card as part of its Ink small business card suite.

This new charge card suite will also compete with small business credit cards.  Leading small business credit card issuers retrenched significantly following the financial crisis in the second half of 2008.  Since then, some leading issuers have returned to the market, but small business cards are now marketed less as sources of working capital, and more as payment vehicles.  And there is significant spending growth potential for small business credit and charge cards, as card’s share of overall small business spending is much lower than card’s share of consumer spending.

Marketing such cards also enables issuers to maintain relationships with small business customers, who can then be cross-sold additional products and services, including lending products as confidence returns to the market.