Sales people and tablets are a natural fit. In fact, one of my first posts for TechRepublic was called “Seven tips for outfitting your sales team with tablets.” The iPad, as a
presentation platform, lets sales people show customers and prospects
presentations a bit more one-on-one. It also removes the tired Microsoft
PowerPoint presentations that are the predominant visual tool in too many
meetings today.

The good people at Showpad
let me test out Showpad Professional ($25.00 per user, per month), which includes 5 GB of storage. I
used the Showpad iPad app for this post, but they also recently launched an Showpad app for Android.

Presenting to a customer or prospect from Showpad Professional

Presenting from a tablet could take place across a table or
desk. Sales representatives can also keep all their sales collateral in the
Showpad app. When you tap on the Showpad icon, you’ll see the main screen (Figure A).

Figure A

The Showpad main screen.

This opening screen is nice to present
to a client or prospect up close. A sales rep can navigate
through the app, pulling up content, while still talking to the customer.

With Showpad, you can
browse your presentations offline and share documents with customers and
prospects via a temporary download link. Users even have the option to share
content through a personal catalog.

There’s also a Kiosk mode for the app, where you can lock down the interface. This could especially be useful for conference and trade show booths.

In my test Showpad account, I was able to
access eBooks, videos, and PDF documents. Showpad’s support for multimedia is notable and really opens up options for users to bring a range of
content on their sales calls. Figure B shows a photo on Showpad.

Figure B

A photo on Showpad.

Figure C shows an eBook open in Showpad.

Figure C

An eBook open in Showpad.

You can markup and annotate PDF documents from within the Showpad app. When you’re done annotating the page,
you have the option to print or email it. Figure D shows an
annotated page in Showpad.

Figure D

An annotated page in Showpad.

Personally, I’d like to revisit the annotation tools in
another generation or so of the app. It has a bit “fat fingered” feel when
using the pens, and my expectations were for a toolset comparable to what Adobe
Reader for iOS offers. I still think a sales person needs more granular
annotation options when working with a customers. However, I did
like the capability to save the changes to an attachment that I could email to a
client or prospect as a follow up to a meeting.

Digging further into the content options, I also came
across map support. In the hands of the right salesperson, this feature could be useful
in presentations. Figure E shows an example of a map in Showpad.

Figure E

A map in Showpad.

Content management tools

Building a library of sales collateral involves using
Showpad’s cloud-based tools that support the following:

  • Bulk upload of files
  • File import from Box or Dropbox
  • Content optimization
  • File distribution through content profiles
  • Automated file distribution through smart

Organizations implementing Showpad may need to wrap some processes
around these content management tools to ensure that their sales team gets the
latest content.

Backend management tools

Showpad offers tools for reporting and insights that track
content that’s viewed, shared, or printed. It also enables tracking of user
activity through audit logs. This can help companies using Showpad to fine-tune
their sales collateral. Figure F shows a
Showpad report.

Figure F

A Showpad report.

Companies rolling out Showpad should customize
it to fit their organization’s brand and the needs of their sales team. Showpad’s
cloud backend includes some easy-to-use setup and management tools that don’t
require your IT department. Somebody in sales operations can manage user
accounts, plus create and manage user groups with a few clicks. I commend
Showpad for creating such a simple user interface.

A big differentiator between Showpad and other tablet-based
presentation tools is that it supports contact and lead management. It also enables the creation and distribution of forms to tablet users. New sales
collateral and related content can be pushed to users who can rate and comment
on the files.

Final thoughts

Showpad added online/offline HTML 5 support to the content library when I was on deadline for this post.

Ultimately, Showpad is a dynamic, yet friendly app — and it perfectly
represents the sort of apps for mobile sales people that I expect to see on the market. While I’d like to see Showpad improve
their annotation tools, I found much to like in this app. I definitely recommend
Showpad for organizations that want to integrate more presentations and other
content into their field sales efforts.