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).
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.
A photo on Showpad.
Figure C shows an eBook open in Showpad.
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.
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.
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 folders
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.
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.
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.
Will Kelly is a freelance technical writer and analyst currently focusing on enterprise mobility, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and the consumerization of IT. He has also written about cloud computing, Big Data, virtualization, project management applications, Google Apps, Microsoft technologies, and online collaboration for TechRepublic and other sites. Will also works as a contract technical writer for clients in the Washington, DC area and nationwide. Follow Will on Twitter: @willkelly.