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.