sales presentations: The iPad and tablet mirage

Sales presentations and iPADThe arrival of the iPad and other tablets caused a stir in the small world of sales. People began to say that this innovation would revolutionize the world of sales techniques and sales presentations. But is this in fact a revolution? That is far from certain.

  • iPads and tablets have three clear advantages in sales presentations (click here to find out what they are)
  • And seven disadvantages (click here to find out what they are).

Twice as many drawbacks as advantages! So why are some people so keen to present their sales proposals on an iPad?

Because the playful, innovative iPad is an eye-catching tool, especially for non-technophiles. Technophiles have been using it from the start and were quick to see the advantages and limitations, and now basically use it when there is a benefit in doing so.

  • But customers/prospects somewhat removed from technology can be fascinated, like the “deer caught in the headlights”: they even want to touch it, try it, and take an active part in the meeting by discovering the presentation on their own!
  • Non-technophile sales reps will also be fascinated, like the deer in the headlights, and will spend hours exploring the possibilities of their iPads like children with a new toy, and still not be able to use it to its full advantage! Steve Jobs would turn in his grave if he saw all the sales reps using styluses to take notes on their iPads, when he invented the device precisely for applications that don’t require them… A keyboard is still faster and more practical for capable users who wish to take notes, and paper and pencil for anyone else. Companies that have equipped their sales reps with tablets for uses other than those for which they were designed have already paid plenty in lost productivity for ignoring these two basic principles. And I wouldn’t want to be the one to add up the cost in time wasted by managers on top of that!

There are, however, a few points worth remembering:

  1. The world moves on, novices won’t remain novices indefinitely, and iPads and tablets won’t be objects of curiosity for very long, except for real latecomers.
  2. For some activity sectors (industry, BTP…), corporate cultures and types of people, tablets and iPads are poorly regarded, seen as useless gadgets or toys for the rich. In such cases, the iPad evokes reticence and becomes a limitation, a kind of invisible barrier that you can neither see, nor remove once it is there.
  3. These two opposed positions mean that in the short term, there are both good reasons and drawbacks to using iPads and tablets, and one cancels out the other. These two positions will evaporate over time as the devices become commonplace, and there will no longer be either any great advantage or any particular limitation to using them.

In the end, I am a big fan of the iPad. It is a fantastic tool for certain uses. But it doesn’t change much for sales presentations, and that’s good news for those of us in sales. It means that it’s not the tool that makes the sale, it’s the sales rep. It doesn’t matter whether we use a computer or a tablet, we make the difference. And that is rather reassuring for the future of our profession!

What about you? Does your sales experience lead you to share this viewpoint, which I’ll admit might be a bit provocative for fans of the iPad and Steve Jobs? Feel free to share your experience with using the iPad in sales by adding a comment below.


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  1. Interesting blog you have! While we’ve enjoyed other articles (especially those on design and cognitive load) we strongly disagre with the opinion you put forward here.

    Of course we are biased, we design saleforces aids for iPads! We cannot ignore our clients and the numerous successes they have had with our products.

    First, using the iPad allows for far superior design and allows for full integration into a transmedia strategy with websites, social media and touch screens. So basically you get much more bangs for your bucks.

    Second, Keynote and PowerPoint have serious limitations including linearity which clients move away from. With iOS apps you can use gamification to add value to any content and create a real experience. We did have hope for Prezi but let’s face it, it is so darn cumbersome.

    Moreover with an iOS app you can push automated updates quickly and anywhere in the world. If you have 20 sales people in the field and you want to change one comma in one module, you can do it from your bed in the middle of the night (all that is required is an internet connection) and push the updated content automatically so when your sales force rises and shines they have the latest info. No more outdated stuff or lost emails. No more salesperson stranded at a client with an outdated price list (yeah it has happened to us, we remember how that feel)

    Of course this comes with a price tag that is higher than PowerPoint licenses but right in line with web presence.

  2. Hi Stephanie, first of all: thanks for your comment. I do agree with some of your points, the first one espacially. My point is mainly to highlight that iPad doesn’t suit to every situation. Powerpoint neither. No tool actually could pretend to address every situation 😉 However iPad is a fantastic tool, OK, I love it.
    I’m curious – and interested – to see your saleforces aids (one of my business concern): do you work at Jezam Interactive? If yes, I am at Montréal this week, could we meet? Please contact me: you can use the ’email me’ tab here, or connect via Linkedin

  3. A very interesting post and I agree that there are several pros and cons with using an iPad during sales presentations. I think what the iPad does offer is a means of interaction. This is something that traditional PowerPoint presentations severely lack. Where money is being invested, a lot depends on the type of presentation given. An iPad offers the audience a chance to flick through to what interests them and get involved right from the beginning. Have to two ever been used before? At the end it all depends on the situation and also the person who is speaking.

  1. […] Anyways…. we still like to hang out with the pro-PowerPoint crowd, if only to try to convert them  One of the great reference for PowerPoint-stuck presenters is: […]

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