Sunday, September 2, 2012

Why Your Sales Reps Need Tablet-Ready Marketing Content

Unless you've been stranded on another planet for the past couple of years, you're already aware of the popularity of tablet computers like Apple's iPad. Tech research firm Gartner estimates that 119 million "media tablets" will be sold worldwide in 2012, a 98% increase over the 60 million units sold in 2011. Gartner predicts that worldwide sales will reach 369 million units in 2016.

The explosive growth of tablet (and smartphone) ownership has caused many companies to treat these devices as a marketing channel. Research firms like Forrester have been tracking the growth of "mobile marketing" for the past several years.

Most of the buzz about mobile marketing has involved B2C programs. What has gone less noticed is that tablet computers are quickly becoming an important sales enablement tool in many B2B companies. In a recent poll of its members by the Corporate Executive Board, 75% of respondents said they are already using tablet technology to support sales or plan to begin using tablets within the next 12 months.

Consider just a few examples:
  • Earlier this year, InformationWeek reported that Level 3 Communications, a telecom and network services company, had just given iPads to its 1,300 North American salespeople and sales engineers.
  • In early 2011, reported that AstraZeneca and Novartis are among several pharmaceutical companies that have acquired iPads for some of their outside salespeople.
  • In late 2010, Medtronic, Inc., a medical devices company, made news when it purchased 4,500 iPads for its sales and marketing team.
It's easy to understand why tablets are great sales tools. They enable sales reps to deliver interactive presentations, and with the right applications, they can allow salespeople to access CRM systems and other internal sales resources. Because of their size, weight, and design, tablets are easy to use for one-on-one presentations, and many tablets can be connected to projectors or big-screen TVs, so group presentations are easy to make.

Sales reps also love tablets because they make life easier. For example, before they received iPads, Medtronic's salespeople routinely carried about 25 pounds of printed product literature on sales calls. The iPads make most of the printed collateral unnecessary, and they weigh less than two pounds.

The benefits of using tablets to support sales efforts are obvious, but it's important to realize that they also create new challenges for marketers. To maximize the potential of tablet-based sales presentations, companies need to provide salespeople new kinds of marketing content. B2B marketers have long been responsible for supporting salespeople with marketing collateral documents such as company brochures, product brochures, and customer case studies. These collateral materials have traditionally been printed documents that sales reps would carry on sales calls.

With tablet computers, these traditional marketing collateral documents can be transformed into rich, interactive marketing content. For example, a product brochure can include links to schematic drawings or audio/visual files that show the product in use. A company brochure could contain a video message from the CEO or a brief interview with an industry analyst.

Developing this kind of rich, interactive content is primarily a marketing function, but marketers must work closely with front-line salespeople to ensure that the content will be relevant and compelling for prospects and easy for sales reps to use.

So far, the use of tablets for sales presentations has primarily involved large enterprises. Given the significant benefits, however, that's about to change. Therefore, if you're a marketer in a large or midsize B2B company, you should be thinking now about how you can develop tablet-friendly content and how you can put that content in the hands of your sales reps.


  1. Great post G. David! Couldn't agree more. Sales people should also remember that product demonstrations and "tours" are also easier to take with you using 3D animation and technology. Imagine demonstrating the inner workings of a machine or product with just a tap. Or...if a prospect wants to see how a product behaves, imagine showing them an interactive demonstration. We're helping client sales teams with new demos more and more. Here are some examples to get your wheels turning:

  2. G. David, many thanks fo the great article and still actual. Truly - evolve or die! I'd like to add one more reason to use tablets for sales - fast and efficient communication. Nowadays this is essential thing. also, the are a lot of app to facilitate our life and work, as SellRunner, Showpad, Box, Brainshark