If I walk into your house to sell you roofing, siding, or remodeling and I pull out an iPad, the first thing you might think is: “That's cool.” Whether or not it converts to more sales is another question.
A lot of what I see in the field tells me that technology is not the way to go. The customer isn't buying technology. He or she is buying the solution to a problem.
Our company is experimenting with a sales presentation loaded onto an iPad by Certified Contractors Network. It's slick and it looks great. I showed my guys the prototype and asked what they thought. They said, “Do we have to? What we're doing now works.”
I offered them the option of using it or not using it. Right now two of my five salespeople use it, but it's too soon to tell if it's making a difference.
THE BIG DISTRACTION Here are some drawbacks to using the iPad. The biggest of them is that the customer pays attention to what's on the screen rather than what the salesperson is saying. How do you engage their thinking, get the information you need to diagnose a problem, and formulate a solution when the customer is distracted?
Another problem: Say you're midway through your presentation and the homeowner suddenly says, “Can I see that picture you showed me a minute ago?” By now the image is five screens back. If you're using a paper pitch book, you flip pages. On the iPad, you have to navigate.
Then there's the generational argument: Gen Yers expect technology. True, but they're not our customers — yet. And, what if you're selling to a senior citizen? Technology scares the hell out of them.
AHEAD OF THE GAME One big plus is that with a tablet computer the salesperson doesn't have to lug a trunk full of stuff into the house. It also makes a great sales training tool.
And, to some extent, the success of technology as a sales tool has to do with the product you're selling. If I'm selling solar — which our company does — customers expect high tech, whereas there's nothing really high tech about a roof.
Everyone's big fear is: If I don't do it, all my competitors are going to do it.