Tablets are gaining a strong reputation as sales tools across multiple industries, which is getting the attention of sales teams who want their company to outfit them with tablets. Sales teams are ideal candidates for tablets, but organizations need to build them out as a sales productivity tool.

Typically, corporate sales teams have a standard methodology and tools for how they prospect, qualify, and close sales — and you should take a standard approach to how you outfit your sales team with tablets. A tablet can help sales close deals with more agility than if they were tethered to an office.

1. Develop a standard tablet setup for the sales team

When outfitting a sales team with tablets, look to develop a standard suite of productivity and sales apps. While the cloud is compelling for data, you should equip your sales team’s tablets with apps that synchronize data to the tablet, just in case a sales person suffers an Internet outage right before a big client pitch.

Major Customer Relationship Management (CRM) providers like SAP, Salesforce, Sage CRM, and Sybase now have iPad and/or Android client apps for their CRM apps, so chances are your sales team can already access their back-end systems after downloading the appropriate app to their tablets. There are also Sales Force Automation and contact management tools that have tablet clients offering your sales team full access to customer data while they’re out trying to close their next deal.

In the case of sales presentations, you may also want to consider PowerPoint alternatives. For example, SlideRocket, a cloud-based PowerPoint alternative, has its own free iPad and Android apps. Sales people can import their sales presentations to SlideRocket and have the option to either play the presentation from the cloud or locally on their tablet.

Keep in mind that since the tablet is a professional sales tool now, it’s possible a client could catch a gander at it, so create a professional looking home screen and even standardize app groups for easy access.

2. Create tablet-friendly marketing and sales content

With so much corporate marketing and sales content now online through web sites, blogs, and microsites, sales and marketing need to work together to ensure that the corporate online presence is mobile friendly and accessible to the sales team tablets, plus compatible with the major tablets out in the market.

Tablet-friendly marketing content should also extend to presentations, brochures, and other sales collateral. Moving traditional marketing and sales collateral to the tablet opens up opportunities for interactivity that sales people didn’t have before with glossy sales brochures.

3. Make the standard issue sales team tablet a communications hub

A good sales person should never be in the office — they are on the road, meeting with prospective customers, or in some cases, working from home offices. As such, they have communications requirements that set them apart from other employees. A tablet can become their communications hub — video conferencing, IM, file collaboration, and VoIP phone through the implementation of a Unified Communications (UC) platform and collaboration tools.

4. Test first, then sell

It’s important to run all the tablets, apps, and connectivity through rigorous testing prior to letting them hit the road with the sales team. Hardware or software failures that are preventable can be embarrassing in front of certain kinds of prospective clients.

5. Don’t forget technology training and documentation

After you’re done testing, whether your sales team was first in line on the first generation iPad’s launch day or are still fairly new to tablets, it’s time to offer the sales team at least ad hoc tablet training that includes battery management, security, and accessing corporate applications.

If your sales team is intending to show presentations from their new tablets, make sure to run the tablet as a presentation platform to make sure every tablet on the sales team is well versed.

6. Account for tablets in sales productivity metrics

Sales teams are always tracking their productivity metrics. When equipping your sales team with tablets, look for ways to account for their tablet usage in any sales team productivity metrics that management already tracks.

7. Deploy sales training to the tablet

A tablet-equipped sales team can consolidate much of their sales training on their tablets. Think of sales training podcasts, videos, product documentation and tutorials; product and service pricing information, including discount calculations; and proprietary sales tools ported to tablets vs. being left on a salesperson’s desk or cluttering their briefcase. Tablets can also extend interactivity at in-person sales training sessions and during conference calls with the rest of the sales team.

Closing the deal with tablets

Tablets can be a powerful productivity tool for sales teams and aid them in prospecting and closing new business if the deployment is handled holistically and with attention paid to content, apps to access back-end sales systems, and how the tablet can improve upon common sales team tasks.

Has your organization outfitted its sales team with tablets? If so, what challenges did it face? Share your experience in the discussion thread below.